We are digging-up, exploring, sharing and learning about the History of African People, AbaNtu. This is an attempt at piecing together bits and pieces of our distant history, uncovering our past with the hope of making more sense of the present so we can then have a better plan for the future. As the Honourable Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
AbaNtu (aka BANTUs) is a large group of African people who speak a wide variety of related languages and when they refer to fellow beings they say: ABANTU in isiXhosa, isiZulu, Luganda (Ganda), Kirundi & Runyakitara, watu in Swahili; bantu in Kikongo & Duala; batu in Lingala; bato in Kiluba; abanto in Gusii; and? in Kikuyu; and; wandru in Ngazidjia Comorian; abantru in isiMpondo; bãtfu in isiPhuthi; bantfu in isiSwati; banu in Lala; vanhu in Shona and Tsonga; batho in Sesotho and Sepedi; vandu in some Luhya dialects; vhathu in Venda; and mbaityo in Tiv.
It is estimated that there are more than 500 different “BANTU” languages spoken by more than 300 Million people in Africa.
The ancestors of AbaNtu date back to at-least 200 000 years. These bones of our earliest ancestors were discovered in 1967 by a team of palaeontologists led by Richard Leakey at the Kibish Formation along the Omo River. On site, Kamoya Kimeu, Richard Leakey’s right-hand man and a field-trained Kenyan was the first one to spot the bits of fossils leading to the discovery of the earliest Homo sapiens skull (Omo I), now dated to 195,000 years ago. Kimeu is now regarded as the most successful discoverer of hominid bones in the world.
By 170 000 – 40 000 years ago these early ancestors were already laying the foundation of our culture when they were using red-ochre (imbola) at Blombos Caves in Mossel Bay, Western Cape, South Africa. Throughout this era, these early ancestors mainly relied on hunting for their livelihood. They were hunting wild animals, fish and whatever else they could catch from land, sky or from the ocean. These earliest humans mastered the art of conceptualising, creating and storing items that enhanced their lives, such as tools or physical ornamentation. They reached a milestone in the journey of human life.
A major change occurred around 10 000 years ago when they started domesticating plants which marked the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution. This major breakthrough enabled them to settle in one place. The Agricultural Revolution in Africa started in East Africa around the Ethiopian Highlands, the Sahel and in the Great Lakes Region. The birth of agriculture quickly drew them to fertile lands along the Blue Nile River and the White Nile River and moved north as the river got bigger and more fertile. Over thousands of years these ancestors developed a deeper understanding of their surroundings. The Blue & White Nile Rivers converge in Nubia and with the help of agriculture in that very fertile Nile River Valley, prosperity followed, population increased and the foundations of civilisation were being laid. Some people settled in Nubia while some moved further up the Nile and settled in the Highlands of Kemet, known as Upper Kemet and other went all the way to the lowlands and Lower Kemet. It was in Kemet (Ancient Egypt) where the world’s first Great Civilizations was born with agriculture the primary driver of the economy. More than 5000 years ago, King Narmer (Menes) unified Upper and Lower Kemet and created one big Kemet Empire.
Some 4600 years ago, Imhotep a respected polymath and trusted adviser to King Djoser was laying the foundations of modern knowledge. Imhotep is the first known Architect, Engineer and Physician in History. He is the father of Medicine. Merit-Ptah was also making great strides in the progress of human kind as she is the first known woman in the history of Medicine and all of Science.
These ancestors had a deep understanding of their surroundings, the workings of nature. They started making representations of these various elements of nature and those of humans in the form of what is Gods & Goddesses.
The soil, which is vital for the livelihood of humans to this day, was represented as Geb, the air as Shu, the sky as Nut and the sun as Heru. Truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice were represented as Ma’at who had the 42 Negative Confessions (Papyrus of Ani). The system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead was represented as Thoth, whose feminine counterpart was Seshat the goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing, and his wife was Ma’at. Thoth was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon. These and more are known as the Gods & Goddesses of Kemet. There was also another God, a falcon-god of war in Kemet, his name was MoNtu. He was normally represented as a raging bull for his strength and war some 5000 years ago & Kemet’s greatest generals & kings called themselves Mighty Bulls, the sons of Montu. It is from this figure that we find the use of the root word NTU. It was also around this time that initiation began as a rite of passage in society marking the end of certain period in a person’s growth and the beginning of another for both males and females.
Between 2200BC – 2160BC, Intef the Elder from Thebes, who was a governor of some provinces in Upper Kemet near Nubia had a son and called him MontuHotep (The God Montu is satisfied/ pleased) a name dedicated to the Mighty Bull, God of War, MoNtu.
MontuHotep went on to rule the whole of Upper Kemet and is considered the founder of the 11th Dynasty which rose to prominence under his grandson Intef II (reigned c. 2112 BC to 2063 BC) and great-grandson, Mentuhotep II (reigned c. 2061 BC – 2010 BC). This is the dynasty which eventually reunited Upper & Lower Kemet into one Mighty Kingdom with the help of the Mighty Bull, God MoNtu!
At around 1800BC, Queen Sobekneferu who was the last Pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty and sister to Amenemhat IV, died. This marked the beginning of a difficult era in Kemet as the following Pharaohs lost control of some parts of the Kingdom, culminating with the invasion by the Hyksos around 1650BC, which might have sparked some migrations of the native people to other parts of the continent.
Around 1570BC a new King took to the throne after the murder of his brother and father. His name was Ahmose I and he had only one mission, to drive the Hyksos out of Kemet. Indeed, he drove the Hyksos out and native Africans were in control of their land once again, ruling from the ancient city of Thebes. This was the beginning of the New Kingdom which was to be the most prosperous era and Kemet reached the peak of its power and wealth in this era. This is the era of Queen Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Queen Tiye, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Around 1077 BC, it unfortunately came to an end. Pharaohs from across the region soon took the throne, some Libyans, some natives of Kemet, some from Nubia, such as Taharqa, they tried to bring back the past glory of Kemet. There were some successes but in 525BC, all came crumbling down when the Persian Empire invaded, which was soon followed by Alexander of Macedonia in 332BC. All these events and more, we can say, were responsible for the massive migrations to other parts of the continent and the beginning of the “African Dark Ages”.
The real history of ABANTU still needs to be properly researched and uncovered. This was just an attempt at piecing together the little bits that we are able to find at this stage.
PS: History is very interesting and always debateable, so please share your views. Do more research and share your findings so we can all learn from each other.