Earlier historians such as G.M. Theal and G.W. Stow were fascinated by the question of the origins of the Bantu-speaking people. They assumed that this migration occurred in waves’ of immigrants from East and Central Africa, then diverged to give rise to a distinctive demographic pattern that saw Nguni speakers along the southeastern seaboard and the Sotho-Tswana populating the central interior plateau.
In the early 1930s, A.T. Bryant propounded the view that the Nguni speakers lived in stable and constant clans until the rise of the Zulu. This interpretation dominated the thinking of later historians for nearly half a century. As discussed above, this construction falsely assumes that the migration occurred in distinct ethnic groups, instead as part of a process of gradual segmentation and diffusion.
The Sotho-Tswana from an early stage dominated in the land north of the Vaal River. The Transvaal Ndebele moved to this region around 1700 long after the Sotho-Tswana. The adoption or borrowing of cultural aspects among different ethnic groups testifies to the degree of interaction between them. In the light of this ethnic diversity the search for a ‘pure’ form of Sotho or Nguni ‘culture’ or origin is rendered meaningless.