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Abatwa/Abathwa/Batwa is a derivative root word common to the Bantu language group of sub-Saharan Africa. It is often mistakenly glossed as 'elf' or 'spirit'. It actually means at its root Twa people.

The most common contemporary usage of the word is among the Zulu speaking population of South Africa where it takes on a meaning of dwarf or 'Bushmen' in reference to the former hunter-gatherers of the region. There are still peoples of South Africa that identify as Abatwa in the Drakensberg Mountains region and around Chrissiesmeer (see ǁXegwi language).[1]


  • Francis, Michael(2009) ‘Silencing the past: Historical and archaeological colonisation of the Southern San [Abatwa] KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’. Anthropology Southern Africa Vol 32 (3 & 4).
  • Francis, Michael (2009) ‘Abatwa–The Eland Ceremony’ in Encyclopaedia of Social Movement Media. Sage Publications.
  • Francis, Michael (2007) PhD Thesis University of KwaZulu-Natal: ‘Explorations in ethnicity and social change among San descendents of the Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal’.