1.4 Sub-Saharan Africa

1.4 Sub-Saharan Africa
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AardrijkskundeMiddelbare schoolhavo, vwoLeerjaar 2

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1.4 Sub-Saharan Africa

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Learning objectives
After studying this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the most important cultural elements of Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Explain how Sub-Saharan African cultures have been influenced by colonial history

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Sub-Saharan Africa
  • The term refers to all areas in the African continent south of the Sahara Desert. 
  • Culturally, the African countries north of the Sahara are more related to the Islamic world than to the cultures that are described in this section.

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Traditional religions
A traditional religion refers to an indigenous (inheems) religion. 
  • These were already practised before any of the major religions like Islam or Christianity arrived in Africa.

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Cultural elements of Sub-Saharan Africa
Living community = A social group consisting of numerous families with a common culture.

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Traditional dance in Angola
Modern dance in Cameroon

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Nomad = Someone who doesn’t have a permanent home and moves from place to place.

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A short colonial history of Africa
Scramble for Africa = Period between 1880 and 1914, in which European powers rapidly colonised the African continent.
During colonial times, the Christian religion was spread across Africa. Nowadays, most Sub- Saharan African countries still have a mainly Christian population.

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Berlin conference

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Borders in Africa
Natural border = A boundary between two or more countries, formed by a natural feature like an ocean, river or mountain range.

Artificial border = A boundary between two or more countries, formed without taking natural and cultural features into account.

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English words with African roots
In the extension box, you can read how African cultures have diffused to other continents. This has led to other cultures adopting cultural elements from Sub- Saharan Africa and vice versa. Taking the English language as an example, it has several words that originate from African cultures. Think about animal names like chimpanzee, impala, okapi and zebra. Or how about the English word ‘safari’? This means ‘journey’ in Swahili, a widely-spoken language in Eastern Africa; the word safari was adopted by English language speakers from Swahili, while Swahili in turn had adopted it from Arabic.

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African culture outside of Africa
  • African culture can also be found outside of Africa. This is especially a result of the African diaspora. 
  • A diaspora is a group of people who are scattered, away from their ancestral homeland.
  • Western and African culture merged into a new Afro-Atlantic culture.

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The areas south of the Sahara Desert, Sub-Saharan Africa, have a shared history of cultures built-up through living communities and traditional religions. Therefore, similarities can be found in beliefs, rituals, arts, crafts, music and dance. At the same time, Sub-Saharan African cultures are extremely diverse. Colonial history has had a great influence on these cultures: living communities were split by artificial borders imposed on them by the colonisers, while language and religion especially, diffused from Europe to Africa.

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Go to the planner in Teams to see what exercises you have to do!

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