what differences they have in between.
PGP- SS (09-11/HR)
The vast continent of Africa is so rich and diverse in its culture with it not only changing from
one country to another but within an individual country many different cultures can be found.
Much of Africa's cultural activity centers on the family and the ethnic group. Art, music, and oral
literature serve to reinforce existing religious and social patterns. The Westernized minority,
influenced by European culture and Christianity, first rejected African traditional culture, but with
the rise of African nationalism, a cultural revival occurred. The governments of most African
nation’s foster national dance and music groups, museums, and to a lesser degree, artists and
Over the centuries, peoples from other parts of the world have migrated to Africa and settled
there. Historically, Arabs have been the most numerous immigrants. Starting in the 7th century
ad, they crossed into North Africa from the Middle East, bringing the religion of Islam with them.
A later movement of Arabs into East and Central Africa occurred in the 19th century. Europeans
first settled in Africa in the mid-17th century near the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern end
of the continent. More Europeans immigrated during the subsequent colonial period, particularly
to present-day South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Algeria. South Asians also arrived during colonial
times. Their descendants, often referred to as Indians, are found largely in Uganda, Kenya,
Tanzania, and South Africa.
Massai tribes of africa
The Maasai live in the semi-arid Rift Valley region of Kenya and Tanzania. They own large
herds of cattle, sheep and goats which they follow around seasonally in search of new grazing
grounds and water sources. Traditionally the Maasai have
always been a proud and independent tribe. They did not
cultivate the land and depend on a cash economy as many
of those around them did; rather they lived off the blood,
milk and meat that their cattle provided them. Cattle play a
central role in the life of the Maasai. Cattle represent food
and power; the more cattle a Maasai has, the richer he is
and therefore the more power and influence he will have
within his tribe. Traditionally the Maasai have always
looked down upon those who tilled the land since this
rendered it useless for grazing. While the Maasai lifestyle
has undergone some changes in the past three decades in
particular, their strong social traditions remain intact.
Maasai men are first and foremost warriors. They protect
their tribe, their cattle and their grazing lands. Often
standing over 6ft tall the Maasai warrior with his beaded
hair , red checked blanket (shuka) and balled club, looks
both fierce and beautiful. Maasai boys go through
a circumcision ceremony at the age of 14 and then
traditionally spending up to 8 years looking after livestock
far from their villages. They become warriors upon their return to the village to get married.
The Maasai women are responsible for all domestic tasks which include making their homes.
Houses are made from mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and urine. The women also milk the cows,
collect water (a heavy and arduous task), cook and look after the children. The Maasai women
are as impressive as the men in their looks
Maasai Struggle to Keep their Traditional Way of Life
While part of the attraction of visiting national parks in Kenya and Tanzania is viewing the
wildlife as well as the indigenous people, it is the wildlife parks that present the biggest
problem to the Maasai. The largest tracts of land that have been taken and protected for the
wildlife has been taken from the Maasai's traditional grazing lands. The Maasai feel that their
society has been given less thought and respect than that of wild animals.
The Himba are semi-nomadic pastoralists who live in
Kaokoland which is in the Northwest of Namibia. The area is
very rugged, dry, remote and mountainous. The Himba live by
herding sheep, goats and some cattle and they move location
several times a year to graze their livestock. The Himba are
descendents of the Herero and still speak the same language.
Their houses are just simple cone-shaped structures made with
saplings covered in mud and dung. The Himba maintain their
traditional beliefs including ancestor worship and rituals
concerning sacred fire (okoruwo) which is considered an
important link between the living and the dead.
The Himba are a striking people to look at. The women are
topless and wear mini-skirts made of goat skins adorned with
shells and jewellery made of iron and copper. The men wear
goatskin loin cloths. Both men and women smear their skin with a mixture of rancid butter, ash
and ochre to protect them from the harsh desert climate. The paste (Otjize) is often mixed with
the aromatic resin of the Omuzumba shrub, a little like adding perfume to a suntan lotion. As
well as protection from the sun, the deep red color is a highly desirable look in the Himba
culture. It is certainly eye-catching and very beautiful. The Himba use the same paste (Otjize) in
their hair which is long and plaited into intricate designs. You can tell the marital status of a
Himba lady by the way she wears her hair. The men also change their hairstyle to denote their
social position. A married man for example wears his hair in a turban.
The jewelry worn by the Himba is made of shells and metals and the women in particular, wear
plenty of it. I have some samples of Himba jewelry and clothing at home and (a warning to
tourists who visit the Himba) the leather used is not treated, so it's a pretty smelly souvenir. For
the most part, the modern world hasn't yet intruded on their traditional way of life which is why
(ironically) more and more tourists are keen to visit the Himba. That is not to say that the Himba
are a relic of the past, no tribe on earth lives in a time capsule. But rather, they have held on to
their traditions and adapted to outside influences in their own way.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Visiting the Himba:
Ask permission before you enter or camp near a Himba settlement
Ask permission before taking photos
Don't use any clean water sources to wash yourself (water is scarce and the Himba need it
for themselves and their livestock)
The San (also known as Bushmen or Basarwa)
The San (or Basarwa) people of the Kalahari are more commonly known as the Bushmen. The
Kalahari is a vast desert that stretches over South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Living in one
of the most inhospitable terrains in the world, the San survived by hunting wild game and
gathering roots and tuber
The History of the San
The San are considered to be the oldest culture in the
world dating back over a hundred thousand years.
Beautiful San rock art can be seen throughout Southern
Africa where the San lived as hunter-gatherers. In the
past 2000 years the San were slowly pushed to live in
the arid sands of the Kalahari Desert by Bantu tribes and
white farmers who took the more fertile land for their
crops and livestock.
Traditional San Culture
There are only about 3000 thousand San that still follow a totally traditional lifestyle of hunting
and gathering (out of a population of 95,000). Groups (or bands) usually number 10 to 15
individuals and move around frequently to find new foods to gather, water resources and to
follow migrating game. Shelter is temporary and made of branches tied together in a semi-circle
with grass tufts on top. Groups are made up of family members and there is no official leader or
chief. The San men traditionally hunt and the women are responsible for gathering. Hunting is a
collaborative exercise and the meat is always shared among the group. The San are expert
hunters with bows and arrows tipped with poison. Gathering has less social significance but
generally provides up to 80% of the food.
The San Today
Like many hunter-gatherer tribes the world over the San are finding it very difficult to maintain
their traditional culture and lifestyle. Land that the San used to hunt on is increasingly being
used for grazing cattle. Fences are put up to protect the cattle which means that the wildlife the
San depend upon for their hunting are changing their migrating patterns. Farmers in the area
have notoriously abused the San workers yet many San have become dependent on them for
survival. The San's hunting and tracking skills have made them popular with armies who have
used them to track guerillas and even map out mine fields. Farmers also use the San to track
down poachers. Governments have forced the San to relocate to permanent locations usually
with the intention of 'civilizing' them and providing schooling, running water and other modern
amenities. Unfortunately rounding up hunter-gatherers and forcing them to live in settlements
has been tried in many countries and has not been very successful.
The Samburu live just north of the equator in the Rift Valley province of Northern Kenya. The
Samburu are closely related to the Maasai of East Africa. They speak a similar language,
derived from Maa, which is called Samburu.
The Samburu are semi-nomadic pastoralists. Cattle, as well as sheep, goats and camels, are of
utmost importance to the Samburu culture and way of life. The Samburu are extremely
dependent on their animals for survival. Their diet consists mostly of milk and sometimes blood
from their cows. The blood is collected by making a tiny nick in the jugular of the cow, and
draining the blood into a cup. The wound is then quickly sealed with hot ash. Meat is only
consumed on special occasions. The Samburu diet is also supplemented with roots, vegetables
and tubers dug up and made into a soup.
Traditional Samburu Culture
The Rift Valley province in Kenya is a dry, somewhat barren land, and the Samburu have to
relocate to ensure their cattle can feed. Every 5-6 weeks the group will move to find fresh
grazing grounds. Their huts are built from mud, hide and grass mats strung over poles. A thorny
fence is built around the huts for protection from wild animals. These settlements are
called manyattas . The huts are constructed so they are easily dismantled and portable when
the Samburu move to a new location.
The Samburu usually live in groups of five to ten families.
Traditionally men look after the cattle and they are also
responsible for the safety of the tribe. As warriors they defend
the tribe from attack by both man and animals. They also go on
raiding parties to try and take cattle from rival Samburu clans.
Samburu boys learn to tend cattle from a young age and are
also taught to hunt. An initiation ceremony to mark their entry
into manhood is accompanied by circumcision.
Samburu women are in charge of gathering roots and
vegetables, tending to children and collecting water. They are
also in charge of maintaining their homes. Samburu girls
generally help their mothers with their domestic chores. Entry
into womanhood is also marked with a circumcision ceremony.
Samburu traditional dress is a striking red cloth wrapped
around like a skirt (calledShukkas) and a white sash. This is enhanced with many colorful
beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Both men and women wear jewelry although only the
women make it. The Samburu also paint their faces using striking patterns to accentuate their
facial features. Neighboring tribes, admiring the beauty of the Samburu people, called
them samburu which in fact means "butterfly". The Samburu referred to them as the Loikop.
Dancing is very important in the Samburu culture. Dances are similar to that of the Maasai with
men dancing in a circle and jumping very high from a standing position. The Samburu have
traditionally not used any instruments to accompany their singing and dancing. Men and women
do not dance in the same circles, but they do coordinate their dances. Likewise for village
meetings, men will sit in an inner circle to discuss matters and make decisions. Women sit
around the outside and interject with their opinion.
Omo River People - Ethiopia
Ethiopia is amazing multicultural country. One of its most interesting
regions with high diversity of different people is Omo River area. The Omo
River springs from Mount Amhara, located nearby of the capital Addis
Ababa, and flows through deep valleys and harsh scenery of Ethiopian
countryside with little villages around, crossed by narrow winding cattle
paths up to the Turkana Lake at the Ethiopian-Kenya borders. There are no
roads, no development, and just deserted county.
But maybe that’s the reason why there is a big diversity of tribes living
around the Omo River at the land of size of Switzerland, completely forgot
in a time. The way there takes about 3 days from Addis Ababa, but it’s
definitely worth of do it. It’s like you would travel in a time millions years back. The local people
will simply impress you. Ethnologists expect there may be more than 45 different ethnic groups
living there. Although some are genetically quite close, no one will ever admit it. They differ by
dialect and traditions; however there are also some similarities. They are all herdsmen; some of
them which are living in productive areas are farmers. Furthermore they are good hunters and
warriors. They are fighting with almost all neighbors for land and cattle. However the civilization
come here and brought new weapons – Kalashnikov – instead of traditional spears. Every man
has to have it, and they know how to use it. During the peace time it’s just the decoration which
makes men more important and together with traditional color clay body painting it makes brave
The most famous ethnic living at Omo River area is Mursi tribe. Mursi women decorate
themselves by a clay lip plates. To be able to wear the plate, they cut the lower lip and start to
stretch the lip with smaller plates at the beginning. After some time they are
able to wear even 10cm lip plates. Men are feared warriors which have a
respect all around. Karo tribe is one of the smallest ethnic in the area. They
have just about 400 people living at the banks of Omo River where they
were pushed by their neighbors. They are making wooden kayaks in which
they are traveling by the river. Karo women are often decorating
themselves by lip piercing. Hamar women are extremely beutifull. Hamars
origins are coming from many ethnics in the area. They live at lower river
stream. When you are traveling to the Omo River area, the first tribes you
see are Banna and Tsamai. When you first see them you understand how
different Africa is with all those tribes living still their traditional life, the
same life they lived hundreds years ago.