and geneticists agree, that the San are the descendants of the
original Homo sapiens (modern day man), who occupied Southern Africa,
for at least 150 000 years.
to genetic studies and the geneticists: The oldest gene pattern
found in modern humans, is that of the Khoe-San, and it dates back
around 80 0000 years. What does this mean?
humans on earth, Europeans, Black Africans, Asians, North and South
Americans, Australians are all descendants from this original gene
type. The only exception is that of Tanzania's Hadzabe
about 25 000 years ago, there is evidence of cultural practices that
were still being followed until recently by southern African
hunter-gatherers – such as the making of ostrich eggshell beads,
shell ornaments, the bow and arrow and rock art.
migration of homo sapiens out of Africa, took place from about 40
000 years ago, coinciding with the possible acceleration of our
language skills. Each group of people who left Africa took with them
new language families. At that time all humans were hunters and
is a debate between palaeontologists and linguists about when humans
developed to the point that our ancestors were able to pronounce
more sounds and with rapid brain development we were able to move
into more abstract thought, as represented in our tools and art
forms. This is when we start to see the spread of rock art in
peoples and their descendants were hunter-gatherers until the
ancestors of the Khoekhoe acquired domesticated animal stock some
where prior to 2 500 years ago. The Khoekhoe seem to have migrated
into South Africa about 2000 years ago either from Namibia or
Botswana, bringing with them sheep herding culture, and different
social organisation than that common amongst hunter-gatherers.
Typically, hunter-gatherer groups were small, without complex
political leadership or any military capacity.
have been three major waves of genetic, cultural and technological
immigration into South Africa: Khoekhoe herders, Bantu speaking
agro-pastoralists, and European colonial agro-pastoralists. Each
group brought major changes to the lives of the San peoples.
noted above, the Khoekhoe migrated into the country about 2 500 –
2000 years ago, occupying coastal areas, the southern Cape, and the
major rivers, such as the Orange River (called !Garib). They may
have made friends with the San hunters in some cases, but the San
also appear to have withdrawn to the mountains and deserts of South
the !Garib River area archaeologists believe that the San were
friends with Einikhoe (possibly from the N|u word Kx’ain, river,
drink. Kx’ainikhoen). Later, after European occupation of the
Cape, there was conflict with neighbouring peoples. This included
violence between San groups and others such as the Namakhoe, !Orakhoe,
Oorlams and Griquas. The San at this time were driven further out of
the river areas into remoter areas with less water.
first Bantu-speaking agriculturalists moved into South Africa about
1 800 years ago, with the major migration of agro-pastoralists
happening about 800 years ago. The term Bantu developed negative
connotations during apartheid. The term is used here to identify a
sub branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Over the following
centuries, there was extensive interaction between the San and the
various Khoe and Bantu-speaking immigrants. South Africa’s
dominant cultures and languages are all shaped by this contact.
Genetically many South Africans have DNA that demonstrates
intermarriage with aboriginal peoples. Culturally, some Coloured,
Griqua, Zulu, Swati and Xhosa South Africans still identify with
their aboriginal Khoe-San roots". Credits: san.org.za/