Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Bantu in the Crystal Ball, II*

  • Jan Vansina (a1)

Interest in the question of Bantu expansion rose dramatically in the 1950s as historians, archeologists, and anthropologists all joined in the fray. This reflected both the rise of Africa in world affairs and the expansion of research in general. The scholars involved were typically a new breed of professionals, and as such more dependent than their predecessors on universities or research institutions. The School of Oriental and African Studies in London achieved overwhelming dominance from about 1950 until the late 1960s, so that opinions held by its staff found the widest audience. The new scholars also were, for the most part, anti-racist, sympathetic to African nationalisms, and of liberal or socialist persuasion. They tended to reject the notion of “conquest,” believing in gradual change rather than abrupt cataclysmic mutation, perhaps because they were repelled by their recent experiences during the war. As had happened earlier, these extraneous circumstances left a deep imprint on the speculations that were now proposed. Early in this period a new paradigm almost achieved consensus, but after 1968 this fell apart and during the last decade two new trends have appeared: the single-minded quest for a new paradigm and the search for better understanding through the study of analogous processes, coupled with a more radical skepticism.


    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Bantu in the Crystal Ball, II*
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Bantu in the Crystal Ball, II*
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Bantu in the Crystal Ball, II*
      Available formats
Hide All

The first part of this paper appeared in HA, 6(1979), 287-333.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Jan Vansina , “Bantu in the Crystal Ball, I,” History in Africa, 6(1979), 321–25.

Wrigley , “Speculations on the Economic Prehistory of Africa,” JAH, 1(1960), 196.

Guthrie , “Some Developments in the Prehistory of the Bantu Languages,” JAH, 3(1962), 273–82

Clark , “The Prehistoric Origins of African Culture,” JAH, 5(1964), 181–82.

R. Oliver , “The Problem of Bantu expansion,” JAH, 7(1966), 361–76

M. Posnansky , “Bantu Genesis: Archaeological Reflexions,” JAH, 9(1968), 111.

J. Hiernaux , “Bantu Expansion: The Evidence from Physical Anthropology Confronted with Linguistics and Archaeological Evidence, JAH, 9(1968), 505–15.

T. Huffman , “The Early Iron Age and the Spread of the Bantu,” South African Archaeological Bulletin, 25(1970), 321.

C. Ehret , “Cattle-Keeping and Milking in Eastern and Southern African History: The Linguistic Evidence,” JAH, 8(1967), 117.

J. Greenberg , “Linguistic Evidence Regarding Bantu Origins,” JAH, 13(1972), 189216.

A. Coupez , E. Evrard , and J. Vansina , “Classification d'un échantillon de langues bantoues d'après la lexicostatistique, Africana Linguistica, 6(1975), 133–58.

D. Dalby , “The Prehistorical Implications of Guthrie's Comparative Bantu,” JAH, 16(1975) 481502

P. de Maret and Y. Nsuka , “History of Bantu Metallurgy: Some Linguistic Aspects,” History in Africa, 4(1977) 4366.

R.C. Soper , “Resemblances Between East African Early Iron Age Pottery and Recent Vessels from the North-Eastern Congo,” Azania, 6(1971) 233–41.

P. Schmidt , “A New Look at Interpretations of the Early Iron Age in East Africa,” History in Africa, 2(1975), 127–36.

D.W. Phillipson , “The Chronology of the Iron Age in Bantu Africa,” JAH, 16(1975), 321–42.

The Early Iron Age in Eastern and Southern Africa: A Critical Reappraisal,” Azania, 11(1976), 124.

P. de Maret , F. Van Noten , and D. Cahen , “Radiocarbon Dates from West Central Africa: A Synthesis,” JAH, 18(1977), 497501.

Lwanga Lunyiigo , “The Bantu Problem Reconsidered,” Current Anthropology, 17(1976), 282–86.

A Kuper and P. Van Leynseele , “Social Anthropology and the ‘Bantu Expansion’,” Africa, 48(1978), 335–52.

R.M.W. Dixon , “The Nature and Development of Australian Languages,” Annual Review of Anthropology, 8(1979), 433.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

History in Africa
  • ISSN: 0361-5413
  • EISSN: 1558-2744
  • URL: /core/journals/history-in-africa
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 69 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 40 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.