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Sunday, 09 November 2014 01:25

Celebrating our Culture

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Reclaim your heritage. Living in a foreign land doesn't wipe out your ancestry from your blood. Read what you need to know about Africa! Read more


The music, art, literature, and cultural practices of Africa have provoked interest and respect throughout the world. The old belief that Africa is somehow childlike in its cultural development has been denounced as people become more familiar with the rich traditions of the continent and the people from there. The material and inherent value of African art steadily increases in the world market. The music and literature of Africans have found their way into houses and classrooms around the globe. We are beginning to learn through the works of scholars, film makers, and writers that Africans can teach us much more than we can show them

We all belong to Africa. It is the birthplace of humanity, where we learned to walk, to talk, to play. As other continents drifted to their present positions, the Equator’s tropical warmth helped to make Africa the hothouse of evolution. Africa is the home to the greatest numbers of animals in the world. Her landscapes and wildlife are fascinating, but our closest affinity is with her people.  Our shared heritage provides us with a universal sense of humanity. That history conspired to keep Africans and non-Africans apart for so long is a tragedy. Africa has been persistently misunderstood and misused by the rest of the world. Journey into the heart of Africa in D Mix and learn more about yourself!

The vast continent of Africa is so rich and diverse in its culture with it not only changing from one country to another but within an individual country many different cultures can be found. Much of Africa's cultural activity centers on the family and the ethnic group. Art, music, and oral literature serve to reinforce existing religious and social patterns. The Westernized minority, influenced by European culture and Christianity, first rejected African traditional culture, but with the rise of African nationalism, a cultural revival occurred.

Africa was the birthplace of the human species between 8 million and 5 million years ago. Today, the vast majority of its inhabitants are of indigenous origin. People across the continent are remarkably diverse by just about any measure: They speak a vast number of different languages, practice hundreds of distinct religions, live in variety types of dwellings, and engage in a wide range of economic activities. Over the centuries, peoples from other parts of the world have migrated to Africa and settled there. Historically, Arabs have been the most numerous immigrants. Starting in the 7th century ad, they crossed into North Africa from the Middle East, bringing the religion of Islam with them. A later movement of Arabs into East and Central Africa occurred in the 19th century. Europeans first settled in Africa in the mid-17th century near the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern end of the continent. More Europeans immigrated during the subsequent colonial period, particularly to present-day South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Algeria. South Asians also arrived during colonial times. Their descendants, often referred to as Indians, are found largely in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.

The culture(s) of Africa encompasses and includes all cultures within the continent of Africa. There is a political or racial split between North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, which is in turn divided into a great number of ethnic cultures. African cultures are diverse and varied and not static, and like most of the world have been impacted upon by both internal and external forces.

Historical Overview

Africa’s cultural regeneration has also been an integral aspect of post-independence nation-building on the continent, with recognition of the need to harness the cultural resources of Africa to enrich the process of education, requiring the creation of an enabling environment in a number of ways. In recent times, the call for a much greater emphasis on the cultural dimension in all aspects of development has become increasingly vocal. During colonialism in Africa, Europeans possessed attitudes of superiority and a sense of mission. The French were able to accept an African as French, if they gave up their African culture and adopted French ways. Knowledge of Portuguese language and culture and abandonment of traditional ways defined one as civilized.

Africa culture provides us with an ethos we must honor in both thought and practice. By ethos, we mean people's self-understanding as well as its self-presentation in the world through its thought and practice in the other six areas of culture. Africa culture is defined as the totality of thought and practice by which people creates itself, celebrates, sustains, develops itself, and introduces itself to history and humanity. 


Africa is home to innumerable tribes, ethnic and social groups, some representing very large populations consisting of millions of people, others are smaller groups of a few thousand. Some countries have over 20 different ethnic groups, and also are greatly diverse in beliefs.

African Art and Crafts

Africa has a rich tradition of arts and crafts. African arts and crafts find expression in a variety of woodcarvings, brass and leather art works. African arts and crafts also include sculpture, paintings, pottery, dress, ceremonial and religious headgear.  In African art, the object was not as important as the soul force behind the creation of the object. African culture has always placed emphasis on personal appearance and jewelry has remained an important personal accessory. Many pieces of such jewelry are made of cowry shells and similar materials. Similarly, masks are made with elaborate designs are important part of African culture. Masks are used in various ceremonies depicting ancestors and spirits, mythological characters and deities.

In most of traditional art and craft of Africa, certain themes are significant to African culture recur, including a couple, a woman with a child, a male with a weapon or animal, and an outsider or a stranger. Couples may represent ancestors, community founder, married couple or twins. The couple theme rarely exhibit intimacy of men and women. The mother with the child or children reveals intense desire of the African women to have children. The theme is also a representative of mother mars and the people as her children. The man with the weapon or animal theme symbolizes honor and power. A stranger may be from some other tribe or someone from a different country and more distorted portrayal of the stranger indicates proportionately greater gap from the stranger.


Like all human cultures, African religion represents a variety of social facets of African culture. Like almost all civilizations and cultures, flood myths have been circulating in different parts of Africa. Culture and religion share space and are deeply intertwined in African cultures. 


Africa is a huge continent and the food and drink of Africa reflect local influences, as also glimpses of colonial food traditions, including use of food products like peppers, peanuts and maize introduced by the colonizers. The African cuisine is a combination of traditional fruits, vegetables, milk, and meat products. The African village diet is often milk, curds and whey. Exotic game and fish are gathered from Africa's vast area.

Traditional African cuisine in most of Africa is characterized by use of starch as a focus, accompanied by stew containing meat or vegetables, or both. Cassava and yams are the main root vegetables. Africans also use steamed greens with hot spices. Dishes of steamed or boiled green vegetables, peas, beans, starchy cassava, yams and sweet potatoes are widely consumed. In each African locality, there are numerous wild fruits and vegetables which are used as food. Watermelon, banana and plantain are some of the more familiar fruits.

Differences are also noticeable in eating and drinking habits across the continent of Africa. Thus, North Africa, along the Mediterranean from Morocco to Egypt has different food habits than Saharan Africans who consume subsistence diet. Nigeria and coastal parts of West Africa love chilies in food. The non-Muslim population of Africa uses alcoholic beverages, which go well with most African cuisine. The most familiar alcoholic drink in the interior Africa is the Ethiopian honey wine called Tej.

Cooking techniques of West Africa often combine fish and meat, including dried fish. The cuisine of South Africa and neighboring countries have largely become polyglot cuisines, having influences of several immigrants which include Indians who brought lentil soups (dals) and curries, Malays who came with their curries with spices, and Europeans with "mixed grills" that now include African game meats. Traditionally, East African cuisine is distinctive in the sense that meat products are generally absent. Cattle, sheep and goats were regarded as a form of currency, and are not generally consumed as food. Arabic influences are also reflected in East African cuisine – rice cooked with spices in style, use of cloves, cinnamons, several other spices, and juice. Ethiopians lay claim to first regular cultivation of coffee, and they have a sort of coffee ceremony, like Japanese tea ceremony. From Ethiopia, coffee spread to Yemen, from there it spread to Arabia, and from there to the rest of the World. 

African Music

Traditional Sub-Saharan African music is as diverse as the region's various populations. The common perception of Sub-Saharan African music is that it is rhythmic music centered around the drums. It is partially true. A large part of Sub-Saharan music, mainly among Niger–Congo linguistic groups is rhythmic and centered around the drum. Sub-Saharan music is polyrhythmic, usually consisting of multiple rhythms in one composition. Dance involves moving multiple body parts. These aspect of Sub-Saharan music has been transferred to the new world by enslaved Sub-Saharan Africans and can be seen in its influence on music forms as Samba, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Rock & Roll, Salsa, and Rap music.

But Sub-Saharan music involves a lot of music with strings, horns, and very little poly-rhythms. Music from the Eastern Sahel and along the Nile is among the Nilo-Saharan, made extensive use of strings and horns in ancient times. Among the Afro-Asiatic, we see extensive use of string instruments. Dancing involves swaying body movements and footwork and Khoisans extensive use of string instruments with emphasis on footwork.

Modern Sub-Saharan African music has been influence by music from the New World (Jazz, Salsa, Rhythm and Blues etc.) vice-versa being influenced by enslaved Sub-Saharan Africans. Popular styles are Mbalax in Senegal and Gambia, Highlife in Ghana, Zoblazo in Ivory Coast, Makossa in Cameroon, Soukous in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kizomba in Angola, and Mbaqanga in South Africa. New World styles like Salsa, R&B/Rap, Reggae, and Zouk also have widespread popularity.


The main ethno-linguistic divisions are Afro-Asiatic (North Africa, Chad, Horn of Africa), Niger–Congo (mostly Bantu) in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, Nilo-Saharan in parts of the Sahara and the Sahel and parts of Eastern Africa, and Khoisan (indigenous minorities of Southern Africa. The continent of Africa speaks hundreds of languages, and if dialects spoken by various ethnic groups are also included, the number is much higher. These languages and dialects do not have the same importance; some are spoken by only few hundred persons, others are spoken by millions. Among the most prominent languages spoken are Arabic, Swahili and Hausa. Very few countries of Africa use any single language and for this reason several official languages coexist, African and European. Some Africans speak various languages such as English, Spanish, French, Yoruba, Igbo, and Dutch etc.

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