The rich and diverse African culture varies not only from one country to another, but within each country as well. The culture of each ethnic group centres on family and can be found in each group’s art, music and oral literature. The African culture is exciting and fascinating to know about.
Throughout Africa, the people speak a variety of languages, practice numerous religions and reside in various types of dwellings.
Migration and culture
The vast majority of people living in Africa are indigenous; however, people from all over the world have migrated to Africa for hundreds of years. Arabs began crossing into North Africa from the Middle East in the 7th century, A.D., bringing with them the religion of Islam. However, the African culture remains undiluted.
Europeans began settling in the southern portion of the continent in the mid-17th century, as did South Asians, who settled in the areas of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Over the centuries, African culture has interconnected with cultures from around the world, although much of traditional African customs have remained throughout.
Ethnic groups and African tribes have customs that are unique to their culture. The customs and traditions of each group have been woven into a tapestry as colourful and diverse as the people of Africa themselves.
African arts and craft include sculpture, weaving, beading, painting, pottery, jewellery, headgear and dress. Art from particular regions have distinct characteristics depending on beliefs, values and customs, but common themes found in art include women, couples, children, animals, man with a weapon, or a combination of these. Masks are usually a representation of religious and spiritual beliefs. They are used for traditional ceremonies to honour deities or ancestors.
The type of clothing worn across Africa varies from north to south, and by religious beliefs and traditional customs. Some cultures wear colourful attire, while others wear less colour but include shiny threads in their dressing with minimal jewellery. The African culture embraces animal skin related clothing.
The environment plays a huge part in what kinds of foods are consumed in different parts of the African continent. Most cuisines include fruit, grain, vegetables, milk and meat products. Quite a number of cultural groups have very similar foods in their cuisines. For example, a very common maize/corn-based dish is pap, also named ugali, sadza, nsima, nchima, chima, poshto, tuozafi, ubgali, bugali, sokoro, sokora, depending on which part of the continent you are eating it. Probably the African culture is associated with hard food for the tummy.
Music of Africa
African music is as diverse as the people, and has also been influenced by music from the western world. Traditional music in southern Africa usually involves drums and singing, and such instruments as the thumb piano accompanied by rattles made from some dried fruit or vegetable with seeds inside.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro