The Hottentots

The Hottentots probably originated in the horn of Africa and from there migrated to the region of the great lakes. Driven from this area by the Bantu tribes, they then migrated to Southern Africa. Some clans of the community were left behind, however, and became independent settlements. The strange name of 'Hottentot' or 'Hottentut' was given to these people by early Dutch visitors to Southern Africa who first met up with them near the Cape of Good Hope. Dapper, writing in 1670, states that they were given the name because of the harsh, guttural, and generally curious sounds of the language. The same name is applied in Dutch to one who stammers and stutters. Far from considering themselves mere stammerers, however, these men called themselves the Khoi-Khoi, or 'men of men', and they drew a sharp line between themselves and the Bushmen, whom they looked down upon and called the 'Sä-n' .

The Hottentot is yellowish in appearance with a narrow skull and prominent cheek-bones, and there is a theory that Bushmen and Hottentots were once of the same race. Some broke away to raise cattle, build huts and lead a peaceful pastoral life, while the rest stayed true to the wilderness and the elements, and remained children of nature. It is said, too, that they originally all spoke the same language. All the Khoi-Khoi tribes could understand one another, but the dialects of the various Bushman clans diverged so widely that they became incomprehensible to one another. The Hottentot has a perfect decimal system while the average Bushman was limited to little more than 'one - two- three - much'.

Hottentots name all the boys in the family after the maternal side, and all the girls after the paternal half. The eldest daughter is always highly respected and the milking of the cows is left entirely to her.

The folklore of the Hottentots does not contain quite the same richness of humour and detail as that of the Bushmen. Most of it is of a more domestic and mundane nature. They lack the same closeness to nature, affinity with the elements and sensitivity to their environment that is so noticeable in the Bushman character. Their outlook on life is more down-to-earth and pragmatic. Indeed, they regarded the Bushmen with great fear and suspicion (though they were often neighbours), and avoided confronting that fierce and unpredictable people. The old men would tell of when they were hunting and came upon Bushmen: the Bushmen, though small, were always insolent, and demanded tobacco. The Hottentot huntsmen would scrape out the dregs from their pipes for them. When they smoked this, the Bushmen became 'drunk' and lay down; while they lay there, the hunters would run away. They said that if they had no tobacco they would certainly have been killed.

   Hottentot Deities    Inkalimeva and the Hare
   Witchcraft    The Cape Lion
   Superstitions    The Lion and the Jackal Go Hunting
   The Night Walkers    How the Jackal got his Black Back
   Rain    How the Heron got a Bend in its Neck
   The Lion Lady    Water