To Get Personalised contents and be able to add items to your favourites, please Sign In or Sign Up          
 

Beautiful and Diverse People of Africa


News » Editorials
Abuja

African:

Is a term which super-umbrellas all the indigenous ethnicities of the African continent. Therefore an African is exclusively a person from the indigenous ethnic groups found on the continent of Africa and people who trace their ancestry to these groups in the African Diaspora. i.e. Politcally Black People. (African Race) There are at least 3,000 distinct ethnic groups in Africa. Africans, in full diversity, are the natural people of the African landscape. The hair, the skin, are all specific adaptations to living in the African landscape.

 In our contemporary times, we have to accept that identities and terminologies change as circumstances change. In Africa's ancient history, the term 'African' as an identity would have had no meaning, people defined themselves as members of kingdoms and nationalities. However, these identities were still people of the continent we call Africa.

Claiming Black, not behaving Black but having Black heritage

The African Race:

'The people of Africa' is more than a name, it is linked to indigenous rights and issues of sovereignty. 'Blackness' fails at every level in both the historical and political context. However, Africans, are the natural people of Africa: The hair, the skin, are all specific adaptations to living in the African landscape. The Motherland of these adaptations and the cultures is primarily Africa; hence the relevance of the name. 'African' refers exclusively to the historical people of Africa and their descendents in the Diaspora.

In plain language, no one is an African unless they are also considered a Black person. But not every Black person is an African. Unfortunately the most distinctive feature of this African identity, beyond the obvious relative phenotypical similarities, is the history of global race-based oppression from Brazil to Bahrain.

Amhara

copyright Halaqah

Primary language: Amharic (Afro-Asiatic{Semitic})
Population: 19 Million
Religion: Christianity(81%), Islam (18.1%)
Ethnologue Code: AMH
Related groups: Tigray

 

The Amhara are the politically and culturally dominant 'super-ethnic' group of Ethiopia. They are located primarily in the central highland plateau of Ethiopia and comprise the major population element in the provinces of Begemder and Gojjam and in parts of Shoa and Wallo.

Amhara is an ethnic group in the central highlands of Ethiopia, numbering about 19 million, making up 30.2% of the country's population according to the most recent 1994 census. They speak Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and culturally and politically dominant. Christianity, with the Ethiopian Orthodox.

RELIGION: Church playing a central role in the culture of the country and of the Amharic ethnic group. According to the 1994 census, 81.5% of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia were Ethiopian Orthodox, with 18.1% being Muslim, and 0.1% being Protestant. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church maintains close links with the Egyptian Coptic Church. Timkut, Meskel(commemorating the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Eleni in the fourth century), Genet (Xmas 7th Jan), Easter and Epiphany are the most important celebrations, marked with services, feasting and dancing. Most holidays are unique to Ethiopia.

LANGUAGE: (āmariññā) It is the second most spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic. As well as the 2nd largest of the Afro-Asiatic languages (again after Arabic). Amharic has 27 million speakers as a first language, between 7-15 million more as a second language. It is written, with some adaptations, with the Ge'ez alphabet— called, in Ethiopian Semitic languages,fidel ('alphabet,' 'letter,' or 'character') abugida.

The mother and child remain in the house, for forty days after birth of a boy, eighty for a girl, before going to the church for baptism. A priest usually attends the house to perform circumsissions (male child) as well as blessings. Marriages conducted in a church are not subject to divorce. Weddings celebrations are held by both households called Mels. Some time in the late middle ages, the Amharic and Tigrinya languages began to be differentiated. Amhara warlords often competed for dominance of the realm with Tigrayan warlords. While mkbv.any branches of the Imperial dynasty were from the Amharic speaking area, a substantial amount were from Tigray. The Amharas seemed to gain the upper hand with the accession of the so-called Gondar line of the Imperial dynasty in the beginning of the 17th century. However, it soon lapsed into the semi-anarchic era of Zemene Mesafint ("Era of the Princes"), in which rivalling warlords fought for power and the Yejju Oromo inderases (or regents) had effective control, while emperors were just as figureheads.

The Tigrayans only made a brief return to the throne in the person of Yohannes IV, whose death in 1889 allowed the base to return to the Amharic speaking province of Shewa. Historians generally consider the Amhara to have been Ethiopia's ruling elite for centuries, represented by the line of Emperors ending in Haile Selassie. One possible source of confusion for this stems from the mislabeling of all Amharic-speakers as "Amhara", and the fact that many people from other ethnic groups have Amharic names. Another is the fact that most Ethiopians can trace their ancestry to multiple ethnic groups. In fact, the last Emperor, Haile Selassie I, often counted himself a member of the Gurage ethnic group on account of his ancestry, and his Empress, Itege Menen Asfaw of Ambassel, was in large part of Oromo descent. The expanded use of Amharic language results mostly from its being the language of the court, and was gradually adopted out of usefulness by many unrelated groups, who then became known as "Amhara" no matter what their ethnic origin. (multi-ethnicity who identify as Amhara, just like Zulu people)

 

 

Bantu People Zulu, Shona, etc

copyright HalaqahThe Bantu first originated around the Benue-Cross rivers area in southeastern Nigeria and spread over Africa to the Zambia area. Sometime in the second millennium BC, perhaps triggered by the drying of the Sahara and pressure from the migration of people from the Sahara into the region, they were forced to expand into the rainforests of central Africa (phase I). In the 1st millennium BC, they began a more rapid second phase of expansion beyond the forests into southern and eastern Africa, and again in the 1st millennium AD as new agricultural techniques and plants were developed in Zambia.

By about AD 1000 it had reached modern day Zimbabwe and South Africa. In Zimbabwe a major southern hemisphere empire was established, with its capital at Great Zimbabwe.

 

 

Fulani

copyright Halaqah

Primary language: Fulfulde (90% speakers)
Second language: Hausa
Third language: Tamajaq

Identity/Location
People Name: Fulani
Primary Language: Fulfulde
Ethnologue Code: FUE
Dialects: Kano-Katsina-Bororro (Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria), Bagirmi, Sokoto The Fulani people of West Africa are the largest nomadic group in the world.

Total People: 15 million Fulani with 100,000 Wodaabe
Urban Percent: 10% Fulani
Countries: Niger 1 million; Mali 1 million; Cameroon 700,000; Burkina Faso 500,000; Benin 230,000; Sudan 100,000; Togo 50,000; Central African Republic 25,000; Ghana 5,000; Nigeria 11 million. (Wodaabe: more than 40,000 in Niger and about 25,000 in Chad).

 

As a people group they actually contain a large number of people from diverse groups who were conquered and became a part of the Fulani through the spread of Muslim. The Fulani were able to take over much of West Africa and establish themselves not only as a religious force but also as a political and economical force. The Fulani are a very proud people, they are the missionaries of Islam and ended up conquering much of West Africa. The Fulani are primarily nomadic herders and traders. Through their nomadic lifestyle, they established numerous trade routes in West Africa. Many times the Fulani go to local marketers and interact with the people there getting news and spreading it through much of West Africa.

Fulani have a huge respect for beauty. Beauty is considered very important and one of the ways this is shown is through tattoos that are put all over the body. A distinguishing feature of a Fulani can be their lips, which are many times a blackish color from the use of Henna or tattooing done on the mouth.
Ethiopian Christianity Art
Being brave and fearless are very important for the Fulani as is seen by their numerous weapons. One tradition is that when 2 boys reach coming of age they two boys hit each other with their staffs not showing any pain but instead laughing. Many have died in these ceremonies which are now against the law in many countries but continue to be practiced.
Ethiopian Christianity Art

The Fulani normally raise large amounts of cattle and have therefore settled in large plain areas of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The Fulani hold to a strict caste system. The 4 caste subdivisions are the nobility, merchants, blacksmiths, and descendents of slaves of wealthy Fulani.

The most important object in Fulani society is cattle, and there are many names, traditions, and taboos concerning cattle. The number of cows a person owns is a sign of his wealth. This has caused significant conflict in recent months between the Fulani and other ethnic groups. The reason for this is that the cows will many times go into the fields and eat the grain of local farmers. With increasing numbers of other transportation being used the Fulani are at risk of losing their identity as nomads and are being forced to settle in farms and villages. This sometimes creates other problems, because the Fulani are very proud people of their unique culture and used to ruling over the other people.

Economics
Income: GDP US$280 (1991)
Occupations: While the men herd the cattle walking, the women ride with all their household belongings on the backs of donkeys. As well as fine cattle with huge horns, the Fulani have long legged sheep which have white hindquarters and black front half. The activities of the men vary with the seasons. They can have their brothers or sons replace them to take care of the cows. The women milk the cows, pound the millet, take care of the fire and look after the children.
Income sources: Cows (milk, meat, skins), traditional medicine. Some women earn money by braiding hair. Products: Curdled milk, butter.
Handcrafts: Beautifully decorated calabashes. Art forms: They are largely illiterate, but their culture abounds in rich proverbs, fables, myths and riddles, which subtly reflect the basic views and values.

Living Conditions/Community Development Status
Food: Their food is milk and very little else in the bush. They might also eat millet and tapioca. During feasts they will eat some meat and maybe some beans. No vegetables are eaten, in general. A problem is that the little money they have available for food is spent on tea instead of on nutritious food. Clothing: The man wears a tanned sheepskin around his hips, over this a black tunic. He also wears a turban. The married women do not cover their breasts for the 2 years after they have their first child. The young girls wrap a long piece of material around, made of woven strips sown together.

 

SAMBURU

Nuer Woman

The Samburu are related to the Masai although they live just above the equator where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern desert and slightly south of Lake Turkana in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya.

They are semi-nomadic pastoralists whose lives revolve around their cows, sheep, goats, and camels. Milk is their main stay; sometimes it is mixed with blood. Meat is only eaten on special occasions. Generally they make soups from roots and barks and eat vegetables if living in an area where they can be grown.

Most dress in very traditional clothing of bright red material used like a skirt and multi-beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings, especially when living away from the big cities.

The Samburu developed from one of the later Nilotic migrations from the Sudan, as part of the Plains Nilotic movement. The broader grouping of the Maa-speaking people continued moving south, possibly under the pressure of the Borana expansion into their plains. Maa-speaking peoples have lived and fought from Mt. Elgon to Malindi and down the Rift Valley into Tanzania. The Samburu are in an early settlement area of the Maa group.

Those who moved on south, however (called Maasai), have retained a more purely nomadic lifestyle until recently when they have also begun farming. The expanding Turkana ran into the Samburu around 1700 when they began expanding north and east.

Nuer Woman

The language of the Samburu people is also called Samburu. It is a Maa language very close to the Maasai dialects. Linguists have debated the distinction between the Samburu and Maasai languages for decades.

Generally between five and ten families set up encampments for five weeks and then move on to new pastures. Adult men care for the grazing cattle which are the major source of livelihood. Women are in charge of maintaining the portable huts, milking cows, obtaining water and gathering firewood. Their houses are of plastered mud or hides and grass mats stretched over a frame of poles. A fence of thorns surrounds each family's cattle yard and huts.

    The name they use for themselves is Lokop or Loikop, a term which may have a variety of meanings which Samburu themselves do not agree on. Many assert that it refers to them as "owners of the land" ("lo" refers to ownership, "nkop" is land) though others present a very different interpretation of the term. The Samburu speak the Samburu language.Their society has for long been so organized around cattle and warfare (for defense and for raiding others) that they find it hard to change to a more limited lifestyle. The purported benefits of modern life are often undesirable to the Samburu. They remain much more traditional in life and attitude than their Maasai cousins.

    Duties of boys and girls are clearly delineated. Boys herd cattle and goats and learn to hunt, defending the flocks. Girls fetch water and wood and cook. Both boys and girls go through an initiation into adulthood, which involves training in adult responsibilities and circumcision for boys and clitoridectomy for girls.

    Language:  The language of the Samburu people is also called Samburu. It is a Maa language very close to the Maasai dialects. Linguists have debated the distinction between the Samburu and Maasai languages for decades. 

    In normal conversation one who speaks one of these languages can understand the other language 95 percent of the time. But a joint Bible translation was found to be ineffective to cover both groups. Preferred word usage and some grammatical difficulties required a separate translation for Samburu and Maasai. 

    The Samburu tongue is also related to Turkana and Karamojong, and more distantly to Pokot and the Kalenjin languages.

     

    The Chamus (Njemps) people speak the Samburu language and are often counted as Samburu people. They are reported to be 12% Christian, while the Samburu are considered as 8-9% Christian. The Ariaal group of Rendille have been greatly affected by the Samburu and now speak the Samburu language. The Ariaal number 102,000, making a total of 249,300 mother-tongue speakers of the Samburu language.

    Swahili is used extensively, particularly among younger people. Swahili is the language of education and English is taught in schools. There is still a low level of literacy and education, however, among the Samburu.

    Political Situation:  The Samburu have been in a somewhat defensive position with surrounding peoples moving around them. They have had clashes with some of the migrating or nomadic peoples. They have maintained a military and cultural alliance with the Rendille, largely in response to pressures from the expanding Oromo (Borana) since the 16th century. The Ariaal Rendille have even adopted the Samburu language. They do not have such an aggressive military character as the Maasai proper.

    They were associated with the Laikipiak (Oloikop) Maasai, also called Kwavi, who followed a lifestyle with light agriculture. They have added camels to their culture, further differentiating them from the Maasai. In recent decades, they have had mostly peaceful relations with their neighbors, who include Maasai, Somali, Borana, Turkana and Gabbra as well as Rendille.

    The Samburu got separated from the other Maa speakers due to the migration of Maasai farther south and of other ethnic various groups around them. The Samburu have been somewhat outside the stream of national politics also. They have had less development than some others in Kenya. 

    Change is beginning to occur as group ranching schemes have developed and education has become available. Many Samburu warriors enlisted in the British forces during World War II. Likewise Samburu serve in the Kenya armed forces and police.

    Customs:  Generally between five and ten families set up encampments for five weeks and then move on to new pastures. Adult men care for the grazing cattle which are the major source of livelihood. Women are in charge of maintaining the portable huts, milking cows, obtaining water and gathering firewood. Their houses are of plastered mud or hides and grass mats stretched over a frame of poles. A fence of thorns surrounds each family's cattle yard and huts.

    Marriage is a unique series of elaborate ritual. Great importance is given to the preparation of gifts by the bridegroom (two goatskins, two copper earrings, a container for milk, a sheep) and of gifts for the ceremony. The marriage is concluded when a bull enters a hut guarded by the bride's mother, and is killed. 

    Fertility is a very high value for the Samburu. A childless woman will be ridiculed, even by children. Samburu boys may throw cow dung against the hut of a woman thought to be sterile. A fertility ritual involves placing a mud figure in front of the woman's house. One week later, a feast will be given in which the husband invites neighbors to eat a slaughtered bull with him. As a little fat is spread over the woman's belly, they will say: "May God give you a child!"

    Their society has for long been so organized around cattle and warfare (for defense and for raiding others) that they find it hard to change to a more limited lifestyle. The purported benefits of modern life are often undesirable to the Samburu. They remain much more traditional in life and attitude than their Maasai cousins.

    Duties of boys and girls are clearly delineated. Boys herd cattle and goats and learn to hunt, defending the flocks. Girls fetch water and wood and cook. Both boys and girls go through an initiation into adulthood, which involves training in adult responsibilities and circumcision for boys and clitoridectomy for girls. 

    Initiation is done in age grades of about five years, with the new "class" of boys becoming warriors, or morans. (il-murran). The moran status involves two stages, junior and senior. After serving five years as junior morans, the group go through a naming ceremony, becoming senior morans for six years. After these eleven years, the senior moran are free to marry and join the married men (junior elders).

    Samburu are very independent and egalitarian. Community decisions are normally made by men (senior elders or both senior and junior elders but not morani), often under a tree designated as a "council" meeting site. Women may sit in an outer circle and usually will not speak directly in the open council, but may convey a comment or concern through a male relative. However, women may have their own "council" discussions and then carry the results of such discussions to men for consideration in the men's council.

    The Samburu love to sing and dance, but traditionally used no instruments, even drums. They have dances for various occasions of life. The men dance jumping, and high jumping from a standing position is a great sport. Most dances involve the men and women dancing in their separate circles with particular moves for each sex, but coordinating the movements of the two groups.

    Religion: The Samburu traditional religion is based on acknowledgment of the Creator God, whom they call Nkai, as do other Maa-speaking peoples. They think of him as living in the mountains around their land, such as Mount Marsabit. 

     

    Khoisan/KhoiKhoi

    Photo Courtesy of www.underthissun.com

    Khoisan (increasingly commonly spelled Khoesan or Khoe-San) is the name for two of the oldest ethnic groups of southern Africa and thus the entire human race. From the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period, hunting and gathering cultures known as the Sangoan occupied southern Africa in areas. Both the  San and Khoikhoi (men of men) people resemble the ancient Sangoan skeletal remains.

    Both share physical and linguistic characteristics, and it seems clear that the Khoi branched forth from the San by adopting the practice of herding cattle and goats from neighbouring Bantu groups. The Khoisan people were the original inhabitants of much of southern Africa before the southward Bantu migrations (starting 1000 B.C.E)—coming down the east and west coasts of Africa—and later European colonization who called them ‘Bushmen’ and Hottentots, the later is considered obsolete and offensive, while Bushmen (a pejorative Colonial impression of these people) is diminishing in use. More commonly called San ( although this can be interpreted as derogatory as it is a word from the Khoikhoi to refer to the so-called San, just as Amhara call Beta-Israeli people Falasha (foreigner) and hence the word is un-academic)

    Photo Courtesy of www.underthissun.com

    The Khoisan languages are noted for their click consonants. Which have no alphabetical equivalent in any script. Over the centuries the many branches of the Khoisan peoples were absorbed or displaced by the ‘colonial’  Bantu who were migrating south in search of new lands, most notably the Xhosa and Zulu, who both have adopted some Khoisan clicks and loan words into their respective languages.

    The Khoisan survived in the desert or in areas with winter rains which were not suitable for Bantu crops.

    During the colonial era they lived in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, and were massacred in great numbers by Dutch, British, and German settlers in acts of genocide (e.g. the Herero and Namaqua Genocide).  They contributed greatly to the ancestry of South Africa's coloured population. Today many of the San live in parts of the Kalahari Desert where they are better able to preserve much of their cherished culture.

    Genetically their  Y-haplogroup A, the most diverse or oldest-diverging Y haplogroup transmitted purely by patrilineal descent, is today present in various Khoisan groups at frequencies of 12-44%, and the other Y-haplogroups present have been formed by recent admixture of Bantu male lineages E3a (18-54%), and in some groups, noticeable Pygmy traces are visible (B2b). The Khoisan also show the largest genetic diversity in matrilineally transmitted mtDNA of all human populations. Their original mtDNA haplogroups L1d and L1k are one of the oldest-diverging female lineages as well. However, analysis of neutral autosomal (inherited through either parent) genes finds that the Khoisan are similar to other African populations.


    The presence of Haplogroup A, especially the subclade A3b2, in East Africa suggests some ancient connection between those populations and the Khoisan. This may not be a simple migration in one direction, but the result of various movements of people in Eastern and Southern Africa over tens of thousands of years, followed by the recent Bantu expansion separating the two regions.One interpretation is that the Khoisan are the earliest-diverging human group, or even a group that has preserved the original human lifestyle along with genetics.

    There are so many other beautiful and excieting races in africa, with different norms and values, cultures and tradtion tha shapes their way of life.


     

     

     

    Article Credit:

    Updated 6 Years ago
     

    Find Us On Facebook

    Tags:     The people of Africa. African Culture     Rites of Passage     African Race.

    RELATED