The Cape Herders — 1997

A History of the Khoikhoi of Southern Africa

By Emile Boonzaier, Candy Malherbe, Penny Berens, and Andy Smith

The Cape Herders provides the first comprehensive picture of the Khoikhoi people. In doing so, it fills a long-standing gap in the resources of Southern African studies, and at a time when interest in the indigenous populations of South Africa is growing daily.

Combining the insights of archaeology, history, and anthropology, this account ranges from the origins of the Khoikhoi in Southern Africa to the contemporary politics of the Namaqualand “reserves.” Its authors have produced a scholarly, yet accessible, book, lavishly illustrated and supplemented with short biographies and fascinating detail.

The Cape Herders explodes a variety of South African myths—not least those surrounding the negative stereotype of the “Hottentot” and those which contribute to the idea that the Khoikhoi are by now “a vanished people.” The story it tells instead is one of enduring interest—the history of a herding people in Southern Africa, its society, economy, and culture, its relationship to the indigenous hunters of the Cape, its encounters with European expeditions, and its subsequent exposure to the first effects of colonization. It is a story of change and adaptation, and it confirms the Khoikhoi’s central role in the making of today’s South Africa.


Emile Boonzaier is a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Cape Town.


Candy Malherbe is a historian and writer.


Penny Berens has been a teacher and is a freelance writer and editor.


Andy Smith is an associate professor of archaeology at the University of Cape Town.

Cover of 'The Cape Herders'

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