Political organization.

  • They lived in large groups which were made up of a number of camps.
  • Each camp had people of the same clan. A number of camps made a settlement with its own chiefs.

  • The chiefs usually settled disputes between members of same clan in the camps .However their powers were limited to a certain degree.
  • Conflicts between different clans were settled by the chiefs with the help of the council of elders.
  • The Khoikhoi were friendly to outsiders unless attacked. They welcomed visitors if the latter were friendly.
  • The Khoikhoi held a political meeting in public and all adult males were free to attend. These meetings were well organized than those of the San.

Social organization

  • They lived in large groups ranging about 600-1000.
  • The Khoikhoi lived in simple homesteads consisting of beehive shaped huts.

  • Their huts were made up of reed mates and were carried from place to place by oxen whenever they moved.
  • They were always on the move in search for food, water and pasture. Because of this they never had permanent settlements/homes
  • Boys underwent initiation ceremonies where their hunting skills were tested and prepared for manhood.
  • Like the San, the family formed the basic social unit. Group of families formed a lineage.
  • The Khoikhoi celebrated important stages in life. For example at birth, puberty, marriage and death.
  • During such celebrations, sacrifices were offered to their gods.
  • Tsuiguad or Twisgoab was worshipped as their God. He was believed to be the giver of good health, rain and prosperity. He was called “the father of our fathers”.

  • The Khoikhoi feared and consulted the dead. Ghosts were feared to cause harm.
  • Marriage was done after initiation and the husband was supposed to stay with the girls parents till the birth of the first child.
  • Marriage in the same clan was not allowed. In other words boys were not allowed to marry girls of the same clan. I.e. their marriages were exogamous.
  • Their families were patrilineal. A father was the head of the family.
  • Polygamy was common among the Khoikhoi but they produced few children as many would be a burden to their nomadic way of life.
  • Traditional dancing especially at new and full moon. They also danced at initiation ceremonies
  • Sheep was presented to the parents of the girl before the bride could be taken .The bride would go away with her presents from parents which remained her property in a new home.

Economic organization

  • The Khoikhoi were nomadic and grew no crops for food. They moved from place to place in search for water and pasture for their animals.
  • The Khoikhoi were mainly pastoralists. They kept cattle, fat tailed sheep and goats.
  • It was rare for the Khoikhoi to slaughter their cattle for meat. Animals were slaughtered only on important days such at initiation days.
  • They were hunters and gatherers. They hunted wild game and collected the roots and honey to supplement their diet.
  • The Khoikhoi carried out barter trade with the Bantu and later with the Europeans .they exchanged cattle and related products for European goods.
  • The Khoikhoi had a lot of material wealth compared to the san.

  • Iron working and pottery were practiced among the Khoikhoi. They made iron implements.
  • They trained oxen and used them for transport.


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