Ties that Bind Us in Southern Africa
From around 3000 years ago to 1700 years ago there was a dynamic coming together of many cultures around the Zambezi, Sashe and Limpopo Rivers. These interactions included the Tshua and Khwe San peoples of that region, and firstly East African herders of Nilotic and Sub-Saharan roots, and then with the Kalundu West African cultures, Nkope Central African Cultures, and Kwale East African cultures. From these interactions, the new, locally-born Khoe and the Kalanga peoples emerged. They spread in migratory drifts, creating the foundations of many new ethnic formations as they spread across Southern Africa and were joined by ever-new migratory drifts in circular movements across the region.
From around 900 CE to 1600, states and kingdoms arose and fell starting with the Mapungubwe State, the BaKalanga Kingdom, Great Zimbabwe, Thulamela, Khami/Butua, Mutapa, the Rozvi Empire, the Venda and the Tsonga States. This resulted in the early development of many different Tswana, Sotho, Ndebele, Pedi, Koni, Hlubi, Swati and Nguni states, kingdoms and principalities.
Into all of these, in slow migratory drifts, the West, Central and East African cultural and genetic enhancement continued. San, Khoe and Kalanga peoples are thus in every modern-day African ethnic society, but they also exist as independent social groups.
The peopling of South Africa has taken over 3000 years of ancestral and cultural development to get to where we are today, and all of South Africa’s African peoples are inter-related from San, Khoe and Kalanga peoples to Venda, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Ndebele, Swati, Tsonga, Pedi and Zulu.
Today the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) recognise five of the descendant communities of Foundation Peoples as being marginalised and facing discrimination – the San, Nama, Korana, Griqua and the revivalist Cape Khoe. Other Foundation people include the Hill Damara people who were forcibly removed from South Africa to Namibia where their communities now prosper. The Kalanga Foundation people prosper in Botswana and Zimbabwe but are also within most of the South African family of communities.