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(koi`koi'), people numbering about 55,000 mainly in Namibia and in W South Africa. The Khoikhoi have been called Hottentots by whites in South Africa. In language and in physical type the Khoikhoi appear to be related to the SanSan
, people of SW Africa (mainly Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and South Africa), consisting of several groups and numbering about 100,000 in all. They are generally short in stature; their skin is yellowish brown in color; and they have broad noses, flat ears, bulging foreheads,
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 (Bushmen), i.e., they speak a variation of the Khoisan, or Click, language (see African languagesAfrican languages,
geographic rather than linguistic classification of languages spoken on the African continent. Historically the term refers to the languages of sub-Saharan Africa, which do not belong to a single family, but are divided among several distinct linguistic stocks.
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. Both are generally much lighter in complexion than the neighboring Bantu, and genetic studies suggests that both became isolated from other humans around 100,000 years ago. Historically a pastoral people, inhabiting the coast of the Cape of Good Hope in historic times, the Khoikhoi were the first native people to come into contact (mid-17th cent.) with the Dutch settlers. As the Dutch took over land for farms, the Khoikhoi were dispossessed, exterminated, or enslaved, and their numbers dwindled. They were similarly dispossessed and exterminated by the Germans in the early 1900s in Namibia. The Khoikhoi were formerly divided into 10 clans, each ruled by a headman and councillors elected by universal male suffrage. The Khoikhoi have largely disappeared as a group, except for the Namas (see NamaqualandNamaqualand
or Namaland
, region, c.150,000 sq mi (388,500 sq km), SW Africa. It extends from Windhoek, Namibia, in the north to Northern Cape, South Africa, in the south and from the Namib Desert in the west to the Kalahari Desert in the east.
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) of SW Africa, who still live as pastoral nomads. Most Khoikhoi now are settled in villages, living as farmers and laborers.


See I. Schapera, The Khoisan Peoples of South Africa (1930, repr. 1965); P. Heap, The Story of Hottentots Holland (1970).

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