African Culture Mrs. Sumlin Ms. Seabrooks Stereotypes Westerners hold many misconceptions about African culture and the continent. Some people envision “Africans” as people wearing little but necklaces. This is considered a stereotype and while there are groups that dress like this, there are many more that do not. Review of Demographics Remember Africa’s population is around 800 million. There are actually more than 1,000 different ethnic groups. Each group has its own language, religion, history, art and culture. Demographics Continued.. Another misconception is that the cultures of the tribes have changed very little over the years. These tribes have been changed greatly by one another and the people of the land. Muslims from the Middle East have greatly influenced the culture of North Africa while Europeans have impacted parts of the continent, particularly South Africa. Review of Influences All racial groups live on this continent. Chinese, Indian and Jewish influences can be found throughout Africa. People in Africa speak well over a 1,000 different languages. Some languages have been blended together to create a new one. Swahili is the 2nd most widely understood language in Africa after Arabic. Cultural Changes Cultural changes are widely influenced by where people live in Africa. People in urban areas live like people from the city. There are tall office building, movie theatres, and restaurants. People in cities watch TV, listen to rock music and send e-mails. Outside of the cities, however, people are more likely to live as their families have for generations. Few villagers have computers or stereos. Village Life One of the most important forms of entertainment for the village people is listening to the griot, or storyteller. Storytelling not only provides entertainment, but fulfills many important community roles. The storyteller serves as the community genealogist, historian and tribal spokesperson. Until recently, few African tribes kept written records, so storytellers were responsible for passing down the group’s history. Griots were also considered advisors to chiefs and other groups. Religious Practices Storytelling plays an important role in Africa’s traditional religions. Since many tribes practice ancestor worship and believe that most things on earth have spirits, stories explain many of the beliefs. Creation stories are common and many of them involve a “Creator” or God. Other Religious Practices Other religious practices involve art and music. Much of Africa’s art and music is in some way related to religion. Masks and sculptures depict spirits and are used in religious ceremonies. Kente Cloths, created by the Ashanti and others, visually show history, philosophy, values, stories, religious beliefs and ideas about the world. Religion Today 45% of Africans are Christians and 41% are Muslims. Many of them no longer follow traditional religions, but often incorporate traditional practices in their lives and worship. For example a Christian may visit a shaman, witch doctor, or medicine man for healing, or a Muslim might kill a chicken as an offering to a spirit before leaving on a trip. Traditional religion remains an important part of the African culture.