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The rise of the Bantu Peoples in Africa can be explained by the introduction of Agriculture and Iron.
The Rise Of The Bantu Peoples
Historically, the earliest traces of Agriculture and Iron that led to the rise of the Bantu Peoples in Africa have been found in the regions of Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley.
Knowledge of Cereals, Animal Husbandry and Iron Smelting spread amongst the Bantu Peoples in the African interior from Mesopotamia via the Nile Valley into East Africa, the Sahara and then into the African Savannah.
Depending on the climatic conditions, either Crop Farming, Animal Husbandry or both were adopted by the Bantu Peoples.
In the Rainforest Equatorial Regions root crops like Yams were predominant, with cereals being more common amongst East and Southern Africa Bantu Peoples.
The arrival of Farming coupled with the introduction of Iron Tools had transformed the Bantu Peoples in the African interior by around 1200 AD.
Population growth was followed by larger more settled communities and greater food security amongst the Bantu Peoples.
This departure from a Nomadic lifestyle to a more settled lifestyle by the Bantu Peoples would have an impact on Social relationships, organisation and Culture.
The Impact Of Agriculture On The Bantu Peoples
Agriculture’s main effect was the emergence of specialization amongst the Bantu Peoples.
It was no longer necessary for the Bantu Peoples to allocate all the Labour within Society to Hunting and Gathering as people could be fed from the surplus produced from Farming.
New skills emerged amongst the Bantu Peoples such as Blacksmiths and Traditional Healing emerged, coupled with the blossoming of an early Barter trade economy and Religion.
The Bantu Peoples group of Languages also flourished during this period, spreading from the Niger-Congo region all the way down to Southern Africa.
With the formation of a new Bantu Society built on Agriculture and Iron, accompanied by a distinct language coupled with changing Social and Economic relations, the Bantu Peoples had stepped onto the scene, and the modern African had emerged.
As the Iron Age and Agriculture flourished, Bantu Peoples relationships based on Kinship, Ethnic and Political identity would coalesce and inform the Bantu Consciousness with concepts of Extended Family, Tribe and Chiefdom that would form the bedrock of Bantu Society.
In time, the new foundations of Bantu Peoples Society settled, and strong Political entities emerged in response to the need to negotiate Political Power in order to maintain access to the means of production like land within Iron Age Society.
These new Political entities will be the subject of our next entry in Entire History Of Africa Anthology as we look at the Bantu Peoples Chiefdoms that dominated the African landscape prior to the Bantu Peoples contact with external forces that began in the spirit of equal trade partnerships but would eventually lead to Colonial conquest.
The Rise of The Bantu Peoples In Africa