5Early African Societies Anthropologists think that the first humans lived in East Africa. Over thousands of years, people spread out over the continent, forming distinct cultures and societies.During early phase of their history, Africans lived as hunter-gatherersAbout 9,000 years ago, some began to grow native cropsIn some parts, pastoralism, practice of raising herd animals, arose before farmingEarly Farming SocietiesFirst farmers likely pastoralists of Sahara—wetter 8,000 years ago5,000 years ago climate changed, Sahara became drierAs land became desert, people migrated to Mediterranean coast, Nile Valley, parts of West AfricaPastoralists in SaharaBy about 2500 BC many people in these regions practiced herding and mixed farming.
6Stateless SocietiesStateless societies cultural groups in which authority is shared by lineages of equal power instead of being exercised by a central government; no one executive rulerCommunity rule over individual ruleUsually the community that made the decisions consisted of male family heads
8Stateless SocietiesFunction of mobile population, underpopulation, and land as resourceEven when dense population, there was no stateHunters valued over warriorsIdeal was the large complex household with Big Man surrounded by peopleControl happened laterally, not hierarchically (secret societies, age-grade societies, ritual experts as mediators)
9What are some characteristics of a stateless society? Society divided into lineages – group traces its collective ancestry to a common ancestorAuthority is balanced among the various lineages – families.No single group holds a majority of power.Operate through sharing of ideas and possessions, and cooperation is how they assume that society will operate.
12Tribesa political group that comprises several bands or lineage groups, each with similar language and lifestyle and occupying a distinct territory
13Common Traits or Characteristics of Traditional African Tribal Life The good of the group comes ahead of the good of the individual.All land is owned by the group.Strong feeling of loyalty to the group.Important ceremonies at different parts of a person’s life.Special age and work associations.Deep respect for ancestors.Religion is an important part of everyday life.Government is in the hands of the chiefs [kings].
15Social Structures Common Features Many societies developed village-based culturesAt heart, extended family living in one householdFamilies with common ancestors formed clans to which all members loyalAge-SetsIn some areas, people took part in type of group called age-setsMen who had been born within same two, three years formed special bondsMen in same age-set had duty to help each otherSpecific DutiesLoyalty to family, age-sets helped village members work togetherMen hunted, farmed; women cared for children, farmed, did domestic choresEven very old, very young had own tasks; elders often taught traditions to younger generations
16Structure of African Society Kinship – Relationship to individual relativesFamily – Related members of a groupClan – Group made up of related familiesTribe – Group made up of related clans
17DefinitionsTribe- group of people that share language, customs, traditions, geographic locationClan- group of related familiesExtended family- parents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents (common in Africa)Nuclear family- parents and children (not common in Africa )
26Lineages•Some societies group people in lineages—those with common ancestorMembers of a lineage have strong loyalties to one anotherIn some African societies, lineage groups take the place of rulersThese stateless societies balance power among lineagesStateless societies—no centralized system of power
28Traditional Societies: Family Descent Patrilineal trace ancestors through fathersMatrilineal trace ancestors through mothers20% of African societies are matrilineal today
29Inheritance and Descent The Ashanti people believed the child’s blood came entirely from the motherUncle is more important than the fatherMatrilinealOldest son is the head of the familyOldest son was the inheritorPatrilineal
30Patriarchal: Male-Dominated society very common in African tribes
31Patrilineage Descent is traced through male lineage. Inheritance moves from father to son, as does succession to office.Man’s position as father and husband is the most important source of male authority.Example: Nuer or Sudan.
32Patrilineal Descent Found among 44% of all cultures Kinship is traced through the male lineMales dominate position, power and propertyGirls are raised for other familiesFound in East and South Asia and Middle East
34Matrilineage Descent is traced through the female line. Children belong to the mother’s descent group.The inclusion of a husband in the household is less important.Women usually have higher status.Example: Hopi.
35Matrilineal Descent Found among 15% of all cultures Kinship is traced through the female lineWomen control land and productsFound in the Pacific, Australia, small parts of Mediterranean coastDeclining though capitalism
37Status of Women Societies that valued women Women could be leadersWomen were the teachers of the familyWere respected because the bore childrenBride Wealth paid to brides familySocieties that did not value womenWomen did the planting, weeding, and harvestingIn some societies men married many women [polygamy]Viewed a wife as property of the husband
38Roles of WomenAn African woman's roles are as life bearer, nurturer, and source of generations.For an African woman in a traditional rural community, the chief measure of success in life is her ability to bear many children.The very existence of the family and clan depends on women's ability to bear children, who will provide security for their parents in old age and who will continue to nourish the spirits of the ancestors through sacrificial offerings.As a result, much African art is directed toward encouraging the fertility of women.Many shrines are devoted to spirits that provide the blessings of fertility, and these frequently contain sculpture and other objects devoted to the concept of fertility.
39Many traditional African societies are polygamous Marriage customsMany traditional African societies are polygamousPolygamy: having more than one spouseMen may only have multiple wives if he can support themBridewealth- payment a man gives a woman’s family before marriage (land, cattle, cloth, tools)Dowry- payment a woman’s family before marriage (land, cattle, cloth, tools)Some tribes allow divorce, some do not
40“No marry’d Women, after they are brought to Bed, lie with their Husbands till three Years are expired, if the Child lives so long, at which Time they wean their Children, and go to Bed to their Husbands. They say that if a Woman lies with her Husband during the Time she has a Child sucking at her Breast, it spoils the Child’s Milk, and makes it liable to a great many Distempers. Nevertheless, I believe, not one Woman in twenty stays till they wean their Children before they lie with a Man; and indeed I have very often seen Women much censur’d, and judged to be false to their Husbands Bed, upon Account only of their suckling Child being ill.” --F. Moore (European trader) on the River Gambia in the 1730s, Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa (London, 1738), pp
42Bride WealthIt has been argued that such a system commodifies the bride and thus dehumanizes her, but others also make the argument that the system defines her value to the marriage in a concrete way and that it contributes to the stability of the marriage, because were the marriage to end in divorce the "bride-wealth" must be returned to the groom's family, and if it has already been invested in "bride-wealth" for the bride's own brothers this can be difficult indeed.The "bride-wealth" creates a bond between the families which forces them to invest in the success of the marriage.When there is trouble between husband and wife the relatives on both sides intervene to find a solution.The male-female couple from the Dogon people of Mali represents the ideal of pairing that is necessary for procreation.The linking of the male arm around the woman's neck emphasizes the bond that is created by marriage.
44Traditional Societies: Age-Set System Age-Set System a cohort of young people within a region who are born during a certain periodPass through life stages/rites of passage togetherAt each life stage the age group inherits different responsibilitiesBoys and girls are generally separated
45Age Set Group of boys or girls born in the same year Go through rituals togetherTransition into adulthood togetheri.e. Manhood initiationCircumcision ceremony for boysScarification- ritual markings for tribe
46The Age Grade System Definition Includes all boys or girls born in the same yearThis same age group works together for their entire livesPurposeTo Learn about community and shared dutiesTogether they take part in special age ceremoniesEffectThis group usually thinks similarly and works together quite well
47What are some advantages of an age-set system? Each member can help others to pass through the various stages of life – they can also help each other obtain the specific individual benchmarks of each stage.Teach discipline, community service, and leadership all together
49Problems of Tribalism Today 1. The tribe is more important than the nation.2. Communication problems.3. Inter-tribal warfare civil wars.4. Tribal favorites for government jobs:NepotismBreaks down tribal traditions.Urbanization:Tribal intermingling on the job.
50Tribalism problemTribalism is often a stronger force than nationalism.Political parties based on tribesProblem of creating nationalism artificially.Globalization & Diversity: Rowntree, Lewis, Price, Wyckoff
52Musician, Storyteller, Tribal Historian African GriotsMusician, Storyteller, Tribal Historian
53Griots, pronounced "greeohs", are storytellers of West Africa who use poetry and rhythm to teach villagers about their history. Their home is the territory of the Mandinke people in the country of Mali where their tradition is alive to this day."Griot" is the French term for this class of musicians; the local term is jeli.
54Modern Role of the Griot HistorianGenealogistOrator, artist, musicianCounsellorSpiritual Leader
55Historical Role of the Griot tutored princes and gave council to kings.used their detailed knowledge of history to shed light on present-day dilemmas.would memorize significant events, like births, death, marriages, hunts, seasons and wars, ensuring that the collective heritage, culture and lineage of the clan continued.
56GriotsMany early societies did not develop systems of writingMaintained sense of identity, continuity through oral traditionsIncluded stories, songs, poems, proverbsTask of remembering, passing on entrusted to storytellers, griotsMusic and DanceIn many societies, music, dance central to many celebrations, ritualsCarving, wearing of elaborate masks part of these rituals as wellEarly Africans excelled in sculpture, bronze as well as terra cottaTraditional music performed with variety of wind, stringed instruments
57West Africans have preserved their history through storytelling and the written accounts of visitors.Writing was not common in West Africa. People passed along information through oral histories, a spoken record of past events.West African storytellers were called griots. They helped keep the history of their ancestors alive for each new generation.In addition to stories, they recited proverbs. These were short sayings of wisdom or truth. They were used to teach lessons to the people.Some of the griot poems are epics that are collected in the Dausi and the Sundiata.
58ProverbsGriots passed on more than stories, they also recited proverbsProverbs are short sayings of wisdom or truth
59Griots: Oral Storytelling Tradition passed down by storytellingTwo forms of talesHuman charactersAnimal charactersHuman tales dealt with creation, death, success & loveAnimal tales focused on small creatures vs. larger beasts
60West African Proverbs “It takes a village to raise a child.” “Talking doesn't fill the basket in the farm.”“Rats don't dance in the cat's doorway.”
61The griot profession is inherited, passed on from one generation to the next. Griots are very different from the rest of society, almost a different ethnic group.They are both feared and respected by people in West Africa for their wisdom and talent with words.
62Griot singer Suso is playing the kora (note his name on the instrument).
63Traditional Societies: Griots Father of the poor people Husband of beautiful ladies At whose absence the city is not interesting At whose absence the people are not happy…Be our mother Be our father Provide us with clothing Be the salt we need for our gravy Be the oil we need for our porridge…You are our eyes You are our mirror You are our hands and legs That we use to walk.