A History of South Africa (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Leonard Thompson defines his terms carefully. The Africans, Coloureds, and Indians of South Africa are known collectively as Blacks. The Afrikaners are the Dutch population established by 1800, called Boers by the British in the South African War of 1889-1902. South Africa is the political entity designated the Republic of South Africa, including the ten areas of the so- called “homelands.” Southern Africa encompasses the Republic, as well as Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Thompson arranges his narrative in seven lucid chapters that bring South Africa’s complicated story into focus and order.
People in Southern Africa in the sixteenth century followed one of three ways of life. Some in the mountains and dry areas of the west still hunted animals and gathered plants, whereas those who lived on suitable pastureland herded sheep and cattle. In the eastern third of the region, where there was more rainfall, farmers grew crops and herded sheep and cattle. These eastern peoples, who lived in semipermanent settlements, spoke Bantu languages and were the ancestors of most of the people of present-day Southern Africa. Europeans came to call the hunter- gatherers Bushmen, the herdsmen Hottentots, and the farmers of the east Kaffirs. These derogatory terms have been replaced by the scholarly designations San for the hunter-gatherers, Khoikhoi for the pastoralists, and Africans for the Bantu-speaking farmers.
(The entire section is 2286 words.)
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