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. The Xhosa 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 not Xhosa, but that “xhosa” 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 the Xhosa language. 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.