Photographer's Note

The Xhosa are part of the South African Nguni migration which slowly moved south from the region around the Great Lakes, displacing the original Khoisan hunter gatherers of Southern Africa.
Xhosa peoples were well established by the time of the Dutch arrival in the mid-1600s, and occupied much of eastern South Africa from the Fish River to land inhabited by Zulu-speakers south of the modern city of Durban.

The Xhosa and white settlers first encountered one another around Somerset East in the early 1700s. In the late 1700s Afrikaner trekboers migrating outwards from Cape Town came into conflict with Xhosa pastoralists around the Great Fish River region of the Eastern Cape. Following more than 20 years of intermittent conflict, from 1811 to 1812 the Xhosas were forced east by British colonial forces in the Third Frontier War.

In the years following, many Xhosa-speaking clans were pushed west by expansion of the Zulus, as the northern Nguni put pressure on the southern Nguni as part of the historical process known as the mfecane, or "scattering". Xhosa unity and ability to resist colonial expansion was further weakened by the famines and political divisions that followed the cattle-killing movement of 1856. Historians now view this movement as a millennialist response both directly to a lung disease spreading among Xhosa cattle at the time, and less directly to the stress to Xhosa society caused by the continuing loss of their territory and autonomy.

Some historians argue that this early absorption into the wage economy is the ultimate origin of the long history of trade union membership and political leadership among Xhosa people.[citation needed] That history manifests itself today in high degrees of Xhosa representation in the leadership of the African National Congress, South Africa's ruling political party.

Xhosa people currently make up approximately 18% of the South African population. While there have been many improvements in Xhosa people's lives since the abolition of apartheid, many of the effects of the policy remain.

There are high rates of poverty among Xhosas; Xhosa people make up some of the poorest of South Africans, but a minority of Xhosas are among the wealthiest.

Under apartheid, adult literacy rates were as low as 30% [1], and in 1996[update] studies estimated the literacy level of first-language Xhosa speakers at approximately 50%.[6] There have been advances in since then, however. For example, most of the students at the University of Fort Hare are Xhosa.

Education in primary-schools serving Xhosa-speaking communities is in the Xhosa language, but this is replaced by English after the early primary grades. Xhosa is still considered as a studied subject, however, and it is possible to major in Xhosa at the university level.

Many rural Xhosa now have the choice of migrating to cities in search of employment, whereas under apartheid it was only possible for Xhosa men to seek employment in the mining industry as so-called migrant labourers.

Notable Xhosa people include: Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Desmond Tutu, Miriam Makeba.

Nobody has marked this note useful

Photo Information
Viewed: 5128
Points: 2
Discussions
  • None
Additional Photos by Alex Fan Moniz (LondonBoy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 83 W: 0 N: 335] (1820)
View More Pictures
explore TREKEARTH