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(Xhosa, Amaxosa), a people in the Republic of South Africa living predominantly in the eastern part of Cape Province. Population, approximately 3.9 million (1970 estimate).
The language (Xhosa, or Isixhosa) is related to the Bantu family. A large number of Xosa maintain their traditional religious beliefs (worship of ancestors and natural forces); some are Christians. In the mid-18th century, the Xosa and related tribes occupied the territory between the Drakensberg Mountains and the Great Fish and Umzimkulu rivers. From the 1770’s to the 1880’s they waged an armed struggle against the Boers (Afrikaners), and, in the early 19th century, also against the English (the Kaffir Wars). The merging of the Xosa tribes—the Mondo, Tembu, and related tribes—and the collapse of the tribal structure in the course of this struggle led to the formation of the Xosa nation. The chief occupations are farming (corn, sorghum) and livestock raising; a large number of Xosa work as hired laborers and sharecroppers on farms, at industrial plants, and in the mines.
REFERENCESPotekhin, I. I. Formirovanie natsional’noi obshchnosti iuzhno-afrikanskikh bantu. Moscow, 1955.
A. B. DAVIDSON