African History 3: The Bantu Migration
Today we're learning about the Bantu Migration. The moral of the story here? Eat healthy yams and one day, you too could spread your dialect around the world. "Fetch" is so going to happen.
|World History||African History|
Because it was.
Today, a gigantic chunk of Sub-Saharan Africa still speaks languages that are descended
Swahili, Mbundu [mm-BUN-doo], Kirundi [kuh-RUHN-dee], Zulu, and Sukuma [suh-KOO-muh] all have more
than a little Proto-Bantu in them.
So the question is…how did Proto-Bantu catch on in such a big way?
Way back in the day, people from the Bantu ethnic group traveled from their native lands
in West Africa, spreading their culture and language.
What was their secret?
Well, there were two, actually.
The first one might not surprise you.
The first secret was…drum roll…iron.
The early Bantu knew how to smelt iron and hammer it into weapons and all kinds of other
This would’ve given them both battlefield superiority and valuable trade goods.
All right, here’s their second secret.
This one might be harder to swallow.
We’re not even kidding.
The Bantu figured out that yams grow well even in nutrient-poor soil.
Yams are also way more nutritious than other crops like sorghum, possibly making Bantu
stronger and healthier than some of their neighbors.
In addition to their yam-slash-iron domination, the Bantu could also whip up sweet pottery,
which was great for storing food and goods for trade.
Put all this together, and you’ve got a stable, healthy population that’s ready
Historians and archaeologists theorize that, eventually, Bantu villages and lands began
to get overcrowded.
Which made migrating south for greener pastures seem like a swell idea.
Historians are still debating how this went down.
Were the Bantu violent conquerors, sending big bad armies to bend the rest of Africa
to their will?
Or were they peaceful farmers and merchants looking for new lands and new opportunities?
Did they come all at once, or was it a steady trickle?
Nobody knows for sure.
One thing we do know for sure is that the Bantu Migration left a big stamp on Africa.
Like…so big you could mail the continent to Mars…