Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Angola's Tribes: The Historic Khoisan People

The Khoisan are known as the first inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa, are commonly given the pejorative name of bushmen (men of the bush) and southern Angola is part of their habitat.  Khoisan is the name given to a family of ethnic groups, the Khoikhoi and the San, as they share similar physical and language characteristics. They use click consonants when they speak, and their history is thought to go back thousands of years. They are currently at risk of extinction, as only a few populations still survive in southwest Africa.

Recent estimates reveal that of the estimated 100,000 Khoisan in Africa,  some 5000 live in southern Angola; the largest majority of the populations live in Botswana (50,000), Namibia (35,000), South Africa  (5000), and the remaining populations scattered across Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Khoisan were traditionally hunter-gatherers, but have been forced to switch to herdsmen and farming as a result of government-mandated moderization programs as well as the increased risks of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the face of technological development.

The name Khoisan comes from Khuá-San, which in general terms means ‘Men’ both in Khoikhoi and in San. But in the Khoikhoi language, the word has another connotation and actually means ‘Men of Men’.

Khoisan have short frames with long legs when compared with other African peoples, they have copper brown skin and eye folds similar to Asian peoples. But in contrast with Asian women, Khoisan women tend to have rounder, broader hips, more characteristic in African women.

Khoisan languages, known for their use of clicking sounds, are not spoken very widely across Africa, and are to all intents and purposes limited to the Kalahari region spanning Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The most spoken Khoisan group languages are Kwadi and Sandawe.

Present day Khoisan are frequently claimed to be direct descendants of the first hunter-gatherers to inhabit the full expanse of western Africa but they later disappeared with the arrival of the Bantu, around 2000 years ago. Their disappearance could down to the occupation of their hunting grounds by Bantu farmers.

Sara A. Tishkoff, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, undertook a genetic study of a large group of present-day humans in 2008, and concluded that one of the oldest African bases of humanity lies in the Khoisan region, in the coastal zone nearest to the Angola and Namibia border.   According to the study, the Khoisan people have “the highest degree of mitochondrial DNA diversity of all human populations, which indicates that they are among the most ancient of African human populations.”

This theory is backed up by archaeological palaeolithic remains and the many pre-historic archaeological sites found there. In fact, right in the middle of the Namib Desert, near the Angolan region of Virei, there is a large area with cave paintings in Tchitundo-Hulo or Tchitundulo; some caves even have evidence of dwellings from the Stone Age. They are said to be one of the most beautiful collections of cave paintings of Angolan pre-history.” (Adapted from TAAG Austral Magazine)


Sereia Pequena said...

I appreciate your article!Thank you!

Anonymous said...

They are not the most ancient of African populations alone. They are the most ancient of ALL humans anywhere.

José Frade said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Khoisan people did not disappeared, and their fields were not occupied by Bantu farmers. They mingled with the Bantu who are now the inhabitants of South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Malawi, swaziland,etc... all people in these regions are descendants of the Khoisan .

There is nothing to claim, we are not australians or americans.

Mankiko said...

Hi to everyone. Thanks very much for this article. As I found out that I do belong to the so called Koshian people, from the Angolan ethnic group of Koshian people. In Fact the Koshians are a totally different planet Earths species of Ape. With even different D.N.A as this article mentions. They aren't the so called modern Human beings(Homo-Erectus). Actually the Koshians are more intelligent and have a better food efficient biological system. And they have a great innate sense of orientation.
But they normally tend to be kinda stutterers, when it comes to try to manage to speak very fluently other kinds of more complex different kinds of languages. We the Koshians salute you people of the world. We would like to be in peace with you all.

Anonymous said...

Heh Mankiko jou mase kont. Nogals apies. MxM

Aja Mills said...

I think it would be more accurate to say that Asians have Khoisan type folds around the eyes.

Anonymous said...

The Bantu are responsible for killing the Sans ppl off. They are not a descendant. Although some Bantu do possess E-M35..through collective Ethiopian roots..