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Until lions tell their tale, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter

African Proverb

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will

– Frederick Douglass

The most pathetic thing is for a slave who doesn't know that he is a slave

– Malcolm X

Every man is rich in excuses to safeguard his prejudices, his instincts, and his opinions.

– Ancient Egypt

Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right.

– Dr. Martin L. King, Jr

What kind of world do we live in when the views of the oppressed are expressed at the convenience of their oppressors?

– Owen 'Alik Shahadah

We are not Africans because we are born in Africa, we are Africans because Africa is born in us.

– Chester Higgins Jr.

Leave no brother or sister behind the enemy line of poverty.

– Harriet Tubman

If the future doesn't come toward you, you have to go fetch it

Zulu Proverb

If we do not stop oppression when it is a seed, it will be very hard to stop when it is a tree.

– ' Alik Shahadah

If we stand tall it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.

African Proverb

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin L. King, Jr

The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism

Wole Soyinka

No longer must the African genius be trapped between bureaucracy and mismanagement

Alik Shahadah

How can I turn from Africa and live?

Derek Walcott

For far too long, a majority of Africans have been indifferent to misrepresentations about who they are

Childo Nwangwu

We cannot have the oppressors telling the oppressed how to rid themselves of the oppressor

Kwame Ture



Beautiful and Diverse People of Africa

Holocaust     Holocaust
We are not Africans because we are born in Africa, we are Africans because Africa is born in us Holocaust
Holocaust Holocaust
Chester Higgins, Jr.

See also | African Culture | Rites of Passage | African Race | African Religions | Islam Africa

There is no continent more blessed with striking beauty and diversity than the African Motherland. And it was from this physical and genetic diversity that allowed Africans to parent the rest of humanity. Indigenous Africa is testimony to the full spectrum, of skin tones, hair textures, rich religious and cultural practices. However, all this diversity has a political destiny which merges into one African family.

African: is a term which super-umbrellas all the indigenous ethnicities of the African continent. Therefore an African is exclusively a person from the indigenous ethnic groups found on the continent of Africa and people who trace their ancestry to these groups in the African Diaspora. (African Race) There are at least 3,000 distinct ethnic groups in Africa. Africans, in full diversity, are the natural people of the African landscape. The hair, the skin, are all specific adaptations to living in the African landscape.African Race Article

MOTHERLAND: is an epic and unprecedented entry into the canon of African-owned cinema, which charts the glory and majesty of the Motherland (Enat Hager).

Motherland is a film that unapologetically calls for African unity, self-determination and the African rebirth. ON DVD

Buy now Motherland

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There is more genetic diversity between different African people than between all the races of the world combined. So the difference between Asian and European is less than between Amhara and Hausa. Holocaust
Holocaust Holocaust

Africa has 3000 distinct ethnic groups, 2000 languages. Home to the most genetically diverse people on Earth. So diverse that two Africans are more genetically different from each other than a Chinese and a European are from each other. Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km², it covers six percent of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area. With approximately 58 countries. It occupies a wide dynamic latitude has; deserts, forest, snow, temperate climate, tropics, sub-tropics, lakes, the longest river, lowest point on Earth, mountain ranges. Now we have to ponder over these figures when we have these vulgar sweeping generalizations, which fit all of this diversity into one and two monolithic boxes. There are generalizations, which do define Africa, but none that are exclusive.

For linguistic notes on pejorative and racist words such as Black African and Sub-Saharan Africa. As well as imposed terms such as black people - Click here. This site is a work in progress and is being updated and fact checked. This site is a work in progress if you see mistakes or ommisions please feel free to submit content.

African Kings African Kings African Kings


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Primary language: Amharic (Afro-Asiatic{Semitic})
Population: 19 Million
Religion: Christianity(81%), Islam (18.1%)
Ethnologue Code: AMH
Related groups: Tigray


The Amhara are the politically and culturally dominant 'super-ethnic' group of Ethiopia. They are located primarily in the central highland plateau of Ethiopia and comprise the major population element in the provinces of Begemder and Gojjam and in parts of Shoa and Wallo.

Amhara (አማራ) is an ethnic group in the central highlands of Ethiopia, numbering about 19 million, making up 30.2% of the country's population according to the most recent 1994 census. They speak Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and culturally and politically dominant. Christianity, with the Ethiopian Orthodox

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RELIGION: Church playing a central role in the culture of the country and of the Amharic ethnic group. According to the 1994 census, 81.5% of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia were Ethiopian Orthodox, with 18.1% being Muslim, and 0.1% being Protestant. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church maintains close links with the Egyptian Coptic Church. Timkut, Meskel(commemorating the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Eleni in the fourth century), Genet (Xmas 7th Jan), Easter and Epiphany are the most important celebrations, marked with services, feasting and dancing. Most holidays are unique to Ethiopia.

LANGUAGE: Amhara (አማርኛ āmariññā) It is the second most spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic. As well as the 2nd largest of the Afro-Asiatic languages (again after Arabic). Amharic has 27 million speakers as a first language, between 7-15 million more as a second language. It is written, with some adaptations, with the Ge'ez alphabet— called, in Ethiopian Semitic languages, ፊደል fidel ('alphabet,' 'letter,' or 'character') and አቡጊዳ abugida

The mother and child remain in the house, for forty days after birth of a boy, eighty for a girl, before going to the church for baptism. A priest usually attends the house to perform circumsissions (male child) as well as blessings. Marriages conducted in a church are not subject to divorce. Weddings celebrations are held by both households called መልስ Mels. Some time in the late middle ages, the Amharic and Tigrinya languages began to be differentiated. Amhara warlords often competed for dominance of the realm with Tigrayan warlords. While mkbv.any branches of the Imperial dynasty were from the Amharic speaking area, a substantial amount were from Tigray. The Amharas seemed to gain the upper hand with the accession of the so-called Gondar line of the Imperial dynasty in the beginning of the 17th century. However, it soon lapsed into the semi-anarchic era of Zemene Mesafint ("Era of the Princes"), in which rivalling warlords fought for power and the Yejju Oromo inderases (or regents) had effective control, while emperors were just as figureheads.

The Tigrayans only made a brief return to the throne in the person of Yohannes IV, whose death in 1889 allowed the base to return to the Amharic speaking province of Shewa. Historians generally consider the Amhara to have been Ethiopia's ruling elite for centuries, represented by the line of Emperors ending in Haile Selassie. One possible source of confusion for this stems from the mislabeling of all Amharic-speakers as "Amhara", and the fact that many people from other ethnic groups have Amharic names. Another is the fact that most Ethiopians can trace their ancestry to multiple ethnic groups. In fact, the last Emperor, Haile Selassie I, often counted himself a member of the Gurage ethnic group on account of his ancestry, and his Empress, Itege Menen Asfaw of Ambassel, was in large part of Oromo descent. The expanded use of Amharic language results mostly from its being the language of the court, and was gradually adopted out of usefulness by many unrelated groups, who then became known as "Amhara" no matter what their ethnic origin. (multi-ethnicity who identify as Amhara, just like Zulu people)


See African Marriage Rituals





copyright Halaqah The Afar people live primarily in Ethiopia and the areas of Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. They are know for their hostility to foreigners and for the notorious ritual of taken male genitalia as trophies. The Afar are an Muslim people related to the Oromo people.


copyright Halaqah Ashanti (people) or Asante, African people of the Twi (Tshi) linguistic stock, living principally in the Ashanti region of Ghana. The Ashanti people are composed of numerous tribes, notably the Dwaben, Mampon, Ofinsu, Nkwanta, Adansi, Daniassi, Nsuta, and Kumasi. Features of Ashanti tribal organization include ruling chieftains and common ownership of land. Ashanti religion is a mixture of animism and ancestor worship, and in the past human sacrifice was practiced. Renowned as warriors and as artisans—especially in cotton weaving, pottery making, and the manufacture of gold and silver ornaments—the Ashanti also are skillful farmers.

The Anlo-Ewe people are today in the southeastern corner of the Republic of Ghana. They settled here around 1474 after escaping from their past home of Notsie.


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Bantu People (Zulu, Shona, etc)

copyright Halaqah The Bantu first originated around the Benue-Cross rivers area in southeastern Nigeria and spread over Africa to the Zambia area. Sometime in the second millennium BC, perhaps triggered by the drying of the Sahara and pressure from the migration of people from the Sahara into the region, they were forced to expand into the rainforests of central Africa (phase I). In the 1st millennium BC, they began a more rapid second phase of expansion beyond the forests into southern and eastern Africa, and again in the 1st millennium AD as new agricultural techniques and plants were developed in Zambia.

By about AD 1000 it had reached modern day Zimbabwe and South Africa. In Zimbabwe a major southern hemisphere empire was established, with its capital at Great Zimbabwe.


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Primary language: Beja, Arabic

Sudan, Eritrea,

The Beja are nomadic people that live mainly in the Red Sea Hills of the Sudan. This mountainous, semi-desert region lies parallel to the Red Sea coast from southeastern Egypt through northeastern Sudan into Eritrea.

The Beja roam these mountains between the Red Sea and the Nile and Atbara rivers and also the plains that slope down westwards to the Nile river valley. They are a non-Arab, Hamitic people, numbering 1.8 million, who call themselves Bedawiyet and speak a Cushitic language called To-Bedawiye. Most Beja speak some Arabic as a second language, and in the south some of them speak Tigre.

There are five main Beja groups - the Hadendowa, the Bisharin, the Amar'ar, the Bani-Amir and the 'Ababda. Each group is subdivided into tribes and clans within the tribe. The Hadendowa developed into a tribal group around 1600 and are the largest and most important Beja group today. They live between the Atbara River and the Red Sea, reaching as far south as the Eritrean border. Traditionally they were camel breeders and caravan guides. Some of them are now settled farmers growing cotton and other crops in the Gash and Baraka River deltas near Kassala. The Bisharin emerged as a distinct tribal group sometime between 1000 and 1400 AD claiming an Arab ancestor called Bishar ibn-Marwan ibn-Ishaq ibn-Rabi'a. They have the largest territory of all Beja groups, stretching north of the Atbara-Port-Sudan railway line into Egypt. Most are still camel breeders, but some have settled as farmers near the Atbara River. The Ammar'ar developed into a tribal group around 1750. They live on the eastern slopes of the Red Sea Hills and in the coastal plain north of Port-Sudan (Gunob), and are still mainly nomads though many work as dock hands in the Port-Sudan harbour. The Beni-'Amir (also called Khasa) are mainly Tigre speaking Beja with some To-Bedawiye speaking sections living amongst them. They live on both sides of the Sudan-Eritrea border and have been Muslim for only about two centuries. Traditionally camel owners, some herd cattle and others are farmers. They are the only Beja to have a caste system, being divided into nobles called Nabtabs who claim Arab descent, and serfs or clients called Tigre.

Baka People

A people of hunters and gatherers, Baka 'Pygmies' live in the rainforest of Cameroon, together with various ethnic groups of bantu farmers, with whom they exchange goods and have a symbiotic relationship from time immemorial.

Like the other groups of African 'Pygmies' (BaKola, Aka, BaBongo, BaMbuti, etc.), the Baka are traditionally nomadic, even though they are undergoing a process of sedentariness under the influence of multiple factors. The first of these factors is massive deforestation, which deprives the Pygmies of the natural and symbolic resources essential for their biological and cultural survival. They are also persecuted by Bantu people and often viewed as 2nd class citizens.


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Dinka People

Dinka, indigenous people of the Republic of Sudan in Africa, one of the largest indigenous groups in the south of the country. Since about the 10th century they have inhabited an area along both sides of the White Nile. Dinka people typically are tall and slim, have very dark skin, and almond-shaped eyes. Male Dinka between the ages of 10 and 16 have their foreheads marked with scarification (see Tattooing) during an initiation ceremony into their particular group. The Dinka speak five Dinka languages from the Eastern Sudanic branch of the Nilo-Saharan family. A pastoral people, they raise herds of cattle, sheep, and goats for their livelihood. Cattle are extremely important to the Dinka culture and a symbol of wealth; milk in many forms is hence a primary food. However, the long-running civil war in Sudan has resulted in much-reduced herds and consequential changes in some of their cultural practices.

The traditional Dinka religion is a form of polytheistic animism, but some Christianity is practised. The religion is dominated by the god Nhialic (Sky), who speaks through spirits that take possession of individuals. The sacrifice of oxen, carried out by leaders known as the Spear-Masters, is an important aspect of the faith. The Spear-Masters guide the destiny of the people.
The Dinkas social system is headed by chiefs who also serve as priests and peacemakers. Currently, about 500,000 Dinka live in Sudan. Famous Dinka include Alek Wek.

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Primary language: Fulfulde (90% speakers)
Second language: Hausa
Third language: Tamajaq

People Name: Fulani
Primary Language: Fulfulde
Ethnologue Code: FUE
Dialects: Kano-Katsina-Bororro (Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria), Bagirmi, Sokoto The Fulani people of West Africa are the largest nomadic group in the world.

Total People: 15 million Fulani with 100,000 Wodaabe
Urban Percent: 10% Fulani
Countries: Niger 1 million; Mali 1 million; Cameroon 700,000; Burkina Faso 500,000; Benin 230,000; Sudan 100,000; Togo 50,000; Central African Republic 25,000; Ghana 5,000; Nigeria 11 million. (Wodaabe: more than 40,000 in Niger and about 25,000 in Chad).

As a people group they actually contain a large number of people from diverse groups who were conquered and became a part of the Fulani through the spread of Muslim. The Fulani were able to take over much of West Africa and establish themselves not only as a religious force but also as a political and economical force. The Fulani are a very proud people, they are the missionaries of Islam and ended up conquering much of West Africa. The Fulani are primarily nomadic herders and traders. Through their nomadic lifestyle, they established numerous trade routes in West Africa. Many times the Fulani go to local marketers and interact with the people there getting news and spreading it through much of West Africa.

Fulani have a huge respect for beauty. Beauty is considered very important and one of the ways this is shown is through tattoos that are put all over the body. A distinguishing feature of a Fulani can be their lips, which are many times a blackish color from the use of Henna or tattooing done on the mouth.
Ethiopian Christianity Art
Being brave and fearless are very important for the Fulani as is seen by their numerous weapons. One tradition is that when 2 boys reach coming of age they two boys hit each other with their staffs not showing any pain but instead laughing. Many have died in these ceremonies which are now against the law in many countries but continue to be practiced.
Ethiopian Christianity Art

The Fulani normally raise large amounts of cattle and have therefore settled in large plain areas of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The Fulani hold to a strict caste system. The 4 caste subdivisions are the nobility, merchants, blacksmiths, and descendents of slaves of wealthy Fulani.

The most important object in Fulani society is cattle, and there are many names, traditions, and taboos concerning cattle. The number of cows a person owns is a sign of his wealth. This has caused significant conflict in recent months between the Fulani and other ethnic groups. The reason for this is that the cows will many times go into the fields and eat the grain of local farmers. With increasing numbers of other transportation being used the Fulani are at risk of losing their identity as nomads and are being forced to settle in farms and villages. This sometimes creates other problems, because the Fulani are very proud people of their unique culture and used to ruling over the other people.

Income: GDP US$280 (1991)
Occupations: While the men herd the cattle walking, the women ride with all their household belongings on the backs of donkeys. As well as fine cattle with huge horns, the Fulani have long legged sheep which have white hindquarters and black front half. The activities of the men vary with the seasons. They can have their brothers or sons replace them to take care of the cows. The women milk the cows, pound the millet, take care of the fire and look after the children.
Income sources: Cows (milk, meat, skins), traditional medicine. Some women earn money by braiding hair. Products: Curdled milk, butter.
Handcrafts: Beautifully decorated calabashes. Art forms: They are largely illiterate, but their culture abounds in rich proverbs, fables, myths and riddles, which subtly reflect the basic views and values.

Living Conditions/Community Development Status
Food: Their food is milk and very little else in the bush. They might also eat millet and tapioca. During feasts they will eat some meat and maybe some beans. No vegetables are eaten, in general. A problem is that the little money they have available for food is spent on tea instead of on nutritious food. Clothing: The man wears a tanned sheepskin around his hips, over this a black tunic. He also wears a turban. The married women do not cover their breasts for the 2 years after they have their first child. The young girls wrap a long piece of material around, made of woven strips sown together.



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Photo Courtesy of www.underthissun.com The Hadzabe are a small groups of Hadzabe live around Lake Eyasi. Their language resembles the click languages of Khoisan further south in the Kalahari. Their small population was seriously threatened, in particular during the period when Julius Nyere tried to introduce his Ujuma policy.


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Population: 23,700. Ethiopia
Language: Hamer-Banna. 42,838 Hammer language speakers
Neighboring Peoples: Banna.
History: They belong to a group of culturally distinct people known as the Sidamo.
Economy: Most of the Hamer are cattle breeders.

Religion: 95% Sunni Muslim

Religion: The Hamer-Banna are 95% Sunni Muslim. They observe the five basic teachings of Muslim, which include acknowledging that Allah is the only god, praying, fasting, giving alms to the poor, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. However, many elements of their traditional religion are still practiced. For instance, they believe that natural objects (rocks, trees, etc.) have spirits. They also believe in jinns, or spiritsthat are capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over people.

Social System: The Hamer live in camps that consist of several related families. The families live in tents arranged in a circle, and the cattleare brought into the center of the camp at night. When the campsite is being set up, beds for the women and young children are built first; then the tent frame is built around it. The tents are constructed with flexible poles set in the ground in a circular pattern. The poles are bent upward, joining at the top, then tied. The structures are covered with thatch during the dry season and canvas mats during the rainy season. Men and boys usually sleep on cots in the center of the camp, near the cattle. Herds belonging to the Hamer-Banna consist mainly of cattle, although there are some sheep and goats. Camels are used for riding and as pack animals.

Most Hamer-Banna plant fields of sorghum at the beginning of the rainy season before leaving on their annual nomadic journey. Some households also plant sesame and beans. Because the crops are usually leftunattended, the yields are low. Few households grow enough grain to last through the year.

One striking characteristic of the Hamer-Banna men and women is that they indulge in elaborate hair-dressing. They wear a clay "cap" that is painted and decorated with feathers and other ornaments. Much time is spent inpreparing the hair, and care must be taken to protect it from damage. This is one reason the men often sleep on small, cushioned stools. The women use the butter for the perfect look manteinance of their hair-dressing. A well-dressed man will wear a toga-like cloth and carry a spear and a stool. Women also commonly wear colorful toga-like garments. Men may marry as many women as they like, but only within their own ethnicity. A "bride price" of cattle and other goods is provided by the prospectivehusband and his near relatives. A typical household consists of a woman, her children, and a male protector. A man may be the protector of more than one household, depending on the number of wives he has.


The maza are also responsible for a ritual whipping which precedes the main cattle jump. The village's women purposefully provoke the maza into lashing their bare backs with sticks which inflict raw, open wounds and scar them for life. However, these wounds are seen as the mark of a true Hamar woman, and the pain is worn with honor. Because the sister or relative was whipped at the man's ceremony and endured the pain for him she can later in life look to him for help if she falls on hard times because she has the scars from the whipping she received for him to prove his debt to her.

Women commonly end up as the heads of families because they marry men who are much older than themselves while they are young. When her husband dies she is left in control of the family's affairs and livestock. She is also in control of his younger brothers and their livestock if their parents are dead. Widows may not re-marry. Also, men are sometimes assigned the responsibility of protecting a divorced woman, a widow, or the wife of an absent husband (usually his brother). Marriage celebrations include feasting and dancing. Young girls as well as boys are circumcised.



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Population: 10-15 Million
language: Nigeria, Niger, and other parts of eastern West Africa, belonging to the Chadic branch of Afro-Asiatic. 25 million.40 million.

Religion: 100% Sunni Muslim

Originally organized into a group of feudal city-states, the Hausa were conquered from the 14th century on by a succession of West African kingdoms—among them, Mali, Songhai, Bornu, and Fulani. The Hausa occasionally attained enough power and unity, however, to throw off foreign domination and to engage in local conquest and slave raiding themselves. In the opening years of the 20th century, with the Hausa on the verge of overthrowing the Fulani, the British invaded northern Nigeria and instituted their policy of indirect rule. Under the British the Fulani were supported in their political supremacy, and the Hausa—Fulani ruling coalition, still dominant in northern Nigeria, was confirmed.

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The beginnings of this coalition were, however, much earlier, because the Fulani governed simply by assuming the highest hereditary positions in the well-organized Hausa political system. Many of the ruling Fulani have now become culturally and linguistically Hausa. Hausa culture manifests a greater degree of specialization and diversification than that of most of the surrounding peoples. Subsistence agriculture is the primary occupation of most, but other skills such as tanning, dyeing, weaving, and metalworking are also highly developed.

The Hausa have long been famous for wide-ranging itinerant trading, and wealthy merchants share the highest social positions with the politically powerful and the highly educated. Hausa architecture is distinctive: houses are made from cone-shaped mud bricks with wooden beams (from palm trunks) for the roof. They often have a dome-shaped room constructed from wooden frames that form arches and are then covered in mud.

The Hausa language is the largest and best-known member of the Chadic subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages. Hausa has borrowed freely from other languages, especially Arabic, and is adapting well to the demands of contemporary cultural change. It has become a common language for millions of non-Hausa West Africans, and sizeable Hausa-speaking communities exist in each major city of West and North Africa as well as along the trans-Saharan trade and pilgrimage routes. Extensive literature and several periodicals in Romanized script have been produced since the beginning of British rule. An Arabic-based writing system (ajami), developed before the British conquest, is still in limited use. Indigenous Hausa names are rare. Babies are named one week after birth.



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The Igbo of southeastern Nigeria traditionally live in small, independent villages, each with an elected council rather than a chief. Such democratic institutions notwithstanding, Igbo society is highly stratified along lines of wealth, achievement, and social rank. Overcrowding and degraded soil have forced many Igbo to migrate to nearby cities and other parts of Nigeria.




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Kanuri - Manga
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Region: Nigeria, southeast Niger, western Chad and northern Cameroon.

Language: Kanuri (Nilo-Saharan), Hausa, Arabic or Fulfulde - Varies by country
Third language: French

Region: Islam

Population Total People: 4 million (estimate)

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The Kanuri were Initially Pastoral Berber, the Kanuri were driven from North Africa by Arabs, moving to the area around Lake Chad in the late seventh century, and absorbed migrants from the Upper Nile. According to Kanuri tradition, Sef, son of Dhu Ifazan of Yemen, arrived in Kanem in the ninth century and united the population into the Sayfawa dynasty. The Kanuri are tall and very dark in appearance, with a stately, dignified look. This signifies their pride and appreciation for their past as rulers, as well as their present position of leadership and influence. Many Kanuri speak Hausa, Arabic, or another area language in addition to Kanuri.

HISTORY: The Kanuri began losing power in this region when the British took control in 1914. Nevertheless, they have remained politically active and still have much influence on the surrounding people groups. In fact, aspects of Kanuri culture, language, and religion have been adopted by many of the neighboring groups.


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Khoisan (increasingly commonly spelled Khoesan or Khoe-San) is the name for two of the oldest ethnic groups of southern Africa and thus the entire human race. From the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period, hunting and gathering cultures known as the Sangoan occupied southern Africa in areas. Both the  San and Khoikhoi (men of men) people resemble the ancient Sangoan skeletal remains.

Both share physical and linguistic characteristics, and it seems clear that the Khoi branched forth from the San by adopting the practice of herding cattle and goats from neighbouring Bantu groups. The Khoisan people were the original inhabitants of much of southern Africa before the southward Bantu migrations (starting 1000 B.C.E)—coming down the east and west coasts of Africa—and later European colonialism who called them ‘Bushmen’ and Hottentots, the later is considered obsolete and offensive, while Bushmen (a pejorative Colonial impression of these people) is diminishing in use. More commonly called San ( although this can be interpreted as derogatory as it is a word from the Khoikhoi to refer to the so-called San, just as Amhara call Beta-Israeli people Falasha (foreigner) and hence the word is un-academic)

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The Khoisan languages are noted for their click consonants. Which have no alphabetical equivalent in any script. Over the centuries the many branches of the Khoisan peoples were absorbed or displaced by the ‘colonial’  Bantu who were migrating south in search of new lands, most notably the Xhosa and Zulu, who both have adopted some Khoisan clicks and loan words into their respective languages.

The Khoisan survived in the desert or in areas with winter rains which were not suitable for Bantu crops.

During the colonial era they lived in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, and were massacred in great numbers by Dutch, British, and German settlers in acts of genocide (e.g. the Herero and Namaqua Genocide).  They contributed greatly to the ancestry of South Africa's coloured population. Today many of the San live in parts of the Kalahari Desert where they are better able to preserve much of their cherished culture.

Genetically their  Y-haplogroup A, the most diverse or oldest-diverging Y haplogroup transmitted purely by patrilineal descent, is today present in various Khoisan groups at frequencies of 12-44%, and the other Y-haplogroups present have been formed by recent admixture of Bantu male lineages E3a (18-54%), and in some groups, noticeable Pygmy traces are visible (B2b). The Khoisan also show the largest genetic diversity in matrilineally transmitted mtDNA of all human populations. Their original mtDNA haplogroups L1d and L1k are one of the oldest-diverging female lineages as well. However, analysis of neutral autosomal (inherited through either parent) genes finds that the Khoisan are similar to other African populations.

The presence of Haplogroup A, especially the subclade A3b2, in East Africa suggests some ancient connection between those populations and the Khoisan. This may not be a simple migration in one direction, but the result of various movements of people in Eastern and Southern Africa over tens of thousands of years, followed by the recent Bantu expansion separating the two regions.One interpretation is that the Khoisan are the earliest-diverging human group, or even a group that has preserved the original human lifestyle along with genetics.

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The Lemba are members of an ancient Jewish sect who live in modern day Zimbabwe. Many of their cultural practice are of Jewish origin. Genetically they have more 'Jewish' DNA than most Israelis today.The name "Lemba" may originate in chilemba, a Swahili word for turbans worn by East Africans or lembi a Bantu word meaning "non-African" or "respected foreigner." According to some Lemba, they had male ancestors who were Jews who left Judea about 2,500 years ago and settled in a place called Senna (Yemen), later migrating into East Africa.


Many Lemba beliefs and practices can be linked to Judaism:

  • They are monotheists (they call their creator God Nwali).
  • They hold one day of the week to be holy and praise Nwali (similar to the Jewish Shabbat).
  • They praise Nwali for looking after the Lemba, considering themselves a chosen people.
  • They teach their children to honor their mothers and fathers.
  • They refrain from eating pork or other foods forbidden by the Torah, or forbidden combinations of permitted foods.
  • Their form of animal slaughter, which makes meats fit for their consumption, resembles Jewish shechita.
  • They practise male circumcision; (furthermore, according to Junod, surrounding tribes regarded them as the masters and originators of that art).
  • They place a Star of David on their tombstones.
  • Lembas are discouraged from marrying non-Lembas, as Jews are discouraged from marrying non-Jews.




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The Masai are members of the Nilotic tribal group along with the Samburu. The Masai are a well known colorful people who are mainly cattle and goat herders. They like to adorn themselves with colorful cloth and beads. Wealth is measured in cattle. The traditional villages surround a central area. The young males go through a period of warriorhood before they marry.

Men generally make the tribal decisions and care for the cattle. The women build the houses and talke care of the home. More and more villages are becoming less traditional. This can be seen by flat metal roofs instead of thatching, all wooden houses and even farm plots. Growing food is frowned upon by traditional Masai. There are even some homes with satellite dishes. In villages near lodges, income is supplemented by posing for photos, selling used spears or performing tradtional dances.

Each family marks its cattle with a unique brand and ear slits to identify them. The Masai live in small clusters of huts (called kraals or bomas ) made of sticks sealed together with cow dung; these kraals also include enclosures for the cattle. Masai males are rigidly separated into five age groups: child, junior warrior, senior warrior, junior elder, and senior elder. Both boys and girls undergo circumcision ceremonies, which initiate them into adulthood. Marriages are often arranged, and polygamy is practiced. The Masai believe in a supreme god, Engai, who blesses them with children and cattle.

Prior to European colonialism of Africa, the Masai herded their cattle freely across the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. They first encountered Europeans in the 1840s. During the 1880s and 1890s, the Masai experienced severe droughts, famine, and disease, including smallpox, which was due to European contact. The Masai cattle herds were decimated by rinderpest, a highly infectious febrile disease. The weakened Masai fought against the encroachment of the Europeans but were defeated. The Europeans wanted farmland, and acquired large portions of Masai land in the treaties of 1904, 1911, and 1912, which confined the nomadic Masai to reserves and gave the Europeans fertile land. Today the Masai, who number approximately 250,000, live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Despite government efforts to settle them, most are still nomadic.



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Region: Southern Ethiopia

Language: Mursi Mursi (or Murzu)

Population: 6-10,000.

The Mursi (or Murzu) are an African nomadic cattle herder ethnicity located in the Omo valley in southwestern Ethiopia close to the Sudanese border. The estimated population of the Mursi is around 3900. Surrounded by mountains and three rivers, the home of the Mursi is one of the most isolated region of the country. Their neighbors include the Bodi, the Aari, the Banna, the Kara, the Bumi and the Chai.

The Mursi have their own language, also called Mursi. Few are familiar with Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and their literacy level is very low. The religion of the Mursi ethnicity is classified as Animism, although about 15% are Christians. The Mursi women are famous of wearing plates in their lower lips. The reason of this "ornament" is for avoiding to be catched as slaves. These lip discs are made of clay. Girls are pierced in the age of 15 or 16. They remove the plate when eating. Similar body ornaments are worn by the Suyá people, a Brazilian ethnicity.

The Mursi and Bodi live in the valley of the River Omo. They grow crops (mainly sorghum) using both rain and the retreating floodwaters of the river. They depend heavily on cattle herding. Men compose songs to their favourite ox or cow. The Konso number about 200,000 and live in the mountains south of Lake Chamo. They farm using a system of terraces, on which they grow cotton and other plants. They weave the cotton into cloth which is exported to other parts of Ethiopia.

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The Mursi are survivors whose isolated geographic location, combined with the crises of drought, famine, war, migration, and epidemic diseases has shaped their identity. Cattle raids and civil instability between bordering ethnic groups is merely a means of survival. Every aspect of daily life revolves around cattle and crops, which set the economic standard among the Mursi. When they trade in the market, crops and cattle are exchanged as money. When a young Mursi girl reaches the age of 15 or 16, her lower lip is pierced so she can wear a lip plate. The larger the lip plate she can tolerate, the more cattle her bride price will bring for her father.

As one of the most remote people groups in Ethiopia, the Mursi have remained relatively autonomous from the Ethiopian government. They alternate between peaceful and hostile relations with their neighbors, the Bodi and the Banna.The Mursi are in danger of displacement and denial of access to grazing and agricultural land, by African Parks Foundation. It is claimed that the Mursi were coerced into signing documents they could not read by government park officials. In 2005 463 homes were burned down by the Ethiopian Government in Nech Sar National Park Ethiopia after African Parks Foundation signed an agreement with the government.



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Nubian/Ancient Egyptian


Language: Nubian and Arabic

Region: Sudan and Egypt

Related groups: Ancient Egyptians

Religion: Islam

The "Nubians" are those who either presently speak dialects of the Nubian language, or who trace their descent from these people. The Egyptian Nubians are called Kanuz; the northern Sudanese Nubians from the Second Cataract to the Third are called Mahas; and those in the south, in the vicinity of Dongola, Sudan, are called Danagla. Before the spread of Muslim into the Sudan, about the fifteenth century, Nubian-speaking peoples occupied a much larger area, including the land southwards up the Blue Nile. Their descendants live there still, but today they speak only Arabic.

Ancient Nubia, like modern Sudan, was a land of many different peoples who identified themselves primarily by ethnic group and probably spoke many different languages. We now refer to them all as "Nubians" but they were not all the same, nor were they unified.

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In Egypt the Nile, by its unobstructed flow from Aswan to the Mediterranean, formed a convenient water highway which at the dawn of history (about 3200 BC) tended to unify the Egyptians by language and culture; this early worked to break down tribal distinctions. In Nubia, however, the Nile had so many treacherous rapids ("cataracts") and so many long desolate stretches poorly suited to settled life that the peoples unified into smaller groups. This encouraged the growth of tribes, and, thus, many smaller independent cultures and political units were formed. Only with the emergence of the strong state in the third millennium BC could some of these tribes be brought together by force.

The oversimplified concept of race ("black" and "white") is challenged along the Nile Valley, for nowhere is there a clear transition from one to the other. In America some people use these terms passionately to identify their own cultural or ethnic allegiances within our own society.

In the first half of the twentieth century, most European and American scholars identified the Egyptians as "white" and primarily "Near Eastern" in order to remove them from the African cultural sphere and to serve their ignorant and bigoted views that high civilization could only have been created by non-Africans. In the latter twentieth century, Afrocentric scholars indignantly challenged this model, asserting the "blackness" and "African-ness" of the Egyptians. In each case the aim of these scholars was to claim "ownership" of the Egyptians for their own "race" within the context of the modern, primarily American racial debate. In fact, the Egyptians are certainly Africans, but they are neither "white" in the European sense nor "black" in the Congo-African sense. It can be argued that they were like the modern Ethiopians or Somali people with straight to curly hair and narrow bone structure.

So from a modern racial context they would sit in the African world just as Ethiopians, Sudanese, Fulani and Somalis do today. The Egyptians really possessed a wide range of skin color and many differing physical characteristics, as did the ancient Nubians. But as time progressed an Egypt mixed more with outsiders with the final influx of modern Arabs the racial texture of Egypt became more complex with a higher percentage of “white skinned Arabs.” (As seen in lower Egypt today (North Egypt).

Northern Egypt, being linked to Asia, also saw from very early times an influx of lighter-skinned, non-African peoples, who settled there, intermingled with the local people or drove them out. From Egyptian history we have clear evidence that northern Egypt was periodically settled by peoples of non-African origin, who invaded from the north or east. For example, during the Second Intermediate period (ca. 1700-1580 BC), all of northern Egypt and much of the eastern Mediterranean and coastal Palestine (modern Israel) was under the control of the so-called Hyksos kings. The word "Hyksos" comes from an Egyptian word meaning "rulers from foreign lands." These people were of Near Eastern origin and maintained their capital Avaris in the Nile Delta. Recent excavations at Avaris (modern Tell ed-Daba'a), have even revealed remains of a palace decorated in the style of those on Crete! This has suggested to the excavator, Dr. Manfred Bietak of the University of Vienna, the strong presence there of Minoan (Cretan) royalty. This palace appears to date to the period soon after the Egyptian king Ahmose drove the Hyksos into Palestine about 1550 BC. It is thought possibly to have belonged to a Minoan princess sent to marry the Egyptian king. Obviously she and her servants from Crete would have been very light-skinned. On the other hand, there were also certainly black-skinned people in the Delta at the same time. Nubian pottery has been found in one area of Tell ed-Daba'a, which strongly suggests that Nubian troops were also living there in large numbers. Dark African people were probably also living on Crete and mainland Greece at the same time, for at Pylos in Greece black-skinned warriors wearing contemporary Cretan and Mycenaean Greek armor are depicted in the palace frescoes, suggesting that African troops were being used not only by the Egyptian king but also by his European counterparts across the sea.


Ndebele (Matabele)

Ndebele are a branch of 500 Zulus who split from King Shaka in the early 1820s under the leadership of Mzilikazi, a former general in Shaka's army. They founded a settlement near modern day Bulawayo where the made contact with the Tswana people who called these Zulus the name "Matabele". Tabele comes from tebela which means 'to chase away' The Ndebele were generally viewed by the Shona as unwanted raiders.

They have a very vibrant art motif which is used in their houses and in their garments.




The Nuer are highly dependent on their environment. They are pre-eminently pastoral, though they grow more millet and maize than is commonly supposed. Some ethnicitys cultivate more and some less, according to conditions of soil and surface water and their wealth in cattle, but all alike regard horticulture as toil forced on them by poverty of stock, for at heart they are herds-men, and the only labour in which they delight is care of cattle.

They not only depend on cattle for many of life’s necessities but they have the herdsman’s outlook on the world. Cattle are their dearest possession and they gladly risk their lives to defend their herds or to pillage those of their neighbours. Most of their social activities concern cattle and cherchez la vache is the best advice that can be given to those who desire to understand Nuer behaviour.

The attitude of Nuer towards, and their relations with, neighbouring peoples are influenced by their love of cattle and their desire to acquire them. They have profound contempt for peoples with few or no cattle, like the Anuak, while their wars against Dinka ethnicitys have been directed to seizure of cattle and control of pastures. Each Nuer ethnicity and tribal section has its own pastures and water-supplies, and political fission is closely related to distribution of these natural resources, ownership of which is generally expressed in terms of clans and lineages.

Disputes between sections are very often about cattle, and cattle are the compensation for loss of life and limb that is so frequently their outcome. Leopard-skin chiefs and prophets are arbiters in questions in which cattle are the issue, or ritual agents in situations demanding sacrifice of ox or ram. Another ritual specialist is the wut ghok, the Man of the Cattle. Likewise, in speaking of age-sets and age-grades we find ourselves describing the relations of men to their cattle, for the change from boyhood to manhood is most clearly marked by a corresponding change in those relations at initiation.


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Arsi Oromo Lady

Language: Oromiyah (Afaan Oromo): Cushitic linguistic group

Population: 30 million (Ethiopia, Kenya)

Related: Sidama, Hadiya, Kambata, Afar, Ogadni

The largest Ethnic group in Ethiopia. Traditionally they migrated into modern day Ethiopia and from the South Settled and they started to integrate with their Amharic-speaking neighbors at least from the 17th century on. They speak an Afro-Asiatic language know as Afan Oromo. Most Oromo live in agricultural settlements, cultivating crops including wheat, barley, and coffee, and farming livestock, although some work in mines as there are gold, silver, and minerals to be found in Oromia. Historically they have meet with oppression at the hands of the Amhara group.

Monogamy is generally the rule, but in some areas polygamy is practiced, the number of wives being dependent upon the economic status of the husband. Polygamy is more common among the Muslim Oromo.

irecha (Ireecha ) Festival:2007
47,5% are Muslim, 30,5% Orthodox Christians,17,7% Protestants, but a minority follow the traditional Oromo religion. Reecha is an Oromo ritual which is celebrated at Bishoftu in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.

Few Ethiopian traditional celebrations are as shrouded in mystery and color as Eretcha - the  premier Oromo cultural celebration that marks the end of the rainy season in the Ethiopian highlands. A mixture of the Oromo traditional monotheist religion of Waqaa and in occasions elements of the Ethiopian orthodox church, Ireecha is celebrated every year towards the end of the month of September. Lake Hora in Debre Zeit is the most widely respected location of this celebration even though Eretcha is celebrated through out the country at different locations. 

The ritual is performed over a 1 month period where a scared tree is anointed with gifts of food (kebe [butter], rice, etc). Followers and observers of this Oromo religion may also be Muslim and Christian and the religion is viewed as a culture more than a religion.Tradition has it that the Oromo people of Ethiopia annually give praise to the creator for the most valuable commodity on the Ethiopian highlands - water .

Putting grass and green leaves below the great Oak tree, the traditional coffee ceremony, a warrior , beautiful Oromo girls in the Arsi leather outfits, more Oromo girls carrying Adey Abeba, Lake Hora, young men dancing towards the end of the celebrations, the great Oak tree that has stood for many many years.

Among the most significant of the many Oromo clans are the warlike Tulama group, consisting of about 35 peoples, with traditions of caste and slaveholding, and the Wallo, consisting of about 25 peoples. However, today it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine differences between clans, particularly because of intermarriage.


Until the 1970s, Afaan Oromo was written with either the Ge'ez script or the Latin alphabet Then during the early 1970s, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) chose the Latin alphabet as the official alphabet to write Afaan Oromo. Between 1974 and 1991 under the Mengistu regime the writing of Afaan Oromo in any script was forbidden, though limited usage of the Ge'ez script was allowed. On 3rd November 1991 the OLF convened a meeting of over 1,000 Oromo intellectuals to decide which alphabet to use to write Afaan Ormo. After a many hours of debate, they decided unanimously to adopt the Latin alphabet. How a European script could be used over a related African script speaks to the dangers of so-called liberation when those liberating forces are ignorant of the broader issues.

Unfortunately many Ormo have stopped using the indigenous African Ge'ez script after 1991 and began formally writing Oromoia in a latin format called called Qubee. Words are subsequently excessively long to accommodate for the inadequacies of latin. It is speculated that the motivation for the change was to create a distinctive cultural identify from the "semitic" groups who have historically suppressed their culture.

There was a modern script know as the Saphalo script which was in use around the time of the Italian invasion. Arabic is also common among Muslim communities.






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Somali Girl: copyright Halaqah Photo


LOCATION: Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, , and Kenya

RELIGION: Exclusively Muslim

Languages: Somali, Arabic, Swahili. Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic (formerly Hamito-Semitic) family


Somalis are a mono-ethnic nomadic people who traded with Arabia and Kemet (Ancient Kingdom of Punt). See Somalia Money and Civil War

Three great divisions of Somalis exist, roughly corresponding to the northern, central, and southern parts of the region, the Somalis demonstrate considerable cultural unity. The basis of Somali society is the rēr, or large, self-contained kinship group or clan, consisting of a number of families claiming common descent from a male ancestor. A Somali has obligations both to his rēr and to the loosely defined social unit of which his rēr is a part. Government of the rēr is markedly patriarchal, although the chief is chosen by a group of elders who counsel him.

Alternative Somali Dress

The Somalis are primarily nomadic herdsmen who, because of intense competition for scarce resources, have reputation for being aggressive and frequently involved in blood feuds or wars with neighbouring groups and peoples.

A second category of Somalis are the townspeople and agriculturists of the urban centres, especially along the coast of the Horn of Africa, where intense and prolonged intimacy with the Muslim tradition has rendered the culture highly organized and religiously orthodox and where geographic position has turned the townspeople into commercial middlemen between the Arab wor ld and the nomadic peoples of the interior.


Somali people have a rich and distinctive Islamic culture. A favorite pastime is the controversial chewing of chat(khat). Somali women wear very vibrant Muslim shawls and jilbabs. The musical traditions of Somalia are very similar to that of neighboring Ethiopia. Somali people are very passionate about poetry and food.

Somali Woman: copyright Halaqah Photo


Somalis for centuries have practiced a form of customary law, which they call Xeer. Xeer is a polycentric l gal system where there is no monopolistic agent that determines what the law should be or how it should be interpreted. A guurti (court) is traditionally formed beneath an acacia tree, where judges arbitrate a dispute until both parties are satisfied. This process can sometimes lead to several days' worth of discussions. The Xeer legal system is assumed to have developed exclusively in the Horn of Africa since approximately the 7th century. There is no evidence that it developed elsewhere or was greatly influenced by any foreign legal system. The fact that Somali legal terminology is practically devoid of loan words from foreign languages suggests that Xeer is truly indigenous

SHONA ( Karanga )

Shona Girl: copyright Halaqah Photo


LOCATION: Zimbabwe, Mozambique

RELIGION: Christian and African spritual

Languages: Shona, English, Portuguese

RELATED: Lemba, Ndebele

The Shona are a cluster of peoples who have lived for about 2,000 years in a region of the southern Africa Plateau. Shona speaking migrants of the late 1800s also live in Zambia, in the Zambezi valley, in Chieftainess Chiawa's area. The Shona are the builders of Great Zimbabwe. Which is the largest stone Structure of pre-colonial Africa south of the equator.

The word Zimbabwe literally means "stone dwelling" in the Shona language. Thus, Great Zimbabwe is appropriately named because it is indeed a great stone dwelling! The pictures below show parts of the ruins of Great Zimbabwe as they can be seen today by people who visit the country of Zimbabwe.

The Torwa State and Munhumutapa states which succeeded the Great Zimbabwe state as well as the Rozvi state which succeeded the Torwa State and with the Mutapa state existed into the 19th century. The states were based on Kingship with certain dynasties being royals. The Kingdoms were destroyed by new groups moving onto the plateau. The Ndebele destroyed the Rozvi state in the 1830's and the Portuguese slowly eroded the Mutapa State which had extended to the coast of Mozambique. The British destroyed the traditional power in the 1890 and colonised the plateau which the named Rhodesia. In Mozambique the Portuguese colonial government fought the remnants of the Mutapa state until 1902.




Nuer Woman

The Samburu are related to the Masai although they live just above the equator where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern desert and slightly south of Lake Turkana in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya.

They are semi-nomadic pastoralists whose lives revolve around their cows, sheep, goats, and camels. Milk is their main stay; sometimes it is mixed with blood. Meat is only eaten on special occasions. Generally they make soups from roots and barks and eat vegetables if living in an area where they can be grown.

Most dress in very traditional clothing of bright red material used like a skirt and multi-beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings, especially when living away from the big cities.

The Samburu developed from one of the later Nilotic migrations from the Sudan, as part of the Plains Nilotic movement. The broader grouping of the Maa-speaking people continued moving south, possibly under the pressure of the Borana expansion into their plains. Maa-speaking peoples have lived and fought from Mt. Elgon to Malindi and down the Rift Valley into Tanzania. The Samburu are in an early settlement area of the Maa group.

Those who moved on south, however (called Maasai), have retained a more purely nomadic lifestyle until recently when they have also begun farming. The expanding Turkana ran into the Samburu around 1700 when they began expanding north and east.

Nuer Woman

The language of the Samburu people is also called Samburu. It is a Maa language very close to the Maasai dialects. Linguists have debated the distinction between the Samburu and Maasai languages for decades.

Generally between five and ten families set up encampments for five weeks and then move on to new pastures. Adult men care for the grazing cattle which are the major source of livelihood. Women are in charge of maintaining the portable huts, milking cows, obtaining water and gathering firewood. Their houses are of plastered mud or hides and grass mats stretched over a frame of poles. A fence of thorns surrounds each family's cattle yard and huts.

The name they use for themselves is Lokop or Loikop, a term which may have a variety of meanings which Samburu themselves do not agree on. Many assert that it refers to them as "owners of the land" ("lo" refers to ownership, "nkop" is land) though others present a very different interpretation of the term. The Samburu speak the Samburu language.Their society has for long been so organized around cattle and warfare (for defense and for raiding others) that they find it hard to change to a more limited lifestyle. The purported benefits of modern life are often undesirable to the Samburu. They remain much more traditional in life and attitude than their Maasai cousins.

Duties of boys and girls are clearly delineated. Boys herd cattle and goats and learn to hunt, defending the flocks. Girls fetch water and wood and cook. Both boys and girls go through an initiation into adulthood, which involves training in adult responsibilities and circumcision for boys and clitoridectomy for girls.

Language:  The language of the Samburu people is also called Samburu. It is a Maa language very close to the Maasai dialects. Linguists have debated the distinction between the Samburu and Maasai languages for decades. 

In normal conversation one who speaks one of these languages can understand the other language 95 percent of the time. But a joint Bible translation was found to be ineffective to cover both groups. Preferred word usage and some grammatical difficulties required a separate translation for Samburu and Maasai. 

The Samburu tongue is also related to Turkana and Karamojong, and more distantly to Pokot and the Kalenjin languages.


The Chamus (Njemps) people speak the Samburu language and are often counted as Samburu people. They are reported to be 12% Christian, while the Samburu are considered as 8-9% Christian. The Ariaal group of Rendille have been greatly affected by the Samburu and now speak the Samburu language. The Ariaal number 102,000, making a total of 249,300 mother-tongue speakers of the Samburu language.

Swahili is used extensively, particularly among younger people. Swahili is the language of education and English is taught in schools. There is still a low level of literacy and education, however, among the Samburu.

Political Situation:  The Samburu have been in a somewhat defensive position with surrounding peoples moving around them. They have had clashes with some of the migrating or nomadic peoples. They have maintained a military and cultural alliance with the Rendille, largely in response to pressures from the expanding Oromo (Borana) since the 16th century. The Ariaal Rendille have even adopted the Samburu language. They do not have such an aggressive military character as the Maasai proper.

They were associated with the Laikipiak (Oloikop) Maasai, also called Kwavi, who followed a lifestyle with light agriculture. They have added camels to their culture, further differentiating them from the Maasai. In recent decades, they have had mostly peaceful relations with their neighbors, who include Maasai, Somali, Borana, Turkana and Gabbra as well as Rendille.

The Samburu got separated from the other Maa speakers due to the migration of Maasai farther south and of other ethnic various groups around them. The Samburu have been somewhat outside the stream of national politics also. They have had less development than some others in Kenya. 

Change is beginning to occur as group ranching schemes have developed and education has become available. Many Samburu warriors enlisted in the British forces during World War II. Likewise Samburu serve in the Kenya armed forces and police.

Customs:  Generally between five and ten families set up encampments for five weeks and then move on to new pastures. Adult men care for the grazing cattle which are the major source of livelihood. Women are in charge of maintaining the portable huts, milking cows, obtaining water and gathering firewood. Their houses are of plastered mud or hides and grass mats stretched over a frame of poles. A fence of thorns surrounds each family's cattle yard and huts.

Marriage is a unique series of elaborate ritual. Great importance is given to the preparation of gifts by the bridegroom (two goatskins, two copper earrings, a container for milk, a sheep) and of gifts for the ceremony. The marriage is concluded when a bull enters a hut guarded by the bride's mother, and is killed. 

Fertility is a very high value for the Samburu. A childless woman will be ridiculed, even by children. Samburu boys may throw cow dung against the hut of a woman thought to be sterile. A fertility ritual involves placing a mud figure in front of the woman's house. One week later, a feast will be given in which the husband invites neighbors to eat a slaughtered bull with him. As a little fat is spread over the woman's belly, they will say: "May God give you a child!"

Their society has for long been so organized around cattle and warfare (for defense and for raiding others) that they find it hard to change to a more limited lifestyle. The purported benefits of modern life are often undesirable to the Samburu. They remain much more traditional in life and attitude than their Maasai cousins.

Duties of boys and girls are clearly delineated. Boys herd cattle and goats and learn to hunt, defending the flocks. Girls fetch water and wood and cook. Both boys and girls go through an initiation into adulthood, which involves training in adult responsibilities and circumcision for boys and clitoridectomy for girls. 

Initiation is done in age grades of about five years, with the new "class" of boys becoming warriors, or morans. (il-murran). The moran status involves two stages, junior and senior. After serving five years as junior morans, the group go through a naming ceremony, becoming senior morans for six years. After these eleven years, the senior moran are free to marry and join the married men (junior elders).

Samburu are very independent and egalitarian. Community decisions are normally made by men (senior elders or both senior and junior elders but not morani), often under a tree designated as a "council" meeting site. Women may sit in an outer circle and usually will not speak directly in the open council, but may convey a comment or concern through a male relative. However, women may have their own "council" discussions and then carry the results of such discussions to men for consideration in the men's council.

The Samburu love to sing and dance, but traditionally used no instruments, even drums. They have dances for various occasions of life. The men dance jumping, and high jumping from a standing position is a great sport. Most dances involve the men and women dancing in their separate circles with particular moves for each sex, but coordinating the movements of the two groups.

Religion: The Samburu traditional religion is based on acknowledgment of the Creator God, whom they call Nkai, as do other Maa-speaking peoples. They think of him as living in the mountains around their land, such as Mount Marsabit. 


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Population:     6,000,000
Religion:  Christian (Primary); Islam (Secondary)

Registry of Peoples code
 Tigray-Tigrinya:  110050


Registry of Languages code (Ethnologue)
 Tigrinya:  tir


The Tigrinya (ti-GRIN-yuh) or Tigray (ti-GRAH-ee) people live in the southern highlands of Eritrea and the northern highlands of Ethiopia´s Tigray province. They also live in Ethiopia´s Gonder and Welo provinces. There are about 2 million in Eritrea and about 4 million in Ethiopia.

The term Tigray is used in Ethiopia for both the people and their province. Tigrinya is used in Eritrea for the same people, so-called from the language they speak. Differences in terminology and spelling have led to a different political identity of this people group on each side of the border dividing the group. Culturally they are one people group. The terms Tigray, Tigrinya or Tigray-Tigrinya apply to the total people group, unless otherwise indicated.

The history of the two countries--Ethiopia and Eritrea--is closely linked, although beginning in the late 1800s, Eritrea was colonized by Italy. Eritrea was an Italian colony until 1941, then the British controlled it until 1951. Following the British occupation, the United Nations made it a federated autonomous territory with Ethiopia, until Ethiopia decided to annex it as a province in 1962.

The Tigray-Tigrinya (also referred to as Tigrean) people are descendants of early Semitic peoples who originally settled in the Horn of Africa about 1000 BC. It seems they are related to or descended from the Sabaean (Sheban) people. According to their traditions they trace their roots to Menelik I, the child born of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon. It is thought that the Sabaean (Sheban) people began to settle on the west coast of the Red Sea, from their home in southern Arabia, about 1000 BC.

Menelik I was the first of the Solomonic line of rulers of Ethiopia that ended only with the deposing of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. By about 1500 BC their civilization became the Aksum Empire, based on a mixture of the early Sabaean culture and the prior Cushitic culture. The ruins of the ancient city of Aksum can still be seen in Tigray Province. Except for a few notable exceptions, the Amhara have been the dominant people group in Ethiopia history. The strength of their culture is shown in this influence though they number only 15 million of the estimated 53 million population of modern Ethiopia.

The Sabaeans are referred to in the Quran along with Christians and Jews as "People of the Book." The Tigray-Tigrinya were associated with the Amhara in the ancient kingdom of Abyssinia, called in the Tigrinya language Etiopia, the source of the modern name of Ethiopia. The area where they live in the mountains was the center of the ancient Cushite empire of Aksum . The name Abyssinia comes from an early name--Habash--of an early group of the Sabaean settlers who became the Tigrinya.

Nuer Woman

Like the rest of Ethiopia, the majority of the Tigray people are subsistence farmers. They are generally considered very beautiful people. Among Ethiopians, they are some of the most industrious and determined people. During the 1985 famine, when Ethiopia filled the American news and volunteers from Live Aid and Southern Baptist missionaries were feeding millions of people, it was a film about famine-stricken Tigray that raised international consciousness. Tigray received almost no aid. The government was trying to break the will of the independent Tigray, so they kept aid workers out of the region.


TUAREG (Kel Tamahaq - Kel Tamasheq - Kel Ajjer)

Tuareg Man

LOCATION: Saharan and Sahelian Africa (mostly Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso)

RELIGION: Islam ( Maliki)
People Name: Tuareg
Primary Language: Tamajaq
Ethnologue Code: TTQ, THZ, THV
Other Names: Imjeghen, Blue men of the desert.
Dialects: 4, each with sub-dialects

Total People: approx. 1.25 million (Algeria 76,000; Mali 100,000; Libya 18,000; Niger 700,000; refugees in Mauritania and Burkina Faso).

LANGUAGE: Tamacheq. They have an ancient written script known as  tifinagh

The Tuareg or "Blue Men of the Desert" have long been known as warriors, traders and travellers of the Sahara Desert - as a people of grace and nobility as well as fighters of fierce reputation. Timbuctoo had previously been sacked by the Tuaregs as early a 1433, and they had occupied it for thirty years. Between 1591 and 1593, the Tuaregs had already taken advantage of the situation to plunder Timbuctoo once more. Between 1723 and 1728, the Tuaregs once more occupied and looted Timbuctoo. Thus Timbuctoo, once the queen city of the Western Sudan, with more than 200,000 inhabitants, and the center of a powerful state, degenerated into a shadow of its former stature.

HISTORY: Tuareg is a term used to identify numerous diverse groups of people who share a common language and a common history. Tuareg camel caravans played the primary role in trans-Saharan trade until the mid-20th century when European trains and trucks took over. Goods that once were brought north to the edge of the Sahara are now taken to the coast by train and then shipped to Europe and beyond. Tuareg history begins in northern Africa where their presence was recorded by Herodotus. Many groups have slowly moved southward over the last 2,000 years in response to pressures from the north and the promise of a more prosperous land in the south. Today, many Tuareg live in sedentary communities in the cities bordering the Sahara that once were the great centers of trade for western Africa. Tuareg an Islamle who perform their 5 daily prays.

Tuareg is a term given to these people by the Arabs, as they initially resisted Islam. The name Tuareg means "abandoned by God". Individually the ethnicitys are recognised by area of origin or language: Kel Tamasheq (meaning the people who speak Tamasheq), Kel Tamashek, Kel Ajjer, Kel Tamahaq and there are other dialects and names they call themselves.

ECONOMY: For thousands of years, Tuareg economy revolved around trans-Saharan trade. There are basically five trade routes which extend across the Sahara from the northern Mediterranean coast of Africa to the great cities on the southern edge of the Sahara. Tuareg merchants were responsible for bringing goods from these cities to the north. From there they were distributed throughout the world. Because of the nature of transport and the limited space available in caravans, Tuareg usually traded in luxury items, things which took up little space and on which a large profit could be made. Tuareg were also responsible for bringing enslaved people north from west Africa to be sold to Europeans and Middle Easterners. Many Tuareg settled into the communities with which they traded, serving as local merchants and representatives for their friends and family who continued to trade.

Occupations: Pastoralists, guards, domestic servants, blacksmiths
Income sources: Cheese, livestock, transport of salt, dates
Products/Crafts: Cheese, baskets, mats, leatherwork, knives, iron objects, jewelry
Trade partners: Neighbouring peoples, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria. There is a mutual economic dependency of nomads and farmers, and a rivalry over administration of production means.
Modernisation/Utilities: Many people were forced to give up their nomadic lifestyle and moved to the towns. Some villiages, also in remote areas, have one TV set with a solar panel (although maintainance is a problem)

Nuer Woman

Historically, Tuareg society was divided between those who tended the land and those who did not. At one time, tilling the land was considered the work of the lower classes, while the upper classes reaped the benefits of trading. Usually groups of sedentary Tuareg would pay allegience to a locally appointed headman, who in turn would report to the noble who considered the village his domain.Historically, Tuareg society was divided between those who tended the land and those who did not. At one time, tilling the land was considered the work of the lower classes, while the upper classes reaped the benefits of trading.


Tigre People of Eritrea

POPULATIONS: 1.6 Million

LOCATION: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan


Languages: Tigre

The Tigre are a predominantly Muslim nomadic people who inhabit the northern, western, and coastal lowlands of Eritrea, as well as areas in eastern Sudan. 99.5% of the Tigre people adhere to the Islamic religion Sunni Islam, but there are a considerable amount of Christians among them as well (often referred to as the Mensaï in Eritrea)

Some Tigre are settled farmers, growing crops of corn, sorghum, wheat, barley, legumes, and linseed. They also raise goats and sometimes cattle. They live in villages, and their homes are round and have cone-shaped roofs made of branches and leaves.

The Tigre language uses the Ge'ez syllabary. However, due to the majority of Tigre speakers being Muslim also use the Arabic alphabet. However, the Ge'ez syllabary is also not ideal to transcribe Tigre as it does not portray vowel length, which is an important factor in the Tigre language


Mother of Mutara III, Rudahigwa

POPULATIONS: 2.5 Million

LOCATION: Rwanda, Congo, Brundi

RELIGION: Christian and Muslim (post genocide)

Languages: Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, French

Tutsi - The name of the ethnic group. Watutsi - One Tutsi (Wa means 'one' also in Ancient Egyptian.) Mututsi - Means the same as Watutsi. Batutsi - Means the Tutsi people as a whole. (Bah means 'men, people' in Ancient Egyptian.) Watusi - A breed of cattle.


Rwandan Muslims converted in large numbers after the 1994 Genocide. One reason for this shift is that many Muslims had sheltered refugees - both Hutu and Tutsi - in Muslim homes, villages and suburbs. Many converts converted to Islam because of the role that some Catholic and Protestant leaders played in the genocide. Human rights groups have documented several incidents in which Christian clerics permitted Tutsis to seek refuge in churches, then surrendered them to Hutu death squads. Instances of Hutu priests and ministers encouraging their congregations to kill Tutsis have also been documented. Some Tutsi converted have converted for safety, as they feared continuing reprisal killings by Hutu extremists, and knowing that Muslims would protect them from such acts. Many Hutu converted as well, in search for "purification." Many Hutus want to leave their violent past behind them and to not have "blood on their hands." There are also a few, isolated instances, where Hutus have converted in the hope that they could hide within the Muslim community and thereby escape arrest. The rate of conversions slowed down in 1997. According to the mufti of Rwanda, the Islamic community has not seen any increases in conversions in 2002-3.[8] Christianity remains as the country's leading religion. Catholicism (it arrived in the late 19th century with the White Fathers order of the Roman Catholic Church) is still deeply embedded in the culture. According to Rwandan Muslim leaders, Muslims make up 14 percent of the 8.2 million people in Rwanda, Africa's most Catholic nation, twice as many as before the killings began.

The Tutsi of Rwanda first came into contact with the West at the end of the 19th century. Rwandan society was highly stratified. It was divided into the Tutsi, the ruling class who raised cattle, the Hutu who were farmers and the Twa who were hunters. Western discourses about the Tutsi emphasized race and social hierarchy. Based on their physical characteristics--they are among the tallest people in Africa--and their aristocratic demeanor, the Tutsi were assumed by early 20th-century Westerners to be the most "advanced" African peoples in the now-denounced evolutionary scheme promulgated at the time. Their appearance and elaborate court rituals made them perfect photographic subjects. The kings soon played into the wishes of photographers by staging for them the famous Ntore dances of young warriors. Pictures of these dances became signature images of Rwanda. Casimir Zagourski seems to have visited Rwanda twice and photographed King Yuhi V. Musinga--who ruled from 1897 until he was deposed by the Belgians in 1931--his son and successor Mutara III Rudahigwa (ruled 1931-1959) and Rudahigwa's mother. After the Second World War, Nyanza, the capital of the kingdom, became a stop on the tourist route through the region and was flooded by photographers and film makers, including the professionals of Inforcongo and Congopresse.


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Wodaabe Man copyright unknown

Wodaabe peoples are acutually a subgroup of the larger Fulbe-speaking Fulani. They are know for their striking beauty and vanity. They prefer to call themselves Bororo. Fulani are a nomadic people who have been influential in regional politics, economics, and histories throughout western Africa for over a thousand years. Wodaabe live in northern Nigeria and played a significant role in furthering Fulani domination in the area. The height of the Fulani empire was between the early 1800s and early 1900s. This power was consolidated under Usman dan Fodio and was centered in northern Nigeria. Dan Fodio was a devout Muslim who used religious fervor to ignite his troops to undertake a series of holy wars. Following the early success of Muslim warriors, non-Islamic Fulani joined ranks with their fellows to form an extensive and powerful empire.

Economy:Wodaabe are mainly nomadic herders and traders. The routes they established in western Africa provided extensive links throughout the region that fostered economic and political ties between otherwise isolated ethnic groups. Dairy products produced from cattle were traded to sedentary farmers for agricultural products and luxury items. These items could then be traded to trans-Saharan traders such as the Tuareg for shipment north. Fine woven cloth produced by the Wodaabe was considered a luxury item that could be traded on the international market.

Political Systems:The two most significant factors in Fulani political systems are clientage and competition. In order to gain political office a Fulani man would have to compete among his fellows for the right to rule. He could show his political favor by demonstrating that he had a large following in the form of individuals and families. By agreeing to become the client of a powerful man or family, a subject would offer tribute in the form of gifts and political support in exchange for security. Wodaabe men often held considerable political power within their own nomadic communities, as well as within the communities in which they settled in northern Nigeria.

Wodaabe Woman

Religion: Wodaabe religion is largely Muslim. Although there are varying degrees of orthodoxy exhibited, most adhere to at least some of the basic requirements of the religion. It is usually the case that the wealthy and powerful are among the most religious, while those who have fewer resources are less likely to strictly observe their religion. Muslim has been used to justify the holy jihads that brought the northern territories of modern day Nigeria under the auspices of Wodaabe and Fulani leadership.

Historically, it has not been unusual that such political and economic gains would be made in the name of Muslim and result in empire building. Muslim became a religion of importance among Wodaabe peoples during the 16th century when the great prophet El Maghili preached the teachings of Mohammed to the elite of northern Nigeria. El Maghili was responsible for converting the ruling classes among Hausa, Fulani, and Tuareg peoples in the region.


Wolof Woman: copyright Halaqah Photo www.underthissun.com

POPULATIONS: 3.6 Million

LOCATION: Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania


Languages: Wolof & (French, Arabic)

Wolof (Wollof) people are a dominant cultural group of Senegal and Gambia. In Gambia even the dominant Mandinka people speak Wolof.

The Wolof Empire (jolof Empire) was a medieval West African state that ruled parts of Senegal and The Gambia from approximately 1350 to 1890. While only ever consolidated into a single state structure for part of this time, the tradion of governance, caste, and culture of the Wolof dominate the history of north-central Senegal for much of the last 800 years. Its final demise at the hands of French colonial forces in the 1870s-1890s also marks the beginning of the formation of Senegal as a unified state.


Islam entered into West Africa via Fulani and other traders. It then spread into the Wolof communities.

The Senegalese Sufi Muslim brotherhoods, appearing in Wolof communities in the 19th century, grew tremendously in the 20th. Their leaders, or marabouts, exercise a huge cultural and political influence amongst most Muslim communities, most notably the leader of the Mouride brotherhood, Serigne Mouhamadou Lamine Bara Mbacke. The largest religious festival in Wolof culture is Tabaski {Tobaski }(Muslim Eid ul Adha).


Culturally, clothing is very important to the Wolof, who are a style conscious society. To a Wolof what you wear says a tremendous amount about you. Women will dress elaborately, many times going into debt just to be dressed up to an occasion. They also wear elaborate hair styles and makeup. The Wolof are known as the trend-setters of West Africa. The family unit is very important to the Wolof. Many times a man and all his brothers and their wives and children will live together in a single compound. Many Wolof are also polygamous, however, polygamy doesn't seem to be considered natural to many of the Wolof who soon after obtaining a second wife are divorced from their first.


See African Marriage Rituals

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Xhosa Woman: copyright Halaqah Photo


LOCATION: South Africa (Eastern Cape)

RELIGION: Christian and Indigenous African faith

Languages: Xhosa, Zulu (Xhosa is an agglutinative tonal language of the Bantu family it has charecteristic CLICKS)

Xhosa people are part of the Nguni group (See Zulu). During the Bantu Exapnsion the migrated South into Southern Africa. Xhosa and Zulu language is mutually intellgible. It is claimed that Xhosa language has more chareteristic "clicks" which were taken from the Khoisan language.

At the time of white settlement of the Cape, Xhosa groups were living far inland, into the area between Bushman's River and the Kei River. Since around 1770, they had been confronted with the Trek Boers who approached from the west. Both the Boers and the Xhosa were stock-farmers. The competition for grazing land led first to quarrels between the two groups, and eventually it came to a number of wars. The politics of the colonial government attempted to enforce the separation . But the more the colony developed into a modern state with a strong military organization, the more the whites tended towards a policy of land annexing and the subjugation of the African population.

In the middle of the 19th century, all the land formerly inhabited by Xhosa was in the hands of white settlers. With the founding of the South African Union in 1910, the British colony and the independent Boer Republics were united. A modern "democratic" state was formed. in which only the white population could execute the right to vote.


The Xhosas have a strong oral tradition with many stories of ancestral heroes; according to tradition, the leader from whose name the Xhosa people take their name was the first human on Earth. Other traditions have it that all Xhosas are descended from one ancestor named Tshawe. The key figure in the Xhosa oral tradition is the imbongi or praise singer. Rites of passage is key to manhood in Xhosa culture which generally include male circumcision, female FCM is not practiced.

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Zulu Woman: copyright Halaqah Photo

Yoruba (people), people living primarily in southwest Nigeria and eastern Benin who speak Yoruba, a Niger-Congo language. The Yoruba are predominantly town dwellers who practice hoe agriculture and are well known as traders and for their crafts. Yoruba artists have produced masterpieces of woodcarving and bronze casting, some of which date from as early as the 13th century. The Yoruba religion is animistic and numerous gods are worshiped.


By the 17th century the Yoruba had succeeded in establishing a strong and flourishing state, the kingdom of Oyo, in the region between Dahomey and the Niger River. Oyo disintegrated into numerous petty kingdoms during the first half of the 19th century. Toward the end of the 19th century the Yoruba came under British control. They now number about 27 million and make up one-fifth of the population of Nigeria, living chiefly in the city of Ibadan. Many of Nigeria's best-known artists and writers are Yoruba.

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The Zaghawa are scattered throughout the African countries of Sudan, Chad and Niger. Also called the Beri, the Sudanese Zaghawa are a semi-nomadic Ethnicity that is found living primarily along the border between Sudan and Chad. Numbering approximately 171,000, they are a camel and cattle herding group who also engage in a fair amount of agriculture. 

The Zaghawa are an ancient society that dates back to the seventh century. During that time, they had their own kingdom ruled by chieftans and divided into strict social classes and family clans. The various clusters of Zaghawa tribes are still divided into clans, yet the development of the nations of Sudan, Chad and Niger has weakened the chiefs and the overall Zaghawa social system. 

The problem of water is a major preoccupation for the Zaghawa, who during normal years must wait nine dry months for a short rainy season which lasts between the end of June and the end of August. To survive, many herdsmen drive their animals north to graze during the dry season, and return south when it rains. 

In addition to using the milk of their cattle, sheep and camels and selling some animals for income, the Zaghawa also grow vegetables such as tomatoes, onions and okra in small gardens surrounding their homes and raise crops such as millet and tubers (starchy root vegetables). Many Zaghawa are merchants who travel southward and eastward to find food and manufactured goods that are not available in their own region. Sugar, tea, oil, blankets, plastic products and soap are all purchased or exchanged for cattle, sheep, wild grasses and the gum of the acacia tree. Some men also work as blacksmiths, although craftsmen would be a better collective name for these artists who make metal tools, weapons and jewelry; create pottery; carve wooden stools and musical instruments; weave cotton; and tan hides to make various leather items.

The adoption of Muslim, which was introduced into the region in the 1600s. Villages have become hospitable to outsiders, and sacrifice and ancestor worship have either been modified and reinterpreted in order to be acceptable to Muslim. Although Muslim is widely accepted and the study of Muslim law is highly respected, the Zaghawa, like Muslims everywhere, still hang on to many of their traditional superstitions. To avoid the curse of the “evil eye,” a rather vague yet terrifying phenomenon, they wear charms, construct their houses in a certain fashion and cover their babies’ faces in public.



Zulu Woman: copyright Halaqah Photo


LOCATION: South Africa (KZN)

RELIGION: Christian and Indigenous African faith

Languages: Zulu (Zulu is an agglutinative tonal language of the Bantu family it has charecteristic CLICKS)

Zulu means "People of the sky/heaven"

The Zulu were originally a major clan in what is today Northern KwaZulu-Natal, founded ca. 1709 by Zulu kaNtombhela. So the Zulu nation is an 18th century amalgamation of different clans into the Zulu clan identity. In the Nguni languages, iZulu/iliZulu/liTulu means heaven. The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa. They are well known for their beautiful brightly colored beads and baskets as well as other small carvings. Historical they are know for defeating the British Army at Isandlwana (remaining the single greatest British military defeat at the hands of a native force in history). However Zulu history, as Molefi Asante said, is the history of blood flow.

The Zulu believe that they are descendents from a chief from the Congo area, and in the 16th century migrated south picking up many of the traditions and customs of the San who also inhabited this South African area. During the 17th and 18th centuries many of the most powerful chiefs made treaties and gave control of the Zulu villages to the British.

The Zulu believe that they are descendents from a chief from the Congo area, and in the 16th century migrated south picking up many of the traditions and customs of the San who also inhabited this South African area. During the 17th and 18th centuries many of the most powerful chiefs made treaties and gave control of the Zulu villages to the British.

This caused much conflict because the Zulu had strong patriarchal village government systems so they fought against the British but couldn't win because of the small strength they possessed. Finally, after much of the Zulu area had been given to the British the Zulu people decided as a whole that they didn't want to be under British rule and in 1879 war erupted between the British and the Zulu. Though the Zulu succeeded at first they were in 6 months conquered by the British who exiled the Zulu Kings and divided up the Zulu kingdom. In 1906 another Zulu uprising was lead and the Zulu continue to try to gain back what they consider to be their ancient kingdom.

The AmaZulu believe that they are the direct descendants of the patriarch Zulu, who was born to a Nguni chief in the Congo Basin area. In the 16th century the Zulu migrated southward to their present location, incorporating many of the customs of the San, including the well-known linguistic clicking sounds of the region. During the reign of King Shaka (1816-1828), the Zulu became the mightiest military force in southern Africa, increasing their land holdings from 100 square miles to 11,500. Shaka was followed by Dingaan, who tentatively entered into treaties with English colonizers. Mpande was the next King. He allowed the British extensive control over his peoples. By the time he died in 1872, the Zulu had had enough of the English invasion. Cetewayo, Mpande's replacement, tried vainly for six years to avoid a confrontation with the British, yet in 1879 war erupted. Although the Zulu initially experienced some success, the British army eventually prevailed.

In less than six months, Cetewayo was exiled to England, and the Zulu kingdom was divided to the British advantage. The last Zulu uprising against European domination was lead by Chief Bombatha in 1906. In recent times, Chief Gastha Buthelezi has doubled as the political leader of the Zulu, and the head of the Inkatha Freedom Party, leading the fight against Apartheid and the ANC, demanding a voice for his people who are more than three million strong.

RELIGION: The Zulu believe in a creator god known as Nkulunkulu, but this god does not interact with humans and has no interest in everyday life. Therefore, most Zulus interact on a day to day level with the spirits. In order to interact with the spirits the Zulu must use divination to interact with the ancestors. All misfortune is a result of a evil sorcery or offended spirits, nothing just happens because of natural causes. Zulu people perform ceremonial sacrifice of animals in a similar way to Muslim and Jews.

The Zulu are practically divided in half with about 50% living in cities and engaging in domestic work and another 50% working on farms.


Rural Zulu raise cattle and farm corn and vegetables for subsistence purposes. The men and herd boys are primarily responsible for the cows, which are grazed in the open country, while the women do most, if not all, of the planting and harvesting. The women also are the owners of the family house and have considerable economic clout within the family. In the urban areas of South Africa, Zulu, and in fact all Africans, are limited to labor intensive work and domestic duties. Even as Apartheid as an institution has been dismantled, it is still extremely difficult for Africans to compete for jobs for which they have not been trained, and the country is still entrenched in de facto racism.


Within Townships such as KwaMashu in Durban economic issues still exist in post-apartheid South Africa due to inner corruption. A recent case study on a charity K-CAP run by Edmund Mhlongo found that gross mismanagement, poor leadership and injustices via exploiting poverty These issues are generally swept under the carpet for fear of embarrassment and no confidence on the part of the funders. So in the new South Africa the inner oppression is rising while the facade promotes a racial equally society. However the economic growth is within a tiny minority of Africans who in the case of Edmund Mhlongo (just one example) do so at the expense of the majority.


Political Systems

As is evident by the history of the Zulu, the leader, or chief, is invested with power based on his genealogy. He plays an important part in the internal governing of the Zulu homeland and also acts as a voice for his people on an international level. Although the Zulu are officially ruled by the government of South Africa, they often act as a dissenting voice on the national scene..


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