Diamond, Jared - Guns, Germs and Steel

In contrast the next two groups the pygmies and

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In contrast, the next two groups, the Pygmies and Khoisan, include
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H O W A F R I C A B E C A M E B L A C K • 3 7 9 Peoples of Africa (as of AD 1400) w h i t e s B L A C K S Indonesians Khoisan ' 19.1. See the text for caveats about describing distributions ofAfri-w peoples in terms of these familiar but problematical groupings. p y g m i e s
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3 8 0 • G U N S , G E R M S , A N D STEEL hunter-gatherers without crops or livestock. Like blacks, Pygmies have dark skins and tightly curled hair. However, Pygmies differ from blacks in their much smaller size, more reddish and less black skins, more extensive facial and body hair, and more prominent foreheads, eyes, and teeth. Pygmies are mostly hunter-gatherers living in groups widely scattered through the Central African rain forest and trading with (or working for) neighboring black farmers. The Khoisan make up the group least familiar to Americans, who are unlikely even to have heard of their name. Formerly distributed over much of southern Africa, they consisted not only of small-sized hunter- gatherers, known as San, but also of larger herders, known as Khoi. (These names are now preferred to the better-known terms Hottentot and Bushmen.) Both the Khoi and the San look (or looked) quite unlike African blacks: their skins are yellowish, their hair is very tightly coiled, and the women tend to accumulate much fat in their buttocks (termed "steatopygia"). As a distinct group, the Khoi have been greatly reduced in numbers: European colonists shot, displaced, or infected many of them, and most of the survivors interbred with Europeans to produce the populations variously known in South Africa as Coloreds or Basters. The San were similarly shot, displaced, and infected, but a dwindling small number have preserved their distinctness in Namibian desert areas unsuitable for agriculture, as depicted some years ago in the widely seen film The Gods Must Be Crazy. The northern distribution of Africa's whites is unsurprising, because physically similar peoples live in adjacent areas of the Near East and Europe. Throughout recorded history, people have been moving back and forth between Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. I'll therefore say little more about Africa's whites in this chapter, since their origins aren't mysterious. Instead, the mystery involves blacks, Pygmies, and Khoisan, whose distributions hint at past population upheavals. For instance, the present fragmented distribution of the 200,000 Pygmies, scattered amid 120 million blacks, suggests that Pygmy hunters were formerly widespread through the equatorial forests until displaced and isolated by the arrival of black farmers. The Khoisan area of southern Africa is surprisingly small for a people so distinct in anatomy and language. Could the Khoisan, too, have been originally more widespread until their more northerly populations were somehow eliminated?
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