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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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