DEFUSING THE HAMITE-NEGRO-NILOTE CONCEPTION
The conventional use of the terms 'Hamite', 'Bantu', 'Nilote', are misleading & inaccurate. Common negrophobic conventions have merely been transposed onto an academic plane to give crude racist notions some respectability. In fact the studies that fit Africans into these categories are marked by a pervasive lack of intellectual riguor, as well as lack of knowledge of Africans. None of the chief proponents of these theories have lived in Africa, nor do they speak the languages they purport to classify.
Relying on a pervasive racist myth of the origin of black slavery, an American anthropologist, C.G Seligman advanced the argument that the whites had gone to Africa intermarried and produced a nation of "black-skinned" whites. He appropriated the name Hamites for these 'white-blacks', and claimed that other blacks were not Hamites, but merely Negroes who constitute a subhuman species.
This theory came about because of the misreading of a biblical text, in combination with political rivalries dating back to the crusades. The term 'Hamite' derives from 'Ham' one of the mythical 'Sons of Noah' who was a biblical archetype. In the bible the blacks are referred to as the children/people of Ham (or as Hamites). Africa is the 'Land of Ham (Khem)'. Consider analogies in biblical lingo, "the Children of Israel", the 'Land of Shem' etc,.
Ham is the ancient Egyptian word for Africans. Africa and Egypt have many names in ancient times, but they are interchangeably called 'Khemet'. Before Seligman, every black person was a Khemet, Hamite, etc i.e., a child of Ham, also Hem, Kem, Kham or Kem. Egypt is a Greek corruption of the phrase "Hiku Ptah" meaning Spirit Temple of the god Ptah. The temple of Ptah was a popular destination located in the north, and foreigners came to know the region by the name of the temple. In fact the whole of what is now Africa (including Egypt) was called Khemet (ie. the land of Ham). It was subdivided into different regions, eg Ta Meht, Ta Resu, Ta She, Ta Seti.
The going view among modern anthropologists and archaelogists is that the groups that Seligman and others identified as Hamite are not descendants of Europeans at all, but are indegenous to Africa. In otherwords, Hamites are NOT Europeans in black skin, and all Africans are Hamites.
The human physical structures that were identified in the early 20th century by anthropologists as proof of European descent (acquiline features, narrow cheek bones, high brows etc) are in fact indegenous to Africa and while a cursory examination might show superficial resemblence to some whites, these phenotypes (body features) are not exclusive to any community in Africa. No community fits seamlessly into these stereotypical phenotypes. Every group of people in Africa has people in it who fit these descriptions (in various combinations) and those who do not (even within the same family).
Moreover, there is no consistency in the selection of what groups are Hamitic and those that were supposedly pure Negro. Faced with a dilemma in terms of this arbitrary dichotomy, a series of "intermediate" classifications arose. These include such terms as Hamito-Semetic, Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Negritic, Nilo-Semitic, Bantu, etc. However, these classifications are so problematic as to be useless as a means of identifying, with any consistency, any group or culture of Africans.
Anthropologists have more plausible explanations for Africans with Seligmans phenotypes. The technical term Hamitoid is now used to explain the supposed Europoid features of Africans. In otherwords Hamitoids are not European but rather European-looking. Unfortunately this attempt to correct the fault also is crippled by the established fallacy. But it is a small step forward. The African archaeological remains that fit this description are now refered to as "Hamitoids", to distinguish them from Seligman's misleading "Hamite" definition. Hamitoids are not Europeans in black skin, but are indigenous Africans who happen not to have features that were once considered stereotypically Negroid (racist caricature red-lips, bulging eyes, muscular frame, etc).
But this leaves us in a racist quandary in the court of public opinion. It is still common to hear people say such and such an African has "European" features. Yet in fact these features are not patented in Europe, they are as African as the Serengeti, or the Gambia, or the Etosha Pans. Africans require no European qualification - and it is unacceptable to refer gratuitously to Africans by fictional terms of reference.
The fact is that the so called 'Bantu' and 'Nilotes' are all equally the "Hamites" of the biblical sense, in the scientific sense, in the cultural sense, and most especially in the historic and political sense. It is possible to have any appearance however "refined" (another racist term that connotes beauty to be external to Africa) and still be African.
Africans have a wider genetic and phenotypical diversity than all of the rest of humanity combined, and an examination of the human genome map will indicate that Africans (even within the same family) have more varied genotypes and phenotypes, without having historic Aphaean (non-African) ancestry.
The 'Reconstitution' and 'Amalgamation' of African nationalities, genotypes, and cultural systems, over many centuries have ensured that ethnic purity, in the supremacists' sense, is an impossibility in Africa. The normal order of group formation in Africa follows a highly advanced cultural process of assimilation. All ethnic groups in Africa are "legislated assimilates". This is because it is taboo to marry within one's own clan (tribe), and in some cases it is expected and was required that spouses belong to ethnic groups unrelated to oneself. Until the colonial occupation almost all African groups were exogamous by law.
Wilhelm Blake, a European anthropologist is to blame for popularizing the 'Bantu' myth. Wilhelm Blake, coined the term 'Bantu' (he was wrong in the inferences he made from supposed similarities and differences between groups and the languages they spoke). Wilhelm's way of looking at Africans has left African's paralyzed in a false linguistic convention (essentially because scholars keep on repeating the old fallacies).
We know from historical observations that language acquisition among African groups is rather remarkable. One might return ten years later to find that a refugee population has adopted another language, and assimilated into a host group. This happened all across Africa during the struggles of resistence against slavery and colonial occupation.
Moreover, there are many groups that share relations and ancestry but yet speak languages unintelligeable to their closest kin. This is certainly the case in Central Africa where Bantu-speaking "Nilo-Hamites" (Luos) are found, next to their neighbours who retained the Luo languages. There are also Luo-speaking Bantu in parts of Eastern Africa, on account of the fact that Bantu are conventionally considered not just a language group, but also a race. The fact that the same region, was a central destination for migrants from far west as Sokoto, and the Gambia, that West African communities such as the Yoruba came from this region, and that it was a major migrantion route across the continent, and franky it is unreasonable to make the divide the people along racial lines.
The yearly migrations of herding communities across the continent, as well as displacement in times of struggle, have made the exercise of tracing relations based on language an exercise in futility. The two regions in Africa that exemplify this are the communities of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, and the Inner Delta of Mali. Many of the languages spoken in these places have defied classification, and do not fall in any of the four major language groups in which all African languages are supposed to belong. In the Niger Delta, the languages remain unclassified and yet groups the speak mutually unitelligible languages are related by other cultural and genetic similarities. Perhaps because these areas were intensively settled by people from all over Africa for thousands of years, it is no longer useful to break them down into convinient racial types to suite Wilhelm and Seligman.
AFRICAN PUBLICS AND COMMUNITY CROSS-MIGRATION
When we talk of the spread of the 'Bantu' peoples we are discussing the the history of African language dissemination, not the relationship between bloodlines. For example the Banyoro (East Africa) are a so called 'Bantu' tribe, yet Bunyoro was a "State", by definition consisting of different peoples and numerous ethnic groups, including Bantu and others, and so Ba'Nyoro (the people of the place called Nyoro) do not constitute a kinship group in the way that a tribe or clan might indicate, but instead are a "public" or a multinational "state".
The dominant (more numrous) groups in BuNyoro, have ancient and recent ancestral origins among groups that are not now considered Bantu. The language spoken by most BaNyoro falls under the classification "Bantu". Fundamental Nyoro cultural practices are common throughout Africa (as far apart as Senegal and Azania) and indicate common heritage with the rest of the non-Nyoro African.