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Posted by on May 30, 2020 in TellMeWhy |

What Is Xhosa?

What Is Xhosa?

Xhosa is a cluster of related tribes living in the Transkei district of Cape Province, South Africa. They were granted self-government in 1963. They form part of the Cape, or Southern, Nguni group of Bantu speaking tribes, all of whom speak dialects of Xhosa. They are agriculturists, keeping some cattle.

The name “Xhosa” comes from that of a legendary leader and King called uXhosa. There is also a fringe theory that, in fact the King’s name which has since been lost among the people was a name given to him by the San, which means “fierce” or “angry” in Khoisan languages.

The Xhosa people refer to themselves as the amaXhosa, and to their language as isiXhosa. Xhosa-speaking peoples are divided into several tribes with related but distinct heritages. The main tribes are the Mpondo, Mpondomise, Bomvana, Xesibe, and Thembu.

In addition, the Bhaca and Mfengu have adopted this language, known affectionately as the ‘click click language,’ takes its name from a people in mostly southern Africa who speak it. One of the official languages of South Africa and the native tongue of the late Nelson Mandela.

Presently approximately 8 million Xhosa are distributed across the country, and the Xhosa language is South Africa’s second-most-populous home language, after the Zulu language, to which Xhosa is closely related.

Why do they paint their faces? Face painting, or umchokozo, plays a big role in this culture, and women decorate their faces with white or yellow ochre, and use dots to make patterns on their faces. … This ritual is meant to prepare them for life, leadership and being custodians of their culture.

Content for this question contributed by David Porter, resident of Terrace Park, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA