History of the amaXhosa
The amaXhosa people are Bantu speakers living in south-east South Africa, and in the last two centuries throughout the southern and central-southern parts of the country. Xhosa people currently make up approximately 18% of the South African population. By number: in 2008: Botswana 9,900; Lesotho 22,000; South Africa 7,529,000; Zimbabwe 29,000
During the seventeenth century, a gradual migration of the Nguni took place which led thousands of people from the southern Zaire Great Lakes area to move south, displacing the original Khoisan hunter gatherers of Southern Africa.
The Xhosa culture (and Nguni culture as a whole) has borrowed from the Khoisan culture and language, and the two peoples lived symbiotically and even intermarried. The Xhosa people speak a language called "Xhosa" which is known as a "click" language, having three basic clicks, borrowed from the Khoisan languages.
Xhosa peoples were well established by the time of the Dutch arrival in the mid-17th century, and occupied much of eastern South Africa from the Fish River to land inhabited by Zulu-speakers south of the modern city of Durban.
The Xhosa and white settlers first encountered one another around Somerset East in the early 18th century. In the late 18th century Afrikaner trekboers migrating outwards from Cape Town came into conflict with Xhosa pastoralists around the Great Fish River region of the Eastern Cape. Both the Boers and the Xhosa were stock-farmers. The competition for grazing land led first to quarrels between the two groups, and eventually it came to a number of wars.
As South Africa shifted politically between British and Dutch rule, clashes with the Xhosa grew in magnitude, as with the Zulu in the Natal area farther north. The politics of the colonial government attempted to enforce the separation of white and black settlement areas with the Fish River as the border. But the more the colony developed into a modern state with a strong military organization, the more the whites tended towards a policy of land annexing and the subjugation of the black population.. Following more than 20 years of intermittent conflict, the Xhosas were forced east by British colonial forces in the Third Frontier War. This dislocated Xhosa clans and disrupted the traditional lineage-family homesteads and social system. The Xhosa were pressed into highland areas where the terrain offered some defence. In the 1830s and 1840s, after major battles, the British stripped the Xhosa chiefs of effective power. Certain areas were finally designated as semi-autonomous territories, while the British settlers took the prize areas.
Many Xhosa-speaking clans had also been pushed west by expansion of the Zulus, as the northern Nguni put pressure on the southern Nguni as part of the historical process known as the mfecane, or "scattering".
The Xhosa-speaking southern Nguni people had initially split into the Rharhabe(who had moved westwards across the Kei river).
In British South Africa, traditional areas of the Xhosa and other peoples were preserved as autonomous territories. These later became administrative districts of the Union of South Africa in 1910. The Union remained part of the British Empire and Commonwealth until after WW II. In the election of 1948, the Afrikaner National socialist party won control, restoring Afrikaner control to South Africa for the first time since the annexation of the Boer Republics by 1879. The Afrikaner government withdrew South Africa from the Commonwealth and imposed the segregation policy called "apartheid" (apart-ness), which created separate regions that were described as Bantustans (homelands) for black people of African descent. Two regions—Transkei and Ciskei—were set aside for Xhosa people, and proclaimed independent. Thousands of people were forcibly relocated there and denied South African citizenship.
The Xhosa were active in the following decades in opposing this policy, while they were persecuted and separated from most civil and legal rights. Xhosa and other black African peoples did have access to some education and there was some economic freedom. There were Xhosa lawyers (like Nelson Mandela) and business people who worked within the system to oppose apartheid until it was finally dismantled with the change to democracy in 1994.
AmaXhosa Clan Lineage Traditions
According to tradition, the leader from whom the Xhosa people take their name was the first King of the nation. Another tradition stresses the essential unity of the Xhosa-speaking people by proclaiming that all the Xhosa subgroups are descendants of one ancestor, Tshawe. Historians have suggested that Xhosa and Tshawe were probably the first Xhosa kings or paramount (supreme) chiefs.
One of Xhosa's descendents, named Rharhabe a son from the Right Hand house. Rharhabe, the warrior, wanted Gcaleka's throne but was defeated and banished and settled in the Amathole Mountains. Maxhobayakhawuleza Sandile Aa! Zanesizwe is the King in the Great Place in Mngqesha. The Zwelonke Sigcawu was crowned King of the Xhosa on June 18, 2010.
IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THESE 'TRIBES' ARE STILL NOT RIGHT, AS SOURCES CONFLICT. I WOULD WELCOME HELP FROM ANYONE WITH MORE EXPERTISE
- AmaMpondo (their kingdom is in dispute, like that of the amaXhosa )The AmaMpondo have their separate lineage that is traceable from Sibiside to Dlemini to Njanya, to Mpondo and Mpondomise (twins) and Xesibe. The descendants of Mpondo are Santsabe, Sukude, Msiza, Ncindise, Cabe, Gangata, Bhala, Chithwayo, Khonjwayo, Ngcoya, Hlamandana, Tahle, Nyawuza and many others.
- AmaMpondomise (their kingdom was destroyed by British colonists in revenge for the killing of magistrate Christopher Hope by Mhlontlo's forces during the Anti-Colonial Revolt of 1880. The revolt was led by Mhlontlo of the amaMpondomise together with Gecelo of the amaGcina, Dalasile and Stokwe of the amaQwathi and Squngathi of the abaThembu).
- AmaXesibe (The descendants of Xesibe are Ntozabantu to Ndzuza to Miyana to Bimbi to Nondzaba who begot Hlabe to Mthetho to Mtshutshumbe who founded the amaQwathi nation. Mtshutshumbe begot Mndwana begot Ncobe begot Nkovane begot Ntswayibana begot Dikela.)
- AmaXhosa (the kingdom is in dispute between amaGcaleka and amaRharhabe)
- AbaThembu (their kingdom is in dispute between the Matanzima and Dalindyebo descendants).
- AmaBhaca (descended from Madzikane, chief of the amaNgwane, killed during the invasion of Thembuland in 1828)
- AmaMfengu (amaHlubi, amaBhele, amaZizi, amaNgwane, etc.)
The amaMpondo, amaMpondomise, amaXesibe and amaQwathi nations are related but the amaQwathi settled in Thembuland more than 350 years ago and as a result Qwathi chiefdom is more Thembu in culture and political association.
The “Iziduko” (clan) matters most to the Xhosa identity (even more than names and surnames), and are transferred from one to the other through oral tradition. Knowing your “Isiduko” is vital to the Xhosas and it is considered a shame and “Uburhanuka” (lack-of-identity) if one doesn’t know one's clan. This is considered so important that when two strangers meet for the first time, the first identity that gets shared is “Isiduko”. It is so important that two people with the same surname but different clan are considered total strangers but the same two people from the same clan but different surnames are regarded as close relatives. This forms the roots of "Ubuntu" (neighbouring) - a behaviour synonymous to this tribe as extending a helping hand to a complete stranger when in need. Ubuntu goes further than just helping one another - it is so deep that it even extends to looking after and reprimanding your neighbour's child when in the wrong.
One traditional ritual that is still regularly practiced is the manhood ritual, a secret rite that marks the transition from boyhood to manhood (Ulwaluko). After ritual circumcision, the initiates (abakhwetha) live in isolation for up to several weeks, often in the mountains. During the process of healing they smear white clay on their bodies and observe numerous taboos. Girls are also initiated into womanhood (Intonjane). They too are secluded, though for a shorter period. Female initiates are not circumcised. Other rites include the seclusion of mothers for ten days after giving birth, and the burial of the afterbirth and umbilical cord near the village. This is reflected in the traditional greeting Inkaba yakho iphi?, literally "Where is Your Navel?" The answer "tells someone where you live, what your clan affiliation is, and what your social status is and contains a wealth of cultural information. Most importantly, it determines where you belong".
A clan comprised of a number of groups, each led by a chief, or Inkosi, who owed his position to his mother's status (the society, however, was a patriarchal one in which women weren't formally accorded political authority and were expected to leave their families to live with their husband's family.) The Xhosa are polygynous (though today only the wealthier men have more than one wife). Marriages are arranged by the families. The family of the boy approaches the family of the girl and begins "negotiations". The lobola, or bride price, must also be agreed upon. It is typically 10 cows or the equivalent in money. The bride is captured by the groom's family and taken to live with them. In secular settings, they are considered married. In Christian settings, they proceed to the church for a two day service in which one day is spent at the groom's village and the other at the bride's village. The migrant labor system has put great strains on the traditional family. Some men have established two distinct families, one at the place of work and the other at the rural home. With the end of apartheid, some of the families previously separated by the labour laws are beginning new lives in urban areas.
Xhosa clan names (iziduko) are family names which are considered more important than surnames. Much like the clan system of Scotland, each Xhosa person can trace their family history back to a specific male ancestor or stock. Mentioning the clan name of someone you wish to thank is the highest form of respect. Thus Nelson Mandela is called by his clan name ‘Madiba’ in SA.
When a woman marries she may take her husband's surname, but she always keeps her own clan name, adding the prefix Ma- to it. A man and a woman who have the same clan name may not marry, as they are considered to be related.
Children are usually named by their fathers or grandparents and all names have special meanings. When a woman marries, her mother-in-law gives her a new name. When children are old enough to attend school, they were often given an English name.
Names in Xhosa often express the values or opinions of the community. Common personal names include Thamsanqa (good fortune) and Nomsa (mother of kindness). Adults are often referred to by their isiduko (clan or lineage) names. In the case of women, clan names are preceded by a prefix meaning "mother of." A woman of the Thembu clan might be called MamThembu . Women are also named by reference to their children, real or intended; NoLindiwe is a polite name for Lindiwe's mother.
A few names of amaXhosa and related ethnic groups include:
- Bhayi (Khetshe, Mkhumbeni, Msuthu – they belong to the amaVundle people)
- Bhele (divides into several sub-clan groups: Dongo, Langa, etc.)
- Cethe (ooChizama)
- Cirha (ooNcibane)
- Debeza – OoDebeza, ngoJebe, Nonyanya, Nongoqo, Mbeka Ntshiyini Bathi uqumbile, Khonkcoshe Mbokodo engava mkwetsho (These are royalty in the Amampondomse group. Their main concentration is in the former Transkei, in Tsolo, Qumbu and Umthatha in the Eastern Cape.)
- Dlamini (or Zizi,Jama kaSjadu, the clan name of Thabo Mbeki, an Mfengu subgroup)
- Dlomo (different lines, Thembu or Hlubi subgroups)
- Dontsa- oNoDlidlu, oNoDlabathi, oSwahla, oMntungwa uNdukuMkhonto, uShembe, bath' uDontsa akananyongo kant' abay'bon' uba igqunywe ngesbhadlalala so mhlehlo... (Hlubi clan)
- Duma (Nxuba)
- Faku (Nyawuza, Thahla, Ndayeni, Mpondo, Hlamba ngobubend'amanz'ekhona)
- Gaba (Mngqosini, Mjobi, Thithiba, Cihoshe, Nozinga, Mnt'womlambo, Thikoloshe, Ndoko, Mbokodw'emnyama Kahili, Msuthu)
- Gebe (a Bomvana clan name)
- Gqwashu (with Khoi-khoi ancestry)
- Gxarha (Mpodomise subgroup clan name)
- Jola SingaMampondomse ngohlanga, oJola, oomphankomo, nomakhala, njuza, sthukuthezi, sithandwa mhla kukubi, hoshode, hakaha, mfaz'omabele made oncancisa naphesha komlambo
- Jwarha (Mtika, Mazaleni, Jotela, Khatiti, Mnangwe, Mayarha, Mbelu, Ndabase, Bantw'abahle noba bapheth' izikhali,
- Khiwa (Khonjwayo, a Pondo clan)
- Khumalo (Mfengu clan name)
- Khwetshube (Mpondo clan name)
- Kwayi (Ngconde, Togu, Ubulawi, Ngcond'oneentshaba, etc.)
- Madiba (the clan name of Nelson Mandela, a Thembu. Important rulers and chiefs include Mthikrakra, Ngangelizwe, Dalindyebo, Joyi, Jumba, Sabatha, Buyelekhaya)
- Maduna (Gubevu, Nokhala, an Mfengu clan name)
- Manci(Mbali, Wabane, Tshitshis'intaba, Mdludla ka Bekiso, Zinde Zinde Zinemiqala)
- Maya (omaya oyem yem osophitsho, omagwa, ongqolomsila, obhomoyi)
- Matshaya Mbathane
- Mdlangathi: Mome mome Sirhama Somntwana, Juta
- Mfene (Olisa, Ojambasi)
- Miya, Gcwanini
- Mjoli (Qubulashe, Wushe)
- Mkhwemte Dabane Sgadi Mekhi Ntswentswe Fulashe Nojaholo Ncibane Qhanqolo Ntlokwenyathi Ngququ venge
- Mpehle (Mpodomise subgroup clan name)
- Mpemvu (a Thembu clan name)
- Mpinga (Mawawa): the clan of Enoch Sontonga, author of "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", part of Nationa Athem of Republic of South Africa.
- Mtakwenda (Leta, Libele, Tyebelendle, Ngcwadi, Kwangeshe, Mentuko, Mboyi, Solizembe)
- Mvulane (Ncilashe, Msuthu – they belong to the amaVundle people)
- Myirha Mzondi Sampu Ziyeka (Ithambo lenyoka lihlaba elimzondayo)
- Ndala (Ndala ka Momamana, uMncotshe, Msunu Sdumbu, Thole, Ngxunga Smukumuku, Ndithinina )
- Ndlovu Mntungwa Gengesi Malunga Mancoba (zidlekhaya ngokuswela umalusi)
- Nkomo (Mntungwa, Khumalo – amaMfengu. They are originally Ndebele from Natal and arrived in as refugees in Thembuland in 1828 during the time of the Mfecane wars.)
- Nkwali (Mfengu/Hlubi clan name: bhukula, Mkhwanazi, Nkwali ye Nkosi)
- Nxuba (Mduma, Rhudulu)
- Nyawuza (Faku, Mpondo ruling line, chiefs including Faku, Sigcau, Bokleni, Ndamase)
- Mqadi Ngqwili Nondlobe
- Qhinebe - Gqugqugqu, Zithonga-zthathu, Haha, Mlunjwa, Mkhomanzi, Duka namahlathi
- Qocwa (Zikhali Mazembe, Jojo, Tiyeka, Butsolo Beentonga Mbizana, Mabombo)
- Qithi (Ndinga, Zondwa, Thembu)
- Mqwambi, Holomi
- Qwathi - Iinkomo zikaXesibe, zikaJojo, zikaMtshutshumbe, ogqaz'indlel'ebhek'ebuNguni. (The amaQwathi are not a clan but an independent nation founded by Mtshutshumbe kaMthetho who split from the amaXesibe nation and settled in the Mqanduli area in Thembuland some 350 years ago. Later they settled in their present capital of Engcobo during the reign of King Dlomo of abaThembu, about 1680. This small but fiercely independent and anti-colonial nation divides into several clans: amaDikela, amaTshaba, ooSdindi, ooBhlangwe, ooBhose, amaNzolo, imiNcayi, amaNtondo, amaKhombayo, ooMkhondweni, amaVumbe, ooKhebesi, amaBangula, amaDumba, ooMhotho, ooCakeni, ooBhabha, amaMvala, amaDabisa, ooS'ximba, etc. Prominent chiefs include the heroic anti-colonial Stokwe ka-Ndlela, the courageous Dalasile kaFubu, the great Fubu himself (who fought and killed both Rharhabe and his son Mlawu in 1872, defended his capital and defeatedMadzikane of the Bhaca in 1824 and Matiwane of Ngwane in 1828 during the Mfecane wars triggered by Shaka, etc), Zwelakhe (present chief))
- Rhadebe ndlebentle'zombini (amaHlubi)
- Sithathu – means "third" (the third Khoi-khoi ancestry clan)[oChisana, Khopoyi, Ndebe, Hasa,Lawu]
- Skhoji (A group of Xhosa speaking people who mainly occupy the small town called Tsolo on the Tsitsa valley. They are the direct descendants of a Scottish man by the name of William Saunders who befriended a Xhosa girl and later had issue.)
- Sukwini (with Khoi-khoi ancestry) – [Chwama, Dibashe ,Lawu'ndini, Nja-bomvu, Sandlala-ngca, Ithole loMthwakazi].
- Thangana (Krila, Rhaso, M'bamba, Bodlinja, Gobingca)
- Thole (Gqagqane, Buzini, Ndlangisa, Mzimshe, Lwandle)
- Tolo (amaMfengu – Dlangamandla, Mchenge, Mabhanekazi, Zulu, Mabele-made)
- Tshangisa (Zulu, Skhomo, Mhlatyana, Rhudulu, Nxuba, Mngwevu)
- Tshawe (the ruling house among all the Xhosa. Chiefs include Hintsa, Sigcawu, Sarhili, Xolilizwe, etc.)
- Tshezi (the ruling Bomvana clan of the Jalamba-Gambushe line, with European shipwreck ancestry)
- Tshomane (with shipwreck ancestry, split from the ruling Nyawuza clan of the Mpondo)
- Xesibe (AmaXesibe are a nation made up of several clans and tribes but their history is not well documented. Common clan names are: Nondzaba, Mbathane, Tshomela ka Matsho).
- Xhamela (They are also called amaGcina, found in Thembuland).
- Zangwa (Khwalo – amaMpondo).
Traditional Culture Veneration of the ancestors, sometimes called "ancestor worship," is very prominent among the Xhosa people. The ancestors are still considered part of the community of the lineage. They believe the ancestors reward those who venerate them and punish those who neglect them. Many mix ancestor worship with their Christian faith. There is a strong sense of loyalty among the tribe or community. The land was communally held; and great emphasis placed on giving according to need: everything was shared, in bad times as well as good; Xhosa families still routinely help one another with such tasks as hut-building.
The body of Xhosa lore has much in common with that of the other Nguni peoples such as the Zulu and Swazi. Animism, and recognition of the presence and power of ancestral spirits and of a supreme authority, are basic elements of belief. Misfortune and illness are attributed to unnatural of supernatural influences (such as the tokoloshe, a hairy and potentially malevolent goblin who attacks at night). Other figures are the huge lightning bird (Impundulu), and the gentle aBantu bomlambo, human-like beings believed to live in rivers and the sea, and who accept into their family those who drown.
The Xhosa also have amagqirha or diviners in their tribes. The diviner is the Xhosa's healer. There are herbalists amaxhwele, prophets izanusi, and healers inyanga for the community. The diviners are mostly women. They wear a shawl and headdress of fur most of the time. It takes about five years of being an assistant to a diviner until you become one yourself.
The key figure in the Xhosa oral tradition is the imbongi (plural: iimbongi) or praise singer. Iimbongi traditionally live close to the chief's "great place" (the cultural and political focus of his activity); they accompany the chief on important occasions - the imbongi Zolani Mkiva preceded Nelson Mandela at his Presidential inauguration in 1994. Iimbongis' poetry, called imibongo, praises the actions and adventures of chiefs and ancestors. Xhosa traditional music places a strong emphasis on group singing and handclapping as accompaniment to dance. Drums, while used occasionally, were not as fundamental a part of musical expression as they were for many other African peoples. Other instruments used included rattles, whistles, flutes, mouth harps, and stringed-instruments constructed with a bow and resonator. There are songs for various ritual occasions; one of the best-known Xhosa songs is a wedding song called " http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfZA4TkjbtE Qongqongthwane", performed by Miriam Makeba as the "Click Song." Missionaries introduced the Xhosa to Western choral singing. ["http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFW7845XO3g Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika"], part of the National anthem of South Africa is a Xhosa hymn written in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga.
- Peires, JB: ‘The House of Phalo’. 1981, Raven Press, Johannesburg, SA