Over a 2000 year period the Khoikhoi migrated south from Angola, Zambia & Botswana through two distinct routes – travelling west, skirting the Kalahari to the west coast, then down to the Cape, and travelling south-east following the Orange River then up the Zeekoei River over the Sneeuberg Mountains to the more fertile Eastern Cape areas. On route they split up into smaller groups and settled near rivers like the Zeekoei River Valley which includes Schanskraal and surrounds.

The San and Khoikhoi lived and grazed their herds in these fertile valleys across the region until the 3rd century AD when the advancing Black Tribes from the north encroached into their traditional homeland. They were then forced into a long retreat to more remote areas. Their social organization was profoundly damaged and in the end, destroyed by European colonial expansion and land seizures from the late 17th century onwards. As these social structures broke down, some Khoisan people settled on farms and became bondsmen or farm workers; others were incorporated into existing clan and family groups of the Xhosa people.

Archaeological evidence shows that the Khoikhoi and San (Bushmen) co-existed on Schanskraal and the surrounding areas, known in recent times as the Upper Zeekoei River Valley. Many archaeological sites in this Karoo area have been discovered by scientists with findings of cattle bones, stone kraals, pottery and rock art dating back to 100BC.

Two known Rock Art sites exist on Schanskraal. Due to the sensitivity of these drawings no carbon dating has been carried out, so to this day no one accurately knows exactly how far back they go. Today the sites are protected by The Schanskraal Estate with only guided tours allowed.

C J Wels - 2011


the story of the khoi & san people in the upper zeekoei river valley and at schanskraal

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