THE BANTU ANCESTORS’ IMAGE OF GOD: A LINGUISTIC ACCOUNT
AbstractIn all the lexical reconstructions which have been made to establish Bantu Proto-forms, that is forms which are presumed to have been used as vocabulary by the ancestral Bantu speakers, there is no any common lexical item for the deity or Supreme Being. The question therefore is: Did the ancestral Bantu speakers have a notion of the deity? If so, how did they conceive this reality? If not, when did this notion come into the Bantu languages? This question about the image or perception of God by the ancestral Bantu speakers is the main concern of this study, whose assumption is that, if the ancestral Bantu speakers believed in a deity, then there should be a name for this supreme-being, which would have spread out across all the Bantu speaking areas and that this name would reflect the way they perceived this supreme body. The study reveals many facts about the origin of the perception of God by the Bantu speakers and how the notion has been conceived by the speakers of various Bantu languages. The study also confirms, what has been observed by other scholars (c.f. Nkomazana, 2007), that the notion of the deity was in existence even before the coming of the missionaries.