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Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in African | 0 comments

Facts about most popular south african tribes and people

Facts about most popular south african tribes and people

Explore the interesting things about ancient tribes and their culture, traditions and history of south africa.

The cradle of humanity, Africa is home to some of the world’s great tribal cultures. The multi-cultural population of South Africa has a majority of indigenous people in addition to the people of European, Indian and Malaysian descent and with 11 official languages and is often referred to as the rainbow nation. The indigenous (or tribal) people of South Africa have varied customs and originally lived in different areas. New genetic research has revealed that a small group of hunter-gatherers now living in Southern Africa once was so large that it comprised the majority of living humans. Only during the last 22,000 years have the other African ethnicities, including the ones giving rise to Europeans and Asians, have become the bigger populations, researchers say. However, their fall has been quick – the Khoisan (who sometimes call themselves Bushmen) now number about 100,000 individuals, while the rest of humanity numbers 7 billion.


The Zulu are best known for their beadwork and basketry. There have also been some figural sculpture questionably attributed to them. Zulu architecture is quite complex, and the dress or fashion of the Zulu has been carefully studied. The AmaZulu believe that they are the direct descendants of the patriarch Zulu, who was born to a Nguni chief in the Congo Basin area. In the 16th century the Zulu migrated southward to their present location, incorporating many of the customs of the San, including the well-known linguistic clicking sounds of the region.

During the reign of King Shaka (1816-1828), the Zulu became the mightiest military force in southern Africa, increasing their land holdings from 100 square miles to 11,500. Shaka was followed by Dingaan, who tentatively entered into treaties with English colonizers. Mpande was the next King. He allowed the British extensive control over his peoples. By the time he died in 1872, the Zulu had enough of the English invasion. Cetewayo, Mpande’s replacement, tried vainly for six years to avoid a confrontation with the British, yet in 1879 war erupted. Although the Zulu initially experienced some success, the British army eventually prevailed. In less than six months, Cetewayo was exiled to England, and the Zulu kingdom was divided to the British advantage. The last Zulu uprising against European domination was lead by Chief Bombatha in 1906. In recent times, Chief Gastha Buthelezi has doubled as the political leader of the Zulu, and the head of the Inkatha Freedom Party, leading the fight against Apartheid and the ANC, demanding a voice for his people who are more than three million strong.

south african tribes culture and hisotry

African Tribes

Rural Zulu raise cattle and farm corn and vegetables for subsistence purposes. The men and herd boys are primarily responsible for the cows, which are grazed in the open country, while the women do most, if not all, of the planting and harvesting. The women also are the owners of the family house and have considerable economic clout within the family. In the urban areas of South Africa, Zulu, and in fact all Africans, are limited to labour intensive work and domestic duties.


Khoisanpeople is the name of both the Hottentotts and the Bushmen. Hottentotts call themselves khoi and Bushmen call themselves san. Khoisanlanguages has got a lot of clicks.


The word Hottentott is Dutch and means the one who is stamming. The Hottentotts are much like the Bushmen. They have nearly the same look, culture and language. The Hottentotts also have a lot in common with tribes in east Africa, for example being cattlers and wander around. This people talk with clicks and smacking sounds, just as the Bushmen.There is still a group of Hottentotts called Nama, living in Namibia. The Hottentotts in South Africa have been more or less exterminated or mixed up with other people.


Most of the Venda people today live in Limpopo province. A “bantustan” or homeland was founded for the Venda and was only incorporated into the new South Africa in 1994 as previously it had been an independent self governing homeland recognized only by the South African government at that time. There are a number of other tribes such as the Shangaan (Tsonga) whose culture is a mixture of Tsonga and Zulu, mostly residing in the Mpumalanga region (Eastern Transvaal). Aside from these larger groups there are small concentrations of Bushmen, (San People) and a very few Hottentots who have mostly disappeared due to sickness and intermarriage with other tribes.

Xhosa people

The Xhosa people are distributed across the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, stretching from East London up to the KwaZulu-Natal border. It’s an area of lush tropical forest hugging river valleys whose estuaries spill into lagoons behind white sandy beaches. There are ample opportunities for fishing, swimming, birdwatching and water sports, but one of the most memorable experiences to take away is that of learning about the local Xhosa culture. Speaking the second most common home language (after Zulu), the Xhosa were originally herders and farmers, but today they’re involved in a wide range of activities and livelihoods.


Swaziland is an independent country bordered by South Africa and Mozambique and more than half a million Swazi people now live in South Africa mainly in the Mpumalanga area and areas bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. Many Swazi have also moved into the industrial areas in and around Johannesburg.


There are about four millions of Tswanas. Tswana is a bantupeople and also called Bechuans. Their language is called Sechuana. The Tswanas came to South Africa in the 14th century. They became cattlers and farmers. In 1820 Matabele people drove them to the north. During the 19th century Britains and Boers ruled Tswana.Since this time, Tswanas have been living in great villages, kraals. The villages have hierarchy as ruling systems. Local chiefs are gathered under a co-ordinating king (kgosi) who rules the villages. The king’s village is called Ngwaketse and it had already in the year 1825 more than 20 000 inhabitants.

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