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Sub-Saharan Africa. Traditional Culture. Source of Misconceptions. Sub-Saharan Africa had no written history until the 19 th century (European colonialism) Often the subsequent histories have had an, inflexible, Eurocentric view.

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sub saharan africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

Traditional Culture

source of misconceptions
Source of Misconceptions
  • Sub-Saharan Africa had no written history until the 19th century (European colonialism)
  • Often the subsequent histories have had an, inflexible, Eurocentric view.
  • European explorers constructed a vision of Africa as the “dark continent,” that was uncivilized, savage, primitive, and uncultured.
the tribe
The “Tribe”
  • Many ethnic groups characterized as “tribes,” a form of social identity created by with common ideas and group affiliation based on shared kinship, language , and territories.
  • Tribe- this term is seen as a negative by many people because it represents colonial perceptions of savagery
  • Tribe= chaotic, nomadic, unintelligence, barbaric pastoralist.
  • Really, it is a word used to describe people you can’t understand (in a empire)
  • Tassedus
oral traditions
Oral Traditions
  • Europeans believed that if a group of people had no written language, they had no history
  • Oral tradition- cultural material and tradition transmitted orally from one generation to another.
  • Telephone Effect?
  • Community authorship- Kept track of people's histories, without that you can have no notion of progress.
oral traditions cont
Oral Traditions cont.
  • Not subject to radical change when passed through generations
  • Written records:

Pro- seem concrete, tangible, constant, and you can assign authorship

Con- Can be biased, which can be good or bad.

  • Bias- can be a lense, issues of perspective.
  • Oral vs. Written: product of agreement with the whole community
human beginnings
Human Beginnings
  • “Cradle of Human Kind”- Earliest evidence of human existence found I n the Great Rift Valley.
  • “Lucy,” a 3.2 million year old skeleton (oldest hominid) found in Ethiopia in 1974.
  • 1.7-1.8 million years ago, Homo Erectus walked out of Africa
  • 120,000-150,000 years ago Homo Sapiens existed.
  • These are believed to be the genetic ancestors of all modern humans
  • 50,000-60,000 years ago we begin to see recognizable patterns, cycles, and cave paintings (first obvious signs of humanity)
pre colonial africa
Pre-colonial Africa
  • Massive continent, most of its history it had a small population
  • “Land rich, people poor.”
  • Around 1780, the Industrial Revolution created money as a representation of time
  • Before that,- gold represented wealth, wealth was resources. Land was the ultimate scarce commodity .
  • Scarcity determines value, gold wasn’t nearly as important to africa culture because land was essentially free.
traditional cultures
Traditional Cultures
  • Hard to generalize because it is an incredibly diverse continent with many distinct ethnic groups (over 800 living languages).
  • Subsistence based economies
  • Reliance on extended families, basic social unit.
  • Communal societies: Land couldn’t be bought or sold, no land aristocracy.
  • Land was viewed as given by the spirits, or held in trust for ancestors and future generations.
  • Reciprocity: gifts given in exchange for favors, source of many misconceptions in African culture.
social structure
Social Structure
  • Elders have the most power, and receive a significant amount of respect
  • Power was almost never permanent (ethereal)
  • No major compulsion (desire) to leave the family- kinship driven societies. (contact with 200-300 members)
  • No concept of racial slavery
  • Not a commodity driven society, humanity valued
  • Active role in child rearing, raising children seen as the goal of society.
africa today
Africa Today
  • Over 700 million people, projected over a billion by 2025
  • Nigeria, Ethiopia, D.R.C., South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya are the most populous
  • Higher birth rate than any continent
  • 42% of the population is under the age of 15
  • Dominant ethnic groups; Hausa, Yoruba, and the Zulu
  • Almost all groups split geographically by colonial national boundaries
  • This along with 0
  • Struggles for power between groups are a major source of conflict today