What Was Bantu Migration?

The Bantu migration refers to the geographic spreading over Africa, from 1000 A.D. to 1800 A.D., of the Bantu, a collection of people that spoke the Bantu language. The Bantu includes groups like the Baganda, Banyoro, Batoru of Uganda, Akamba, Kikuyu and many others. There are two versions as to how the Bantu migrated through the continent.

The first explanation asserts that the Bantu originated in the West African regions of the Cameroon Highlands and Baunchi plateau, located in Nigeria. This would mean that the Niger basin was the cradle land of the original Bantu groups. However, another theory posits that the Bantu actually came from the Katanga region, which is located in southeastern Congo.

It’s then believed that the Bantu spread eastward and southward, reaching the the lower Congo region. Bantu migration happened quickly, and this could have been from the commonality in language between the various groups.

The Bantu migration split into a west and east division as the groups moved southward through the continent. In the east, Bantu people utilized the wide, dry land for agricultural purposes. In the west, the wet, vast grasslands were ideal for raising cattle.

The Bantu migration greatly defined Africa’s cultural and economic makeup. Today, many of the eastern, central and southern parts of the continent consist of people directly descended from these original Bantu groups.

The African slave trade was another migration pattern that greatly defined the African region. This didn’t just cause slaves to be transported out of the continent, but to other regions within Africa, as well. Many Africans were enslaved and then transported from Central Africa and Madagascar to North Africa. They were also transported to South Africa, which had been a European colony for some time.