Africa is the birthplace of humankind and knowing its history is essential for understanding the global society that's grown around it. Here, you'll discover resources on the continent's prominent historical figures, complex racial politics, and turbulent military past. In African culture, the “self” is not separate from the world, it is united and intermingled with the natural and social environment. It is through relations with one’s community and surroundings that an individual becomes a person of volition, whose actions and decisions affect the entire group rather than just oneself.

There is a Xhosa proverb that is common to all African cultures and languages, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” (“A person is a person through persons”). The rich and diverse African culture varies not only from one country to another, but within each country as well. The culture of each ethnic group centres on family and can be found in each group’s art, music and oral literature.

African culture: Traditional Ndebele village - African village, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Traditional African homestead (Ndebele village in Zimbabwe) Throughout Africa, the people speak a variety of languages, practice numerous religions and reside in various types of dwellings. The vast majority of people living in Africa are indigenous; however, people from all over the world have migrated to Africa for hundreds of years. Arabs began crossing into North Africa from the Middle East in the 7th century, A.D., bringing with them the religion of Islam. Europeans began settling in the southern portion of the continent in the mid-17th century, as did South Asians, who settled in the areas of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Over the centuries, African culture has meshed with cultures from around the world, although much of traditional African customs have remained throughout. Ethnic groups and African tribes have customs that are unique to their culture. The customs and traditions of each group have been woven into a tapestry as colourful and diverse as the people of Africa themselves.

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