The social, political and economic organization of the Khoisanbefore 1800

The social, political and economic organization of the Khoisanbefore 1800
  • The san lived in the groups of about 50 – 70 people while the Khoikhoi lived in large groups of about 500-1000 people.
  • The san lived in caves and temporary protected shelters.The Khoikhoi lived permanent tents that were carried by oxen when ever they moved.

  • The Khoikhoi boys under went initiation ceremonies where their hunting skills were tested.
  • Among the Khoikhoi, marriage within the same clan was forbidden and took place after initiation.
  • Among the san girls of about 8 years got married to the boys of 13 – 14 years. The husbands joined the wives’ family until the birth of the first child.
  • They used traditional healing herbs as medicine and this art was passed to the young ones by their parents
  • They cerebrated important moments in life like at birth, puberty, marriage and death.
  • Polygamy was practiced but they produced few children because many children would be a burden to their monadic way of life
  • They lived by dancing. For example they danced at new and full moon.

  • The San believed in God called Kaggen who was represented by the preying mantis.
  • They treated the praying mantis with respect because it was the symbol of respect and good fortune.
  • The sacrifice to the rain was the most important for the Khoisan lived in drier areas.
  • The Khoikhoi believed in god called Tsuigoab who was represented by the preying mantis whom they worshipped as the provider of rain. They called him “Father of our fathers”.
  • The San were great hunters while the Khoikhoi were both hunters and herders.
  • The San kept no animals except their hunting dogs. In fact they lived by hunting wild game.

  • The San were fisher men and caught fish in rivers like Kei and Vaal.
  • The Khoikhoi grew no crops but kept animals like sheep and goat.


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