(This idea has gotten a good reception over at Civfanatics, so I'll repost it here)
I was playing Rise of Nations the other day for the first time in a long while and noticed that there was a Bantu civilization. Now the opinion on Zulus around here is highly polarized, we have zulu diehards who view them as absolutely necessary given how they've been in every single other civ game, and those who really think they're a waste of a civ, being just another warmonger who was in reality rather unimportant to history.
But the Bantu is a very wide group of people. Starting out in Nigeria in around 4000 B.C. the Bantu have spread all throughout sub-saharan africa, replacing, absorbing, or exterminating the previous residents. In fact, the Zulus themselves are a Bantu tribe! There are over 600 different Bantu languages spoken today, and almost all tribes south of the sahel belong are Bantu. Any individual sub-saharan bantu tribe like the Zulu is relatively unimportant and unvaried, but when you add them all together as a single civilization (similar to what they did with polynesia, though there is also a higher degree of cultural similarities in Bantu peoples) you can have a single important civilization.
Shaka Zulu. I think Shaka as the face of the Bantu works for 2 reasons, 1. The zulu are one of the largest Bantu tribes 2. It will put the zulu question to rest forever.
UA: Great Migration (This refers to the spreading of the Bantu over all of South Africa over a 2000 year period). No unhappiness penalty from founding new cities, Settlers 33% cheaper.
UU: Impi Warrior, replaces warrior. Impis have the all terrain promotion of the Scout, due to the high degree of mobility and lightness of their gear.
UB: Zimbabwe: Small stone cities found throughout zimbabwe, most famously at Great zimbabwe. Replaces walls, with the +4 defense, but also with +2 culture and +1 faith.