By 2000 BC Bantu-speaking farmers of the Niger-Congo culture had begun to migrate from what is now Cameroon and eastern Nigeria into the forest regions of the Congo River Basin. Traveling in dugout canoes along the region’s numerous waterways; they established riverside settlements and supplemented yam and oil palm farming with hunting and fishing. By 1000 BC they had crossed the forests to reach the southern savanna lands of what is now Angola and reached the Great Lakes region in the east. In the Great Lakes region they adopted ironworking and learned techniques of cattle keeping and grain cultivation from their Sudanic- and Cushitic-speaking neighbors.
Bantu-speaking farmers thus developed a unique and wide-ranging combination of technological skills: planting yams, sowing grain, herding livestock, working iron, and making pottery. This adaptable set of skills enabled them to spread, in a series of small movements, over most of East, Central, and southern Africa between 300 BC and ad 300. In the process, they interacted with and absorbed existing, mostly Khoisan, populations. The only region the Bantu did not penetrate was the far southwestern corner of Africa, which was too dry for their agricultural practices.