Truth About The Xhosa Tribe – Culture, Traditional Attire & Food

In the 11th century, a massive migration of people took place across the continent. As a result, many people from southern Zaire moved to different directions and settled in most parts of southern Sahara. Among the tribes that took part in this major migration was Xhosa. The Xhosa tribe settled and became a part of the larger South Africa. The four major ethnic divisions among Black South Africans are the Nguni, Sotho, Shangaan-Tsonga and Venda. The Nguni represent nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s Black population and can be divided into four distinct groups; the Northern and Central Nguni (the Zulu-speaking people), the Southern Nguni (the Xhosa-speaking people), the Swazi people from Swaziland and adjacent areas and the Ndebele people of the Northern Province and Mpumalanga. Today, the Xhosa are the second largest cultural group in South Africa, after the Zulu-speaking nation.

Origin of Xhosa Tribe

Xhosa People
Xhosa People

It is a descendant of the Nguni clan. The Xhosa speaking group has various tribes with similar or related but divergent heritages. The major tribes include Bomvana, Mpondomise, Thembu, Xesibe, and Mpondo. Besides, Mfengu and Bhaca have adopted the language of Xhosa. The word Xhosa is from a legendary leader known as uXhosa. Another theory claims that the word Xhosa is derived from san or khoi-khoi language. The word Xhosa means ‘angry’ or ‘fierce’, the Xhosa being the fierce group. The Xhosa refers to their language as isiXhosa and themselves as amaXhosa.

Xhosa Language

It is the Bantu family agglutinative tonal language. Written Xhosa employs Latin alphabet style. Approximately 18% of the South African population speaks Xhosa. In addition, it has a number of mutual intelligibility with Zulu, particularly the Zulu spoken in towns. Most of the Xhosa urban dwellers, also speak Afrikaans and/or Zulu and/or English.

The language of Xhosa has 15 click sounds, borrowed from the current extinct Khoi-Khoi and the san languages of South Africa. Xhosa language has three primary click consonants: a palatal click, dental click, and a lateral click, printed with letter q, c and x respectively. A simple five vowels list also exists that is, (a, e, i, o, u). However, some of the vowels may be silent particularly at the word end. These vowels can be there in written Xhosa but barely perceptible in verbal language. In most cases, the Xhosa words tone is always lowest at the end.

See Also: 10 Reasons Why South Africa Is the Coolest Country In The World

Xhosa Culture

The Xhosa tribe have an affluent cultural heritage. They have also majorly contributed to the development and growth of South Africa. For instance, Rolihlahia later known as Nelson Mandela was the leading Icon in the freedom struggle in South Africa. Nelson Mandela became the first African president of the Republic of South Africa in 1994. He is from Xhosa.

READ
Tswana People - Culture, Traditional Attire & Language

Xhosa Food

Umngqushon, Xhosa’s famous delicacy

Xhosa people share many food traditions with the other peoples of South Africa. The Xhosa cuisine is at its most authentic in the rural Eastern Cape. Some of the people’s popular staple foods include corn (maize) and bread, beef, mutton (sheep meat), and goat meat. Sorghum beer and Milk is often drunk in its sour form. Umngqushon is the most famous maize dish in Xhosa cuisine. It is a special dish made from white maize and sugar beans.

See Also: 10 South African Foods You Must Eat Before Death Knocks At Your Door

Others include Umvubo (sour milk mixed with dry pap), and Umfino (a wild spinach/cabbage mixed with a meal). Imithwane is a pumpkin leaf and butter mélange while is another special dish made from Ikhowa, a mushroom that grows after summer rains.

Eggs were traditionally taboo for women, and a new bride was not allowed to eat certain types of meat. Men were not also allowed to drink milk in any village where they might later take a wife.

Xhosa Traditional Attire

Recognised as the second largest cultural group in South Africa, after the Zulu-speaking nation, the Xhosas originally wear skin garments but today many of them wear western type clothes. This has however not totally displaced their traditional mode of dressing. For instance, women must always wear dresses that cover the shoulders and upper arm and dresses with beads are a sign of the traditional ancestor worship. Hats or scarves are worn most of the time, but especially in church.

Other unique Xhosa dress includes intricately sewn designs on blankets that are worn by both men and women as shawls or capes.

Other Major Facts About Xhosa Culture Include:

Xhosa people
Image Source

The Xhosa tribe has remained famous for the bravura and a wide range of their bead works. Traditionally, the woman’s life stages were reflected on ornamentations and garments. Newly married women wore a unique headdress, a dissimilar style by the women who had given birth etc. The Xhosa men are polygamous. However, currently only wealthier men have at least two wives. The men traditionally fulfilled the warrior’s role, stockman as well as a hunter while the women tilled the land and grew crops.

A clan consists of many groups. A chief, also referred to as Inkosi, heads each clan. The land is very important, and a serious emphasis is placed on awarding as per individual needs. The clan shared everything at all time. The families help one another to complete a certain task such as building of the hut. The Xhosa have diviners in their tribes, most of whom are women.

Was this article helpful?
READ
10 Shaka Zulu Facts That Will Shock Your Knowledge of History
Andile Smith
Andile Smith
Andile provides articles on anything from Politics, Sports, History and entertainment to funny, creepy and weird. His passion for writing allows him to take what is ordinary and transform it into a real masterpiece. He's a true storyteller with a passion for tech and literature
data-matched-content-rows-num="2" data-matched-content-columns-num="4" data-matched-content-ui-type="image_stacked" data-ad-format="autorelaxed">

Recommended

How Quinton Jones’ Met, Married and Started a Family With Minnie Dlamini

Quinton Jones' marriage to South Africa's sweetheart, Minnie Dlamini was one of the biggest events of 2017. The news also broke so many hearts...

An Interesting List of Nandi Mbatha’s Boyfriends – Past and Present

Nandi Mbatha apparently loves the feeling of love and being treated to dates. Since the actress stepped onto the scene, she has dated a...

How Did Themba Ntuli Become So Famous and What Car Does He Drive?

Lovers of entertainment in South Africa would know the popular filmmaker, actor, and comedian, Themba Ntuli. Perhaps, one reason he has gained so much...

A Deeper Look at Quinton Jones’ Net Worth and How He Acquired His Wealth

Quinton Jones is one of the most mysterious South African celebrities. He has managed to keep his personal life very much private through the...

Analyzing Litlhonolofatso Litlhakanyane’s Role as Tebello on Scandal and Becoming A Famous Child Actor

Litlhonolofatso Litlhakanyane has been a mainstay of the e.tv soapie Scandal! ever since he broke out onto the scene of the popular South African...

Featured Today

What Really Happened Between Kelly Khumalo and Jub Jub – Details About Their Love and Son

There was a time that Kelly Khumalo and Jub Jub were easily tipped to be the next big celebrity couple in South Africa. They...

All About Themba Ntuli’s Marriage to Wife Hope Masilo and The Age Difference Between Them

Themba Ntuli is a Zimbabwean-born actor who rose to immense fame through his role in the South African television show, Rhythm City. The son of...

Inside Quinton Jones Time With Pearl Thusi and Other People He Has Dated

In 2017 when Quinton Jones got married to Minnie Dlamini, not a small number of people were left heartbroken that Minnie, who is almost...

Kelly Khumalo and Chad da Don’s Fairytale Romance, Why It Ended and Who They Moved on To

South African songstress, Kelly Khumalo knows her game when it comes to dishing out hot tracks that make her fans go gaga, but the...

Surprising Facts About Nandi Mbatha’s Biography and Age Milestones

Nandi Mbatha is a talented actress with a fast-rising career in the South African entertainment industry. She is easily recognized for effortlessly playing the...
Was this article helpful?

Related Stories