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I speak under correction, but isn't the Khoi and San the official names while Bushmen and Hottentots are the derogative names?

I have often heard from San (as well as Khoi) people that they feel offended to be called Bushmen or Bushies.

The assertion elsewhere is that "San" is a particularly negative name meaning "outsider" used by the Khoi. See Bushmen for details, pointing at the bottom half of [1] --Henrygb 00:50, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)
for special information look a.t.: [2] -- 22:05, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

"Most archaic human group"[edit]

This statement can be misleading, as Khoisans have probably evolved roughly as much as other modern humans, and implies than modern humans evolved from Khoisans as opposed to both groups diverging from the same common ancestor. It's more accurate (and doesn't have eugenicist implications) to say that they retained some traits that were lost in other (i.e., non-Khoisan) modern humans. SteveSims 23:57, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Khoisan Extermination[edit]

The Khoisan were treated very poorly not only by the Europeans but also by the warlike Zulus who considered them to be be little more than animals.

"...who considered them to be be little more than animals." - what kind of evidence could possibly support this? If this were the case, surely the Zulu would not have incorporated clicks into their language? When the Zulu became "warlike", didn't they extend military hostility towards various ethnic groups in a uniform manner, not just towards the Khoisan alone? Be very careful of eurocentric textbook bias! Factual information is more worthy of encyclopedic reference than this "...considered them to be little more than animals" useless fluff. Extermination by Commandos

Adding some new information[edit]

I'm adding some new information that I believe to be accurate. If I'm incorrect, please change it in accordance with the facts. I just finished giving a class based on the Lee and DeVore book, as well as the biography of Nissa in her own words by Marjorie Shostak, and have been reading about the people of the Kalahari with great pleasure for a good many years.--Samivel 00:17, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

Oppose merging Bushmen and Khoisan[edit]

Oppose merge as Bushmen (San) is not equivalent to, but a subgroup of Khoisan.--Ezeu 14:11, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Khoisan is a term that includes both the Bushmen (San) and the Khoikhoi (Khoi), hence - Khoi-San. I wouldn't be a good idea to merge. --Khoikhoi 18:04, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

what exactly does "tribespeople" mean?[edit]

"...Both share physical and linguistic characteristics, and it seems clear that the Khoi branched forth from the San by adopting the practice of herding cattle and goats from neighboring Bantu tribespeople..."

I have always wondered... what exactly is a "tribesman"? (an official definition would be nice)

[3] [4] Tribesman - n.
  1. A man who is a member of one's own tribe.
  2. A member of a tribal people.
[5] [6] - pl.n.
  1. The people of one's own tribe.
  2. An aboriginal people living in tribes: "the tribespeople of the Kalahari Desert".
Cheers! —Khoikhoi 17:42, 26 May 2006 (UTC)


For consideration:

Tribesman or Person?

what gene study ?[edit]

1) I really think it is someones POV that the physical uniqueness of Khoisan peoples are diminishing because of supposed increase in intermarriage.

2) What gene study says that the Khoisan are "similar" to other indigenous African peoples ? What exactly does "similar" entail since all humans are genetically similar ? I really do think the Khoisan are probably quite genetically different from other Africans, possibly as much as they are from Europeans, Asians or Austro-nesians in some respects. This especially makes sense considering current archaeological analyisis claims that the Bantu peoples only arrived in South Africa 1500-2000 years ago while the Khoisan have been there for 30,000 years or (probably) much more.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 11 August 2006

Please remove all unsourced claims you find in this article.--Ezeu 23:08, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Special humans[edit]

I haven't read Knight 2003 and probably wouldn't understand it, but I doubt that it supports statements like “Khoisans thus actually represent the most archaic human group” or insinuations of Khoisan people somehow being the world's first human beings, oldest people or some such.

The latter is just plainly absurd – if there was a time when there were only Khoisan and no other human beings had entered the scene yet, then where did all other humans come from? Their ancestors may have been around for a long time, but so have everybody's.

Where did all other humans come from? That is very easy question to answer: one proto-Khoisan long time ago had a genetic mutation and all non-Khoisan people are carrying that mutation. For Y chromosome, the name of that mutation is M168. ( The group of peoples without mutation M168 is a little wider than Khoisan but I have to simplify things to give a simple answer to your question). So what you are calling a plainly absurd is actually well-established scientific fact. I agree that we should be careful assigning to peoples names like 'archaic' but in this case its meaning is extremely well defined. Warbola 14:57, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

As to the claim that Khoisan “represent the most archaic human group”, wouldn't that mean all Non-Khoisans have evolved into something less archaic after the assumed fork (that is, during a time of few common ancestors) while the Khoisan idly sat on their butts and refused to evolve? I understand that you can look at two groups of people, then compare each group's average body features, and then postulate a set of notable differences that set one group apart from the other, but how can we say one group's feature set is more “archaic” than the other's? How can we know which group's bodies and brains more closely resemble their common ancestor's? Do we even know gene material of people who predated their descendants' forking into Khoisan and non-Khoisan?

While the “oldest humans” insinuation makes Khoisan original/real/better humans over others, the “most archaic” claim links them to an earlier stage of evolution in a way that makes them look like a more primitive life form compared to other modern humans. I don't like either idea. Sorry for the long post, feel free to remove it. 15:16, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Alien perspective?[edit]

References to physical appearances of _human beings_ and using these as a basis for differentiating between surrounding ethnic groups is interesting, but seems a little dated - the kind of material one would expect to find in the diary of Vasco Da Gama or Jan Van Riebeck, or the kind of material one would expect to find about animals in a safari game guide booklet. Are we discussing aliens who are incapable of understanding our communications? It seems as though this kind of information is stated as scientific (such as reference to female genitals), and therefore unoffensive, relevant and useful - worthy of encyclopedic reference. "Elongated labia"?? Who decided that they are elongated? I bet if they were asked for their opinion, they would suggest that the ones you are used to seeing are "miniature labia"... Some respectful neutrality when talking about ethnic groups would be more in tune with our times.

A lot of other interesting information, which I am sure would be more worthy of encyclopedic reference exits and should (in my humble opinion) replace the other less humane references. Detailed information on family structures, religious beliefs, rock art and its meaning/importance, environmental harmony, hunting expertise, architecture/dwellings, clothing... contribution to medicine (buchu, hoodia etc), musical instruments, weapons, contemporary lifestyle issues... Where did "IKE E : IXARRA I IKE" come from, why was it chosen, what does it mean and how true are the rumours that it does not mean what it was believed to mean? some such information has been included, but i think this should be the main focus and the other stuff should perhaps even be omitted all together. I wish someone would share knowledge and rescue us from this... The Gods Must Be Crazy ...level of knowledge (pitiful ignorance, really). Comments on "Special humans" and "Tribespeople" echo similar concerns, please can someone display knowledge and update this article so that it teaches its readers something new and fresh? Just a thought (with a flare of irritation, yes i admit... but i did try to control it).

I could not agree more I appreciate the genetic data,but the khoisan are'nt just fodder for population genetics.I'm part Khoisan and descend from a khoisan group who were what we might call "freedom fighters" during the colonial period.They learnt dutch and did write about their treatment one ancestor wrote "We lived very contentedly ... before these Dutch plunderers molested us; and why should we not do so again; if left to ourselves? Has not the Groot Baas [god] ... given plenty of grass-roots, and berries, and grasshoppers for our use; and, till the Dutch destroyed them, an abundance of wild animals to hunt? And will they not return and multiply, when these destroyers are gone?". I'll be submitting some historical and cultural data within the next month. (talk) 16:18, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Unevolved template humans[edit]

The sentence

"The distinct characteristics of all human varieties [...] all may have beginnings in the physiology of the Khoisan [citation needed]"

does not deserve to be in a Wikipedia article and should be removed.

I doubt that a citation will ever be provided. This is a view sometimes expressed by people who do not fully understand the implications of mitochondrial DNA studies and incorrectly believe that since they have the longest lineage all other human populations must've evolved from them. As noted above, this then implies that they're Ur-Humans who sat down and stubbornly refused to evolve.

Speculation about (as I once saw on TV) "skin colour that can either become lighter or darker, the high cheek bones like those of Mongolians, the East Asian eyes,..." does not deserve to be in a modern encyclopedia without citation (in context).

Zyxoas (talk to me - I'll listen) 12:00, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Feel free to get rid of it. — mark 15:43, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

I can't, as always. Zyxoas (talk to me - I'll listen) 16:03, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Format clean up needed[edit]

clean up and chapters needed.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ 23:55, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Why does everything have to be analyzed... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:18, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

The physical appearance section belongs in a Human Zoo, not in an encyclopedia[edit]

This material is unworthy of encyclopedic reference:

San woman from Botswana

Physically the Khoisan, with their short frames (149-163 cm/4'9-5'4;), copper brown skin, tightly coiled "peppercorn" hair, high cheekbones, and epicanthic eye folds are quite distinct from the darker-skinned peoples who constitute the majority of Africa's population. They have moderately long legs with long muscle bellies, which is a trait that sharply distinguishes them from surrounding Pygmy and Bantu populations having muscles with short bellies and long tendons (Coon 1965). Two distinguishing features of some Khoisan women are their elongated labia minora and tendency to steatopygia,[7], features which contributed greatly to the European fascination with the so-called Hottentot Venus. However, the physical differences between Khoisan and other peoples may be diminishing due to intermarriage.

I fail to see how the physical traits of a people are somehow not worthy of an Encyclopedia. Though the paragraph does need a cleanup. --Kurtle (talk) 23:52, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

References for the Khoisan being the oldest and original Homo Sapien population[edit]


I will add this in accordingly just not right now.

let me explain how the Khoisan having the oldest lineage means that they are the now living group that is most like the group from which we all decended. You see if no one in the world has a longer bloodline and everyones DNA points to Khoisan being the ancestors of everyone else (kind of like a DNA paternity test can tell who's the baby's daddy but going back hundreds of generations.) then they are the original Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Their simple hunting-gathering lifestyle allowed them to survive the Toba catastrophe and live to repopulate the world.

This would not make them better or superior. That thinking is a residue of an old idea that white people were the original people and everyone else devolved from their pure white perfectness (that was the kind of thinking that gave the world "eoanthropus dawsoni" a.k.a. Piltdown man. A hoax fossil that placed the missing link in Engalnd. )--Hfarmer 01:51, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

The article you link says nothing about the Khoisan being "living group that is most like the group from which we all decended." Rather it says they are probably, along with another group, the "oldest branch of modern humans" in the study quoted. These are two radically different things. If this latter point is true, the Khoisan probably contain far more genetic diversity than other humans, which may come from them being most like (in the quantity of their diversity) the group from which they descended, but does not fall out naturally from the conclusion you presented to the lay reader. KP Botany
| Genes Help Identify Oldest Human Population By NICHOLAS WADE Published: January 8, 2002
This is an excerpt with emphasis added by me. Pay close attention to all the words in bold.

This study, by Dr. Douglas Wallace of Emory University, indicated that the most ancient human populations are the Vasikela Kung of the northwestern Kalahari desert in southern Africa and the Biaka pygmies of Central Africa.

Most parts of the human genome are shuffled between generations, making it hard to sort out the pattern of inheritance. Two exceptions are the Y chromosome, which descends through the male line, and the DNA of mitochondria, the energy-producing organs of the cell, which are transmitted only through the mother.

These two segments of DNA have been inherited unchanged from the ancestral human population, except for occasional rare changes or mutations in the DNA caused by radiation, copying errors or other damage.

This makes it possible to draw up a human family tree based on the series of mutations that accumulated over time as people emerged from the ancestral human cradle in Africa and spread out across the globe. Such trees were drawn up by Dr. Wallace and others, based on mitochondrial DNA, and more recently by Dr. Underhill and his colleagues, based on mutations they found in the Y chromosome.

The deepest branches in these gene trees -- the ones that join nearest to the point of origin -- presumably represent populations that are closest to the ancestral human population.

Dr. Underhill finds that the earliest mutations in his Y chromosome tree are found at high frequency among the Khoisan and also among the Oromo and Amhara peoples of Ethiopia.

Many early lineages in the ancestral population are likely to have been lost, however, and it is a matter of chance which survive, Dr. Underhill said.

So it is not surprising that the earliest branches on his Y chromosome tree lead to a different set of populations than those in Dr. Wallace's mitochondrial DNA tree. Both trees point to the Khoisan, however, since Kung speakers are members of the Khoisan language family.

Archaeologists tracing the ancient distribution of the San people, part of what is now referred to as the Khoisan, believe that in Paleolithic times they occupied the eastern half of Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa. Dr. Underhill said this distribution matched that inferred from his Y chromosome studies.

These earliest Y chromosome lineages, he said, are found only in Africa and seem to be associated with these hunter-gatherer-forager lifestyles. He believes the men carrying these lineages began to spread out in Africa from 130,000 to 70,000 years ago, based on the estimated rate at which genetic changes accumulate in the Y chromosome.

That is a reference for the Khoisan being the oldest population. Therefore that detail should stay in the article. The reference should stay in the article. --Hfarmer 13:07, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Transfer of "Oldest human group?" section to a more relevant article[edit]

This section would be better placed in a separate or more relevant article as it is not really about the Khoisan as much as it is about genetics, haplogroups and recent single origin hypothesis :

According to Knight et al. (2003) Y-haplogroup A, the most diverse or oldest-diverging Y haplogroup transmitted purely by patrilineal descent, is today present in various Khoisan groups at frequencies of 12-44%, and the other Y-haplogroups present have been formed by recent admixture of Bantu male lineages E3a (18-54%), and in some groups, noticeable Pygmy traces are visible (B2b). The Khoisan also show the largest genetic diversity in matrilineally transmitted mtDNA of all human populations. Their original mtDNA haplogroups L1d and L1k are one of the oldest-diverging female lineages as well. However, analysis of neutral autosomal (inherited through either parent) genes finds that the Khoisan are similar to other sub-Saharan African populations.

The presence of Haplogroup A, especially the subclade A3b2, in East Africa have led some to speculate on an ancient connection between those populations and the Khoisan, although the negligibly small frequencies of the A haplogroup that were observed in some recent genetic studies on East Africans puts this theory in serious doubt.[1]

One interpretation is that the Khoisan are the earliest-diverging human group, or even a group that has preserved the original human lifestyle along with genetics. More conservatively, it can be said that the patrilineal or matrilineal descent of most individuals in most other human groups have passed through common genetic bottlenecks that are later than the most recent common patrilineal ancestor or most recent common matrilineal ancestor shared by all humans, and that the ancestors of the Khoisan avoided these particular bottlenecks. Such bottlenecks might be associated simply with the chance reproductive success of particular males, or with the settlement and subsequent expansion of a small group (e.g. modern humans venturing out of Africa, or the Sahara Pump Theory, or recovery from disasters like the Toba catastrophe) or have even more complex causes.

This does not show that the Khoisan were particularly isolated through history and prehistory; in fact, the autosomal genes demonstrate interchange with other African populations. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:14, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Please note references from bibliography when transfering this section:

  • Rick Kittles and S. O. Y. Keita (1999), Interpreting African Genetic Diversity, African Archaeological Review, Vol. 16, No 2. [9]
  • Knight, Alec, et al.: African Y chromosome and mtDNA divergence provides insight into the history of click languages. Current Biology, 13, 464-473 (2003). [10]
  • P. Underhill et al.(2000), "Y chromosome sequence variation and the history of human populations": Nature Genetics, 26, 358-361 [11]


There's no such thing as a "Khoisan people", so I'm merging to KS languages. KS is a linguistic construct, and a spurious one at that, not an ethnicity. Perhaps in the future the material that's worth saving will find its way to more appropriate articles than the linguistic one. kwami (talk) 03:02, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

The khoisan does not only have a common linguistic feature. They also have common ethnic and cultural features. In fact, they share history, origin in the prehistory, racial and genetic characteristics. They have a unique genetic identity, that is quite different of all the other people of the world. They are flesh and bone people, they do exist, not only their languages. --Maulucioni (talk) 22:57, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
Ethnically and culturally, there are Khoi, and there are San. They do not form an ethnic or cultural group. Now Khoi is an ethnic group, and has a Wikipedia article, as does San. The connection between them is a linguistic one, and is rightfully covered in that article, though of course there are genetic commonalities which are covered in the Khoi and San articles. (Perhaps a dab page or a redirect to San would be more acceptable than a rd to KS languages? "Khoisan" is effectively a synonym for "San", and this replicated much of that article.) The Khoi and San are also not "ancient", as in "the most ancient people on Earth", which is a meaningless statement. kwami (talk) 06:23, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
There are several reasons for khoisan as a human group to have their own article:
  • 1) San and Khoi people resemble the ancient Sangoan skeletal remains, formerly they used to be one people; a group of khoisan discovered livestock grazing (they became khoikhoi) and the others continued as hunter-gatherers (the San), so new cultures appeared.
  • 2) Their physical features are so different from the other human groups, that Coon and many other physical anthropologists of his time considered the khoisan as a quite well defined (Capoid) race that's not similar to any other one.
  • 3) Khoisan is not a good synonym for San because it would be tremendously ambiguous. Synonyms for San are: Sanqua, Soaqua, Bushmen, Sho, Basarwa, Kung, Khwe, ǃKung, ǃXũũ, etc. It happens that the Khoikhoi call Bushmen by the name of San, and since Khoi means "man", to them Khoisan means "San men". The term Khoisan also refers to Khoi and San mixed populations, for example those from the southafrican coasts.
  • 4) Genetically, the Khoisan are a consistent human group, for example: Haplogroup L0 (mtDNA) is shared by khoi and san, Haplogroup A (Y-DNA) is shared by Khoisan and Hadzabe, and E1b1b1g (E-M293) is shared by kxoe and sandawe.
  • 5) An article about KS languages will only touch on linguistic items and will ignore anthropologycal and historic matters. Maybe Linguistics is a much more advanced science than Anthropology, but that's not reason for that one to run over it. --Maulucioni (talk) 05:32, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Of course linguistics isn't a more advanced science than anthropology. It is, after all, a subdiscipline of anthropology. My concern was that the article was redundant, and that it was merely an attempt to reify a language family. (We've had articles about things like the "Sino-Tibetan peoples", which is a completely meaningless topic apart from the language family.)

I think, however, that you're probably correct that Khoisan is well enough established as an anthropological term to warrant the existence of this article. A couple concerns, however:

Connections to the Sandawe and Hadza are irrelevant. They are neither Khoi nor San. Sandawe may prove to be related linguistically to the Khoi, but that has yet to be demonstrated. Also, I'm not sure about this being two ethnic groups: Culturally the Khoi peoples are not Khoi (Hottentot), but are they San? We start getting into trouble when we equate ethnicity with language families, as we do in this article. And do the various San peoples consider themselves to be a single ethnic group? kwami (talk) 09:33, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Recent history[edit]

There's nothing on thier 20th century history--J intela (talk) 00:18, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Changes and new section describing genomic studies, September 2010[edit]

Hey all - I've been trying to improve this article over the last month, since it was rather disorganized and tended to emphasize controversial and overall unimportant details about the Khoisan previously. I've added several historical notes about the Khoisan from authors like Jared Diamond, moved parts out of the intro into other sections, and made clearer that various names and beliefs about Khoisan are outdated and considered racist today (including one deletion of a controversial detail about Khoisan women that is highly outdated and minute in any case).

I also wrote a new section on the Y chromosome genomic studies about the Khoisan, which were quite significant (published in Science, National Geographic, etc.) but wrongly written about in past versions of this page. I made sure to not use terms that would lead to wrong intepretations of these results, and added a sentence from the original author of the paper stating that these results only show an older shared ancestry for the Khoisan, but not that they "stopped evolving" since they continued to change in parallel and similar ways to all other human populations. I think this now satisfies a neutral and correct description of the studies, compared to earlier versions that elicited complaints. Please let me know what you think about how the article goes, and whether there are any objections to what I've written, since I'm committed to improving this wiki. Thanks. Wilytilt (talk) 17:16, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for your help. I've redone the lede; as for the genetics section, could you clarify which peoples the studies were based on? The KS are not a group, genetically, culturally, or linguistically, apart from whatever validity 'capoid race' might have. Any genetic study that only identifies the people as "Khoisan" is close to worthless, so I hope the studies behind those sources provide more detail than that. — kwami (talk) 19:35, 25 September 2010 (UTC)


In a citation of an article by Knight A, et al., in volume 13 of Current Biology at pages 464–73 in a footnote to the Genetic studies section a URL is extraordinarily lengthy. In the References section it extends far beyond the right edge of the section, detracting from the appearance of the References section and—at least on an iPad—causes a rendition of the article at a smaller-than-normal scale to accommodate the extension of the URL far into the right margin of the article; i.e., the article is in the left half of the screen and the right half of the screen is empty margin except at the line of the URL. (talk) 10:26, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Terminology correction[edit]

I made this edit as many reliable sources to the contrary are cited in Bushmen#Ethnic nomenclature, where I have tried to present a balanced view of the name situation (I see no need to repeat it all here per WP:CONTENTFORK). I cannot view the source cited here, but the original sourced edit was changed without explanation some time ago without correction. HelenOnline 08:10, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

I managed to access the source and have added some new information from it to the Bushmen article. HelenOnline 18:12, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Re these edits by Kwamikagami (shortly following the discussed move of Bushmen to San people which they opposed), partially reverted by Afro-Eurasian and me, we do not need a WP:CONTENTFORK here especially one contradicting sourced information elsewhere. HelenOnline 21:24, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

You are misrepresenting the consensus. The consensus was that both terms are derogatory, but that we should use "San". You're twisting that into saying that San is not derogatory, contrary to our sources. Either we have a balanced section, or none at all. — kwami (talk) 21:45, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Where did I say San is not derogatory? HelenOnline 21:53, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
You're saying that consensus on what to name the WP article is consensus outside of WP, which it is not. — kwami (talk) 08:47, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
I am not sure what you mean by "consensus outside of WP" (if you are going to insist on saying I said something specific, please say where I said it). There is the overall consensus of the San people (which is what I was referring to here based on the first sentence in the paragraph), but I am not sure the word consensus would generally be applicable to independent reliable sources. In any event, both were taken into account when Bushmen was moved to San people. I am also not sure what this debate has to do with this article, since San terminology is covered elsewhere in the most appropriate place and there is no need for a content fork here especially given the history I outlined above. HelenOnline 12:02, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
No, your own sources show there is not overall consensus of the San people, as has been pointed out to you several times already. And you're the one creating the conflict in the content fork, so I don't understand your last comment. — kwami (talk) 19:06, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't see the point continuing this discussion as you are WP:NOTGETTINGIT. I refer anyone interested to Talk:San_people#Requested_move_12_January_2014 where this matter has been discussed ad nauseum. HelenOnline 19:59, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
    • ^ Juan J Sanchez et al., "High frequencies of Y chromosome lineages characterized by E3b1, DYS19-11, DYS392-12 in Somali males," European Journal of Human Genetics (2005) 13, 856–866