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South Africa

What is the difference between the Khoikhoi and the khoisan?


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November 09, 2007 2:23PM

They were two completely different ethnic groups of South Africa, who lived around the Cape of Good Hope when the Dutch first settled there. The biggest and probably the most important difference between them was the Khoikhoi were herders whereas the Khoisan (bushmen) were huntergatherers.

Shortly after the arrival of the Europeans, epidemics such as smallpox decimated the numbers of the Khoikhoi, and they eventually disappeared completely. The colored (of mixed ethnic groups) people of the Cape today are mostly their descendants.

The Khoisan on the other hand didn't quite live by the idea of ownership, and found the domesticated herds of the Europeans and other black ethnic groups (especially the Xhosa's and Zulus) easy prey. The mentioned groups thus literally hunted the Khoisan and eventually drove them into the Kalahari where I believe a few families still live.