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Introduction to african history, culture and society

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Introduction to african history, culture and society

  1. 1. • The interplay of Socio-economic, political, and religious forces operating in African societies before and after 1500. • The political, economic, religious and social currents of Africa. • How Africans have sought to adapt to and reshape external forces imposed by colonialism, Western Capitalism, Islam and Christianity. • Overview of African Kingdom and small scale societies. • Slavery in Africa, and its abolition, the great scramble, partition of Africa, colonialism in Africa, nationalism, and end with an neocolonial realities in the new independent African states.
  2. 2. • Over three thousand years ago there were two important developments in West Africa: long distance trade, and the ability to manipulate stone, clay and metals to sophisticated degree. • Against this background, there arose a number of kingdoms and empires starting in the 5th century through to the 16th century. Common to each of these great empires was extensive trans-saharan trade with the North, large standing armies and an effective system taxation.
  3. 3. • The empire of Ghana (not to be confused with modern Ghana which is some four hundred miles south east of where it was) was first referred to by an Arab scholar in the 8th century. Two centuries later the kingdom of Kanem arose north east of Lake Chad.
  4. 4. • In the 13th century Mali rose under the leadership of the Malinke Sundiata to become renowned throughout the Arab world for its wealth and learning. • A hundred years later it fell into decline and became the target of Tuareg raids; the Songhay then took over the territory, reduced in size, under the leadership of Askiya Mohammed. • Trade was revived as was the position of Timbuktu as a centre of learning. The Songhay remained in control until the Moroccan invasion.
  5. 5. • By the 18th century the northern part of West Africa was a patchwork of city states and kingdoms; further South the Asante state (in modern Ghana) rose to pre-eminence. • In the early 19th century Muslim reformers changed the political landscape of large parts of West Africa, most notably in what is now northern Nigeria, under the leadership of Usman dan Fodio. (Usman dan Fodio)
  6. 6. • Central Africa is a fertile area, rich in mineral deposits. Here a number of states emerged with sophisticated metal working techniques after 1000 AD in what is referred to as the 'late iron age.'
  7. 7. • By the 15th century this empire had collapsed, taken over by the Mutapa rulers. The Portuguese appeared around the same time attracted by gold and slaves. • They made commercial inroads across the width of southern Africa, from what is now Angola in the West, to Mozambique in the East. • By the 13th century an empire known as Great Zimbabwe emerged, which left stone ruins of what must have been a spectacular fortified palace. (slaves digging gold) (Great Zimbabwe ruins)
  8. 8. • They came across a number of power kingdoms. Among them: 1)The Kongo in the West (present day northern Angola and part of DR Congo) 2) The decentralised and flexible state of Lunda in the centre; 3) The Lundu Kingdom in the east, which cultivated the cassava and maize which the Portuguese imported with great success.
  9. 9. • Also in the East, was Monumutapa, under Mutapa rule, which resisted all attempts by the Portuguese at subjugation. Reduced in size, it maintained its vigour under the military dynasty of Changamires. • By contrast the Kongo Empire was, by the 17th century, devastated by the slave trade. • By the 18th century the slave trade was sufficiently lucrative and brisk at the coast for the Portuguese to have not need to assert their power in any systematic way in the interior. • The states and kingdoms of the interior confined their dealings to middlemen in search of ivory, slaves and gold for sale to coastal traders, both African and European.
  10. 10. • People in southern Africa also felt the economic and political impact of a minority of Europeans from the 17th century onwards. These Europeans set about taking over, and profiting from, other people's land. • Farming and mining were the principle activities from which white settlers profited, with the Dutch, or Afrikaners as they became known, mainly interested in agriculture.
  11. 11. • The Englishman Cecil Rhodes led the initiative to exploit the country's mining potential. His long term goal was to colonise the whole continent with white settlers. (Cecil Rhodes )
  12. 12. • The Afrikaners had a huge social impact on southern Africa. Wherever they set up a community they pursued a policy of racial segregation, based on a belief in the racial superiority of Europeans, wherever they set up. • This reached its most organised form in the system of apartheid created by the National Party of South Africa from 1948 until the 1980's, when it began to be dismantled.
  13. 13. • Most of Africa had achieved independence by the early 1960s, it took much longer for southern African colonies to become independent. 1. Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia and Lesotho all achieved independence by the end of the 1960s. 2. But Angola and Mozambique had to wait until 1975. 3. Zimbabwe achieved majority rule in 1980. 4. Namibia shook off South African domination in 1990. 5. It was not until 1994 that South Africa itself was returned to her people and governed through majority rule.
  14. 14. 1. The Maasai People of East Africa. 2. The Himba peple 3. The San Bushmen (Basarwa)of the Kalahari 4.The Samburu of Kenya 5. Omo River Tribes, Ethopia 6. The Hadzabe and Datoga tribes
  15. 15. • The Maasai tribe of East Africa are pastoralists and warriors. Self-sufficient and proud. The Maasai are now struggling to maintain their traditions. Their grazing lands are being parcelled off much of it is now protected by the National Park land.
  16. 16. • The Himba are semi-nomadic pastoralists who live in Laokoland which is in the Northwest of Namibia, The Himba are a striking people to llok at because theory have maintained their traditional culture and dress. • The women are topless and cover their bodies with the paste made from fat and ochre.
  17. 17. • The San Bushmen (Basarwa)of the Kalahari are more commonly known as the Bushmen. The San are traditionally hunter-gatherers and live in a small mobile family groups.
  18. 18. • Visitors of the region can enjoy staying at a community run eco-lodge or hop on the back of a camel led by a Samburu warrior. The Samburu of Kenya live in Northern Kenya, in the beautiful Rift Valley region. The Samburu are staunch traditionalists and still lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle for most part.
  19. 19. • Ethiopian Tribes living in the Omo River Region, South-western Ethiopia are Mursi, Hamer, Bodi, Ari, Bumi and Karo tribes. • Each tribes has its unique customs, language, rituals and ceremonies.
  20. 20. • Hadzabe and Datoga tribes are from the Lake Eyasi, Tanzania region. • The cultural and trekking tours in the Lake Eyasi region is famous tourist spot.
  21. 21. • South Africa is called the rainbow nation because of its variety of people, cultures and religions. The people follow many spirituals traditions and religious faiths. • In south Africa the constitution protects freedom of religion. Everyone is free to follow whatever faith they want to, or not follow one at all. • The major faiths practiced in South Africa are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, traditional African religions and Judaism.
  22. 22. • European and other foreign settlers brought most of these religions. • Traditional African religions is very popular and arrived in North and West African ancestors. It is often combined with the elements of Christianity and Judaism. • The most important thing in the new South African religion and spirituality are the create greater understanding and harmony rather than to divide people as we done in the past.
  23. 23. • Christianity came first to the continent of Africa in the 1st or early 2nd century AD. • Oral tradition says the first Muslims appeared while the prophet Mohammed was still alive (he died in 632). • Thus both religions have been on the continent of Africa for over 1,300 years.
  24. 24. • Most “traditional” groups of people living in South Africa arrive in the West and Central Africa about 1 500 years ago. • Most were Bantu- speaking people and were the ancestors of many South Africans, especially the Nguni groups like the Zulu an Xhosa. • Traditional African religion is based on the oral traditions, which means that the basic values and way of life are passed from elders to younger generation. • These traditions are not religious principles, but a cultural identity that is passed on through stories, myths and tales. (Traditional African religion and culture is passed on from parents to children through stories)
  25. 25. • Traditional African religion community is the most important part of someone’s life. • This community is made up of people who remember and share the same traditions. • A believer's family still has influence over him or her even if they live far away. Religion in most African societies also supports moral order. It creates a sense of security and order in the community. • Followers believe in the guidance of their ancestors spirits.
  26. 26. • In the Zulu culture there are mystics or sangomas that are responsible for healing and 'divining' - a kind of fortune telling and counselling. Sangomas are part of spiritual traditions and are responsible for healing and telling the future. • These traditional healers have to be called by ancestors. • They undergo strict training and learn many skills including how to use herbs for healing and other, more mystical skills, like the finding of a hidden object without knowing where it is.
  27. 27. • Traditional African religion is a way of life in which ancestors are part of every major event such as wedding, births and deaths. • During these events usually an offering is made to honour, please and thank the ancestors. • A cow, sheep or chicken is slaughtered and the ancestors are called to receive the offering and bless the gathering.
  28. 28. • Although traditional African religion recognises a Supreme God, followers do not worship him or her directly as they do not feel worthy enough. They therefore ask the ancestors to communicate on their behalf. • The Supreme Being is called upon in times of great hardship and need, like drought or epidemic that may threaten the entire community. • The Supreme Being is the connection between people and their environment.
  29. 29. • Ancestor worship and belief is an extension of a belief in and respect for elders. • Followers of traditional African religion believe that ancestors maintain a spiritual connection with their living relatives. • Most ancestral spirits are generally good and kind. • The only negative actions taken by ancestral spirits is to cause minor illnesses to warn people that they have gotten onto the wrong path. • To please these unhappy ancestors, usually offerings of beer and meat are made.
  30. 30. • The only negative actions taken by ancestral spirits is to cause minor illnesses to warn people that they have gotten onto the wrong path. • To please these unhappy ancestors, usually offerings of beer and meat are made.
  31. 31. Cotonou, the largest city of Benin is located on the coast. It is the economic centre of the country, with a thriving trade in second- hand cars. Benin is one of the poorest countries in the world, with about one third of its population living in extreme poverty. Agriculture is an important economic factor, built mainly on cotton.
  32. 32. • Benin is located in the “Dahomey Gap”, an unforested corridor stretching from the Upper Guinean rain forests on the West Coast of the African continent to the Congolese rainforests in Central Africa. • This savanna landscape is hardly suitable for agricultural use, due to its dryness. To the north of the lagoon landscape of the coast, the country rises to a plateau which is intensively used for agriculture, extending as far as the Atakora mountains. • The rhythm of working the soil and planting crops is dependent on the rainy season, which is why planting is in the months from May to June, and harvesting is between October and December.
  33. 33. • About two thirds of the population of Benin work in farming. They mainly grow maize, cassava, yams, sweet potatoes and pulses for their own needs and the local market. • Cashew nuts and pineapples are important export products, but the main export from Benin is cotton.
  34. 34. • West African nation formerly known as Dahomey. • A French colony until the 1960s, Benin is a tiny nation tucked under the Elephant Ear of West Africa, and is best known for being one of the continent’s stronger democracies.
  35. 35. • The city of Cotonou whose name in the local language (Fon) means “River of Death.” • Regardless of what Cotonou is today, it will forever retain the soul of a slaving hub at the mouth of a river that carried an unfortunate cargo down to the waiting slave ships.
  36. 36. • Benin is expensive. The country produces little in the way of agricultural products, and as a result, most of what we consume has been imported at great expense. • expat staples like milk, wheat flour, jam, butter, breakfast cereal, cookies, and such: are not cheap.
  37. 37. • Benin is the birthplace of the world’s most misunderstood religion. • Haitians are the second most populous followers of Vaudoun, but it’s because the slave trade carried Beninese to the Caribbean island that Haiti gained the religion. • Vaudoun at its roots is an animist religion with strong ties to the natural earth, and a belief in good and bad forces. • Large parts of Benin believe in Vaudoun, but there are lots of Christians and Muslims as well, and everyone seems to live together in peace
  38. 38. • Slavery continues to this day, and not just in Benin. Throughout Africa, families “lend” their children – sometimes permanently – to construction projects in the city. These children are poorly paid, sleep on the ground, and remain uneducated for their entire lives.

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