Most Late White paintings are believed to be the work of Bantu-speakers who, although spread over a very wide area of central and southern Africa, tended to structure their societies along similar lines and appear to have shared views of the cosmos. The paintings probably commenced with the spread of farming people to the east and south and ceased in the mid-1900s. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the pigment all earlier works are now gone.
The paintings are usually metaphors used by secret societies to advance their understanding of and facilitate their rites of passage-birth, initiation into adulthood, marriage and death. The artists appeared to recognize a close association between people and the earth and believed in the ability of autochthonous peoples (or the first inhabitants) to control the elements through their access to spirits within the earth. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Africa, the artists were influenced by imagery of European settlers / colonisers.