Africa – migration and kingdoms


The most important thing to note is that a large part of Africa is unsuitable for dense settlement.  Africa was on the backend of centuries of slave exports and war. The late stages of the 19th-century would see it deal with famines and the introduction of polio and rinderpest into the continent.  Historically kingdoms are not the norm in Africa.    The kingdoms had more people because they were concentrated in the most fertile parts of the continent. However, the majority of African societies were acephalous or Stateless. Many were also nomadic or semi-nomadic.


Written by – Emmanuel-Francis Nwaolisa Ogomegbunam (Nigeria)

Without seeing your map, I can predict it would have shown Ottoman control everywhere in North Africa except Morocco. The entire Sahara would be blank. West Africa, west of the River Benue, would be divided into empires and kingdoms of different sizes. East of the Benue would be more sparse.   In East Africa, there was the big Ethiopian Empire and then progressively smaller city-States and acephalous societies on the coast and in the interior until you got to the Great Lakes region. More of the same across Central Africa with Kongo, Ndongo, Portuguese colonies, Luba being exceptions. Most of western South Africa would also be blank.


Bantu Migrations — Kwasi Konadu


The Bantu (“the people”) is a cultural-linguistic cluster of peoples originating around present-day Cameroon and Nigeria in West Africa. The prefix “ba” means “people,” while the stem “ntu” refers to “life force,” hence, “the people.”

These African peoples migrated into much of central, southern, and eastern Africa over an approximate 2,000-year period. Rather than a mass exodus, sizable streams of people over a vast territory and equally large period constituted one of the largest migratory flows in human history. Though its origin in time remain unclear, the eastern branch of proto-Bantu plowed through present-day Zimbabwe and Mozambique to south Africa, while the western branch moved into present-day Angola, Namibia, and northwest Botswana.

In the encounter between Bantu migrant farmers with iron working knowledge and localized communities, the outcome was usually co-existence, or the latter were incorporated into larger settlements and states that relied on farming, animal husbandry, and fishing.

These societies used stone and iron tools, weapons, implements, and utensils. Iron was far superior to copper and bronze for making tools and weapons. Since iron ore was readily available in much of tropical Africa, iron working knowledge spread to most of the continent by the fifth century CE. With iron, the pro-Bantu hunted with bow and arrow and traps; collected honey and wax; fished with hooks, line, nets and baskets; paddled canoes, kept goats and cattle; molded pottery, water and storage pots, and cultivated root crops and palm.

Nonetheless, Bantu migrants aided this process of spreading iron working knowledge, farming techniques and their language to central, southern and eastern Africa, where iron ore, timber or charcoal, and water sources were available. In this dispersal the Bantu language(s) became prominent in a region that constituted almost two-thirds of Africa below the Sahara Desert. Currently there are two main theories for the distribution of Bantu languages. 





Location of major divisions of the Nguni language family.


Location of major divisions of the Nguni language family. | Download  Scientific Diagram




Koen Bostoen


Source for maps: Koen Bostoen, “Linguistics for the Use of African History and the Comparative Study of Bantu Pottery Vocabulary,” Antwerp Papers in Linguistics 106 (2004): 151-52 (used by permission of author).

He (1975) studied African Languages and Cultures at Ghent University (BA-MA, 1994-1997) and Anthropology (D.E.C., 1997-1998) and African Linguistics (D.E.A., 1997-1999) at Brussels Free University (ULB). In 2004,  he obtained his PhD in Linguistics at the ULB under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Claire Grégoire. The title of his PhD dissertation was Etude comparative et historique du vocabulaire relatif à la poterie en bantou. It was published in 2005 as Des mots et des pots en bantou : une approche linguistique de l’histoire de la céramique en Afrique (Peter Lang Verlag).   
His field of research is the historical, comparative and descriptive study of Bantu languages, Africa’s largest language group. Some of his specific domains are diachronic phonology, diachronic semantics, lexical reconstruction, verbal derivation and argument structure, and information structure.   He published on several Bantu languages, amongst others Cilubà, Mbuun, Shanjo, Fwe, Hungan, and the Bantu A70 and B80 languages. 

His web:


Nguni-speakers form the largest division of the Eastern Bantu language in southern
Africa. In the recent past, most lived in a broad belt extending from Swaziland south
through KwaZulu-Natal to the Fish River. Within this broad zone, the Mtamvuma River
conventionally separates the Cape, or Southern Nguni (e.g. Xhosa and Mpondo) from
Natal, or Northern Nguni (e.g. Zulu and Swazi). Smaller groups still live on the interior
plateau of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, while others live in Malawi,
Mocambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


G. Liesegang, ‘Nguni migrations between Delagoa Bay and the Zambezi, 1821-1839’ , African Historical Studies.

Population movement across Southern Africa triggered by the Mfecane in the early nineteenth century resulted in two groups of people, the Ndebele and Shangaan, settling in what later became Southern Rhodesia, while another, the Ngoni, passed through the territory (see Fig. 1).41 ese population movements and increased in-teractions with European explorers and missionaries from the 1850s are oen ex-amined in the context of the white occupation of the territory but they also involved the exchange of veterinary knowledge due to new veterinary challenges such as lung sickness among Ndebele cattle in 1861.

G. Liesegang, 'Nguni migrations between Delagoa Bay and the Zambezi,... |  Download Scientific Diagram


Apartheid started under British colonialism – look at the Shepstone Policy, 1854. Legislation from the British empire.

Shepstone – Natal, roots of segregation


There were more than 2000 homelands in Africa before 1900…. 
Tuislande – so-called apartheid – Homelands


What is China doing in Africa?
China in Africa and South Africa


What is the Africa depression?
Afar – Africa depression – from space


Voor Tuislande is die gebiede Reservate genoem – na 1994 is dit Trustgebiede of CPA gebiede.

Homelands were there, it was called Reserves and some British Crownland (they annexed all land, also the two independent Boer Republics.


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