The Bantu, a large group of related peoples, originated in area of Cameroon and Nigeria and spread throughout central and southern Africa. Bantu peoples make up about a third of Africa's population. Bantu is the name of the language family spoken by these peoples. Over time, the Bantu-speaking peoples diversified and developed unique variations on the proto-culture of bantu peoples. proto-Bantu, about 4000 -3000 B.C., had developed a culture based on the farming of root crops, hunting-foraging, and fishing on the West African coast. Social organization of the early Bantu: based on a system of cooperation between villages. Every village consisted of several "Houses," and each House formed working relationships with Houses from other villages. This strong but flexible social network helped the Bantu migrate across the continent. Archaeological and linguistic evidence suggest that the Bantu migration began sometime after 3000 B.C. One group of Bantu moved southward, reaching southern Cameroon ca. 1500 B.C. Within a thousand years the migrants also settled the coast of Congo and the Congo Basin in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo Kinhasa). These West Bantu people developed new skills such as ironworking. Over 700 members of the Bantu family; initial diversity; regionalism and diversification; culture contact; changing human-environmental relations
Chifumbaze ceramic complex of central and southern Africa (e.g., Urewe, Kwale, Matola wares); Spread by iron working farmers Modern Bantu pottery Pottery and iron artifacts used to track Bantu dispersals
Ancestral Bantu Society 4,000 to 3,000 years before present (BP) Economics: Food production, accompanied by diverse hunted, fished, and foraged foods, but the livestock complex of Saharan Africa did not do well in tropical forested areas Technology: Ceramics, iron (later), settled plaza villages, in addition to food production technology Settlement: settled plaza villages composed of “Houses” (kingroups based on lineal descent), and organized into districts of related houses Social political organization: hierarchical (conical clan), status rivalry, chiefship, matrilineal descent groups, initiation and elite life crisis rites, in-law avoidance
The (Ramage or) Conical Clan Internally ranked, or hierarchical, social organization Tendency to “ramify,” that is subordinate lineages split off main group to found new communities Over time this process results in long-distance migrations
Village basic unit of settlement Rectangular houses along a street or plaza, which was a place of authority, with “men’s clubhouse(s)” located on it Village was an aggregate of houses, but frequently disassociated, with more enduring features of social organization being the house and district Initiation (circumcision rituals) and (sometimes) formal age grades, and (importantly) social hierarchy at house (founder’s ideology) and district levels The district or “maximal lineage were often reduced to few or even one village by the 20 th century and often (an alliance of houses)
Western Africa Big-man or great-man chief (nkáni) Ca. 3000 BP Ultimately larger kingdoms or principalities emerged, AD 1000 onward Three main kingdoms: kongo, loango, tio, after AD 1200 to contact The level of political stratification depends on number of “courts” in polity
Interlacustrine Bantu Soon after the West Bantu migration, a second Bantu migration to the east began, arriving ca. 3000 BP. the “Great Lakes” area in what is now Uganda. Known as “Interlacustrine Bantu,” these peoples learned new farming methods from neighbors in eastern Africa, notably raising livestock—particularly cattle—and practiced agriculture, growing cereal crops such as sorghum. Between about 2500 BP (500 BC) and 1000 BP (AD 1000), the Bantu language spread throughout the Great Lakes region. Also development of plantain farming created base for cultural development and population/economic growth, providing a reliable year-round supply of food, enabling villages to grow in size/complexity, in scrub forest, grasslands and open woodlands Cattle was a source of moveable wealth, like metal tools in Western Africa, and important for brideswealth among influential families. People who owned cattle gained political power by loaning the cattle to neighbors, who were obligated to provide support and assistance to the lender in return. In this way, loaning cattle forged new political relationships and incorporated outsiders in existing political and social groups. Between AD 1000 and 1500 (500 BP) the new forms of economic, political, religious, and social life that arose under Bantu influence transformed Africa's Great Lakes region. six independent kingdoms, called Buyunga, Muhambwe, Heru, Luguru (Kunkanda), Bushingo, and Bujiji (Nkalinzi).
The Lozi kingdom - known as Barotseland – was a protectorate under British colonial rule and became part of Zambia at the country's independence in 1964 The Lozi people of western Zambia have been marking Kuomboka, an annual traditional ceremony in honour of their king or Litunga.
Southern Interior and Coastal Bantu Interlacustrine Bantu spread east fairly rapidly ca. 2200 BP (200 BC) or later south into what is now Kenya and Tanzania and south into Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, and parts of South Africa. Archaeological evidence of Bantu cultures in eastern and southern Africa dates widespread Bantu presence by 1800-1600 BP (AD 200-400). By this time, cattle were so important in southern Bantu society that villages were erected around a central pen. In Kenya the first towns built by the Swahili appeared around 1250 BP (AD 750), which came to dominate eastern coastal areas. Around the same time, systems of farming and herding developed in interior areas, which prompted the development of large settlements with fortified central areas and eventually powerful chiefdoms and kingdoms by AD 1500. By A.D. 1000, settlements along the Limpopo River had developed into a town called Mapungabwe—the capital of a Bantu kingdom that controlled much of the surrounding territory. It was replaced around AD 1250 by the kingdom of Great Zimbabwe. This powerful empire flourished for almost 200 years by supplying gold and ivory to Swahili traders from the North. Bantu civilizations continued to dominate south and east Africa politically until European colonial governments displaced them in the 1800s.
Slavery was primarily Portuguese until early 16 th century Britain’s involvement began in the 1560s. For the next 250 years Britain’s activity in the transport and enslavement of African people increased dramatically “The Atlantic Slave Trade” was abolished in 1807. In 1838 British slavery in the West Indies was abolished, in 1863 (?) in US, and in 1888 in Brazil. The economic and social consequences of this terrible slavery are still with us today, with regard to the derived wealth of slavers and the derived poverty of slaves. From Slavery to Mass incarceration (L. Wacquant, New Left Review 13, Jan/Feb. 2002:41-60