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Relating to or denoting a group of Niger–Congo languages spoken in central and southern Africa, including Swahili, Xhosa, and Zulu.
- ‘Had the world been slightly different, a Bantu leader riding a rhinoceros might very well have led a conquering army from sub-Saharan Africa to overthrow the Roman Empire two thousand years ago.’
- ‘He said that according to old Bantu law, virginity was sacred.’
- ‘The San people were also similarly displaced and reduced in numbers by the arrival of invading Bantu farmers (and later by white farmers) to the south a few centuries later.’
- ‘It's a land where Bantu roots and Islam have intertwined since the tenth century.’
- ‘Because of the differences cited above, they had kept on running - fleeing the Bantu groups that were ever invading their territories.’
1mass noun A group of Niger–Congo languages spoken in central and southern Africa, including Swahili, Xhosa, and Zulu.
- ‘The Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa all speak the same Central Bantu language.’
- ‘Kenya is a multilingual and multicultural nation, with 42 different languages spoken, including Bantu, Arabic, and Nilotic.’
- ‘Swahili, which comes from the Arabic word meaning ‘coast,’ is a mix of Arabic and the African language Bantu.’
- ‘Its vocabulary is mostly French, with a few Malagasy, Bantu, English, and Hindi words.’
- ‘The Swahili language, a mixture of Bantu and Arabic, developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.’
2offensive A member of an indigenous people of central and southern Africa that speaks a Bantu language.
The word Bantu became a strongly offensive term under the old apartheid regime in South Africa, especially when used to refer to a single individual. In standard current use in South Africa the term black or African is used as a collective or non-specific term for African peoples. The term Bantu has, however, continued to be accepted as a neutral ‘scientific’ term outside South Africa used to refer to the group of languages and their speakers collectively
Mid 19th century: plural (in certain Bantu languages) of -ntu ‘person’.
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