The San peoples of South Africa and neighbouring Botswana, who live in the Kalahari, are part of the Khoisan group and are related to the Khoi. However, they have no collective name for themselves in any of their languages. They strongly object to being called San, a term applied to them by their ethnic relatives and historic rivals the Khoi; the term carries the same baggage in Southern Africa that the word Nigger carries in the United States. They prefer to be called Bushmen, despite the fact that the term is considered politically incorrect by most Westerners.

THE BUSHWO/MEN (SAN)                                                                                                            San , people of southern Africa, consisting of several groups and numbering over 85,000 in all. They are generally short in stature; their skin is yellowish brown in color; and they feature prominent cheekbones. The San have been called Bushmen by whites in South Africa, but the term is now considered derogatory. Although many now work for white settlers, about half are still nomadic hunters and gatherers of wild food in desolate areas like the Kalahari semi-desert, which streches between todays Nation States of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. ...more



ABATHWA                                                                                                                                   In this context we use the word ABATHWA for the people of the /XAM Ka !Ke instead of the term ‘San’ and ‘Bushman’. Our ancestors used to call themselves ABATHWA. Both two terms ‘Bushman’ and ‘San’ were taken on and used by the Anthropologists in connotation, while the term Bushman was given to us by the European settlers and the term San was given to us by the Khoi-Khoi.


Last Speakers

Jan Goliath (chairman of the /Xam in SA), the /Xam defender, here with one of the last speakers of the /Xam language: Ouma van Rooyen in Colesburg / South Africa.


!KWHE (Gwi, Basarwa)

Resolution on the situation of the Gana and Gwi 'Bushmen' and Bakgalagadi of the Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests - Nairobi, 2002 - The Fourth Conference of the International Alliance of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests in which participated representatives of the indigenous organizations of Africa, Continental Asia, Maritime Asia and Pacific, Bahasa Region, Central America, and South America, gathered in the city of Nairobi, Kenya, in the face of the terrible situation of the Gana and Gwi 'Bushmen' and Bakgalagadi of the central Kalahari Game Resreve in Botswana.

GANA AND GWI SAN (BUSHMEN)                                                                                                OF BOTSWANA’S Central Kalahari Game Reserve - In 2002 the Gana and Gwi San, or bushmen resident of Botswana Central Kalahari Game reserve(CKGR) were forcibly evicted and moved to resettlement camps outside the reserve, There are several documented cases of beating and torture of the San inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve prior to the eviction.



Survival of the !Kung San people in the Kalahari Desert                                                                     An analysis of the lifestyle of the Kung san people, including their social organization, division of labor, available resources, status differentiation, and material culture.



Khoikhoi / KhoeKhoe

Definition: Native peoples of South Africa, the Khoi Khoi are pastoralists and hunter gatherers who were living near the Cape of Good Hope when the Dutch colonists arrived in the 17th century. Related to, but not the same as, the San peoples of southern Africa.

Also Known As: Khoisan, Hottentots (no longer used)

Alternate Spellings: Khoe Khoe

The Khoikhoi ("people people" or "real people") or Khoi are a division of the Khoisan ethnic group of south-western Africa, closely related to the Bushmen (San). They have lived in this area for about 30,000 years. Khoikhoi is sometimes spelt KhoeKhoe. In other words, the Khoikhoi who live in Africa and in Namibia have not been there for long.

They were once known to Europeans as the Hottentots, a name that is now considered derogatory (it means "stutterer" in Dutch, although the Dutch use the word "stotteraar" more to describe the clicking sounds used in the Khoisan languages). The word lives on, however, in the names of several African animal and plant species, such as the Hottentot Fig or Carpobrotus Fig, Carpobrotus edulis.

Related articles

Khoikhoi mythologySaartje Baartman

The name Khoikhoi means 'men of men'. They spread out across Southern Africa, and migrating south 2,000 years ago brought pastoralism (animal herding) to the Cape.

By the husbandry of sheep and cattle they enjoyed a stable, balanced diet and could live in larger groups than the San. They grazed their herds in the fertile valleys across the region until the 3rd century AD when they encountered the advancing Bantu and retreated into more arid areas.

The migratory bands living around Cape Town came into contact with European explorers and merchants from 1500, these encounters led to violent encounters, although the British made attempts to develop closer relations, although this included two kidnaps!

The Khoikhoi at the Cape grazed traditional migratory routes. When the Dutch East India Company enclosed their grazing land for farms, war broke out.

Over the following century the Khoi were steadily driven off their land and exposed to smallpox by trekboers. Eventually their independence and culture were completely destroyed.



The Hadza                                                                                                                               The Hadza or the Hadzabe are an indigenous group located in the central area of Tanzania of East Africa. As of 2005 just less than 1000 definitive Hadza remained in East Africa. Of that 1000 around half still function as hunter-gatherers....

How a Hunter-gatherer from the Hadzabe Peoples met Contempt and Prejudice in Europe                  September 1997 by Hartmut Heller († 2003) Mahiya is the first spokesman for the Hadzabe (singular: Hadza) to visit Germany . The Hadzabe, one of the last few aboriginal peoples in East Africa , want to continue to live as free hunter-gatherers, as they have done for a hundred thousand years, without schools, churches, hospitals and government pressure.


Khoisan Tribal, Social & Language Grouping

Khoisan Tribal, Social & Language Grouping                                                                                    The primary Bushman linguistic divisions are referred to as the Northern, Central & Southern Groups. It is a broad classification to identify the three main & distinctive language forms. There are however other groups that do not conveniently fall within these divisions but still apparently belong within the overall Khoisan family. They include the Namib (now extinct Khoi tongue), Khoi, Hadza & Sandawe.