Bantu, adjective and noun

Forms:
Also Ba-ntu.
Origin:
Show more Coined by W.H.I. Bleek, formed on elements found in varying forms in a number of Sintu (Bantu) languages: plural prefix ba- denoting persons or people + noun stem -ntu person, as in Zulu abantu persons, people, humanity singular umuntu person, human being; cf. muntu.
Note:
The offensive nature of this word as used to designate black African people under apartheid has led to its being offensive to many in all senses. The word tends to be avoided even as a scientific name for the language group, and the term Sintu is used by some in the academic community. The passing of time might remove the stigma attached to ‘Bantu’. Cf. muntu.
A. adjective
1. ‘Of or pertaining to an extensive group of negroid peoples inhabiting the equatorial and southern regions of Africa, and of the languages spoken by them’ (OED); Sintu adjective; cf. black adjective sense 1.
1862 W.H.I. Bleek Comparative Grammar 4The South African division of the Bâ-ntu family of languages consists of one large middle body, occupying almost the whole known territory between the tropic of Capricorn and the equator.
1871 J. Mackenzie Ten Yrs N. of Orange River 493The Ba-ntu Family of Languages. The Kaffir language belongs to an extensive family of languages, which occupy (as far as our knowledge goes) the whole of the South African continent.
1888 D.C.F. Moodie Hist. of Battles & Adventures I. 578I see that it is the fashion with many eminent ethnologists to call this collection of tribes the ‘Bantu’ tribes. As a Zulu linguist, I respectfully object to this. Bantu, or ‘Abantu.’ Abantu simply means ‘people’ in Zulu, and is used in this sense, ‘Abantu bamhlope’ i.e., white people — and ‘Abantu bamnyama’ — videlicet — black people.
1905 W.H. Tooke in Flint & Gilchrist Science in S. Afr. 81The Bantu tongue is an agglutinative polysyllabic, prefix-pronominal language of which the most salient features are the noun classes and the concord.
1907 W.C. Scully By Veldt & Kopje 167The evangelisation and education of Bantu natives.
1926 W.A. Cotton Race Problem in S. Afr. 23We may desire that the pure Bantu race, in various groups, may be preserved, developing along lines most suitable to its own peculiar qualities.
1937 B.H. Dicke Bush Speaks 7Their laws and customs did not only originate with their Bantu forbears, but with Semitic and other races.
1941 E.N.N. Msuthwana in Bantu World 1 Feb. 5The high objective of combining Bantu languages should find grounds for feasibility.
1955 E. de S. Brummer in Pol. Science Quarterly Sept. 368Numerically most important are the Native Africans, about nine million strong, divided among numerous tribes, most of which are of the Bantu group.
1976 West & Morris Abantu 7Most social scientists would not use the term Bantu in anything other than a linguistic sense, and it certainly does not denote an ethnic group.
1983 U. Ndoma in Jrnl of Afr. Lang. & Ling. Vol.5 No.1, 105The author of this monograph has attempted to locate and trace reflexes of earlier Bantu (Tshiluba) forms in present-day American language and culture.
1986 Rhodes Newsletter (Grahamstown) Dec. 6The object of the research is to explore the sub-typologies within the Bantu language family so as to characterize better the Bantu family of languages.
2. obsolescent. offensive. Senses related to racial groupings.
a. Also with small initial. Designating one who is a member of a negroid people of South Africa; black adjective sense 1 a.
Note:
See note at sense B 1. Cf. muntu sense 1.
1902 G.M. Theal Beginning of S. Afr. Hist. 95Freedom from care to anything like the extent that is common to most individuals of our own race tended to make Bantu females as well as males far happier on the whole than white people.
1934 J. Van der Poel Educ. & Native 2By no body of persons in South Africa should the issues of Native education be more realistically confronted nor more passionately discussed than by an association of professional teachers having Bantu as well as European members.
1939 D.D.T. Jabavu in Report of Proceedings of Natives Rep. Council (UG10–1939) 5We assume, Mr Chairman, in this respect that the Bantu people are considered a section of the population of South Africa as well and this announcement made the Natives hopeful of an era of solid progress and sympathetic consolidation of their welfare.
1948 H.V. Morton In Search of S. Afr. 155From Cape Town to Port Elizabeth the traveller sees thousands of Cape Coloured...But upon this road he is definitely moving into Bantu country.
1961 Sunday Times (London) in S. Afr. Speaks (1962) 10Bantu people must be protected against the social dis-integration associated with influx to the white cities.
1970 Daily News 12 July (advt)Reliable Bantu Driver required for Durban office.
1986 D. Bradfield in Grocott’s Mail 13 May 5As my driver walked out of the shop he was confronted by five bantu teenagers demanding money from him.
b. 
i. Designating areas, facilities, services etc. intended for use by the black people of South Africa.
1934 D.D.T. Jabavu Lovedale Sol-Fa Leaflet No.17 4When the Bantu township..was first settled as a suburb of the Rand Municipality, the late Enoch Sontonga..was a teacher.
1964 Act 67 in Stat. of Rep. of S. Afr. 21(1) There is hereby established..(c) a district labour bureau — (i) in the office of every Bantu affairs commissioner.
1973 Farmer’s Weekly 30 May (Suppl.) 3125 Bantu houses, church and school..Bantu shop, shed for 23 cows.
1977 World 27 Sept. (Suppl.) 7‘Our own small staff is working closely with these independent companies in order to gain valuable experience in the field,’ said Mr T van Heerden, head of Bantu Television.
1982 Voice 9 May 9Bantu Education, Bantustans, Bantu Affairs Commissioner — the word Bantu has indeed become part and parcel of apartheid structures in South Africa.
1987 E. Prov. Herald 2 Apr. 10Archbishop Tutu studied..from 1950 to 1954 at Pretoria Bantu Normal College to be a teacher.
ii. Special collocation
Bantu area, an area officially set aside as residential or agricultural land for the use of black people.
1959 Act 46 in Stat. of Union 522‘Bantu area’ means any area consisting of land referred to in sub-section (1) of section twenty-one of the Native Trust and Land Act, 1936 (Act No. 18 of 1936), or any scheduled native area as defined in that Act.
1961 T. Matshikiza Choc. for my Wife 44Why should they come to Orlando to the segregated Bantu area to see natives doing Shakespeare by candlelight.
1971 Daily News 8 Mar. 4In the Bantu reserve I saw areas which were nothing but patches of red sand, whereas in the areas where there are Whites there is abundant grass to be seen. If we are to start it must be in the Bantu areas.
1971 Argus 5 June (Weekend) 5It is this social upheaval in African society that is undoubtedly a major factor in creating the ‘sub-culture of violence’ in South Africa’s urban Bantu areas.
1973 T. Bell Indust. Decentral. 12The Bantu areas of South Africa thus comprise some 12.14 per cent of the country’s land area..and in 1965 contained approximately 25.6 per cent of the total population.
B. noun
1. offensive. Also Abantu, abaNtu and with small initial. Plural unchanged, or Bantus. A black African; originally so-named as a speaker one of the Bantu languages, but subsequently an ethnic designation; Bantoe sense 1 (offensive). See also black noun sense 1 b.
Note:
Between 1953 and 1978 ‘Bantu’ was one of the four major official ethnic designations, the others being ‘Asian’, ‘Coloured’, and ‘White’. Originally a neutral term used also by blacks of themselves, ‘Bantu’ became increasingly unacceptable once it had become a part of the terminology of apartheid. See note at black noun sense 1 b.
c1862 L. Grout Zulu-Land 60The numerous tribes which occupy this broad section of southern and central Africa..form but a single group in the larger divisions of the African race...Some would call it the Kafir...Zingian..is another term which some of the learned have used, and Bantu another by which to designate the race.
1896 Purvis & Biggs S. Afr. 83About the same time that the European commenced his inroad upon the regions below the Zambesi from the south, the dark-skinned Bantu was bestirring himself for his descent upon the land of the Hottentot and the Bushman from the north.
1909 O.E.A. Schreiner Closer Union (1960) 24Our vast, dark native population consists largely of Bantus, who were already in South Africa when we came here; of a few expiring yellow varieties of African races, and a small but important number of half-castes.
1917 S.T. Plaatje Native Life 64History does not tell us of any other continent where the Bantu lived besides Africa.
1918 H. Moore Land of Good Hope 43The various native races of South Africa are generally classed together by the name Bantu, which means ‘people’.
1925 D. Kidd Essential Kafir p.vThe title (sc. kaffir) is often used in South Africa as a synonym for the word native, and it is in this sense that it is used here. It is thus equivalent to the word Bantu.
1932 Grocott’s Daily Mail 31 Mar. 4The Joint Council of Europeans and Bantu for the Zoutpansberg District has instructed me to convey to you their emphatic protest against the imposition on the Native people of the above Bill.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 33The Bantu, a name rather of linguistic than race significance, which form the vast majority of the native population over the Southern half of the Continent, derive from the mingling of the pure negro and the Hamitic strains in ever varying proportions.
1939 D.D.T. Jabavu in Report of Proceedings of Natives Rep. Council (UG10–1939) 5It is hoped..that there will be no half-hearted enthusiasm or any retraction in the bestowal of complete liberties generally acknowledged as legitimate claims of the Bantu in the present political machinery.
1941 W.M.B. Nhlapo in Bantu World 18 Jan. 9One of the many institutions that Bantus really need just as much as Europeans do, is an aged home.
1941 W.M.B. Nhlapo in Bantu World 22 Feb. 5He was carried shoulder high down Main Street by some Bantu singing beautifully our sacred national anthem.
1943 J. Burger Black Man’s Burden 47The inhabitants of the Reserves are the Bantu. The word ‘Bantu’, like the word ‘English’, gives a linguistic rather than a racial description.
1952 Drum Nov. 10They exhort the ‘Bantu,’ as they call Africans, to keep to themselves and have nothing to do with Indians.
1953 Act 47 in Stat. of Union 258In this Act, unless the context otherwise indicates — (i) ‘Bantu’ shall be synonymous with ‘native’.
1960 A.J. Luthuli in H. Spottiswoode S. Afr.: Rd Ahead 117On their (sc. the National Party Government’s) maxim: ‘Do it yourselves, Bantus’, Africans were to assume greater responsibility for paying for their welfare services and public services.
1962 L.E. Neame Hist. of Apartheid 157In Government circles the word Africans is now never used. The Blacks are called Bantu and sometimes Natives, but never Africans.
1967 in Platzky & Walker Surplus People (1985) 65It is accepted Government policy that the Bantu are only temporarily resident in the European areas of the Republic for as long as they offer their labour there.
1972 Daily Dispatch 8 Jan. 12Once they were Kaffirs, then they were Natives, Africans, Non-Whites, Bantus.
1973 Sunday Tribune 1 Apr. 20Non-Bantu means non-people and clearly refers to things like Whites.
1973 Daily Dispatch 6 Aug. 8They (sc. members of the government) use the word ‘black’ or ‘African’ when discussing the indigenous peoples of this continent if they live outside South Africa’s borders or in already sovereign independent states within them, but the name changes to ‘Bantu’ to describe South African blacks.
1976 E. Prov. Herald 31 Dec. 2The Department of Bantu Education is in search of a new name because the word ‘Bantu’ has become offensive to the African people.
1978 Daily Dispatch 15 Mar. 1A ‘Bantu’ will not be called a ‘plural’ after all. He or she will simply be known as ‘black,’ in terms of the new Government vocabulary.
1979 M. Matshoba Call Me Not a Man 8Here, how I wish for the good old days when Bantus were Bantus and knew their place.
1980 Voice 20 Aug. 14If indeed abaNtu as we know them today helped found and fashion this advanced urban culture, that should explain, partly I concede, why they have adjusted so speedily to the 20th century city groove.
1981 Voice 18 Oct. 4He needs to be reminded that even the gospel of apartheid never used the kaffir terminology officially. It opened the evolutionary chapter with Native, then moved to Bantu, next Plural, and today something in between Co-operation and Black. And who knows tomorrow it might be just plain South African.
1983 C. Saunders Hist. Dict. 22‘Bantu’ was disliked by Africans themselves because of its associations with apartheid and inferior treatment, and ‘a Bantu’ and ‘Bantus,’ forms often used, were grammatical nonsense.
1986 Style Dec. 41The only good bantus, commies, liberals and Engelse were dead ones.
1989 B. Ronge in Sunday Times 26 Feb. (Mag. Sect.) 8Have you contrived to abolish words like native, bantu and plural from your vocabulary forever? Yes? Nice work!
1991 A. Maimane in Weekly Mail 15 Feb. 17A simple way for them to decide whether a person who looked African should be classified coloured was to stick a comb in their hair: if it stayed put, they were fourth-class ‘bantu’ and not second-class kleurlings.
2. noncount A family of related southern African languages including Ndebele, sePedi, Shona, siSwati, Sotho, seTswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, etc.; Sintu noun. Usually in combinations
Bantu-speaker noun, a person who speaks one of these languages;
Bantu-speaking participial adjective, being a speaker of one of these languages.
1948 H.V. Morton In Search of S. Afr. 171The traveller who..wishes to see the Bantu-speaking native in his primitive tribal conditions, should motor from Grahamstown through the enormous territory which is divided by the river Kei into the Ciskei and Transkei.
1951 Report of Commission on Native Education (UG53–1951) 9In the Union the Bantu-speaking tribes as groups do differ in physical type..from other aboriginal peoples.
1972 L.G. Green When Journey’s Over 123Fanagalo has..been called Pidgin Bantu, Basic Bantu, Basic Zulu, Isilololo and Silinguboi.
1983 Sunday Times 18 Sept. (Lifestyle) 9The people of Mapungubwe were Bantu-speaking, part Negroid, part East African and they must have been an indigenous group.
1984 P.R. Bennett in Jrnl of Afr. Lang. & Ling. Vol.6 No.2, 200Okoth-Okombo argues that prenasalized stops in Luo are inherited, not borrowed from Bantu.
1986 P.A. McAllister Xhosa Beer Drinks. 42Central Bantu-speaking groups such as the Bemba, Nyakyusa, Ndembu and Lamba.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 62Bantu’, which means ‘people’ is the scientific name for the language group to which all South African Africans, except the Khoisan, belong.
1990 Sunday Times 8 July 18Archaeological evidence proves that Bantu-speakers have lived in the Transvaal since at least the 5th century AD.
1991 J. Coulter in Weekend Post 4 May (Leisure) 3The arrival of the Khoikhoi..and the Bantu-speakers with their cattle-owning and cultivating culture.
3. noncount. nonce. Used in place of the name of any of these languages; Bantoetaal, see Bantoe sense 2.
1963 A. Fugard Blood Knot (1968) 174The gate was open, God, your sun was too bright and blinded my eyes, so I didn’t see the notice prohibiting. And ‘beware of the dog’ was in Bantu, so how was I to know, Oh Lord.
‘Of or pertaining to an extensive group of negroid peoples inhabiting the equatorial and southern regions of Africa, and of the languages spoken by them’ (OED); Sintuadjective; cf. blackadjective1.
Designating one who is a member of a negroid people of South Africa; blackadjective1 a.
Designating areas, facilities, services etc. intended for use by the black people of South Africa.
A black African; originally so-named as a speaker one of the Bantu languages, but subsequently an ethnic designation; Bantoe1 (offensive).
Used in place of the name of any of these languages; Bantoetaal, see Bantoe2.
Derivatives:
Hence Bantoid adjective; Bantudom noun; Bantuized adjective, (of language) adapted to the pronunciation and grammar of a Sintu (Bantu) language; Bantu-ologist noun ?nonce, an anthropologist specializing in the study of the culture of Sintu-speaking (Bantu-speaking) peoples.
1929 H.S. Msimang in Workers’ Herald 7 Sept. 3It’s very clear that the existing state of affairs cannot last unless Bantudom is doomed to everlasting slavery.
1941 W.M.B. Nhlapo in Bantu World 1 Feb. 9A wave of unparalleled satisfaction and enthusiasm burst out on Bantudom to learn that at long last Europeans no longer look upon us as a child people.
1955 Report of Commission for Socio-Economic Dev. of Bantu Areas (UG61–1955) 84Some Bantu-ologists consider that the average family in certain bushveld and lowveld parts of the Bantu Areas, derives its whole nourishment from such ‘veld’ foods for more than two months per year.
1983 R.M. Richards in Jrnl of Afr. Lang. & Ling. Vol.5 No.2, 205Such behaviour in verbal systems seems to widespread in Bantu/Bantoid languages.

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