Depicting the history of Africa is a challenge due to the scarcity of written sources, with many researchers having to rely solely on oral history, archaeology and genetics to determine details of the continent’s past. The recorded history of early civilisation began in Egypt and later spread to Nubia, the Maghreb and the Horn of Africa. Islam spread throughout Africa during the middle ages and remains to be the dominant religion in Northern African today.
African culture varies depending on which country you visit.
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During the late fifteenth century Europeans and Arabs took slaves from parts of Africa and shipped them overseas to use in the slave trade. Over the nineteenth and early twentieth century the European colonisation of Africa rapidly developed until after the Second World War, where Europe was weakened and decolonisation began to take place.
Unlike in Europe where history is often captured in decaying buildings, in Africa the story of the continent is found in the people who live there.
The culture of Africa is incredibly interesting due to the fact it is varied, depending on which country you visit. The continent is home to diverse populations, many of which have been influenced by external factors. Each country has its own tribes, languages and cultural differences. Even small African countries like Uganda have more than thirty established tribes. We will now take a look at some of the most well-established products of African culture including tribes, food, arts and language.
Famous African tribes
The Zulu people are South Africa’s largest ethnic group. It is estimated that between ten and eleven million people live in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. During 19th and 20th much of South Africa was under apartheid and the Zulu people were classed as third-class citizens often suffering from discrimination. Today they have equal rights along with all other citizens.
The Maasai people live in the Rift Valley region of Kenya and Tanzania. They own large herds of cattle, sheep and goats, which they regularly move around to new grazing grounds and water sources. They are a proud and independent tribe who base their wealth and power on cattle. The more cattle a Maasai member has, the more rich and powerful they are seen as by their tribe.
There are more than fifty unique tribes living in the Omo River Region of South western Ethiopia, making it a great place to visit if you are interesting in African culture. Many of the traditional customs and beliefs have remained intact due to lack of access to area.
Many people living in Eastern, Western and Southern African villages are farmers. They live almost entirely off the food they grow themselves. Traditional African food is also sold at outdoor markets. In countries like Morocco and Algeria couscous is a popular dish served with meat and vegetables. In Western Africa it is common for people to grow and eat cassava, maize, mille and plantains. When visiting African countries you will find that they are very traditional, with most woman and girls carrying out the task of cooking meals. Colonisation has also affected the food and drink served in some parts of Africa such as Kenya where it is common for people to drink tea.
Africans are one of the biggest contributors to sculptural art. The art form of African sculpture dates back thousands of years with some of the earliest sculptures being found in Egypt.
There are thousands of indigenous languages and dialects spoken in Africa. Every African country has its own languages, even the smaller countries. However due to the fact that many African countries were once part of European colonies, many people are able to speak Creole or Pidgin versions of English, Portuguese of French. In Northern Africa Arabic is spoken, whereas in East Africa Swahili is the dominant language.
Languages and cultural traditions vary from place to place.
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When it comes to African history and culture there is so much to learn about. The best way to understand the various different customs and cultures is to visit African countries and speak to the people. With some of the most diverse customs, languages and traditions in the world, Africa is truly a fascinating continent.