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Bantu peoples
Bantu peoples
is used as a general label for the 300–600 ethnic groups in Africa who speak Bantu languages.[1] They inhabit a geographical area stretching east and southward from Central Africa across the African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
region down to Southern Africa.[1] Bantu is a major branch of the Niger–Congo
Niger–Congo
language family spoken by most populations in Africa. There are about 650 Bantu languages
Bantu languages
by the criterion of mutual intelligibility,[2] though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue
Ethnologue
counts 535 languages.[3] Around 3,000 years ago, speakers of the Proto-Bantu language group began a millennia-long series of migrations eastward from their homeland between West Africa
West Africa
and Central Africa, at the border of eastern Nigeria
Nigeria
and Cameroon.[4] This Bantu expansion
Bantu expansion
first introduced Bantu peoples
Bantu peoples
to central, southern and southeastern Africa, regions they had previously been absent from. The proto-Bantu migrants in the process assimilated and/or displaced a number of earlier inhabitants that they came across, such as Pygmy and Khoisan
Khoisan
populations in the centre and south, respectively. They also encountered some Afro-Asiatic outlier groups in the southeast who had been there for centuries, having migrated from Northeast Africa.[5][6] Individual Bantu groups today often comprise millions of people. Among these are the Ndebele and Shona of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
with 14.2 million people; the Luba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with over 13.5 million people; the Zulu of South Africa, with over 10 million people; the Sukuma of Tanzania, with around eight million people; and the Kikuyu of Kenya, with over six million people. Although only around five million individuals speak the Arabic-influenced Swahili language as their mother tongue,[7] it is used as a lingua franca by over 100 million people throughout Southeast Africa.[8] Swahili also serves as one of the official languages of the African Union.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History

2.1 Origins and expansion 2.2 Kingdoms

3 See also 4 Notes 5 References 6 External links

Etymology[edit] The word Bantu, and its variations, means "people" or "humans". The root in Proto-Bantu is reconstructed as *-ntu. Versions of the word Bantu (that is, the root plus the class 2 noun class prefix *ba-) occur in all Bantu languages: for example, as watu in Swahili; bantu in Kikongo; anthu in Chichewa; batu in Lingala; bato in Kiluba; bato in Duala; abanto in Gusii; andũ in Kamba and Kikuyu; abantu in Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Zulu, Xhosa, Runyakitara,[9] and Ganda; wandru in Shingazidja; abantru in Mpondo
Mpondo
and Ndebele; bãtfu in Phuthi; bantfu in Swati; banu in Lala; vanhu in Shona and Tsonga; batho in Sesotho, Tswana and Northern Sotho; antu in Meru; andu in Embu; vandu in some Luhya dialects; vhathu in Venda; and bhandu in Nyakyusa. History[edit] Origins and expansion[edit] Main article: Bantu expansion

1 = 2000–1500 BC origin 2 = ca. 1500 BC first migrations      2.a = Eastern Bantu,   2.b = Western Bantu 3 = 1000–500 BC Urewe nucleus of Eastern Bantu 4–7 = southward advance 9 = 500 BC–0 Congo nucleus 10 = 0–1000 AD last phase[10][11][12]

Current scholarly understanding places the ancestral proto-Bantu homeland in West Africa
West Africa
near the present-day southwestern border of Nigeria
Nigeria
and Cameroon
Cameroon
c. 4,000 years ago (2000 B.C.), and regards the Bantu languages
Bantu languages
as a branch of the Niger–Congo
Niger–Congo
language family.[13] This view represents a resolution of debates in the 1960s over competing theories advanced by Joseph Greenberg and Malcolm Guthrie, in favor of refinements of Greenberg's theory. Based on wide comparisons including non-Bantu languages, Greenberg argued that Proto-Bantu, the hypothetical ancestor of the Bantu languages, had strong ancestral affinities with a group of languages spoken in Southeastern Nigeria. He proposed that Bantu languages
Bantu languages
had spread east and south from there, to secondary centers of further dispersion, over hundreds of years. Using a different comparative method focused more exclusively on relationships among Bantu languages, Guthrie argued for a single Central African dispersal point spreading at a roughly equal rate in all directions. Subsequent research on loanwords for adaptations in agriculture and animal husbandry and on the wider Niger–Congo language family rendered that thesis untenable. In the 1990s, Jan Vansina proposed a modification of Greenberg's ideas, in which dispersions from secondary and tertiary centers resembled Guthrie's central node idea, but from a number of regional centers rather than just one, creating linguistic clusters.[14] It is unclear exactly when the spread of Bantu-speakers began from their core area as hypothesized c. 4,000 years ago (2000 B.C.). By 3,500 years ago (1500 B.C.) in the west, Bantu-speaking communities had reached the great Central African rain forest, and by 2,500 years ago (500 B.C.) pioneering groups had emerged into the savannahs to the south, in what are now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Zambia. Another stream of migration, moving east, by 3,000 years ago (1000 B.C.) was creating a major new population center near the Great Lakes of East Africa, where a rich environment supported a dense population. Movements by small groups to the southeast from the Great Lakes region were more rapid, with initial settlements widely dispersed near the coast and near rivers, due to comparatively harsh farming conditions in areas farther from water. Pioneering groups had reached modern KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal
in South Africa by 300 A.D. along the coast, and the modern Northern Province (encompassed within the former province of the Transvaal) by 500 A.D.[15] Before the expansion of farming and herding peoples, including those speaking Bantu languages, Africa south of the equator was populated by neolithic hunting and foraging peoples. Some of them were ancestral to proto-Khoisan-speaking peoples, whose modern hunter-forager and linguistic descendants, the Khoekhoe and San, occupy the arid regions around the Kalahari
Kalahari
desert. The Hadza and Sandawe populations in Tanzania
Tanzania
comprise the other modern hunter-forager remnant in Africa of these proto-Khoisan-speaking peoples. Over a period of many centuries, most hunting-foraging peoples were displaced and absorbed by incoming Bantu-speaking communities, as well as by Ubangian, Nilotic, and Sudanic language-speakers in North Central and Eastern Africa. The Bantu expansion
Bantu expansion
was a long series of physical migrations, a diffusion of language and knowledge out into and in from neighboring populations, and a creation of new societal groups involving inter-marriage among communities and small groups moving to communities and small groups moving to new areas. After their movements from their original homeland in West Africa, Bantus also encountered in East Africa
East Africa
peoples of Afro-Asiatic (mainly Cushitic) and Nilo-Saharan (mainly Nilotic and Sudanic) ancestral origin. As cattle terminology in use amongst the few modern Bantu pastoralist groups suggests, the Bantu migrants would acquire cattle from their new Cushitic neighbors. Linguistic evidence also indicates that Bantus likely borrowed the custom of milking cattle directly from Cushitic peoples in the area.[16] Later interactions between Bantu and Cushitic peoples resulted in Bantu groups with significant Cushitic ethnic admixture, such as the Tutsi
Tutsi
of the African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
region; and culturo-linguistic influences, such as the Herero herdsmen of southern Africa.[17][18] On the coastal section of East Africa, another mixed Bantu community developed through contact with Muslim
Muslim
Arab
Arab
and Persian traders. The Swahili culture
Swahili culture
that emerged from these exchanges evinces many Arab and Islamic influences not seen in traditional Bantu culture, as do the many Afro- Arab
Arab
members of the Bantu Swahili people. With its original speech community centered on the coastal parts of Zanzibar, Kenya, and Tanzania
Tanzania
– a seaboard referred to as the Swahili Coast – the Bantu Swahili language
Swahili language
contains many Arabic
Arabic
loan-words as a result of these interactions.[19] Between the 14th and 15th centuries, Bantu-speaking states began to emerge in the Great Lakes region in the savannah south of the Central African rain forest. On the Zambezi
Zambezi
river, the Monomatapa
Monomatapa
kings built the famous Great Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
complex, a civilisation of what are today referred to as the Shona people. From the 16th century onward, the processes of state formation amongst Bantu peoples
Bantu peoples
increased in frequency. This was probably due to denser population (which led to more specialized divisions of labor, including military power, while making emigration more difficult); to increased interaction amongst Bantu-speaking communities with Chinese, European, Indonesian, and Arab
Arab
traders on the coasts; to technological developments in economic activity; and to new techniques in the political-spiritual ritualization of royalty as the source of national strength and health.[20]

Kongo youth and adults in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

A Kikuyu woman in Kenya

A Makua mother and child in Mozambique

Bubi girls in Equatorial Guinea

Kingdoms[edit]

The Bantu Kingdom of Kongo, c. 1630

Between the 14th and 15th centuries, Bantu states began to emerge in the Great Lakes region in the savanna south of the Central African rain-forest. In Southern Africa
Southern Africa
on the Zambezi
Zambezi
river, the Monomatapa kings built the famous Great Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
complex, the largest of over 200 such sites in Southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
and Manyikeni
Manyikeni
in Mozambique. From the 16th century onward, the processes of state formation among Bantu peoples
Bantu peoples
increased in frequency. Some examples of such Bantu states include: in Central Africa, the Kingdom of Kongo,[21] Lunda Empire,[22] and Luba Empire[23] of Angola, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; in the Great Lakes Region, the Buganda[24] and Karagwe[24] Kingdoms of Uganda and Tanzania; and in Southern Africa, the Mutapa Empire,[25] Rozwi Empire,[26] and the Danamombe, Khami, and Naletale
Naletale
Kingdoms of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
and Mozambique.[25] Toward the 18th and 19th centuries, the flow of Zanj (Bantu) slaves from Southeast Africa increased with the rise of the Omani Sultanate of Zanzibar, based in Zanzibar, Tanzania. With the arrival of European colonialists, the Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Sultanate came into direct trade conflict and competition with Portuguese and other Europeans along the Swahili Coast, leading eventually to the fall of the Sultanate and the end of slave trading on the Swahili Coast in the mid-20th century. See also[edit]

Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment Centre International des Civilisations Bantu Shona people Zulu people Luba people Sukuma people Kikuyu people

Notes[edit]

^ a b Butt, John J. (2006). The Greenwood Dictionary of World History. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 39. ISBN 0-313-32765-3.  ^ Derek Nurse, 2006, "Bantu Languages", in the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics ^ Ethnologue
Ethnologue
report for Southern Bantoid. The figure of 535 includes the 13 Mbam languages
Mbam languages
considered Bantu in Guthrie's classification and thus counted by Nurse (2006) ^ Philip J. Adler, Randall L. Pouwels, World Civilizations: To 1700 Volume 1 of World Civilizations, (Cengage Learning: 2007), p.169. ^ Toyin Falola, Aribidesi Adisa Usman, Movements, borders, and identities in Africa, (University Rochester Press: 2009), pp.4-5. ^ Fitzpatrick, Mary (1999). Tanzania, Zanzibar
Zanzibar
& Pemba. Lonely Planet. p. 39. ISBN 0-86442-726-3.  ^ Peek, Philip M.; Kwesi Yankah (2004). African folklore: an encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 699. ISBN 0-415-93933-X.  ^ Irele 2010 ^ Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom; ARKBK CLBG. "Banyoro – Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom (Rep. Uganda) – The most powerful Kingdom in East Africa!". Retrieved 13 May 2015.  ^ The Chronological Evidence for the Introduction of Domestic Stock in Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Archived March 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Botswana History Page 1: Brief History of Botswana". Retrieved 13 May 2015.  ^ "5.2 Historischer Überblick". Retrieved 13 May 2015.  ^ Erhet & Posnansky, eds. (1982), Newman (1995) ^ Vansina (1995) ^ Newman (1995), Ehret (1998), Shillington (2005) ^ J. D. Fage, A history of Africa, Routledge, 2002, p.29 ^ Was there an interchange between Cushitic pastoralists and Khoisan speakers in the prehistory of Southern Africa
Southern Africa
and how can this be detected? Archived January 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Robert Gayre, Ethnological elements of Africa, (The Armorial, 1966), p. 45 ^ Daniel Don Nanjira, African Foreign Policy and Diplomacy: From Antiquity to the 21st Century, ABC-CLIO, 2010, p.114 ^ Shillington (2005) ^ Roland Oliver, et al. "Africa South of the Equator," in Africa Since 1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 21 ^ Roland Oliver, et al. "Africa South of the Equator," in Africa Since 1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 23 ^ Roland Oliver, et al. "Africa South of the Equator," in Africa Since 1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 23. ^ a b Roland Oliver, et al. "Africa South of the Equator," in Africa Since 1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 24-25. ^ a b Roland Oliver, et al. "Africa South of the Equator," in Africa Since 1800. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 25. ^ Isichei, Elizabeth Allo, A History of African Societies to 1870 Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-521-45599-2 page 435

References[edit]

Christopher Ehret, An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to A.D. 400, James Currey, London, 1998 Christopher Ehret and Merrick Posnansky, eds., The Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African History, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1982 April A. Gordon and Donald L. Gordon, Understanding Contemporary Africa, Lynne Riener, London, 1996 John M. Janzen, Ngoma: Discourses of Healing in Central and Southern Africa, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1992 James L. Newman, The Peopling of Africa: A Geographic Interpretation, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1995. ISBN 0-300-07280-5. Kevin Shillington, History of Africa, 3rd ed. St. Martin's Press, New York, 2005 Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest: Toward a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1990 Jan Vansina, "New linguistic evidence on the expansion of Bantu", Journal of African History 36:173–195, 1995

External links[edit]

Media related to Bantu peoples
Bantu peoples
at Wikimedia Commons

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