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Cultural Characteristics of Africa

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1 Cultural Characteristics of Africa

2 Religions, Customs, and Traditions
Africa is made up of 54 different countries and many ethnic groups. A group’s customs and traditions often come from religion, from where the group lives, or from the demands of daily life. Most Africans today are either Muslim or Christian, but traditional religions and customs still play a role in African culture.

3 Arabs The term Arab refers to a mixed ethnic group made up of people who speak the Arabic language. Arabs mostly live in North Africa and the Middle East. Some Jews, Kurds, Berbers, Copts, and Druze speak Arabic, but are not usually considered Arab. The term “Arab” includes Arabic-speaking Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. Overall, Arabs are divided into two groups—nomadic Bedouins and settled Arabs.

4 Ashanti The Ashanti people live in central Ghana.
The family, especially the mother’s family, is most important to the Ashanti. They believe that children inherit their spirits from their father and their flesh and blood from their mother. The mystical Golden Stool has been the center of Ashanti spiritual practice since the late 17th century.

5 Ashanti It is said to have arrived on Earth by floating down from the heavens. The Ashanti people believe the strength of their nation depends on this safety of this stool. It represents the unity of the Ashanti and the power of their chiefs. The Ashanti honor kings after death, in a ceremony in which a stool is blackened.

6 The Swahili People The Swahili people live on the East African coast from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. The Swahili people practice a strict form of Islam. In addition to Islamic beliefs, the Swahili believe in spirits, or djinns. Swahili Muslims use trances to speak to djinns. Men wear amulets around their necks that contain verses from the Koran, which they believe will protect them. Only teachers of Islam and prophets are permitted to become spiritual healers.

7 Bantu The Bantu originally came from southeastern Nigeria, near the Benue-Cross Rivers that spread east and south near Zambia, in Central Africa. Around 1000 CE, the Bantu reached present-day Zimbabwe and South Africa. Here, the Bantu established the Munhumutapa Empire. This new empire controlled trading routes from South Africa to the area north of the Zambezi River.

8 Bantu The Bantu traded many natural resources: gold, copper, precious stones, animal hides, ivory, and metal goods. They traded with Arab traders from the Swahili coast, as well as others. The empire collapsed in the early 16th century, after it used up all its resources.

9 African Literacy The literacy rate in Africa is 50%.
This means that half the population of Africa cannot read or write. Literacy is good for individuals as well as their communities. More developed countries tend to have a higher literacy rate. Sudan and Egypt both have a literacy rate of only 51 %. South Africa, the most developed country in Africa, has a literacy rate of 83%.

10 Art and Music from Africa
The dance and music of Africa has many distinct styles and uses unique instruments. Sub-Saharan African music and dance is different from the music and dance of the Arab cultures of North Africa, or the Western settler populations of southern Africa. Many of the Sub-Saharan traditions are maintained by oral tradition.

11 Summary Describe the diverse cultures of the people of Africa and how is literacy rate affect standard of living.

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