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West Africa Dr. Mamarame Seck Department of African and Afro-American Studies & Mam Harr Gaye.

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Presentation on theme: "West Africa Dr. Mamarame Seck Department of African and Afro-American Studies & Mam Harr Gaye."— Presentation transcript:

1 West Africa Dr. Mamarame Seck Department of African and Afro-American Studies & Mam Harr Gaye

2 An Introduction  Countries (17)  Chad  Niger  Nigeria  Mauritania  Mali  Senegal  Guinea  Sierra Leone  Gambia  Guinea Bissau  Liberia  Ghana  Togo  Benin  Burkina Faso  Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)  Cape Verde

3 West Africa Today Poverty and Conflict  One of most underprivileged areas in the world based on:  Gross National Product (GNP)  Human development  Recent Conflicts  Liberia, Sierra Leone ( ), and Guinea (1990 – 2010)  Côte d’Ivoire: Civil war ( )  Both situations are still cause for concern Progress in the Present  Fair and free elections  Ghana Stock Exchange regularly tops the list of the world’s highest performing market  Urbanization in cities  Dakar (Senegal)  Lagos (Nigeria)  Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS): promotes cooperation, economic growth, and integration  Exports  Energy products (oil)  Minerals (gold, diamonds, bauxite)  Agricultural Goods (cocoa, coffee, groundnuts, cotton)

4 Physical Features  South and West → Atlantic Ocean  North → Sahel (Sub-Saharan)  Southeast → Adamawa Highlands of Cameroon  Plateaus cover much of West Africa  Easily accessible made trade and communication feasible from an early time  Coastal Lowlands  Agricultural and economic centers  Heavily populated  Highlands  Emi Koussi (11,204)  A Volcano Tibesti Mountains (Chad) → Highest Peak in West Africa  Peaks over 6,000 feet: Aïr Mountains (Niger)  Islands  Cape Verde Archipelago (Africa’s westernmost point)  Rivers and Lakes  Major Rivers  The Niger River – one of the longest in the world (Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Mali, Guinea)  The Gambia  The Senegal  The Casamance (Southern Senegal)  The Volta (Ghana, Burkina Faso)  The Benue (Nigeria)  Seasonal Rivers  Major Lakes  Lake Chad  Shrinking due to irrigation, overgrazing, less rainfall, and a growing population  Inner Delta of Niger River (Mali)  Lake Volta (Ghana)  Lake Kossou (Côte d’Ivoire)  Kainji Lake (Nigeria)

5 Map of Physical Features

6 People of West Africa (Population Density Map)

7 Different Ethnic Groups of West Africa  Akan – Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire  Dogon – Mali  Ewe – Togo, Benin, Ghana  Fon – Benin, some Togo  Fulani – Nigeria, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, Niger, Benin, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic  Hausa – Nigeria, Niger, Sudan  Igbo – Nigeria  Kanuri – Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon  Mande – Mali, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea- Bissau, Nigeria, Benin, Mauritania  Mende – Sierra Leone, Liberia  Moors – Mauritania, Mali  Mossi – mainly Burkina Faso  Songhai – Niger, Mali, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso  Tuareg – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Niger  Wolof – Senegal, Gambia  Yoruba – Nigeria, Benin

8 Languages  Lingua Francas  French  approximately half of West Africa  English  Gambia  Ghana  Liberia  Nigeria  Sierra Leone  Portuguese  Guinea Bissau  Cape Verde  Arabic  Mauritania

9 Indigenous language Families

10 Religion in West Africa  Three main divisions:  Christianity  Brought around 1450 C.E. by European merchants through the West African Coast  Worshippers concentrated by the coast  i.e. Ghana has ~66% Christian following  Islam  Brought around 750 C.E. by Muslim Berber and Arab traders from North Africa  Worshippers concentrated in North near Sahara  i.e. Mali has 90% Islam following  Indigenous African Religions  i.e. Benin 50%, Burkina Faso 40%, Liberia 40%, Togo 51%  Guinea-Bissau 50%

11 Christianity in West Africa  Progression through the centuries  Came in the 15 th century, brought by Portuguese sailors  In the 18 th century, returning British and Caribbean slaves spread Christianity  Europeans and Americans create mission stations in the 19 th century  Modern Practice  After colonialism, began incorporating more African aspects into worship  Use of African music and instrumentation for singing hymns  Broad spectrum of Christianity  Roman Catholic  Protestant  African Independent Churches

12 Islam in West Africa  Progression through the centuries  7 th century – Islam spread to most of North Africa  10 th -12 th centuries – Sahel rulers convert  13 th -17 th centuries – Mission activity flourishes thanks to Fulani and Mande efforts  – jihads by the Fulani lead to development of three important empires:  Sokoto caliphate (Nigeria)  Tukulor caliphate (Senegal)  Macina empire (Mali)  Sufi brotherhoods (i.e. Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Nigeria)  2000 – six northern Nigerian states introduce sharia law

13 Indigenous African Religions  Single creator-god and many spirits  Spirits associated with sacred sites where rituals are held  Ancestral spirits  Pay respects in various ways  Help watch over community  Cross-currents  As Islam and Christianity were introduced, many Africans began to incorporate both aspects of the religion they converted to (Syncretism)  Some decline of indigenous beliefs  Moors  Fulani  Hausa  Resisted the outer influence  Fon of Benin  Mende of Sierra Leone  African indigenous beliefs in African Diaspora  Caribbean – Yoruba slaves brought about Santería, a mix of Yoruba deities and Roman Catholicism  Haiti – Vodun brought in by the Fon  Trinidad, Grenada, and Brazil – Shango

14 Society and Culture  Meeting & greetings  social distance  invitations  conversational etiquette  sensitive subjects  Major holidays/ceremonies  Religious  Secular  traditional  Taboos

15 Major holidays/ceremonies  Religious  New Year’s Day Jan 1  Ashura (First of day of the Muslim calendar)  Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday  Easter Sunday and Easter Monday  Assumption Day Aug 15  Eid Al Fitr or End of Ramadan  All Saints’ Day Nov 1  Eid Al Adha (Sacrifice of Abraham)  Christmas Day Dec 25  Secular  Independence Day  Labor Day May 1  Women’s Day

16 Major holidays/ceremonies  Traditional holidays vary according to the country.  Ghana: Aboakyer Festival (Deer Hunting Festival) May  Homowo Festival (Yam Festival)  Senegal: Initiation among the Sereer and Diola, Baawnaan among the Wolof (when the rainy season is delayed)

17 Meeting and Greetings  In more traditional settings, greetings are distinguished by a very long hand shake, to be maintained during a full discussion of your health, your general state of mind and the weather.  This is a formality; always respond that everything is fine. In cities however, greetings may be shorter. Use a gentle grip for all handshakes.  Always use only the right hand. Avoid eye contact with someone of superior rank or with a member of the opposite sex.  In a group, shake hands with every person present, both on arrival and departure. Use surnames and professional titles, preferably in French. When a man is greeting a woman, he should wait for her to extend her hand first.

18 Meeting and Greetings  It is considered impolite not to greet someone you know as you pass them on the street.  For an added level of respect, a slight bow is often performed along with the handshake.  In Muslim-dominant countries local Muslim men and women do not normally shake hands or otherwise have physical contact when greeting in public.  Direct eye contact is usually reserved for previous acquaintances, and elders should not be subjected to direct eye contact until a firm relationship has been established.

19 Taboos  Avoid pointing at people with your index finger, use the whole hand instead.  Giving anything to someone with the left hand is considered very rude. Always give and receive object with the left hand.  Using your right hand to shake, touch, eat food with, or handle money (or anything else) is a must. Using the left hand for these things is considered rude and dirty  When eating out of a communal bowl, don’t take meat or veggies from the other side.  Passing gas in public is considered rude.

20 Taboos (Cont.)  Avoid clothing that exposes your body  Modest clothing for both men and women is recommended, particularly in more rural areas.

21 Architecture  Great Mosque (Djenné, Mali)  Emir’s Palace (Kano, Nigeria)  Friday Mosque (Zaria, Nigeria)  Djinguereber Mosque (Tombouctu, Mali)  Tomb of Askia Muhammad (Gao, Mali)  Great Mosque (Agadez, Niger)  Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire)

22 Activities  Scenario  You arrive in a Muslim-dominant country in West-Africa (Senegal, Mali, etc.) and schedule a meeting on Friday around 2PM. But to your surprise, people start showing up at 3PM without presenting any excuses. What will be your attitude towards the attendees? Why do you think they did not present their excuses to you?  You are being introduced to some elderly people in a village. How do you greet them?


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