The course of Bantu migration and settlement in South Africa

The course of Bantu migration and settlement in South Africa
  • The Bantu belong to the a Negroid race
  • The Bantu of south Africa belong to a great group called the southern Bantu




  • Their ancestors might have come as far as the Niger valley and the Congo basin
  • The Bantu entered South Africa in four major groups also called migration waves.
  • One group was Nguni –Tsonga which followed the eastern wave. This group settled in the eastern coastal areas of the present day Zululand and Natal.
  • This group was made up of tribes such the Zulu, the Ndebele, the Swazi, the Xhosa, the Thembu, the Ngwane, the Pondo and the Mthethwa.
  • By the 1300, the Xhosa tribe had settled on the upper part of the Umuzimuru andTugera rivers.
  • By the end of the 16th century, the Xhosa had reached as far as the Umtata River and by the end of 18th century they had settled as far as the Fish River.




  • The Swazi sub- group settled in the present day Swaziland whiles their relatives; the Tsonga settled in Mozambique.
  • Today, this group is settled in the parts of Transvaal, Natal, Cape Province and Zululand.
  • The Nguni – Tsonga are most widely spread group and by 1865 they were seven million Nguni speakers in South Africa.
  • The Sotho – Tswana were another major wave of the Bantu who settled in south Africa and was made up of the Sotho – Tswana tribes, Basuto, Kwena ,Rolong ,Pedi.
  • This group was followed by the central wave and is believed to have migrated from Maralong
  • They passed through the plateau between Lake Nyaza and Lake Tanganyika on their way to South Africa.
  • By the 13th century the Sotho tribe had moved and settled in the area between rivers orange and Vaal.
  • By the 14th century the Tswana tribe had moved and settled in the present day Botswana.




  • By the end of the 18th century the Sotho had expanded to the present day Zulu land and Sotho land.
  • Their movement was checked by the Kalahari Desert in the west and Drakensberg Mountains in the east.
  • The Tsana also settled around Rivers Ngami, fish and Tugela
  • Another major group was followed by the Herero and Ovambo. They took the western wave.
  • Also called the western Bantu, the Hero and Ovambo settled in South West Africa (Namibia) and included the Herero and Ovambo tribes.
  • It is believed that the ancestors of the Ovambo and the Herero moved from the area west of lake Tanganyika probably Congo
  • By the end of the 16th century, the Ovambo and the Herero had entered and settled in highlands of Namibia.




  • The Ovambo reached and settled in the present day Ovambo land in around about 18th century.
  • The Shona was another Bantu group that moved into South Africa.
  • The Shana come from Cameroon and settled in the Zambezi and Limpopo river valleys then later southwards into Venda of Transvaal
  • They were made up of the Venda and Kalanga sub –groups

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