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, ethnic and linguistic group of Africa, numbering about 120 million. The Bantu inhabit most of the continent S of the Congo River except the extreme southwest. The classification is primarily linguistic, and there are almost a hundred Bantu languages, including Luganda,
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a people living mainly in Southern Rhodesia and also in the neighboring regions of Mozambique. Total population, more than 3.2 million (1970, estimate). The Mashona speak Shona, a language that belongs to the Bantu language family. Most of the Mashona adhere to local traditional beliefs (ancestor worship, worship of natural forces), and the remainder are Christians (Protestants, Catholics). The Mashona achieved a high level of development long before the arrival of the Europeans: they played a leading role in the creation of the Zimbabwe culture and the political unification of the Monomotapa. Their chief occupation is farming (millet, corn, sorghum, legumes), with some cattle breeding. In the late 19th century the lands of the Mashona were seized by the colonialists, and the Mashona have been forced to live on reservations and earn their living by working in the cities and mines.