Ancient tribe Bantus - Ancestry and origin
Bantu is the collective term describing more than 400 different ethnic groups in south and middle Africa. The Bantu languages are a sub-group of the Niger-Congo languages. Today (2007) more than 200 million people are Bantus. The Bantu likely come from the highlands of Cameroon and the southeast of Nigeria. At some point in the second millennium B.C., they began to extend their territory into the rain forests of central Africa, as planters of root crops. Around 1,000 years later, a second and more rapid phase of expansion began, this time to the south and east. Everywhere they went, they intermarried with the indigenous groups and formed new societies. Approximately 1000 B.C.–likely without any outside assistance– the skill of mining and smelting iron had been developed throughout the region between Lake Chad and the Great Lakes of East Africa. When the Bantu took on this technology, the settled region had already expanded considerably. They planted cereals and bananas and herded animals. The Urewe Culture of present-day Uganda is considered to have been the first early Iron Age culture of the Bantu. South of the Equator, the beginning of the Iron Age is considered to coincide with the arrival of the Bantu.
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Equipped with these skills, they seemed to have spread out across vast portions of southern Africa in smaller groups that lived from nomadic farming. Recently a very ancient find from the region near Maputo in southern Mozambique, very similar to finds from the Kwale Culture of Kenya, led to speculations that the Bantu settled the coastline very rapidly. By 400 A.D., the Bantu already occupied those regions of Africa where the Europeans eventually encountered them.
The transition form the early Iron Age (limited animal husbandry, limited social differentiation) to late Iron Age (agriculture and extensive animal husbandry, strong social differentiation, building of kingdoms), which was long regarded as a series of renewed migrations, has come to be seen as period of cultural development without significant waves of migration. The Khoisan, neighbors of the Bantu to the southwest, neither cultivated land nor mined iron, but learned to work iron, e.g. to make spear points. A centuries long, side-by-side co-existence the Iron Age Bantu and the Stone Age Khoisan is assumed to have taken place in eastern Zambia and has been attested in Botswana.
The regions of modern-day Namibia and the Cape Province were not affected by Bantu colonization before the seventeenth century. When Jan van Riebeeck made landfall on the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and founded Capetown, he met no Bantu there, since the area that they had colonized only began 700 km northeast of his new colony. The indigenous neighbors of the first white colonists were the San and the Khoi Khoi. Through the constant stream of European colonists, whose descendants are now called Afrikaners (also Buren or Boers), the Cape Colony slowly spread out, and the Khoi Khoi became increasingly dependent on the Boers. The first contact between the Boers and the Bantu only came in 1770. Only in 1795, and then with lasting effect in 1806, did the Cape Colony come under British rule
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were migration movements of both the Bantu and the Boers, which led to armed conflict between the two groups and drove the Khoisan into the Kalahari. Starting in 1816, the Zulu ruler Shaka built up a strictly organized military force and began to subjugate other, neighboring Bantu peoples with bloody violence, which led to their re-structuring and to widespread flight (Mfecane). With the Abolition Law of 1833, slavery was abolished in the entire British Empire, including the Cape Colony. From 1835 on, many Boers abandoned the Cape Colony, migrating as "voortrekker" to the northeast, where they founded new republics.
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