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There are more than 60 million people who speak Bantu as their native language. They live primarily in the regions that straddle the equator and continue southward into southern Africa where it is believed they migrated to.

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It is believed that the Bantu origins lie in Cameroon. In about 1000 BC a massive migration began (considered one of the largest in human history). This migration continued until around the 3rd or 4th century AD.

Anthropologists have studied this phenomenon and believe there are several possibilities for its occurrence. It may have been due to a growing population in ancient times, which increased the need for more food. It was around this time that the banana, which is native to Asia, was introduced in southern Africa.

Another important occurrence in the history of the Bantu is a split that created two major language families. They are known as the Eastern Bantu and the Western Bantu. The Eastern Bantu migrated to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and down into South Africa. The Western Bantu migrated into Angola, Namibia, and parts of Botswana.

Currently the Bantu are known more as a language group than as a distinct ethnic group. Swahili is the most widely spoken Bantu language and is considered the lingua franca of around 50 million people living in the countries along the east coast of Africa.

The ethnic groups that make up the Eastern Bantu include the Xhosa, Zulu, Kikuyu, and Shona peoples. The Western Bantu include the Herero and Tonga peoples.

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