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Over the years the word Bantu has been used to refer to a set of language/form of language, or to an ethnic group speaking such a language, or even to an individual from such a group.

Linguistically speaking, Bantu refers to a family of languages[1], spoken by several hundred indigenous ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa, found from Central Africa across the African Great Lakes to Southern Africa.

By transferral, the term is also used to refer to the speakers of those languages, in the form Bantu Peoples[2] or simply as the Bantu. For a long while South Africans tended to use the word to refer an individual as well, "a bantu" thus meaning any (black) person of African extraction.

In South Africa it thus became a catch-all term in the mid 20th century, often used to avoid using the more denigrating term Kaffir, and has since been replaced by Black. It is however still used in its more correct technical linguistic form when talking about the languages spoken in Africa and Southern Africa.


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