Talk:Bantu expansion

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The Quality Of This Article[edit]

You know this article at the NIH is a much better overview than this wikipedia page. MrSativa (talk) 03:46, 21 May 2015 (UTC)

Origin Of The Bantu Migration[edit]

" Before the expansion of farming and pastoralist peoples, including those speaking Bantu languages, Africa south of the equator was populated by hunter-gatherers. "

Source? There are haplogroups other than the E1b1a (which is associated with the Bantu Expansion) in (what after the drying of the Sahara is now) Sub-Saharan Africa. However, there are people with haplogroups A, B, DE, which makes it likely that these haplogroups were displaced by E1b1a. It doesn't mean that there were only 'hunter gatherers' in SSA before the Bantu Expansion, about 3,000 years ago.

The problem with the article, is that it leans very heavily on the historiography of apartheid. And it is characterised by the veneration of the San and Khoi (Bushmen) as safe, 'true Africans', with the Bantu as interlopers, *just like* the Afrikaners/Boers, therefore giving the Bantu no greater right to the land than the Europeans who took it from them. That's the ideology.

There needs to be more history, less assertion in this article. MrSativa (talk) 22:44, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Apartheid era preconceptions are indeed problematic. However, what constitute as Apartheid preconceptions?
Your interpretation is awfully skewed to what symbolises by asserting that the Khoikhoi are the indigenous people of Southern Africa wholly. I personally think your interpretation of, when Bantu colonialism is depicted, it automatically down the latter implies that the Bantu has "no greater right to the land than the Europeans who took it from them." This is hogwash. Bantu expansionism is a phenomena like it or not. And it is unfortunate, and I concede that it has become fashionable for Afrikaners, Boers, Anglo African of today, to try to justifying illegally displacing, conquering Bantus and Indigenous Southern Africans back in the heyday of Apartheid, or in the European colonies and Boer Republics. I do not live by that narrative ideology, yet, I still openly support that Bantu colonialism is a phenomena. And thus should be displaced here on Wikipedia without a point of view from Apartheid apologetics and wannabe natives.
"Nonetheless, if one omits to Bantu colonialism," - the very use o the term 'bantu colonialism' shows a non-NPOV. The world is not waiting for apartheid era history, and the self serving theories of the descendants of the beneficiaries of apartheid.MrSativa (talk) 21:47, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Also whom is European?
In the context of an article on the Bantu Migration (meaning - across the African continent, not as it relates to the apartheid history of South Africa), who cares who is defined as a European. That is a question best left to the Afrikaner or Colored pages.MrSativa (talk) 21:47, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
Nonetheless, if one omits to Bantu colonialism, you are then in official capacity acceding to Afrikaner Apartheid preconceptions of "beware of natives" and "Europeans only" ideology. Have a look at the list of indigenous people Africa. Tell me what do you see at Southern Africa? Hendrik Biebouw (talk) 05:08, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Have a look here and here, plus here. Hendrik Biebouw (talk) 07:05, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, the notion that there was no one living in South Africa before the arrival of the Afrikaners - Terra Nullius. Secondly, the idea that the Bantu (in South Africa) are clearly distinct from the Bushmen/Khoi, even though there is evidence of massive mixing, not only in the Coloured community, but the Xhosa, Zulu, etc. peoples. Then, the assertion that the Bushmen are the 'true' inhabitants of South Africa, and therefore everyone else is an interloper. Then, the heading "Pre-Colonial era demography" describes non-Bantu people. Colonialism only started in the 17th to 20th century, and the notion that Africa was popated by hunter gatherers before the arrival of the Europeans is clearly false. The Bantu Expansion itself is labeled "Colonisation", clearly used to draw a parallel with European colonisation. Anyway, a problem I have is that the haplogroup clearly linked to the Bantu Expanion, E1b1a, has it's origin in wet Sahara during the African Aqualithic 20-30kya, and it's near twin E1b1b spread with last wet phase of the Sahara, around 7500 BC. So where was E1b1a located during that time? Just before the Bantu Expansion or at it's beginning, Ramses III was the last great Egyptian pharaoh, and his haplogroup was E1b1a - before the Bantu Expansion. So where did they really expand from? MrSativa (talk) 18:03, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

Southern and Western Cape[edit]

When did the Bantu migrate into the Western and Southern Cape? There seems to be no mention of this in the article. The only sources I can find claim that it was after 1920, which I find very hard to believe.

Context: April 2008[edit]

The backgound seems rather vauge: WHERE was the source of this group (with contesting theories, perhaps), WHO were they (what makes you Bantu? in 3000BCE or now?) What was the world they came out of (was this place uninhabited, dry, wet, were there cities, were there other peoples - who differed how)? Either this is all obvious to the specialist, or someone has chopped the head off this article, and it needs to be restored. I'm hoping someone with more knowledge might adopt this important topic (I really can't). On the upside, there's a lot done, the map is good, and this could be a good article with some careful work. T L Miles (talk) 13:20, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

I guess the article is just unfinished and under-referenced. It needs work. The 3000 BC date is highly dubious, 300 BC would sound more credible. For better or worse, you are Bantu if your first language is a Bantu language, and the beginning of the migration is tied to a date estimate of the ancestral Proto-Bantu language. --dab (𒁳) 10:46, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
correction, it seems 3000-2500 is a valid estimate for expansion beyond Nigeria into Cameroon, and 1500-1000 BC is the likely period of migration from West Africa towards the Congo and the Great Lakes. --dab (𒁳) 10:54, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
"For better or worse, you are Bantu if your first language is a Bantu language," - says who? Is that the apartheid era definition? Because I think we are confusing a lot of things here. First, the apartheid era 'racial classification' Bantu. Then, Bantu as someone who speaks a language from the Bantu language family. Unless you first define your terms, you can't tell whether someone belongs to some group. The whole article by the way feels like (apartheid system) 'Bantu education' for the world.MrSativa (talk) 21:34, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

Removing the Zulu material[edit]

This article is best focused, I think, on the expansion of the Bantu in ancient times, taking as a terminal point the arrival of Bantu speakers in South Africa. To include the historical development of Bantu speaking peoples from ancient times to the ninteenth century seems to me to be far too ambitious for this article. I am proposing that the paragraphs relating to the Zulu and their nineteenth century expansion be deleted. I have checked on the article "Zulu Kingdom" and find that all the material used here can be found in better detail in that article, where it rightfully belongs. Beepsie (talk) 17:37, 14 February 2011 (UTC)BeepsieBeepsie (talk) 17:37, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

"To include the historical development of Bantu speaking peoples from ancient times to the ninteenth century seems to me to be far too ambitious for this article." It is part and parcel of the South African orientation. The idea is to show that Bantu arrived in South Africa late, there was no one there except the Bushmen (Terra Nullius), and therefore 10% of the population should be allowed to keep 87% of the country.MrSativa (talk) 16:13, 22 July 2014 (UTC)


One of the biggest doubts is the fact that some so-classified Bantu ethnic groups do not trace their historical ancestries to Nigeria or Cameroon, or any place in West Africa, but actually place their heritage to North-Eastern Africa, in what is now Egypt and northern Sudan. Examples are the Tutsi of Rwanda, the Luhya of Kenya,[1] the Zulu of South Africa, among many others all over the whole Eastern and Southern sides of Africa. Others still, like the Lemba actually have Israeli or Jewish history based on DNA studies conducted by various anthropological institutes including the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis. [2]

On the other hand, the Bantu are an agricultural people. Unlike pastoralist/ nomadic ethnicities like the Masai of Kenya, they practiced animal husbandry and produced all sorts of crops for food. They still do, except for those who are urbanized. In his 1926 PhD thesis, The Cattle Complex in East Africa, Melville J. Herskovits explores theories of power and authority revolving around the importance of cattle in East Africa.

The Bantu expansion theory posits that the proto-Bantu made their way through the great Congo rain forest. Rain forests are extremely dense and nearly impassable. On the other hand, to this very day the Congo rain forest is barely inhabited, except by members of various Pygmy ethnic groups. Plus, the Great Congo Rain forest has thousands of waterways that present severe traveling and navigating obstacles, much like the northern parts of Manitoba, Canada.

As in all migrations, human populations expand slowly, gradually spreading, as is evident in the peopling of the United States of America by Europeans and Africans, as they displaced, or absorbed the original inhabitants. It started in the East and headed West, gradually, over 400 years.

The maps that display the Bantu expansion such as the one on this page show that the expansion happened to cross right through the rain forest. Nothing grows on the rain forest floor, except for ferns and other plants that can exist on very little sunlight, as the trees are very tall. As such, the Bantu being an agricultural people, could not have migrated through the forests, because there would be no way for them to plant their crops or drive massive herds of cattle, donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs or even dogs before them, and even manage to successfully raise them in a place with little or no grasses, low-level shrubs and thickets that domesticated animals feed on. [3]

Also, some West African ethnic groups such as the Akan of Ghana and the Wolof of Senegal have a history that states that they came from the East, in the area of the Nile River. At about the same time that the Bantus were leaving West Africa. Besides that, the Aja people of Togo and Benin are also found in Sudan. The Aja of Togo say that they came from Eastern Africa.

On the other hand, aside from the history of the Bantu peoples themselves, (which for various reasons including the sociological phenomenon commonly called racism are barely accepted or considered as nonsense,) by some British and American historians, anthropologists and linguists such as Hugh Trevor-Roper. [4]

Aside from that, John P. Hart, in Darwin and Archaelogy writes, 'Vansina (1995) has made three cogent criticisms of the prevailing migration theory. (1) The theory assumes that only a human migration could cause the wide spread (an area of over 500,000 sq. km) of Bantu languages. Languages can spread without involving human migrations. (2) The scenario collapses one to several millenia's worth of history into a single migration event which seems doubtful if the present pattern is...the result of numerous processes and events that unfolded across Africa in this time period. (3) The tree generated by a clustering analysis of modern language similarities has been interpreted as a phylogenetic tree rather than just the parsimonious (brief) branch diagram that can explain present-day language differences.' Hart further adds, 'This type of misinterpretation is common among scholars attempting to use present similarities and differences to infer past populations and histories...' [5]

Some historians, also do not agree on which routes the Bantu used when peopling the Eastern part of Africa, and exactly when they occurred. Also, some Bantu peoples claim that they have always been living in parts of Eastern Africa and never moved, nor migrated from elsewhere.

Because of these hindrances, the Bantu expansion theory from West Africa does not have a lot of common ground and is hotly contested. It is actually largely unknown in most Eastern African countries. School textbooks in that part of the world sometimes mention it in passing, but prefer to stick the histories passed down by their specific peoples. The expansion may have occurred for some African ethnicities, but probably across a different route, and also not everyone who speaks a Bantu language today was essentially descended from a person who was a Bantu speaker 500 years ago. Much like English today which is spoken by people who are not necessarily descended from Anglo-Saxons.

People have been inter-marrying, enslaved, conquering, assimilating, and sought refuge among people of different ethnicities all over the world for millenia. It is no different for those who speak Bantu today. These factors need to be taken into account when studying Bantu history. It is well known though, that the Bantu came from somewhere else in Africa, and transformed the Eastern part of Africa with metallurgy (such as the Haya of Tanzania who invented carbon-steel 2,000 years ago), the Bantu occupied areas that had hitherto been inhospitable for humans, established centralized monarchies such as the Baganda, Maravi, Wanga and Great Zimbabwe empires, among other artistic, architectural, technological, medicinal, and economical advances that forever changed that part of Africa.

An editor and some IPs have added the paragraph above to a section of the article titled "Criticisms of the Bantu Expansion Theory". However, most of the material is either unsourced or original research. Where it lists sources, none of them criticize the standard model of an expansion of Bantu-speaking people from a homeland in West-Central Africa except for arguably this one [1], which references Jan Vansina's long-standing questioning of the extent of the replacement of local pre-Bantu cultures, languages and people following the Bantu migrations. It basically suggests that a lot of the technologies that the Bantu are said to have introduced to the areas they migrated to were probably already in use by the peoples indigenous to those regions. Vansina more directly articulates this in his book Art history in Africa, where he indicates that there was no single migration of Bantu-speaking people from West Africa but rather a diffusion of the Bantu languages only [2]:

"The first was the huge expansion of Bantu languages throughout the southern third of the continent from the Cross River basin on the border between today's Nigeria and Cameroon to southern Africa. The expansion began some time before 500 B.C. and probably reached the eastern Cape area in the first centuries A.D. This was not a single migration of a culturally superior people, implanting a Bantu culture everywhere. There is no Bantu culture and there are no Bantu arts (Vansina 1979/1980)! It was a diffusion of languages only. At best one can recognize a substantial common heritage among Bantu speakers of southeastern Africa and portions of East Africa, where Bantu speakers seem to have carried the practices of agriculture, husbandry, metallurgy and settled life. But even that is not established beyond doubt."

However, per Roger Blench, Vansina's theory has little acceptance in the scholarly community (i.e. it is fringe), and is contradicted by other lines of evidence such as archaeology:

"Vansina (1995, 52) prefers an early date, 5000 BP, for the beginning of the Bantu expansion on the basis of glottochronology. This seems unlikely, because it puts back the genesis of Niger-Congo to a problematically early date... more radically, he claims that the Bantu expansion as a migration event is conceptually misconceived and that we should return to the "wave" models of early twentieth-century Indo-European scholars, imagining rather the large-scale propagation of language and culture among largely in situ populations. This view has not commanded widespread acceptance in the scholarly community both because of its great reliance on lexicostatistics and because it is difficult to match up with the archaeology, which does appear to support actual human migration."

Besides that source referencing Vansina's fringe views, one of the other cited refs, a genetic study [3], actually states that multiple lines of evidence support the Bantu expansion:

"We follow Cavalli Sforza et al. in noting that, although “Bantu” was originally a linguistic term, its use to define population groups can be justified on the assumption that a geographic expansion spread both the Bantu language and a group of related people... There is considerable archaeological and linguistic evidence to support an expansion of Bantu-speaking people throughout subequatorial Africa (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994)."

In short, the material is both synthesis and fringe, so it has been removed. Middayexpress (talk) 00:13, 21 April 2011 (UTC)



Initially archaeologists believed that they could find archaeological similarities in the ancient cultures of the region that the Bantu were held to have traversed; while linguists, classifying the languages and creating a genetic table of relationships believed they could reconstruct both material culture elements, new crops and the like.

Stop right there, buster! You've got a pretty perverse idea of what linguists do, or did. Linguists don't reconstruct material culture or crops (and, prey tell, what is and the like here...). They like to stay in their comfort zone, that is, language. When relating cultural artifacts or loan words to language and vice versa, of course we take history and geography and so on into consideration but that is never anything like our core activity. Are you even sure that you talk about linguists here, and not, say, crackpots with wild ideas and no education. (talk) 21:57, 2 December 2011 (UTC)


"The term "pygmy" is a racist term assigned to these people by Europeans." NPOV? What's that crappy sentence doing in there? Pygmy as such is not racist at all. Look at the etymology here: Anyway, the whole paragraph from "Considerable evidence..." is dubious & lacking citations. bossel (talk) 17:51, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

The whole article has a tone of South Africa's Apartheid history to it. The problem is that the apartheid government didn't teach the real history of bantu language people, because it might be too positive. They created Bantu Education instead. (talk) 23:09, 17 October 2014 (UTC)

Expansion, not colonization[edit]

Nothing in the article mentions colonies or colonists, but instead talks about expansion. I am going to edit the references to "colonization" to say "expansion."

Thanks, BCorr|Брайен 01:40, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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