Africa is a continent made up of 54 independent countries as well as a rich mixture of cultures, native peoples, history and economy. Its scenic variety and beauty is quite stunning, as is boosts vast tropical rain forests, deserts, fertile grasslands and rugged mountains. It is full of flora and fauna unmatched by any other continent on the globe. Tourists from all over the world are drawn this breathtaking continent in ever-increasing numbers every year in order to get a firsthand experience of its wonders.
Yet despite its beauty and natural wealth, fifteen of the least developed countries in the world are in Africa, with famine and disease continuing to kill millions every year. Basic education is denied to large numbers of African children, and over 70% of its total population lives on not more than $2 per day. The good news is that there is more to Africa than just famine disease and poverty. Here is a look at some fascinating African culture facts.
The ‘self’ in African culture is not separate from the world, as it is intermingled and united with the social and natural environment. It is by relating with one’s surroundings and community that an African individual becomes a person of volition. Their decisions and actions affect entire groups as opposed to just a single person.
The diverse and rich African culture varies not only within each nation, but from one nation to another as well. The culture of every ethnic group is centered on family and can be observed in the music, oral literature and art of each group. Throughout the continent, the people practice many religions, speak a wide variety of languages and reside in numerous kinds of dwellings. Although a majority of people who live in this continent are natives and indigenous, there are people who have migrated to Africa from across the globe for centuries.
In the 7th century AD, Arabs started crossing from the Middle East to North Africa, bringing the religion of Islam with them. Europeans began to settle the continent’s southern portion from the mid-17th century. Southern Asians followed them, settling in eastern Africa areas like Tanzania and Kenya, as well as South Africa. African ethnic groups and tribes have customs and traditions that are unique to their culture. The traditions of every group have been entwined into tapestry as diverse and colorful as the continent’s people themselves.
Currently, Africa is organised politically in the African union, abbreviated as the AU, a federation formed in 2001 and made up of all countries with the exception of morocco. Islam is the largest religion in the continent, followed closely by Christianity. These two religions make up about 85% of Africa’s population, with a mere 15% of the people following traditional religions or are nonreligious. Among its native population, more physical variations are witnessed than any other continent. The mean expectancy rate ranges from slightly under 32 years in the southern country of Swaziland to 74 years in the island country of Mauritius.
When it comes to sports, three of the most popular ones are cricket, football and athletics. The sports were introduced to the continent in the colonial times and have grown in leaps and bounds due to success of African teams in international tournaments.
There are a number of well known African traditional cultures such as the east African Maasai, the Kalahari Bushmen of South Africa as well as Touareg who inhabit the Sahara. The Maasai are warriors and pastoralists who live in the semi-arid region of the rift valley in Tanzania and Kenya. Proud and self sufficient, they do not cultivate land and depend on a cash economy as opposed to living off the products provided by their cattle. They now seem to be struggling to maintain their culture and traditions. Most of the land they graze their cattle on has been parcelled off to become protected national parks land.
The san people of the Kalahari are commonly referred to as the Bushmen. Living in a rather inhospitable terrain of a desert, they are survived by gathering tuber and roots, together with hunting wild animals. Their culture is considered the oldest in the world, as it dates back to more than one hundred thousand years ago. The mere fact that they have survived for that long makes them stand out in Africa.