Africa is made up of different countries, with each having its own distinct culture. There are also different cultures within the same country (Schultz and Lavenda 12-15). This makes the African continent to be full of cultural diversity. In this paper, different aspects of the African culture shall be examined.
Review of the African culture
Existence of the human species in Africa is believed to date back to around 8 million years ago. Most of the people who live in Africa are the natives as there are very few immigrants. This continent is characterized by diversity in many things ranging from the language, the faith they profess among many other aspects of life.
Different languages are spoken by different ethnic groups across Africa. There is no one common language that can be said to be spoken and understood by all Africans. Even within a particular African country, there is still diversity in the languages which are spoken.
The economic activities also vary within the African culture. The common economic activities which are practiced by the Africans include farming and keeping of livestock. The type of the economic activities dictates the kind of life that people live. The songs, play, art, myths and even rituals are mostly dependent on the economic activities that the particular African cultural group practices.
Songs about planting and harvesting seasons are very common in parts of Africa where farming is the main economic activity. In places where the people practice nomadic farming, it is not very common to find permanent houses because they keep on moving from one place to another in search of pasture.
Each African culture has its own myths about its origin. For example, the Maasais of Kenya are thought to have their origin in the region around Nile valley around 1500. Many other African communities have their own myths concerning their origins. The African culture is also very centered on the family and marriage.
Marriage and Family
Marriages in the African culture are viewed as communal affairs whereby all members of the community are involved in its initiation. In some communities, parents are involved in the choice of the spouse of their children. Polygamy is also a major aspect in the African marriages.
In the family setting, children are supposed to be taught the communities value systems, religious beliefs, art and other important secrets of that particular society. Most African governments also try to preserve the cultural diversity through various activities like supporting indigenous music.
Culture and Power
There are also well defined gender roles in the African culture, with men in many cultures dominating over women. In the maasai culture of Kenya, the most regular living unit is comprised of a man, his wives and children. The women have the role of bearing children and constructing mud houses.
They are usually shouldered in red fabric and they are also richly decorated with beaded ornaments .They shave their heads and wear large earrings and necklaces (Ferraro 142-162). The elderly amongst the Maasai people have the role of guiding community organization (Robbins 217).
The importance of culture in any community can not be underestimated. Culture is very important because of the role it plays in bonding of the members of any given community. The culture of any group of people is passed on from one generation to another using different ways that it has been preserved in for example songs and art among other ways. The way people live is a result of their culture. The natural environment of the people also determines their culture.
Ferraro, Gary. Cultural anthropology: an applied perspective, Edition 6. London: Cengage Learning, 2006.
Robbins, Richard. Cultural Anthropology: A Problem-Based Approach, Edition 5. London: Cengage Learning, 2008.
Schultz, Emily and Lavenda, Robert. Cultural Anthropology: A Perspective on the Human Condition, Edition 7. Oxford: University Press, 2008.