The KhoiKhoi pastoralists

Khoikhoi woven baskets

Khoikhoi artifacts as drawn by Anders Sparrman in his book A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope from the year 1772 to 1776.

The Khoikhoi (called ‘Hottentots’ by early white settlers) were descendants of huntergatherers who had acquired livestock centuries earlier, probably in modern Botswana. Supporting a growing population through their pastoral economy they expanded fairly rapidly throughout southern Africa. Those moving into high rainfall areas to the east were probably absorbed over the centuries into Bantu-speaking societies that both kept cattle and cultivated crops; those moving southward and westward tended to retain their purely pastoral economy.

When European settlement began in the mid-seventeenth century, Khoikhoi groups called the Namaqua were

Khoikhoi bracelet

Khoikhoi bracelet

settled in modern Namibia and the north eastern Cape; others, including the Korana, along the Orange River; and others, including the Gonaqua, interspersed among the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape. But the largest concentration of Khoikhoi, numbering in the tens of thousands, inhabited the well-watered pasturelands of the southwestern Cape. These ‘Cape Khoikhoi’ would be the first African population to receive the brunt of white settlement.

Polities of the Khoikhoi

Khoikhoi and the San

Trading with Europeans

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