There is a recurring motif in African Bantu mythology. At around 500 AD the Bantu had established themselves as the dominant ethnic group in much of the coast-to-coast regions of southern Africa. Through the development of iron technology and a range of economic and cultural innovations associated with agriculture, the Bantu were undergoing significant economic and cultural transformation. Indeed, by 500 AD the Bantu of West Africa had established several large urban centres, including Djenne-Djeno which, with a population of 20,000 people, was larger than most European townships at the time. As we noted in Chapter 1, the development of these sorts of major agricultural and urban civilizations was associated with various kinds of social, economic and cultural rupture—crises that demanded significant cosmological, narrative and political adaptation.
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