Bantu peoples are the speakers of
Bantu languages The Bantu languages (English: , Proto-Bantu: *bantʊ̀) are a large family of languages spoken by the Bantu peoples throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The total number of Bantu languages ranges in the hundreds, depending on the definition of Dialec ...
, comprising several hundred indigenous ethnic groups in
sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa, Af ...
, spread over a vast area from
Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the African continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded ...

Central Africa
across the
African Great Lakes The African Great Lakes ( sw, Maziwa Makuu) are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East African Rift. They include Lake Victoria, the List of lakes by area, second-largest fresh water lake in the wo ...

African Great Lakes
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are common ...
. The total number of languages ranges in the hundreds, depending on the definition of "language" or "dialect", estimated at between 440 and 680 distinct languages. The total number of speakers is in the hundreds of millions, ranging at roughly 350 million in the mid-2010s (roughly 30% of the population of Africa, or roughly 5% of
the total world population
the total world population
). About 60 million speakers (2015), divided into some 200 ethnic or tribal groups, are found in the
Democratic Republic of Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (french: RD Congo), the DROC, or simply either Congo or the Congo, and historically Zaire, is a country in ...

Democratic Republic of Congo
alone. The larger of the individual Bantu groups have populations of several million, e.g. the
Hutu The Hutu (), also known as the Abahutu, are a Bantu peoples, Bantu ethnic or social group native to the African Great Lakes region of Africa, an area now primarily in Burundi and Rwanda. They live mainly in Rwanda, Burundi and the eastern Democ ...
Rwanda Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley, where the African Great Lakes The African Great Lakes ( sw, Maziwa Makuu) are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in ...
Burundi Burundi (, ), officially the Republic of Burundi ( rn, Repubulika y’u Burundi, ; Swahili: Jamuhuri ya Burundi; french: link=no, République du Burundi, or ), is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes ...
(25 millions) the Shona of
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the south-west, Zambia to the north, and Mozambi ...

, (15 million ), the Zulu of
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most populous nation a ...
(12 million ) the Luba of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (french: RD Congo), the DROC, or simply either Congo or the Congo, and historically Zaire, is a country in ...
(7 million ), the Sukuma people, Sukuma of Tanzania (9 million ), the Kikuyu people, Kikuyu of Kenya (8.1 million ), or the Xhosa people, Xhosa people of Southern Africa (8.1 million as of 2011).

Origin of the name Bantu

The word ''Bantu'' for the language families and its speakers is an artificial term based on the reconstructed Proto-Bantu language, Proto-Bantu term for Names for the human species#In the world's languages, "people" or "humans". It was first introduced (as ''Bâ-ntu'') by Wilhelm Bleek in 1857 or 1858, and popularised in his ''Comparative Grammar'' of 1862. The name was coined to represent the word for "people" in loosely reconstructed Proto-Bantu, from the plural noun class prefix '':wikt:Appendix:Swahili noun classes#M-wa class, *ba-'' categorizing "people", and the root (linguistics), root ''*ntʊ̀ -'' "some (entity), any" (e.g. Zulu "person", "people", "thing", "things"). There is no native term for the peoples who speak Bantu languages, because they are not an ethnic group. People speaking Bantu languages refer to their languages by ethnic endonyms, which did not have an indigenous concept prior to European contact for the larger ethno-linguistic phylum named by 19th century European linguists. Bleek's coinage was inspired by the anthropological observation of groups self-identifying as "people" or "the true people". That is, idiomatically the reflexes of *''bantʊ'' in the numerous languages often have connotations of personal character traits as encompassed under the values system of Ubuntu philosophy, ubuntu, also known as ''hunhu'' in Chishona or ''botho'' in Sesotho, rather than just referring to all human beings. The root in Proto-Bantu language, Proto-Bantu is reconstructed as ''*-ntʊ́''. Versions of the word ''Bantu'' (that is, the root (linguistics), root plus the class 2 noun class prefix ''*ba-'') occur in all Bantu languages: for example, as ''bantu'' in Kongo language, Kikongo and Kituba; ''watu'' in Swahili language, Swahili; ''anthu'' in Chewa language, Chichewa; ''batu'' in Lingala; ''bato'' in Luba-Katanga language, Kiluba; ''bato'' in Duala language, Duala; ''abanto'' in Gusii language, Gusii; ''andũ'' in Kamba language, Kamba and Kikuyu language, Kikuyu; ''abantu'' in Kirundi language, Kirundi, Zulu language, Zulu, Xhosa language, Xhosa, Runyakitara, and Ganda language, Luganda; ''wandru'' in Ngazidja Comorian language, Shingazidja; ''abantru'' in Mpondo and Southern Ndebele language, Ndebele; ''bãthfu'' in Phuthi language, Phuthi; ''bantfu'' in Swati language, Swati and Bhaca language, Bhaca; ''banhu'' in Sukuma language, kisukuma; ''banu'' in Lala language (South Africa), Lala; ''vanhu'' in Shona language, Shona and Tsonga language, Tsonga; ''batho'' in Sesotho language, Sesotho, Tswana language, Tswana and Northern Sotho language, Northern Sotho; ''antu'' in Meru language, Meru; ''andu'' in Embu language, Embu; ''vandu'' in some Luhya language, Luhya dialects; ''vhathu'' in Venda language, Venda and ''bhandu'' in Nyakyusa language, Nyakyusa.


Origins and expansion

Bantu languages are theorised to derive from the Proto-Bantu language, Proto-Bantu reconstructed language, estimated to have been spoken about 4,000 to 3,000 years ago in West/Central Africa (the area of modern-day Cameroon). They were supposedly spread across Central, Eastern and Southern Africa in the so-called Bantu expansion, a comparatively rapid dissemination taking roughly two millennia and dozens of human generations during the 1st millennium BCE and the 1st millennium CE, This concept has often been framed as a mass-migration, but Jan Vansina and others have argued that it was actually a cultural spread and not the movement of any specific populations that could be defined as an enormous group simply on the basis of common language traits. The geographical shape and course of the Bantu expansion remains debated. Two main scenarios are proposed, an early expansion to Central Africa, and a single origin of the dispersal radiating from there, or an early separation into an eastward and a southward wave of dispersal, with one wave moving across the Congo basin towards Northeast Bantu, East Africa, and another moving south along the African coast and the Congo River system towards Angola. Genetic analysis shows a significant clustered variation of genetic traits among Bantu language speakers by region, suggesting admixture from prior local populations. According to the early-split scenario as described in the 1990s, the southward dispersal had reached the Central African rain forest by about 1500 BCE, and the southern Savannahs by 500 BCE, while the eastward dispersal reached the African Great Lakes, Great Lakes by 1000 BCE, expanding further from there, as the rich environment supported dense populations. Possible movements by small groups to the southeast from the Great Lakes region could have been more rapid, with initial settlements widely dispersed near the coast and near rivers, due to comparatively harsh farming conditions in areas farther from water. Recent archeological and linguistic evidence about population movements suggests that pioneering groups would have had reached parts of modern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa sometime prior to the 3rd century AD along the coast, and the modern Northern Cape by AD 500. Under the Bantu expansion migration hypothesis, various Bantu-speaking peoples would have assimilated and/or displaced many earlier inhabitants, with only a few modern peoples such as Pygmy peoples, Pygmy groups in central Africa, the Hadza people in northern Tanzania, and various Khoisan populations across southern Africa retaining autonomous existence into the era of European contact. Archeological evidence attests to their presence in areas subsequently occupied by Bantu-speakers. Bantu-speaking migrants would have also interacted with some Afroasiatic languages, Afro-Asiatic outlier groups in the southeast (mainly Cushitic languages, Cushitic),Toyin Falola, Aribidesi Adisa Usman, ''Movements, borders, and identities in Africa'', (University Rochester Press: 2009), pp.4-5. as well as Nilotic peoples, Nilotic and Central Sudanic languages, Central Sudanic speaking groups. Cattle terminology in use amongst the relatively few modern Bantu pastoralism, pastoralist groups suggests that the acquisition of cattle may have been from Central Sudanic, Kuliak languages, Kuliak and Cushitic languages, Cushitic-speaking neighbors. Linguistic evidence also indicates that the customs of milking cattle were also directly modeled from Cushitic cultures in the area. Cattle terminology in southern African Bantu languages differs from that found among more northerly Bantu-speaking peoples. One recent suggestion is that Cushitic-speakers had moved south earlier, and interacted with the most northerly of Khoisan-speakers who acquired cattle from them, and that the earliest arriving Bantu-speakers in turn got their initial cattle from Cushitic-influenced Khwe-speaking people. Under this hypothesis, larger later Bantu-speaking immigration subsequently displaced or assimilated that southernmost extension of the range of Cushitic-speakers.

Later history

Between the 9th and 15th centuries, Bantu-speaking states began to emerge in the Great Lakes region and in the savannah south of the Central African rain forest. Not far from the Mutirikiwi river, the Monomatapa kings built the Great Zimbabwe complex, a civilisation ancestral to the Kalanga people. Comparable sites in Southern Africa, include Bumbusi National Monument, Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique. From the 12th century onward, the processes of state formation amongst 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 technological developments in economic activity; and to new techniques in the political-spiritual ritualization of royalty as the source of national strength and health. Some examples of such Bantu states include: in Central Africa, the Kingdom of Kongo, the Kuba Kingdom, the Lunda Empire, the Luba Empire, Tooro Kingdom, Tooro, Bunyoro, History of Buganda, Buganda, Busoga, Kingdom of Rwanda, Rwanda, Kingdom of Burundi, Burundi, Ankole and in Southern Africa, the Mutapa Empire, the Zulu Kingdom, the Ndebele Kingdom, Kingdom of Mapungubwe, Mapungubwe, the Kingdom of Butua, Maravi, Danamombe, Khami, Naletale, Kingdom of Zimbabwe and the Rozwi Empire. On the coastal section of East Africa, a mixed Bantu community developed through contact with Muslim Arab and Persian people, Persian traders, Zanzibar being an important part in the Indian Ocean slave trade. The 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 members of the Bantu Swahili people. With its original speech community centered on the coastal parts of Zanzibar, Kenya, and Tanzania – a seaboard referred to as the Swahili coast, Swahili Coast – the Bantu Swahili language contains many Arabic language, Arabic loan-words as a result of these interactions. The Bantu migrations, and centuries later, the Indian ocean slave trade, brought Bantu influence to Madagascar,Cambridge World History of Slaver
The Cambridge World History of Slavery: The ancient Mediterranean world. By Keith Bradley, Paul Cartledge. pg. 76
(2011), accessed February 15, 2012
the Malagasy people showing Bantu admixture, and their Malagasy language Bantu loans.On the Origins and Admixture of Malagasy: New Evidence from High-Resolution Analyses of Paternal and Maternal Lineages
/ref> 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 Sultanate came into direct trade conflict and competition with Portugal, 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.

List of Bantu groups by country

Use of the term "Bantu" in South Africa

In the 1920s, relatively liberal South Africans, missionaries, and the small black intelligentsia began to use the term "Bantu" in preference to "Native". After World War II, the National Party (South Africa), National Party governments adopted that usage officially, while the growing African nationalist movement and its liberal allies turned to the term "African" instead, so that "Bantu" became identified with the policies of apartheid. By the 1970s this so discredited "Bantu" as an ethno-racial designation that the apartheid government switched to the term "Black" in its official racial categorizations, restricting it to Bantu-speaking Africans, at about the same time that the Black Consciousness Movement led by Steve Biko and others were defining "Black" to mean all non-European South Africans (Bantus, Khoisan, Coloureds, and Indian South Africans, Indians). In modern South Africa due to its connection to apartheid the noun has become so discredited that it is only used in its original linguistic meaning.Defining the term 'Bantu'
/ref> Examples of South African usages of "Bantu" include: # One of South Africa's politicians of recent times, General Bantubonke Harrington Holomisa (Bantubonke is a compound noun meaning "all the people"), is known as Bantu Holomisa. # The South African apartheid governments originally gave the name "bantustans" to the eleven rural reserve areas intended for nominal independence to deny indigenous Bantu South Africans citizenship. "Bantustan" originally reflected an analogy to the various ethnic "-stans" of Western and Central Asia. Again association with apartheid discredited the term, and the South African government shifted to the politically appealing but historically deceptive term "ethnic homelands". Meanwhile, the anti-apartheid movement persisted in calling the areas bantustans, to drive home their political illegitimacy. # The abstract noun ''Ubuntu (philosophy), ubuntu'', humanity or humaneness, is derived regularly from the Nguni languages, Nguni noun stem ''-ntu'' in Xhosa, Zulu, and Ndebele. In Swati the stem is ''-ntfu'' and the noun is ''buntfu''. # In the Sotho–Tswana languages of southern Africa, ''batho'' is the cognate term to Nguni ''abantu'', illustrating that such cognates need not actually look like the ''-ntu'' root exactly. The early African National Congress of South Africa had a newspaper called ''Abantu-Batho'' from 1912 to 1933, which carried columns in English, Zulu, Sotho, and Xhosa.


File:Kongo people2.jpg, Kongo people, Kongo youth and adults in Kinshasa,
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (french: RD Congo), the DROC, or simply either Congo or the Congo, and historically Zaire, is a country in ...
File:Kikyuyu-woman.jpeg, A Kikuyu woman in Kenya File:Mozambique001.jpg, A Makua people, Makua mother and child in Mozambique File:Bubi children.jpg, Bubi people, Bubi girls in Equatorial Guinea

See also

* African Pygmies * Bantu mythology *Bantu music * Congoid * Demographics of Africa * Genetic history of Sub-Saharan Africa * History of West Africa * Khoisan * Languages of Africa * List of ethnic groups of Africa



* 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. . * 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

bantu vibes
a Facebook page for Bantu people {{Authority control Bantu peoples,