Characteristics of a Tribe:
Common Traits or Characteristics
of Traditional African Tribal Life
1. The good of the group comes ahead of the good
of the individual.
2. All land is owned by the group.
3. Strong feeling of loyalty to the group.
4. Ceremonies to celebrate each person’s life.
5. Deep respect for ancestors.
6. Religion is an important part of everyday life.
7. Government is in the hands of the chiefs/kings.
POD SHARE: Create a short list of the pros & cons.
• African towns and villages
evolved over time becoming
larger communities that
served as centers for trade
• Many of these cultures did
not have a written language.
Most knowledge of these
cultures comes from oral
tradition.hat served as
centers for trade and
King and Subject
• In African cultures the kings had a much
closer relationship with the people than in
Asian and other cultures.
• The king still held a high position among
the people, but he took a much more
personal interest in the everyday people.
Family and Lineage
Family and extended family were very
These extended families evolved into
All the members could claim to be
descended from a common ancestor and
it gave a sense of identity.
Why is it important to belong to a group?
The Role of Women
• Women were usually
subordinate to men in
• Although, in many
African societies lineage
was traced through the
mother’s side. This
makes the matriarch of
the family (the mother)
the central figure.
Community & Education
Both boys and girls were raised by their mothers
until the age of six.
After that boys and girls were educated in the
areas in which they would be involved.
Girls learned to be wives and mothers while
boys learned how to hunt and farm.
As they matured boys and girls took larger roles
in the community.
At age 12 or 13, many groups held rituals where
there was a physical challenge for boys to enter
The African Mask
• African masks are part of a ceremonial
• They are used to represent the spirits of
ancestors or to control the good and evil
forces in the community.
• They come to life possessed by their spirit in
the performance of the dance with music.
1. Belief in one remote Supreme Being.
2. A world of spirits (good & bad) in all
3. Ancestor veneration.
4. Belief in magic, charms, and fetishes.
5. Diviner/Shaman mediator between
the tribe and God.
Animism to Islam
Eventually the animistic beliefs were
replaced in many places by Islam.
This process occurred slowly through
trade and conquest.
Islam combined with native beliefs to
form unique African forms of Islam.
In the absence of a written language music
and storytelling took on a large role in African
Storytellers were usually priests or a special
class of storytellers known as griots.
These people kept the history of Africa alive.
What are possible issues that could arise
because of oral tradition?
So Many Tribes . . . .
Look at the number of tribes in just
Based on this
map, what are
Problems of Tribalism
1. The tribe is more important than the nation.
2. Communication problems.
3. Inter-tribal warfare civil wars.
4. Tribal favorites for government jobs:
Breaks down tribal
Tribal intermingling on
What a paragraph comparing and
contrasting the positive and
negative impacts of tribalism in
*You must use evidence from your
notes to support your writing.