1902 Encyclopedia > Africa > African Tribes of South Africa. Kaffres (Kaffirs). Hottentots. Bushmen.

(Part 26)


(m) African Tribes of South Africa. Kaffres (Kaffirs). Hottentots. Bushmen.

Kaffres [or Kaffirs]

The Kaffres [Kaffirs], who, together with the tribes most akin to them, occupy the greater portion of South Africa, especially the eastern portions, have some analogy with Europeans in their features; but they are woolly haired, and while some are almost black, others are comparatively fair, although some of their tribes might have been mixed with the Eastern Negros. They have been very wrongly classed with the Negroes. They are strong, muscular, active people, addicted to plunder and warfare. The Eastern Kaffres, among whom the Amakosah and Amazulah are best known to us, on account of their frequent invasions of the Cape Colony, are much more savage than the western and northern, or the Bechuana and Sichuana tribes. All Kaffres are pastoral, keeping large herds of cattle; but the last-named tribes inhabit large towns, well-built houses, cultivate the ground carefully, and exhibit every appearance of being capable of entire civilization. The word Kaffre, or Kafir, as it ought to be written, is Arabic, and was first applied by the Europeans to the inhabitants of the coast of Mozambique, because they were so called by the Mohammedans, in whose eyes they were Kafirs, that is infidels.


We conclude this sketch with the Hottentot race, which is entirely different from all the other races of Africa. Where they originally came from, and how they happened to be hemmed in and confined entirely to this remote corner of the earth, is a problem not likely to be ever satisfactorily solved the only people to whom the Hottentot has been thought to bear a resemblance, are the Chinese or Malays, or their original stock the Mongols. Like these people they have the broad forehead, the high cheek-bones, the oblique eye, the thin beard, and the dull yellow tint of complexion, resembling the colour of a dried tobacco leaf; but there is a difference with regard to the hair, which grows in small tuffs, harsh, and rather wiry, covering the scalp somewhat like the hard pellets of a shoe-brush.

The women, too, have a peculiarity in their physical conformation, which, though occasionally to be met with in other nations, is not universal, as among the Hottentots. Their constitutional "bustles" sometimes grow to three times the size of those artificial stuffings with which our fashionable ladies have disfigured themselves. Even the females of the diminutive Bosjesmen Hottentots, who frequently perish of hunger in the barren mountains, and are reduced to skeletons, have the same protuberances as the Hottentots of the plains.

It is not known even whence the name of Hottentot proceeds, as it is none of their own. It has been conjectured that hot and tot frequently occurring in their singular language, in which the monosyllables are enunciated with a palatic clacking with the tongue, like that of a hen, may have given rise to the name, and that the early Dutch settlers named them hot-en-tot. they call themselves quiquoe, pronounced with a clack.

They are a lively, cheerful, good-humoured people, and by no means wanting in intellect; but they have met with nothing but harsh treatment since their first connection with Europeans. Neither Bartholomew Diaz, who first discovered, nor Vasco de Gama, who first doubled, the Cape of Good Hope, nor any of the subsequent Portuguese navigators, down to 1509, had much communication with the natives of this southern angle of Africa; but in the year above mentioned, Francisco d'Almeyda, viceroy of India, having landed on his return at Saldanha (now Table) Bay, was killed, with about twenty of his people, in a scuffle with the natives. To avenge his death, a Portuguese captain, about three years afterwards, is said to have landed a piece of ordnance loaded with grape shot, as a pretended present to the Hottentots. Two ropes were attached to this fatal engine; the Hottentots poured down in swarms. Men, women, and children flocked round the deadly machine, as the Trojans did round the wooden horse, "funemque manu contingere gaudent." The brutal Portuguese fired off the piece, and viewed with savage delight the mangled carcasses of the deluded people. The Dutch effected their ruin by gratifying their propensity for brandy and tobacco, at the expense of their herds of cattle on which they subsisted.

Under the British sway they have received protection, and shown themselves not unworthy of it. They now possess property, and enjoy it in security. One of the most beautiful villages, and the neatest and best-cultivated gardens, belong to a large community of Hottentots, under the instruction and guidance of a few Moravian missionaries.


These forlorn people are of Hottentot origin. Of them also several tribes have been discovered much farther north, and intelligence has lately reached Europe, that between the Portuguese possession, in the very centre of South Africa, there is a nation of dwarfish appearance who possess large herds, and who seem to belong to the original Bushmen stock.

Madagascar Inhabitants

The island of Madagascar is inhabited by a race of Malay origin, exhibiting traces of Negro and Arabic mixture.

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