The following is the brief introduction of the Bantu people who form the majority of African people. The information provided is the writing of scholars because there is no clear evidence given about the existence of man in Africa. It is just a speculation of writers who believe in evolution and yet God gives a clear definition and creation of man in the garden of Eden as recorded in his Holy Book the Bible. It is the only reliable written record of the history of mankind on earth. Anything outside that it is only speculation which is not yet approved.
Bantu are supposedly physically ugly and “inferior” representing “ the pygmy- prognathous which formed the first stratum of the human population in nearly all Negroe Africa. Being an underdeveloped type of anthropoid they are considered to have made little progress from the first homosapiens.
Bantu is a mixed language so to speak, descended of a Hamatic father and a Negroe mother.
Beginning in the third millennium B.C from a homeland in Cameroon, Bantu peoples spread east and south into the rain forest region of Equatorial Africa. Then between 1000 and 100 B.C Bantu communities began to spread beyond the rain forest into the savanna country all around the south and east sides of the forest. Finally between 100 B.C and 500 A.D a further large expansion spread Bantu peoples across the Eastern Africa and Southern Africa.
Any history of Bantu unit is an integral part of the greater Bantu history. The implication of this is that the origin of the Bantu speaking peoples can be located through the study of any single Bantu group as long as it is possible to trace the origin of such group back into the remote past of African history. In doing so it is important to establish such group’s geographical location, the time frame and the environment in which they lived. In the light of this study the geographical location of the pro-bantu group lay between the 2nd cataract of the river Nile and the Gezira region, including Ethiopia and the land between river Atbara and Blue Nile.
The Bantu expansion was a millenia long series of physical migrations, a diffusion of language and knowledge out into and in from neighboring populations, and a creation of new societal groups involving inter-marriage among communities and small groups moving tocommunities and small groups moving to new areas. Bantu-speakers developed novel methods of agriculture and metalworking which allowed people to colonize new areas with widely varying ecologies in greater densities than hunting and foraging permitted. Meanwhile in Eastern and Southern Africa Bantu-speakers adopted livestock husbandry from other peoples they encountered, and in turn passed it to hunter-foragers, so that herding reached the far south several centuries before Bantu-speaking migrants did. Archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence all support the idea that the Bantu expansion was one of the most significant human migrations and cultural transformations within the past few thousand years.
It is unclear when exactly the spread of Bantu-speakers began from their core area as hypothesized ca. 5000 years ago. By 3500 years ago (1500 B.C.) in the west, Bantu-speaking communities had reached the great Central African rainforest, and by 2500 year ago (500 B.C.) pioneering groups had emerged into the savannahs to the south, in what are now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Zambia. Another stream of migration, moving east, by 3000 years ago (1000 B.C.) was creating a major new population center near the Great Lakes of East Africa, where a rich environment supported a dense population. Movements by small groups to the southeast from the Great Lakes region were more rapid, with initial settlements widely dispersed near the coast and near rivers, due to comparatively harsh farming conditions in areas further from water. Pioneering groups had reached modern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa by 300 A.D. along the coast, and the modern Northern Province (formerly called the Transvaal) by 500 A.D
Between the 13th and 15th centuries relatively powerful Bantu-speaking states on a scale larger than local chiefdoms began to emerge, in the Great Lakes region, in the savannah south of the Central African rainforest, and on the Zambezi river where the Monomatapa kings built the famous Great Zimbabwe complex. Such processes of state-formation occurred with increasing frequency from the 16th century onward. They were probably due to denser population, which led to more specialized divisions of labor, including military power, while making out migration more difficult, to increased trade among African communities and with European, Swahili and Arab traders on the coasts, to technological developments in economic activity, and to new techniques in the political-spiritual ritualization of royalty as the source of national strength and health.
REASONS FOR MIGRATION FROM THEIR ORIGINAL HOMELAND
a) Growing population and need for more space.
b) Need for more land for cultivation.
c) Search for additional pastures.
d) Internal quarrels arising especially from population pressure.
e) Attacks from neighbobouring communities
f) Prevalence of diseases
g) Search for adventure
EVOLUTION OF THE WESTERN KENYA BANTU.
The Bantu of western Kenya comprise the Abaluyia, abgagusii and abakuria. Bantu presence in western Kenya stretches back to the time of earl Iron Age.
The period between 1500 and 1850 saw the migration of many Bantu clans and families from eastern Uganda into western Kenya and the emergence of the present day Abaluyia, Abagusii, and Abakuria communities. Indeed according to G.S Were the Abaluyia community did emerge as a cultural community during this period. The formation of the abaluyia entailed the fusion of the pre-1500 inhabitants of western province with those Bantu groups that arrived in the region in the 16th century and 18th centuries. The records of most of the Bantu immigration have been lost in the mist of time while only a few dominant clans still retain their emigrational traditions.
While the Bantu who lived to the north of Winam Gulf evolved into a single community (the Abaluyia) the Bantu to the south of Winam Gulf evolved into three distinct societies the Abagusii, Abakuria and Abasuba. This development attributed to the expansion of the Kenya luo, who lodged a linguistic and cultural wedge between the Abagusii and Abakuria and confined the Basuba to Rusinga and Ngodhe Islands at the entrance of Winam Gulf.
The Abagusii in particular, originally migrated into Nyanza from a homeland they identify as “Misri”(to the North of Mt. Elgon) at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Originally a cattle keeping community, Gusii economic and social institutions underwent fundamental transformation in the period between 1520 and 1755 as they established themselves in the lake region. There first settlement in Nyanza was made at Yimbo at the head of Goye Bay, but after prolonged cattle rustling conflict between them and the Luo the Abagusii eventually migrated to Kano plains where they settled between 1620 and 1755. It was this period that the Abagusii developed most of their social institutions such as sectional totems and clan sub- national structures. It was also in the lake region that the Abagusii to have acquired and perfected skills of iron technology with better iron weapons, the Abagusii were able to expand at the expense of the Kalenjins, Sirikwa, Dorobo, and Maasai into areas of present day Kericho and Gusii highlands between 1755 and 1850. This expansion into the highlands from the lowland plains around Lake Victoria necessitated a change intheir economy and society.
Originally pastoralist who undertook little cultivation and fishing in Lake Victoria, the Abagusii as they entered into the south-western highlands of Kenya began to develop an economy based largely on cultivation, although those who later occupied the lower territories of South Mugirango, Wanjare and western Kitutu retained their earlier concern with cattle. Abagusii traditions are silent on earlier on earlier occupants of the Gusii highlands, although we know from archaeological and linguistic studies that some people were living there.
To the south of the Abagusii though separated by a corridor of Luo, are the Abakuria. They inhabit the rich and undulating savanna land along the Kenya and Tanzania boarder close to Lake Victoria. It is apparent, at least from linguistic studies, that Kurialand was continuously occupied from the late stone age. In the period up to A.D 1500 Bantu speakers tended to occupy areas bordering the lake while the Southern Nilotes and southern Cushites lived on their eastern flank, in the interior. By 1700 the Bantu had expanded eastwards and had absorbed most of their neighbors. This led to the grafting of a Nilotic cyclical age- set system on the earlier Gulf Bantu clan- based social and political organization.
a) Abagusii believed in one supreme God known as Engoro.
b) Elders prayed to God directly or made intercession through ancestral spirits.
c) A clan chief Omoruoti presided over a clan council.
d) Clan elders, Abagaka b’egesaku assisted the clan chief in administration.
e) A homestead was headed by a clan elder, Omogambi.
f) Junior warriors lived in ‘cattle bomas’ (ebisarate) where they cared for livestock and performed military functions.
a) Abagusii were organized into age-grades.
b) A man joined an age- grade on circumicision.
c) Boys and girls were circumcised.
d) For greater unity a clan associated itself with a special creature or object.
a) Both livestock rearing and crop cultivation were important economic activities.
b) Hunting and food gathering were also practiced.
c) Certain communities had blacksmiths who made iron implements.
d) Various baskets and soapstone items were also made.
e) The abagusii traded with their neighboring communities.
Are related to the abagusii.
The evolution of the Abaluyia occurred between 1200 and 1850. They are the products of interaction between Bantu immigrants from Eastern Uganda and different groups. These were the Southern Cushites, Luo, Kalenjin and Maasai.
The abaluyia believed in a supreme God, Were or Nyasaye
Intermediaries usually ancestral spirits, helped in praying to God.
A village was ruled by a council of elders, abenengo.
Several villages formed one big group, olukongo.
The head of lukongo (walukongo) was both political and religious leader.
The abaluyia of Wanga had a centralized political system. Its king was known as nabongo. Under him were various councils and administrators.
Age-group was the basis of organization of the Abaluyia society at the clan level.
Boys of the same age were circumcised together to subsequently form an age group. In some clans girls were also circumcised.
Age- group performed various functions. They started as junior warriors and eventually ended as retired elders.
The Abaluyia were mixed farmers.
Hunting and gathering food were also significant activities.
They traded with their neighboring communities.
They manufactured iron implements and practiced pottery,clothing making and wood carving.
Makira, F, E. (1978) An outline History of the Babukusu. Nairobi. Kenya Literature Bureau. (Afr. DT 542. M34 1998)
M’manyara, Alfred, M.(1992) The Restatement of Bantu Origin and Meru History. Nairobi. East Africa Educational Publishers.
Moss Joyce, Wilson George. (1991). People of the World: Africa South of the Sahara. (Ref. DT 352.42 M67 1991)
Ochieng, William, R (1991) Themes in Kenyan History. Nairobi. East Africa Educational Publishers. (DT 433.558 T47 1991)