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The Bantu Expansion

The Bantu are an African people which encapsulate over 500 different ethnic groups who all speak one or more of the 500 Bantu languages inclusive of Zulu, Shona and Swahili. Originating in Western Africa (between eastern Cameroon and western Nigeria) the Bantu people expanded in about 2000 BC 1across a huge territory eventually encompassing the entire region of Sub-Saharan Africa (the territory below the Sahara Desert) previously populated by the Khoisan peoples. The Khoisan People are an African group who were located in modern-day Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The Khoisan are divided into the San people and the Khoikhoi people. The Bantu Expansion itself describes the migration out of West Africa and their movement into Central and Southern Africa with a smaller group entering East Africa. By 1000 BC the Bantu people had located themselves in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa.

The Great Lakes region consists of 15 of the largest fresh water lakes on planet earth which include Nyanza (also known as Lake Victoria). The mass migration lasted 2000 years by which point the Bantu people had reached modern-day Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Bantu people eventually went on to set up many powerful African kingdoms inclusive of the Mutapa Empire and Great Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. The reason that the Bantu migrated across Africa from their original location are thought to be because the rulers wanted to expanded the territory and establish new empires, the fertile grasslands of the Sahara began to dry up and the Bantu wanted to use the iron working that they had perfected in Western Africa for use in agricultural development in new areas. The Bantu expansion had many benefits for Africa, as technological developments in iron-smelting and iron-working were spread around the entire continent. Food production increased and hunting was now supported with agricultural development and land cultivation across Africa.

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