The other two tribal groups, besides the Batwa, were the Khoi-Khoin, whom the Europeans called the hottentots, because they could not understand their language, and the Bantu, whom the European Christians called Kaffirs (unbelievers), because these people did not worship "idols, crucifixes", virgin mothers or anthropomorphic gods. Both Khoi-Khoin and Bantu, in spite of certain inner differences, belong to the same historical period: the period of pastoral tribalists, owning the land in common, having domesticated animals and some control over the fruits of the soil.
The Khoi-Khoin and Bantu had reached South Africa as the result of four great southward treks, involving the mass movement of millions of people across thousands of miles, treks which make the Voortrekker "treks", of a few thousand people across a few hundred miles, look like a farcical imitation of the real thing.
Du Bois traces one wave of Khoi-Khoin migration back to 1000 B.C. when Abyssinian pressure on Ethiopia, where Khoi-Khoins lived, drove these people south. Even before this, some 500 years before, however, Khoi-Khoin tribalists appear to have settled far from Ethiopia and to have been in close touch with this land. This is illustrated in a mural on the walls of the temple of Beir el Bahri built by Queen Hetshepsut, and designed by Tuthmosis II. The mural shows an expedition to the legendary gold city of Punt, and on it
"The King and Queen of Punt are represented as of the modern Hottentot type, and the Queen with the characteristic steotapygia".
Thus more than 3500 years ago the Khoi-Khoin had built a stable tribal society with a centralised monarchy. Through the succeeding thousands of years the Khoi-Khoin tribalists trekked southwards, reached South Africa, came in intimate contact with the !Ke, and from about 1000 A.D. herded and traded in this country.
The Bantu pastoralists came south at a later date. They remained for centuries in contact with a variety of superior civilizations, from whom they either fled in the course of time, or with whom they remained.
The first movement seems to have arisen from a clash between the incompatible systems of the Bantu and Sudanese-Negro states. The former were tribal, the latter already developed into feudal-like or slave-like monarchies. This clash of two irreconcilable African Systems of land tenure and labour relations sent the Bantu moving southwards towards safer pastures for their cattle. This movement may have begun as far back as 3000 A.D., when the first Sudanese Negro state, Ghana, became a dominant force.
The second southward movement of the Bantu was the result of the incompatibility between the tribal Bantu organisation and the slave and commercial system of the conquering Mohamedans from the 7th century onwards. The Mohamedans came along the Zambesi under Said and Suleiman of Oman and reached the "land of Zing" in 695, encountering tribal dwellers en route. The tribalists viewed the intruders as slavers; their trade penetrated and corrupted the tribal economy and morals. The Arabs occupied the east Coast of Africa, and while some Bantu lived with or under them, others once more fled south. Yet others, more north, were enslaved, with the Negroes as fellow-slaves. There were fierce struggles between the enslaved tribalists and the Arab slave-masters. Such a struggle raged from 850 to 883, during which period the "Lord of the Blacks" led a slave revolt and Basra was "sacked". From such enslavement by the Mohamedans the free Bantu trekked:
"We shall probably not be far from the truth if we place the first great southern migration of the Bantu at about this period".
These treks could not help the Bantu to escape the effects of the Arab invasion of Africa. Nor could the invaders enslave or trade without assimilating features of the Bantu way of life. Thus Swahili, the Bantu language, became the lingua franca of the Indian Ocean trade. And, on the other hand, Asian culture penetrated into Bantu culture; there was an intercourse lasting for centuries. This long interaction found expression in the "mysterious" Zimbabwe ruins.
The third great wave of southward movement of the Bantu followed the introduction of slavery by the Christians from Europe, from the 16th century onwards. This slave traffic produced a three-pronged movement from central and east Africa: towards the west moved the Herero and Damara; down the centre came the Barotse and Bawenda; along the East Coast came the Nguni (Tembu, Swazi, Xhosa, pre-Zulu, etc.). Behind these groups came the slave-traders from Western Europe and America, running amok across a continent, from which people fled in millions, leaving behind them the ruins of civilizations which had taken centuries to build. The Portuguese were 'dumbfounded" by the civilizations of the interior. They found that deep-level goldmining was long known. Recently there was discovered the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwane, an African city twice sacked by the Portuguese, who regarded it as one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Such cities were as African as they were Arabic, for Africa and the East had already been in contact with each other for 1000 years before their towns were "discovered" by the Europeans. The Bantu tribal structure was firm and strong by the time of the Portuguese conquest of Mozambique, and was able to stay outside the slave system for some time. In 1730 the Dutch had to give up a slave-recruiting depot, founded in 1721 at Delagoa Bay, because slavery was repugnant to the tribalists, and the Bantu were strong enough to reject it. Elsewhere, however, the slave traffic drove the Bantu before it towards South Africa, which they entered probably a short while before the ships of Van Riebeeck put into Table Bay in 1652.
The Khoi-Khoin and Bantu tribes had no private property in land. The land belonged to the tribe as a whole. So, too, did all the natural resources such as water supplies. The land was inalienable and could not be sold by a chief. Thus it was impossible for a Moshoeshoe to sell land to the Wesleyans, or for Tshaka to sell half of Natal to Farewell. The chief could only grant the use of the land. Even then other members of the tribe could use the granted land. Thus when a group left one tribe, "its" land reverted to the tribe as a whole. The new group joined another tribe by paying "tribute", which was a "citizenship" fee, an "entrance fee" to membership of the tribe. They were then granted the use of the land. There was no boundary to the land thus granted for use, for this use was not exclusive. Thus a Moroka could not lawfully claim that Moshoeshoe "violated" Thaba Nchu's "boundaries", for there were no boundaries to be violated.
On the other hand, strange clans (in the case of the Khoi-Khoins) or members of a strange tribe or non-tribalists could not use the land or water or forests without the permission of the chief. The Portuguese navigator, Vasco Da Gama, violated such tribal laws, by using water or wood without permission, and was wounded at St. Helena Bay as a result. A similar story lies behind the lawful destruction of Francisco D'Almeida and 65 of his men by Khoi-Khoins in 1510.
On the land thus possessed and controlled by the tribe, the Khoi-Khoin and Bantu practised their pastoral arts. The Khoi-Khoin had long-horned cattle and fat-tailed sheep and were such skilled cattle breeders that the European colonizers were ordered to learn from them how to evolve better breeds. From the skins of their cattle they made leather vessels, drum instruments, clothing, shields and huts. From the horns were made receptacles, from the dung, plaster. The cattle were used as beasts of burden, as means to pay fines and to barter. This, too, was the position with the Bantu herders, who made additional use of their cattle, such as in the "payment" of "lobola" when marrying.
In addition to working with domesticated animals, the central form of economic activity, these tribalists were agriculturists. In this respect the Bantu surpassed the Khoi-Khoin, who grew "dacha", wild vegetables, and fruit, but did not rotate the use of pasture and arable ground as the Bantu did. The Khoi-Khoins were, however, harvesters of crops. This was mirrored in their solar religion, which did not rest on an existence as hunting travelers (as was the case with the !Ke) but on their existence as agriculturists. Thus the solar-sky worship of Eyeru shows that agriculture among the Khoi-Khoin was very, very old. The fact that the Khoi-Khoins were agriculturists is shown in the weakness of totemism and the existence of ancestor-worship (a much higher form of "religion"), which was likewise part of the "religion" of the Bantu.
En passant, we know that "historians" and "anthropologists" have tried to paint the Khoi-Khoins as infinitely inferior to the Bantu, both physically and in their social and economic organisation. The simple fact is that both owned the land in common, both were agriculturists (differing only in degree), both had developed (agricultural) form of solar-worship, both had ancestor-worship, both had collective labour, both had polygamous families in which women were already made inferior, and both had a centralised tribal authority, with a King or Queen at the head. The Khoi-Khoins were, historically speaking, on the same level as the Bantu.
Labour in herding, farming or industry was collective or for the good of the group. As in the old Indian villages, each Khoi-Khoin or Bantu village was worked on the basis of mutual family obligations. Labour was co-operative. In more advanced tribes there was division of labour, but even specialists in pottery, metal work, leather, etc., had to do their share of collective labour. Production was for collective use, and not for private gain. Even individual property in personal effects, cattle, and individual land rights for residence and cultivation, had to be administered for the common good of the clan (Khoi-Khoin) or triblet (Bantu). At the same time the development of such private property as well as the sexual division of labour and of warfare led to the subjection and inferior status of women in the more advanced tribal organisations.
Trade was done by barter. The Khoi-Khoins were skilled traders with whom the Dutch East India Company often could not cope. This, in fact, accelerated their conquest, for they almost traded themselves right out of their cattle before the Dutch made war on them to take the rest by force. They were thus stripped both by trade and by conquest.
In trade almost anything served as "money" - cattle, beads, arrows, and labour itself (paid for in kind by the "hirer"). Inter-tribal trading covered almost the whole of South Africa, and was said by the Khoi-Khoins conversing with Van Riebeeck to stretch at that time from the Cape to Mozambique.
This then, was the rich and varied economic life of the Khoi-Khoin and Bantu tribalists. Collective labour and mutual obligations towards the common possessors of the inalienable land bound the tribal units tightly together and found expression in centralised tribal authorities, councils of the people, and Kings and Queens.
The unit of the tribe was the polygamous family. In both, though more so with the Bantu, the male was "pater familias" and the women subjected, reflecting a sexual division of labour in which men controlled the main pursuits, army and implements, and hence the fruits of such pursuits and techniques (e.g. cattle and usufruct of grazing land). With the Khoi-Khoins the families were grouped into clans of common ancestry and the clans were combined to form the tribe as a whole. Kinship formed the common bond. With the Bantu the polygamous family also was the social unit, but families were grouped into triblets rather than clans. The triblets were part of the bigger tribe. Membership of the tribe did not depend on kinship, but on allegiance to the chief of the tribe. Thus any stranger could become a member of the tribe by paying allegiance to its head.
The chief took his policy from the central council, which any man of the tribe could attend. At this "open court" he could cross-question accused persons, act as witness and help in the framing of the judgment and sentence. The whole ,ale population thus ruled the tribe. Under advanced tribalism (i.e. beyond the !Ke stage) women were subjected but treated with the utmost respect. Queens frequently administered the affairs of the tribe. The chieftainship was hereditary in most cases. The hereditary chief, however, was not absolute and had no arbitrary powers.
Unlike the !Ke, the Khoi-Khoin and Bantu had a military organisation. A well-formed army did not reflect "barbarism" or backwardness. It reflected development, both of techniques and of potential to exploit, in accordance with the general development of the tribe:
"Property and organised society must be indicated as the factors that control and determine the conditions of regular warfare.
Inter-tribal wars sprang from the struggles for pasture land between tribes which were equalitarian internally yet exclusively. Such wars often fused techniques which had previously remained isolated. The same thing happened when tribes united for fear of or in war against foreign European invaders. Armies arose from struggles for land, and in turn often acted as a lever for progress.
Before the Dutch came in touch with the Xhosa from the Cape Province, and before the Portuguese came in touch with the Natal Bantu, during the 18th century, the rules and customs and ethics of war were considerable different from what they were after this impinging of European civilization upon the Bantu civilization.
In these pre-European years it was not usual for tribes to be destroyed or ruined in war. Once the one side had demonstrated its superiority there was peace. "Inferiors" and non-combatants like the aged, women and children were respected. During the wars with the Boers and British the Khoi-Khoin and the Bantu frequently succoured European women and children, and gave them safe conduct before hostilities. Prisoners of war were not killed but held for ransom, usually in exchange for cattle. Thus Ngounemma, the outstanding Khoi-Khoin resister of the 1670's tried to ransom his comrades who were imprisoned on Robben Island. Not knowing or understanding the war ethics of the civilized West, he, of course, failed. A man who sought refuge from an enemy with one's tribe could not be handed over. He was safe. It was preferable to go to war with those who demanded him than to betray the trust in his protectors.
These ethics of war correspond to the entire tribal system of the Khoi-Khoin and Bantu, with common property, co-operative labour, mutual respect, work for the good of the tribe as a whole, and justice in the open courts of the tribe. When the tribal system was influenced by the approach of the Europeans in the last quarter of the 18th century, these ethics broke down and the Europeans, who were historically responsible for this, shouted: "You savages!"
The "religion" of the Khoi-Khoin and Bantu showed that these groups had advanced in to stable pastoral and agricultural societies. Totemism, characteristics of hunters like the !Ke, had long left the collective memory when "experts" studied the tribes.
Ancestor worship had had a long evolution by the time of the European invasions. Ancestor-relic worship had been superseded by ancestor-image worship and this in turn by abstract ancestor worship by the time of conquest. This mirrored the age and development of the tribes, from the time of their real or mythical founding by their "ancestor".
Solar-religion rested on agriculture, not on hunting.
The priest-doctor had a social function, and was appointed by the tribe through the King. The sorcerer for private gain was, of course, the enemy of the tribe.
Tribal religion, like military ethics, degenerated only with the advent of the conquerors, who brought with them their "black-magic" (brought by Whites from medieval Europe), miracles,
"holy water, tapers and crucifixes ... pictures of the saints ... the image of the Virgin Mary and other holy effigies".
Ancestor and solar worship, then, degenerated in to the worship of Christian idols and superstitious credulity.
The Bantu languages resemble in structure the languages of other tribalists, such as Latin and Greek, being just as backward and advanced. The Khoi-Khoin languages have features found in the !Ke languages, Indo-Chinese languages and Greek. The Khoi-Khoin and Bantu languages interacted on one another for a long time, as each also did with the !Ke languages. This interaction was part of the physical and social contact between these three groups. Khoi-Khoin and Xhosa intermarried freely for a long period. Thus and through social intercourse in general, Khoi-Khoin clan names, individual names, river names, and language sounds became part and parcel of the Xhosa language.
It is said that "Xhosa" itself means "black man", and was a name given by the !Ke, not taken by the tribe from an ancestor, for such an ancestor did not exist. The names of the Xhosa Kings, Galeka, Rarabe, Hintsa, Ngqika, are of Khoi-Khoin origin. The Xhosa name for the Supreme Being is a Khoi-Khoin word. The Xhosa name for the Khoi-Khoin people is the same as for Xhosa gatherings. Through the language can be traced the mixing of the Khoi-Khoin and Bantu tribal cultures and languages.
From the Khoi-Khoins the Bantu took the musical "gora". String instruments were made from hunting weapons. Music was a normal part of daily life. The people sang at work, at war, and at rest.
It was this "racially" mixed, developing, tribal society, with its slowly changing relations, techniques, armies, ethics, music, "religion" and art, this rich and complex self-negating tribalism, which the Europeans, on their own admission, destroyed from without:
"We have undermined the clan system right and left and have riddled its defences through and through with the explosive shells of civilization".
But the Khoi-Khoin and Bantu, unlike the !Ke, did not
"melt away before the approach of civilization
They were conquered, dispossessed and enslaved by force, and their social organisms were swallowed up by the economies of their conquerors. To this process we now turn.
To 300 Years Introduction...
To Volume 1, Chapter 1...
To contents of Volume 1, Sections 2 to 6
To contents of Volume 2...
To contents of Volume 3...