Bantu Ethnicity in South East Africa

From Kenya to the Southern Tip of Africa

Discover more about your ethnicity with AncestryDNA. By comparing your genetic signature to the DNA of people from the South East African region, AncestryDNA can give you a clearer picture of your ethnic origins.

People in this DNA ethnicity group may identify as:
South African, Kenyan, Namibian, Tswana (from Botswana), Zimbabwean, Angolan, Zambian, Tanzanian, Mozambican, Ugandan, Bantu

The story of your ethnicity lives in your DNA.

South East African Bantu History

About 3,000 years ago, a group of Niger-Congo languages called Bantu (meaning “people”) originated in West Africa in an area that includes modern-day Nigeria and Cameroon. Early Bantu speakers farmed yams and oil palms and lived on the edges of forests where resources were richer and they could supplement their diet with bushmeat. A stable and somewhat varied food supply led to population growth, and the people spread in two directions. Some went south along Africa’s west coast, while others headed east across the continent in one of the greatest migrations in human history. Today, Bantu peoples are found throughout much of southern and eastern Africa.

Spread of the Bantu Languages

The South Asia region is the birthplace of both Hinduism and Buddhism, the world's third- and fourth-largest religions. Islam arrived later, in the 7th century A.D., with the Arab conquest. “The Gate of Islam,” is what the Arab Empire called Pakistan and the country remains primarily Muslim to this day.

Your ethnicity reveals the places where your family story began.

Eastern Bantu Migrations

The Eastern Bantu migrations began about 1000 B.C. As they moved toward modern-day Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, the Eastern Bantu learned to grow grains and smelt iron, which they used to make farming tools. Increased food production led to larger populations, which displaced other peoples along the way as the Eastern Bantu moved into southernmost Africa.

Western Bantu Migrations

About 1000 B.C., the Western Bantu moved south from Cameroon along the west coast of Africa, ending up in what we know today as Angola and Namibia. As some groups moved deeper into central Africa’s rainforests and riverine environments, they added fishing to their skills.

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