The Xhosa people are speakers of Bantu languages living mainly in the south-east part of South Africa,
and in the last two centuries throughout the southern and central-southern parts of the country.
Xhosa-speaking peoples are divided into several tribes with related but distinct heritages.
The main tribes are the Mpondo, Mpondomise, Bomvana, Xesibe, and Thembu. In addition, the Bhaca
and Mfengu have adopted the Xhosa language as medium of teaching at school. The name “Xhosa” comes from that of a legendary leader called uXhosa.
There is also a theory that the word xhosa derives from a word (Kosa) in some Khoi-khoi or San language meaning “fierce” or “angry”,
the amaXhosa being the fierce people. The Xhosa refer to themselves as the amaXhosa and to their language as isiXhosa.
Presently approximately 8 million Xhosa people are distributed across the country, and isiXhosa is South Africa’s second
most common home language, after isiZulu, to which Xhosa is closely related. The pre-1994 apartheid system of Bantustans
denied Xhosas South African citizenship and attempted to confine them to the nominally self-governing “homelands” of
Transkei and Ciskei, now both a part of the Eastern Cape Province where most Xhosa remain. Many Xhosa people live in Cape Town (iKapa in Xhosa), East London (iMonti), and Port Elizabeth (iBhayi).
As of 2003 the majority of Xhosa speakers, approximately 5.3 million, lived in the Eastern Cape, followed by the Western Cape
(approximately 1 million), Gauteng (671,045), theFree State (246,192), KwaZulu-Natal (219,826), North West (214,461), Mpumalanga(46,553),
the Northern Cape (51,228), and Limpopo (14,225).