African People and Their Culture: The Cultural Diversity of Africa

African People and Culture
2014 African Music & Cultural Festival (King Bell and Soukous Ba Congo) - © Chris Phutully/flickr

The African Cultural Diversity: “The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and Africans in very lurid terms. The reason for this had to do with the need to justify the slave trade and slavery.” – Chinua Achebe. This ideology stresses on the need for collective self-reliance for Africans that would compel a reallocation of global resources, creating fierce competition with already established powers like the European Union and the United States of America. African People and Culture: Pan-Africanism based its ideas from socialist principles and is opposed to foreign involvement in both political and economic activities on the African continent.

However, the major setback of this ideology remains the cultural diversity of Africans.
Africa is home to almost three thousand ethnic groups and by far the most culturally diversified continent in the world. With neo-colonialism causing more harm than good, we however believe the African continent is well on its way to recovery. Even with the obvious differences in the cultures of the continent, one similarity of all of them remains the socialist tendencies of traditional African societies. Fidel Castro once said “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?” Has capitalism been successful on the African continent? We’d prefer you answer that yourself. With that said, here are some criteria showing the cultural diversity of Africa.

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Clothing

african cultures and traditions
Great vibrant African dresses in a shop in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. © James H/flickr

From Egypt to South Africa, from South Africa to Ethiopia, from Ethiopia to Nigeria, there are different traditional attires displayed. None more beautiful than the other and each unique its own way.

Religion

Although, Islam swept over Africa before the arrival of Christian missions. The different traditional societies had their different gods and different ways of worshipping them. In fact, some of them bore similarities to their European counterparts. Example, Sango of the Yoruba people was the equivalent of the Norse god Thor etc. Even now, Africa is still divided with Islam and Christianity taking large proportions while a handful still practice their original African religions.

Arts and Crafts

African People
African Craft Stall at Boulders Beach, Simons Town, South Africa – © Conor Lee/flickr

Africa is said to have birthed modern civilization but how it ended up backward remains a story to be told another time. From popular traditional masks of Benin, Nigeria to the statuettes of Bambara, African arts are crafts are very diverse but then again, so is that of the rest of the world.

Food

African food
Jollof Rice – © African Food is/flickr

In recent times there has been healthy debates about which country has the best jollof rice and even a contest which Senegal or Gambia I can’t really remember. However, many fail to realize that rice is actually not a traditional food in most parts of Africa. Examples is the Arhiche of Morocco, akara of Nigeria, Babute of Congo and so many more and yes they are all delicious.

Music

African cultural diversity
2014 African Music & Cultural Festival (King Bell and Soukous Ba Congo) – © Chris Phutully/flickr

Even England and France no matter how close do not have the same type of music so why should Africa? Bougarabou, Djembe, Kosika, Ngoma etc and evem artistes like the late Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba and so many more. No matter which one you listen to, African music is truly beautiful.

Language

Language is communication and communication is key. With the presence of so many ethnic groups in Africa languages are also as many. Hausa, Swahili, Arabic, Igbo, Zulu and so many more but most regions in recent times have a common language. This is a positive for colonization. Even with the apparent diversity, our common interests should overshadow all our differences and that is what we must do in order to achieve true greatness. Unity in Diversity. Long Live Africa.

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