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Definition: A term literally meaning "people." The term is disliked by black people in South Africa partly on political and partly on linguistic grounds: "Bantu" may also refer to an extensive group of Negroid peoples of southern and central Africa, or to any of the languages spoken by these people.

Bantu language: A group of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The Bantu languages are spoken in a very large area, including most of Africa from the fifth parallel of north latitude to Cape Province in the Republic of South Africa, the southernmost tip. Four of the major Niger-Congo languages are Bantu languages (Rwanda, Makua, Xhosa and Zulu). Swahili is a Bantu language also, important both in commerce and literature.

History: Before the Europeans set foot on the soil of southern Africa, that region was inhabited by many different peoples with diverse social, economic and political systems. Khoisan speaking cultures had hunted and herded in the area for centuries before they were joined in medieval times by Bantu immigrants from the north, who imported agricultural ways. The linguistic connection between Bantu speakers has caused considerable speculation concerning a common area of origin of the Bantu peoples, with the evidence pointing strongly to the region of present-day Cameroon-Nigeria border. It is thought that they migrated across the country from eastward, across the southern Sudan, and then south, past the great lakes of the northeast.

Bantu people today:There are approximately 60,000,000 speakers of the more than 200 distinct languages of the Bantu subgroup of the Niger-Congo family, which occupy almost the entire southern projection of the African continent. The Bantu classification is primarily linguistic, for the cultural patterns of Bantu speakers are extremely diverse. The various economic, social and political organization of the Bantu-speaking peoples partly reflects the wide range of habitats they occupy. The economy may, for example, be focused on agriculture, on a combination of agriculture, hunting and gathering, or on fishing and river trade, as among some groups of the central equatorial region. Descent and kinship systems, religious practices, and political organization exhibit a similar range of diversity.