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The Xhosa People Of South Africa

1710 words - 7 pages

With eight million people spread across South Africa, amounting to fifteen percent of the population, the Xhosa people are a large cultural group. The Xhosa had a harsh history, full of violence and relocations across the country. Their diverse culture has a major impact on how they live their lives, and on the proper ways to perform ceremonies, such as marriage. There is also a Xhosa language, and is one of the eleven official languages of the South African people. Leaders such as Nelson Mandela were from the Xhosa cultural group, so it is possible future leaders may come from this group. The vast topic about the Xhosa can be divided into four topics: language, customs, history, and beliefs.

To understand Xhosa from all aspects, a few facts about South Africa should be obtained. According to Xhosa by South African History Online, written by knowledgeable people who understand South Africa and its culture, “the four major ethnic divisions among black South Africans are the Nguni, Sotho, Shangaan Tsonga and Venda”(Xhosa South 1). These four divisions have cultural groups within them and Nguni is the division with Xhosa. The Nguni form two thirds of the South African population and is divided into four groups, each having a different cultural group. The Southern Nguni is primarily Xhosa, and Xhosa originated from here. Another important piece of information to know is the presence of whites in South Africa. They had caused violent disputes with South Africans over land, and had wormed their way into the government. These events were the starting of Apartheid, and had changed how all South Africans lived. Knowing this background information helps to comprehend the Xhosa people.

The origins of Xhosa have dated back to late sixteenth century. It was at this time the Xhosa were created. “For unknown reasons, certain southern Nguni groups began to expand their power some time before 1600. Tshawe founded the Xhosa kingdom by defeating the Cirha and Jwarha groups”(Xhosa South 2). With the takeover of these two groups, Xhosa was created by Tshawe, who is a powerful ancestor the Xhosa worship. After this initial takeover of Cirha and Jwarha, the Xhosa kingdom had spread, including more South African clans as time went on. This time of peace and kingdom growth was not for long. Eventually, european settlers arrived in South Africa, taking territory from surrounding South African clans. According to The Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life, once the settlers met the Xhosa in a land dispute, “a series of wars between trekboers and Xhosa began in the 1770s”(1). The trekboers, or white settlers, engaged in violence over the Xhosa territory. These series of wars over territory that lasted nearly a century are called the Frontier Wars. The white settlers had won, and the aftermath included heavy loss of Xhosa land and political power loss to Xhosa clan chiefs. The whites’ power increased when the Apartheid system was created in the nineteen...

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