History

Origin

According to Epstein (1937) a number of nomadic black and coloured nations inhabited North Africa hundreds of years ago. These nations could not readily migrate southwards due to a tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans) belt stretching along the equator across the whole of Africa.  Epstein (1971) showed by means of a schematic map of tsetse fly distribution in Africa that there is a narrow tsetse-free corridor in the region of the lake district near Lake Victoria and the Ruwenzori mountains.

Epstein (1971) continued to explain that the Black Nations along the equator possessed cattle, some of these breeds were Nagana (sleeping sickness carried by the tsetse fly) tolerant. They also possessed goats, a few hairy sheep and dogs. Epstein (1971) said the coloured nations or Khoikhoin possessed domestic animals such as Zebu type cattle, such as the Boran, fat-tailed sheep and dogs. This coloured nation was driven southward by stronger nations armed with bows and arrows and battle axes.

This migration started during the fifth century AD in the region of the lake districts. They proceeded through the narrow tsetse-free corridor and then they proceeded along the drier West Coast. They later inhabited the dry areas such as Angola, Namibia and Namaqualand.

Bachman (1983) confirmed Epstein™s (1971) theory about migration. The Black Nations moved down the hot sweltering East Coast where tick borne diseases are numerous. According to Bachman (1983) the Black Nations possessed a variation of Zebu type cattle breed fairly well adapted to tropical conditions, small hairy thin tailed sheep and small tough hairy dogs.

Both these nations, however, brought with them animals which eventually influenced animal breeding in Africa and around the world. They brought with them a mixture of long-haired and short-haired goats. Those goats consisted of a mixture of short and long-eared or lop-eared goats.

Subsequently, by means of barter or raiding, the Khoikhoin also acquired goats and the Black people acquired fat-tailed sheep. In fact, Barrow (1801) wrote that near the Hartbees river in the Northern Cape, he encountered some Namaqua Hottentots who possessed a herd of small handsome goats that were speckled like the leopard. The South African farmers called these goats skilderbokke” or speckled goats.

Black farmers, coloured farmers and white farmers soon recognised the fact that these indigenous goats could live on almost every sort of plant material on a farm and could survive and reproduce under extremely unfavourable conditions. Indigenous goats spread rapidly over Southern Africa and were used to produce milk, meat, skins and were also used in numerous trading deals with travelling traders by all farmers.