Hypothesized to be the closest relatives of the earliest human population, the Khoisan have the largest mtDNA diversity of all human populations and are linked to the legendary Mitochondrial Eve.
The Khoisan, who still speak Khoikhoi and San languages, some of the oldest languages, use a manual communication system whilst hunting.
The San, who live in the Kalahari in S. Africa, Botswana and Namibia, are related to the Khoikhoi or Khoekhoe. Historically, the name San, meaning outsider, was used by the Khoikhoi, and was derogatory. They have recently all agreed on Abathwa instead.
The interruption of the Khoisan distribution in the middle of the Rift Valley is possibly the consequence of replacement by Bantu-speaking farmers who started settling the region in the first millennium CE. Many Khoisan have now been absorbed into the expanding Bantu populations, particularly the Xhosa.
The Bantu migration, which spread out from their homeland in West Africa, surrounded the Pygmies, and moved east and south into areas inhabited by the San. It is the largest known migration in African and human history. Beginning in 100 BCE and progressing until the third or fourth century CE, the migration initially proceeded at no more than 22 km each decade but, once beyond the forest, Bantu migration accelerated and within 300 years had colonized most of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The African maternal line is represented by Haplogroup L.