1902 Encyclopedia > Hottentots

Hottentots




HOTTENTOTS was the generic name given by Euro-peans to the native tribes inhabiting the southern extremity of Africa. Some early writers termed them Hodmadods or Hodmandods, and others Hot-uots and Ottentots—all corruptions of the same word. The common denomination adopted by themselves was Khoi-Khoin (men of men), or Quae Quae, Kwekhena, t'Kuhkeub, the forms varying according to the several dialects.

These aborigines, totally distinct as they were in their primitive state from all other African races, have been gene-rally regarded as the most ancient inhabitants of the land. A little more than two centuries ago they were a numerous people, whose nomadic tribes or clans and families were spread over the territory now distinguished as the Cape Colony ; and tradition, as well as the evidence afforded by names of places and surviving peculiarities of manners and language, points to their having in prehistoric times extended much further to the north-westward and eastward, where they have been supplanted by the Kaffre or Negro tribes. The freedom, security, and protection enjoyed by the Hottentots since the Cape of Good Hope became a portion of the British empire have in no small degree arrested the process of extermination of the race which was rapidly pro-ceeding at the close of last century. When Sir John Barrow described their condition in 1798, he estimated their numbers at about 15,000 souls. In 1806 the official return gave a population of 9784 males and 10,642 females. In 1824 they had increased to 31,000. At the census of 1865 they numbered 81,589 ; and the census of 1875 gave the Hottentot population within the Cape Colony at 98,561. In the returns for the last-men-tioned periods, however, the designation " Hottentot" has no doubt embraced many persons of mixed race. It is only at the mission stations or in their vicinity that any genuine descendants of the early tribes are now to be met with. Beyond the colonial borders, however, they are numerically strong. Dr Theophilus Hahn gives the follow-ing as an approximate statement of their numbers (amount-ing in all to nearly 17,000) in Great Namaqualand and Damaraland :—Pure Namaquas—Geikous, or Red Nation, 2500; Topnaars, 750; Kharo-oas, 300; Khogeis, 100; Ogeis, or Great Deaths, 800; Khau-goas, or Young-Red Nation, 1000; Habobes, or Velschoendragers, 1800; Karagei-Khois, 800; Gaminus, or Bondlezwaarts, 2000; Gunungu, or Lowlanders, 200. Namaqua Hottentots or Oerlaams—Eicha-ais, or Afrikaaners, 800 ; Kowisis, 2500; Amas, 2000; Khauas, 700; Gei-Khauas, or Gobabis people, 600.

The pure Namaquas claim to be the aboriginal tribes, while the " Oerlaam" are the newcomers, or those who migrated across the Orange river from the southern part of Cape colony. The latter tribes and many of the former may be said to be in a semi-civilized state, and have in a great measure adopted the customs, habits, language, and pursuits of the colonists. Some are in good circumstances, rich in waggons, horses, cattle, and sheep ; while others retain all the improvident, idle, nomadic habits of the aborigines.

The primitive character of the Hottentot or Khoi-Khoin has been greatly changed by their forced migrations, and their gradual adoption of the habits of civilized life. The best information as to their original manners and customs is therefore to be obtained from the descriptions given of them by the older writers. The observations of Kolben, who was a resident at the Cape in the early part of last century, are by far the most complete; and, although doubts have been thrown upon some of his statements, yet travellers and missionaries who have resided among the tribes in Great Namaqualand confirm and endorse the greater part of them.

All authorities agree in representing the natural disposition of the Hottentots as mild, placable, and ingenuous. Mutual affection was the greatest of their virtues. They held in contempt the man who could eat, drink, or smoke alone. They were hospitable to strangers; indeed, their munificence often left them scarcely anything for them-selves. Another characteristic was indolence. While not deficient in talents or capacity, they seemed to lack the energy to call them into action. They did not, however, disdain to look after their cattle. Hunting they pursued for pleasure as well as sustenance, and when once aroused they were nimble and active, as well as bold and ardent. In personal appearance they were of a medium height, the females rather smaller than the men. Their bodies were slender but well proportioned, with small hands and feet. Their skin was of a leathery brown colour; their face oval, with prominent projecting cheekbones; eyes dark chestnut or black and wide apart; nose broad and thick and flat at the root; chin pointed, and mouth large, with thick turned-up lips. Their woolly hair grew in short thick curly tufts on their head, and the beard very scanty. The women, especially as they advanced in years, had flabby breasts hanging down low; abnormal developments of fat were somewhat common among them; and cases occurred of extraordinary elongation of the labia minora and of the prceputium clitoridis.

The dress of the men was very simple. A cloak or kaross, varying according to the fashion of the tribe, was usually thrown across the shoulders and a smaller one across the loins. Those of the chiefs or captains were usually of tiger or wild-cat skins, those of the commonalty of sheep skins. They wore the cloaks all the year round, turning the hairy side inward in winter and outward in summer; they slept in them at night, and when they died they were interred in them. They had suspended around their necks little bags or pouches, containing their knives, their pipes and tobacco or daccha (Cannabis, or hemp), and an amulet of burnt wood. On their arms were rings of ivory. When they drove their herds to pasture they wore sandals on their feet, and some of them carried a jackal's tail fastened on a stick to wipe their face with when heated and drive away the flies. The women also wore karosses, a lesser under a greater, fashioned much like those of the men, but with the addition of a little apron, to which were appended their ornaments. In a leather bag suspended round their neck they carried daily, whether at home or abroad, some victuals, together with their daccha, tobacco, and pipe. They also wore an ornamented skin cap on their heads, armlets of iron or copper on their arms, strings of beads round their wrists, and round their legs thongs of ox-hide sometimes covering half the leg or more.

They loved to besmear their bodies and their dress with greasy substances. The wealthy Hottentots were very lavish in the matter of butter and fat, the use of which was the grand distinction between rich and poor. They also perfumed themselves with the powdered leaves of a shrub called by them bucchu (Diosma crenata). An oint-ment formed of soot and grease and the powder of bucchu was held in very high estimation.

The sites of their villages or kraals were usually on green meadow grounds. They never entirely exhausted the grass or herbage, but kept moving at intervals from one spot to another. The huts or tents, which they could strike, carry, or pitch where they chose, were ranged in circles, the area of which varied with the pastoral wealth of the community. The small cattle were placed inside the circle, and the larger cattle outside. In the centre of the huts a hole served for a fire-place, around which the members of the family were fond of squatting upon their haunches while they passed the tobacco pipe from one to another. On each side of the hearth small excavations an inch or two deep were made in the ground, and thereon mats were spread upon which the men, women, and children rolled up in their karosses lay down and slept. Their household effects con-sisted only of some earthen vessels for cookery, tortoise shells for spoons and dishes, and calabashes, bamboos, and skins for holding milk and butter. The weapons for hunt-ing or warfare—the assegai, the bow and poisoned arrows, the shield, and the kerrie (a stick with a large knob at one end)—were also part of the furniture. Women were held in high repute: the most sacred oath a Khoi-Khoi could take was to swear by his sister or mother; yet the females ate apart from the men, and did all the work of the kraal. Their usual food consisted of milk, the flesh of the buffalo, hippopotamus, antelope, or other game, and edible roots and bulbs or wild fruits. Cows' milk was commonly drunk by both sexes, but ewes' milk only by the women, and when cows' milk was scarce the women were obliged to keep to ewes' milk or water. Meats were eaten either roasted or boiled, but for the most part half raw, without salt, spices, or bread. Some meats they carefully abstained from, such as swine's flesh. Hares and rabbits were forbidden to the men, but not to the women; while the pure blood of beasts and the flesh of the mole were for-bidden to the women, but not to the men.

Their social pleasures consisted in feasting, smoking, dancing, and singing. Every signal event of life, and every change of abode and condition was celebrated with a feast. On the formation of a new kraal an arbour was constructed in the centre, and the women and children adorned and perfumed it with flowers and branches of trees and odoriferous herbs. The fattened ox was killed and cooked, and the men partook of it in the arbour, while the women sitting apart regaled themselves with broth. Upon such occasions they indulged in no other intoxication than what arose from their smoking tobacco or daccha.

Circumcision, which is common to the Kaffre tribes, was unknown to them, but when a youth entered upon manhood a particular ceremony was performed. One of the elders or officiating priests, using a knife of sharp quartz, made incisions on the young man's body, and afterwards besprinkled the same with urine. When a man for the first time distinguished himself by killing an elephant, hippopotamus, or rhinoceros, similar marks were made on his body, -and were regarded as insignia of honour. There was no purchase of wives, but in every case of marriage the consent of the parents had to be first obtained. If his proposals were accepted, the suitor accompanied by all his kindred drove two or three fat oxen to the house from which he was to take his destined bride. There her assembled relations received them with kindly greetings and caresses; the oxen were then immediately slain, and every one participated in the bridal feast. The nuptial ceremony was concluded by the priest besprinkling the happy pair. Among the colonial Hottentots these ancient usages have long been set aside; but they are still continued among some of the surviving tribes north of the Orange river. Polygamy was practised, but not to any great extent. Divorce was much more common. Family names were perpetuated in a peculiar manner—the sons took the family name of the mother, while the daughters took that of the father. Thus if the father's and mother's names were respectively Hagub and Daimtis, the sons would be called, according to their age, Daimub geib (big one), Daimub ! naga mab (of lower standing), and Daimub I Kham (younger); and the daughters, Hagu-geis (eldest), Hagu ! nagamas (second), and Plagu j Khams (younger). The children were very respectful to their parents, by whom they were kindly and affectionately treated. Yet the superannuated or aged father or mother was sometimes exposed and left to die. Namaquas say this was done by very poor people if they had no food for their parents. But even when there was food enough, aged persons, especially women, who were believed to be possessed of the evil spirit or devil were placed in an enclosure of bushes with some meat and water, intended to be their last nourishment,

The Hottentots had neither warlike nor pastoral songs, and their musical instruments were but few and simple. One named the " gorah " was formed by stretching a piece of the twisted entrails of a sheep along a thin hollow stick about three feet in length in the manner of a bow and string. At one end there was a piece of quill fixed into the stick, to which the mouth was applied, and the tones were produced by inspiration and respiration. Another, the " ramkee," was constructed on the same principle as a guitar, with three or four strings stretched over a piece of hollow wood. The "rommel-pot" was a kind of drum. Reeds several feet long were likewise made use of as flutes.1

The system of government was patriarchal. Each tribe had its hereditary " khu-khoi" or "gao-ao"or chief, and each kraal or encampment its captain. These met in council whenever any great matters affecting the privileges of the people had to be decided. They had no salary, but their persons were held in great reverence, and they were installed in office with solemnities and feasting. In certain tribes the hind part of every bullock which was slaughtered was sent to the chief, and this he distributed among the males of the village. He also collected sufficient milk at the door of his hut to deal out amongst the poor. A part of every animal taken in hunting was exacted by the chief, even though it was in a state of putrefaction when brought to him.

The captains assisted by the men of each kraal attended to the settlement of disputes regarding property and to the trial of criminals. A murderer was beaten or stoned to death; but if one escaped and was at large for a whole year, he was allowed to go unpunished. Adultery seldom occurred; if any one found parties in the act and killed them he was no murderer, but on the con-trary received praise for his deed. Women found offending were burnt. Theft, especially cattle-stealing, was severely punished.

The religious ideas of the Hottentots were very obscure. Vaillant says they had " neither priests nor temples, nor idols, nor ceremonials, nor any traces of the notion of a deity." Kolben, Tachart, and others, however, assure us that they believed in an invisible deity or " Great Captain," whom they named Tik-guoa (Tsit-goab), a good man who did them no harm, and of whom therefore they need not be afraid. They also spoke of other captains of less power, and of a black captain named Gauna, who was the spirit of evil. The moon was a secondary divinity, supposed to have the disposal of the weather; and on each occasion of the appearance of the crescent moon in the sky they assembled from night till morning, dancing, clapping hands, and singing their hymns. Schmidt, the first mis-sionary to the Hottentots, says they also celebrated the anniversary of the appearance of the Pleiades above the eastern horizon. Hahn states that at the present day the Topnaars of Sandwich Harbour and of the ! Khomab moun-tains worship a being whom they name Tusib, the rain god. He also reports that he heard an old Namaqua saying, "The stars are the souls of the deceased/' and mentions a form of imprecation, "Th«u happy one, may misfortune fall on thee from the star of my grandfather."





Their notion of the supreme being and their relations to a life hereafter also took the form of ancestor-worship. The deified hero was named Heitsi-Eibib; and of him endless stories are told. The one most generally accepted is that he was a notable warrior of great physical strength, who once ruled the Khoi-Khoin, and that in a desperate struggle with one of his enemies, whom he finally overcame, he received a wound in the knee, from which event he got the name of " the wounded knee." He was held in high repute for extraordinary powers during life, and after death he continued to be invoked as one who could still relieve and protect. According to the tradition still preserved among the Namaquas, Heitsi-Eibib came from the east. There-fore they make the doors of their huts towards the east, and those who possess waggons and carts put their vehicles alongside the mat-house with the front turned towards the east. All the graves are in true west-easterly direction, so that the face of the deceased looks towards the east. The spirit of Heitsi-Eibib is supposed to exist in the old burial places, and, whenever a heathen Hottentot passes them, he throws stones on the spot as an offering, at the same time invoking the spirit's blessing and protection. Hahn asserts that there are many proofs which justify the con-clusion that, to the minds of the Khoi-Khoin, Heitsi-Eibib and Tsu-goab (the supreme being) were identical. Both were higher powers who took great care of men. Both were believed to have died and risen again. They killed the bad beings and restored peace on earth; they promised men immortality, understood the secrets of nature, and could foretell the future. The Heitsi-Eibega are to be found all over South Africa.

Various ceremonies were practised to ward off the evil influence of ghosts and spectres, and charms were freely employed. There was also a belief that in every fountain there was a snake, and that as long as the snake remained there water would continue to flow, but that if the snake was killed or left the fountain it would cease. Offerings were sometimes made to the spirit of the fountain. Like all people sunk in barbarism, the Hottentots had great faith in witch-doctors, or sorcerers. When called to a sick-bed, these ordered the patient to lie on his back, and then pinched, cuffed, and beat him all over until they expelled the illness. After that they produced a bone, small snake, frog, or other object which they pretended to have extracted from the patient's body. If the treatment did not prove efficacious, the person was declared bewitched beyond the power of any one to cure him. Sometimes a joint of a finger was cut off from the idea that the disease would thereby pass away. If death occurred, the corpse was interred on the day of decease. It was wrapt in skins, and placed in the ground in the same position it once occupied in the mother's womb. Death was generally regarded in a very stoical manner.

Language. The Hottentot language was regarded by the early travellers and colonists as an uncouth and barbarous tongue. The Portuguese called the native manner of speaking stammering ; and the Dutch compared it to the "gobbling of a turkey-cock." These phonetic characteristics arose from the common use of " clicks,"—sounds produced by applying the tongue to the teeth or to various parts of the gums or roof of the mouth, and suddenly jerking it back. Three-fourths of the syllabic elements of the language begin with these clicks, and combined with them are several hard and deep gutturals and nasal accompaniments. The difficulty a European has in acquiring an accurate pronunciation is not so much in pro-ducing the clicking sound singly as in following it immediately with another letter or syllable. The four recognized clicks, with the symbols generally adopted to denote them, are as follows:— Dental = | ; palatal = :fj: ; lateral = ||; cerebral = !. According to Tindall, one of the best grammarians of the language, the dental click (similar to a sound of surprise or indignation) is produced by pressing the top of the tongue against the upper front teeth, and then suddenly and forcibly withdrawing it. The palatal click (like the crack of a whip) is produced by pressing the tongue with as flat a surface as possible against the termination of the palate at the gums, so that the top of the tongue touches the upper front teeth and the back of the tongue lies towards the palate, and then forcibly withdrawing the tongue. The cerebral click (compared to the popping of the cork of a bottle of champagne) is produced by curling up the tip of the tongue against the roof of the palate, and withdrawing it suddenly and forcibly. The lateral click (similar to the sound used in stimulating a horse to action) is articulated by covering with the tongue the whole of the palate and producing the sound as far back as possible ; European learners imitate it by placing the tongue against the side teeth and then withdrawing it. The easiest Hottentot clicks, the dental and cerebral, have been adopted by the Kaffres; and it is a striking circumstance, in evidence of the past Hottentot influence upon the Kaffre languages, that the clicking decreases amongst these tribes almost in propor-tion to their distance from the former Hottentot domain.

The language in its grammatical structure is beautiful arid regular. Dr Bleek describes it as having the distinctive features of the suffix-pronominal order or higher form of languages, in which the pronouns are identical with and borrowed from the derivative suffixes of the nouns. The words are mostly mono-syllables, always ending, with two exceptions, in a vowel or nasal sound. Among the consonants neither I, f, nor v are found. There are two g's, g hard and g guttural, and a deeper guttural Mi. Diphthongs abound. There is no article, but the definite or indefinite sense of a noun is determined by the gender. In the fullest known dialect (that spoken by the Namaqua) nouns are formed with eight different suffixes, which in nouns designating persons distinguish mase. sing. (-6), masc. plur. (-ku), masc. dual (kha), fem. sing, (-s), fem. plur. (-ti), com. sing, (-i), com. plur. {-u), com. dual (-«*). The adjective is either prefixed to a noun or referred to it by a suffixed pronoun. This grammatical division of the nouns according to gender led to the classification of the language as " sex-denoting," thus suggesting if not identifying its relationship, in original structure, with the North-African species of the same family, such as the Coptic and Old Egyptian, Galla, Berberic, Houssa, Ethiopic, and others.

There are four dialectical varieties of the language, each with well-marked characteristics :—the Nama dialect, spoken by the Namaqua as well as by the Hau-Koin or Hill Damaras, a supposed Bantu or negro people who in some past period were conquered and enslaved by the Namaquas ; the Kora dialect, spoken by the Korannas, or Koraquas, dwelling about the middle and upper part of the Orange, Vaal, and Modder Rivers ; the Eastern dialect, spoken by the Gona or Gonaquas on the borders of Kaffreland: and the Cape dialect, now no longer spoken but preserved in the records of early voyagers and settlers. Of these dialects the Nama is the purest. It is described in three grammars :—Wallmann's (1857) and Halm's in German, and Tindali's (1871) in English, the last being the best; and the four Gospels, with a large amount of missionary literature, have been published in it. This dialect is commonly spoken by a native population of not less than 100,000 souls south and north of the Orange river, and in parts of Damaraland (or Hereroland) and the Kaokoveld.

The vocabulary is not limited merely to the expression of the rude conceptions that are characteristic of primitive races. It possesses such words as koi, human being; khoi-si, kindly or friendly ; koi-si-b, philanthropist; khoi-si-s, humanity ; J[: ei, to think ; :jj; ei-s, thought; amo, eternal; amo-si-b, eternity ; tsa, to feel; tsa-b, feeling, sentiment; tsa-kha, to condole ; ama, true ; ama-b, the truth ; anu, sacred ; anu-si-b, holiness ; esa, pretty ; anu-xa, full of beauty.

A considerable mass of floating traditionary literature—fables, myths, and legends—exists amongst the Khoin,—a fact which was first made known by Sir James Alexander, who in his journeyings through Great Namaqualand in 1835 jotted down the stories toid him around the camp fire by his Hottentot followers. Since then missionaries and officials stationed in the country have made collections of them, and the result has been an unlooked for mine of literary lore among a nation whose mental qualifications it was customary to regard as of a very low grade. These Hottentot tales generally have much of the character of fables ; some are in many points identical with northern nursery tales, and suggestive of European origin or of contact with the white man; but the majority bear evidence of being true native products. Bleek's Reynard the Fox in South Africa (1864) contains a translation of a legend written down from the lips of the Namaquas by the Rev. G. Kronlein, which is regarded as an excellent specimen of the national style. Another legend relating to the moon and the hare conveys the idea of an early conception of the hope of immortality. It is found in various versions, and, like many other stories, occurs in Bushman as well as in Hottentot mythology.

The supposed affinity of the Hottentot with the North African nations was first guessed at by the Rev. Dr Moffat from the resemblance between the language of the Namaquas and that of some slaves in the market of Cairo. This relationship was afterwards suggested by the Rev. Dr James Adamson, of Cape Town, from the identity of the signs of gender in Namaqua and Coptic, and the appearance of persons of the Hottentot form and colour, with their grease and sibilo dye, among the representations on Nubian tombs. Then came Dr Bleek's philological researches, showing that the Hottentot language from the sexual gender of its nouns was one of the very extensive '' sex-denoting " family which has spread itself over North Africa, Europe, and part of Asia, and that it moreover surpassed all the others in a faithful preservation of the primitive type. This association of the language of the people of South Africa with that of their northern cousins promised to solve the problem of their pedigree and ancestry, for it at once suggested and implied early migrations of Hottentot and Bushmen from their primal home, and the intrusion upon them at some time or other of the Bantu or negroid tribes, who probably came from the west and drove the Hottentots on the eastern side of Africa southward before them. But the assumed kinship of the Old Egyptians and Hottentots has been disputed by other eminent authorities, such as "Von Gabelentz, Pott, Fr. Miiller, and Hahn, who have pronounced against it on ethnological and philological grounds. Hahn stoutly maintains that the Hottentots and Bush-men are but divisions of a single race—"the children of the same mother"—who formed the primeval inhabitants of the whole of South Africa as far as the Zambezi.





History. The earliest accounts which we have of the Hottentots occur in the narratives of Vasco da Gama's first voyage to India round the Cape in 1497. They are described as small, of a brownish-yellow complexion, and an ugly appearance ; they freely bartered their sheep, but would not part with their cattle, on which the women rode with pack saddles. In 1509 the Portuguese viceroy, Francisco d'Almarda, count of Abrantes, met his death in a dispute with these natives ; and down to the early part of the 17th century there was an idea that they were cannibals. Better knowledge was obtained after the Dutch East India Company took possession of the Cape in 1652. According to the accounts given by the early Dutch governors the Hottentots received the Europeans in a friendly manner. The Dutch upon their first settlement were not charge-able with cruelty or oppression to the natives. Their primary inten-tion when they erected a fort and took possession of Table Valley was merely to secure supplies of water, cattle, and other fresh pro-visions for their passing fleets ; and the only mode in which they could accomplish this object was by maintaining friendly relations with the aborigines. These relations continued until 1659, when a collision occurred which led to some bloodshed.

To prevent disputes about pasturage and cattle forays in the future, one of Van Riebeck's successors purchased in 1672, at the cost of goods about £10 value, from two of the Hottentot chiefs, who claimed to be hereditary sovereigns, all the country from the Cape peninsula to Saldanha Bay,—but on the condition that, where the colonists did not occupy the arable lands or pastures, the natives might erect their kraals and pasture their cattle freely.

During the years which followed, the European population, notwithstanding renewed hostilities in 1676 and 1677, considerably increased, and the settlement enlarged its boundaries, while the natives ejected from their former pastures retired upon their neighbours, and waged war among themselves. Simultaneously with the tribal disintegration and impoverishment which ensued, the occurrence of new and infectious diseases made sad havoc; and, while the tide of European occupation was gradually advancing inland from the south, a similar movement by the negro warrior tribes who have received the common appellation of Kaffres was taking place in the east, with the result that about the middle and the end of the last century the former inhabitants of the land were but occupants on sufferance. Straggling remnants still main-tained their independence, living in small kraals or societies, but the mass of them voluntarily took service with the colonists as herds-men, while others became hangers-on about the company's posts and grazing-farms, or roamed about the country. In 1787 the Dutch Government passed a law subjecting these wanderers to certain restrictions. They were required to have a residence, and were forbidden to change their place of abode without "passes" or certificates from the authorities or their masters. Another provi-sion gave their employers the right to the services of their children from eight to eighteen years of age, if born on their estates. At the same time corporal punishment and confiscation of property were threatened against any colonist convicted of ill-treating Hottentots, or of forcibly separating them from their wives and children. The effect of these measures of restraint was to place the Hottentots in more immediate dependence upon the farmers, or to compel them to migrate to the northward beyond the colonial border. Those who chose the latter alternative had to encounter the hostility of their old foes, the Bushmen, who were widely spread over the plains from the Nieuwveld and Sneeuwberg mountains to the Orange river. The colonists also, pressing forward to those territories, came in contact with these aboriginal Ishmaelites,—their cattle and sheep, guarded only by a Hottentot herdsman, offering the strongest temptation to the Bushman. Reprisals followed ; and the position became so desperate that the extermination of the Bushmen appeared to the Government the only safe alternative. "Commandoes" or military expeditions were sent out against them, and they were hunted down like wild beasts. Within a period of six years, it is said, upwards of 3000 were either killed or taken. In consequence of certain measures of restraint and conciliation insisted on by the authorities at a later period, the Boers rose in rebellion, and a state of anarchy ensued, which was prevalent when the British Government took possession of the Cape in 1795. No sooner was the English standard raised in the country than the Hottentots aban-doned their former masters and joined the British troops, a step which helped to bring about the prompt submission of the Boer insurgents. Tranquillity being thus restored, the Hottentots, fear-ing to return to their Dutch masters on the withdrawal of the British troops, requested the Government to make some provision for them. This petition and appeal being neglected, many joined their barbarian neighbours, the Kaffres, and together with them fell suddenly upon the colonists all along the border and even as far westward as the district of George. It was not till 1800 that they were ultimately prevailed upon to deliver up their arms. The English governor of that day, General Francis Dundas, showed an earnest desire to do justice to the Hottentots. Such as were disposed to enlist were embodied in a militia corps named the Cape Regiment, afterwards known as the Cape Mounted Rifles.

The Hottentots were not rescued from their state of servitude, or released from the restraints and disabilities imposed upon them by the Dutch authorities until long after the British rule had been permanently established in South Africa. A proclamation issued in 1809 gave them a greater degree of security in their contracts of service with the colonists; and subsequent regulations provided for the better protection of their persons and property. But with the exception of those individuals who found asylums in the missionary institutions of the Moravian Brethren and of the London Missionary Society, or who served in the Cape regiment, they were still in the service of the farmers, subject to indentureship and to rigorous control in moving from place to place. At length in 1828 the representations of English philanthropists prevailed; a law was promulgated effectually emancipating the Hottentots and all free persons of colour from compulsory service and all other disabilities, and declaring them " to be in the most full and ample manner entitled to all and every right, benefit, and privilege to which any other British subjects within the colony were entitled."

Following upon this the Government adopted a measure allotting certain lands for the use of Hottentot families. A tract known as the Kat River Valley, from which the Kaffre chief Macomo had been expelled for his aggressions against the colony, was set apart for them. It was divided into locations, upon which villages were laid out, each family receiving a number of acres as their allotment for cultivation, and the pasturage being reserved for commonage. Numbers of Hottentots soon made their appearance and settled
on the spot. Some were possessed of a quantity of live stock, which they had earned in the service of the farmers, or at the mission stations ; but most of them owned no property. Those who had cattle assisted their poorer friends and relatives; those who had
neither food nor friends lived upon " veldkost," i.e., the wild roots and bulbs dug out of the ground until the land they had planted returned them a harvest. Within a few years they surmounted their first difficulties, and their progress and prosperity delighted the friends of the coloured race. Three or four years afterwards, however, they suffered a good deal from Kaffre aggressions, and in 1835 had to bear the brunt of the war, being exposed to the most
determined attacks of the followers of Macomo and Tyali. They had scarcely recovered from the disasters then inflicted, when the outbreak of 1846 occurred, and all their able-bodied men had again to leave their homes and join the military encampments. When allowed to return to their locations, they found, like many other frontier inhabitants, the result of all their former labours destroyed; their houses had to be rebuilt, their lands to be cultivated, and their families to be fed. From this time a spirit of dissatisfaction crept in amongst them. They complained that while doing burgher duty they had not received the same treatment as others who were serving in defence of the colony, that they got no compensation for the losses they had sustained, and that they were in various ways made to feel they were a wronged and injured race. The location of a disloyal Kaffre, named Hermanns, with a number of disorderly followers in their neighbourhood, served to corrupt and estrange the feelings of many, and a secret combination was formed with the Kaffres to take up arms to sweep the Europeans away and establish a Hottentot republic. In 1851 about 900 of them broke out into rebellion, and their numbers were increased by deserters from the Hottentot regiment of Cape Mounted Rifles, and by several Hottentots in the service of the frontier farmers. A small body, however, remained loyal, and with the missionaries and the local magistrates withstood the rebels until military aid came to their relief. The Kat River population have since had a long period of peace and good government, and are now as loyal and happy as any subjects of the crown. (W. J. N.)


Footnotes

See paper by Messrs Flower and Murie in Journ. Comp. Anat. and Physiology, 1867 ; and Fritscb, Die Eingebornen Sud-Afrikas, Breslau, 1873.

The thief was bound hand and foot, and left on the ground with-out food for a long time; then, if his offence was slight, he received some blows with a kerrie or stick, but if the case was an aggravated one, he was severely beaten, and then unloosed and banished from the kraal. The family of even the woist criminal suffered nothing on his account in reputation, privilege, or property.
An interesting notice of this form of worship occurs in the journal of an expedition which the Dutch governor, Ryk van Tulbagh, sent to the Great Namaquas in 1752, which reached as far as the Kamob or Lion river (about 27° S. lat.).
On the religion and antiquities see Halm's papers, " Graves of the Heitsi-Eibib," in Cape Monthly Magazine, 1879, and " Der Hottentotische Zai-goab und der Griechische Zeus," in Zeitschr. fur Geogr., Berlin,

If a Khoi-Khoi went out hunting his wife kindled a fire, and assiduously watched by it to keep it alive ; if the lire should be extinguished her husband would not be lucky. If she did not make a fire, she went to the water and kept on throwing it about on the ground, believing that thereby her husband would be successful in getting game. Charms, consisting of bones, burnt wood, and roots of particular shrubs cut into small pieces, were generally worn round the neck.


See the linguistic part of Dr Pr. Midler's work on the scientific results of the Novara expedition, and Hahn's contributions on the Hottentots in the Proceedings of the Geographical Society (Dresden, 1869) and in Globus (1870), and his Sprache der Nama (Leipsic, 1870).

1 These were always played at the reed-dance, which was commenced by a leader blowing on his reed, with head bent forwards, and stamping his feet violently on the ground to beat time. He was followed by the other musicians, who, forming a circle, also stooped forward and stamped. The women first ran round the circle of reed-players, clapping their hands and singing, and giving their bodies various odd twists. Then they got into the circle, and the men stamped and blew the reeds around them, and thus they continued frequently a whole night with but little interruption. On some occa-sions the performers described with appropriate action any incident of late occurrence, and in doing so the utmost poetical licence, as well as perfect freedom of speech, was permitted.




Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries