20 Cultural Facts About African Tribes

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The culture in Africa is a non-ending line of intriguing aspects, art and traditions and way of life that is so interesting to learn. read on to learn 20 cultural facts on African tribes that will definitely get you wanting to take the next flight over!

Africa is a continent known for its diversity, flourishing culture, wildlife, and ethnicity. The large continent consists of more than 3000 known tribes, around 1.3 billion people, and more than 54 nations. Each tribe has its unique dialect and culture, traditions, and ceremonies, which are distinct from their history.

With thousands of ethnic groups in Africa, each with their customs, this has made the composition of the structure of the contents a little different compared to others. It consists of a little of most of the traditions that these tribes entail. The arts, crafts, folklore, religion, dress, food, music, and languages of Africa all express the culture of the unique tribes that created and enjoy them.

While some of the practices that these tribes engage in are common, they are some that would leave you shocked to know! Let’s check out 20 of them!

 

  • Walking and Jumping over Wild Bulls (Hamar Tribe)

The Hamar tribe lives in the Omo River Valley, a rich region in southwest Ethiopia. They consist of more than 40,000 people, spread across the Omo River. This tribe is perhaps one of the most internationally popular tribes in Ethiopia.

They are distinctively known for their bright body decoration of beads and jewelry, as well as their unusual haircuts, which involve curling their hair with a mixture of butter and ochre.

As a pastoral tribe, they place high importance on livestock, being a major symbol of wealth and social significance.

Young boys in the Hamar tribe must pass through a ritual to prove their growth into adult men. They are required to strip naked, jump on top of a bull, then run across the backs of other bulls that have been arranged closely. They are required to pass this test to be eligible to marry.

 

  • A Circumcision Ceremony to be remembered (Xhosa tribe)

An initiation ritual is performed by the Xhosa tribe. This is a procedure that all young males in the tribe must go through before they may be called men and be considered by the ladies for marriage. The boys are confined in a circumcision lodge for the duration of the entire procedure, which may take months.

During this period, individuals are put through a series of rigorous tests that test their endurance. The highlight of these events is circumcision.

The young men wear white sheepskin throughout the ritual, which is said to fend off evil spirits. Sandstone has been used to paint their bodies white. Then they do specific dances that include snorting and moving their heads in the air as if they were bulls.

 

  • Fear of the Dead (Pokot tribe)

Whenever a family member is on the verge of death, the rest of the family flees the house for fear of being killed too.

Mortality is seen quite differently among the Pokot tribe of Kenya. There is a belief among Pokots that it is simpler to convince a wild animal than a gaze or mourn a dead human.

 

  • Kidnapping Your bride (Sudanese Latuka tribe)

If you travel to South Sudan and explore the eastern portion of the country in East Africa, you will almost certainly encounter the Latuka tribe.

Latuka, or Otuho as they’re sometimes known, is mostly a farming community with vast herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. They cultivate for themselves or their families, which is known as subsistence farming. Groundnuts, sorghum, maize, and tubers like yam and potato are among the crops they farm.

It is a tradition in which a guy kidnaps the girl of his choosing and compels her to marry him. This is mostly how most of the people in the community get married.

 

  • Red hair and skin (Himba tribe)

The Himba are indigenous people with an estimated population of about 50,000. They can be found living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene Region, and on the other side of the Kunene River in southern Angola.

This tribe gained international prominence due to their unique ‘red skin and hair’. The Himba people often appear to have a red skin tone. They obtain this color when they smear it with a mixture of butterfat and ochre (a natural earth pigment containing iron oxide).

The Himba people do this to protect themselves from the sun and mosquitoes and to culturally look beautiful.

 

  • No Lobola, No bride (South Africa & Zimbabwe tribe)

Lobola is an African tradition in which the bridegroom’s family pays the bride’s family with livestock or cash shortly before the wedding.

Bridewealth, also known as Lobola, is an important part of the Basotho and Shona cultures of Lesotho and Zimbabwe. This tradition is also famous in certain areas in South Africa.

 

  • Greeting elders with saliva (Maasai tribe)

Saliva is a fluid that Massai uses to communicate and share at specific moments, such as when shaking an elder’s hand or spitting on a newborn baby’s head.

 

  • Drinking of animal blood during the dry season (Maasai tribe)

Another interesting fact on the Maasai tribe!

In Ethiopia, the dry season can be harsh, with water sources drying up with the land. The Maasai tribe battles this by temporarily migrating with their cattle to any place with vegetation for their cattle to feed on.

During this phase, their dairy consists mainly of dairy and blood from their cattle. This will provide much of the family’s sustenance during the dry season.

 

  • Beadwork to display Marital & financial status (Pokot Tribe)

Another interesting piece of information about the Pokot tribe! The tribe’s females are noted for their distinctive beadwork, which they wear mostly around their necks. Pokot ladies wear different types of beading depending on their marital status.

A young unmarried Pokot girl, for example, will wear a necklace made of wood from a native acacia species. A necklace composed of colored beads will be worn by a married woman. The quantity and quality of the beading are also indicators of prosperity in the Pokot Tribe.

 

  • Married Women have their own houses (Yacouba tribe)

Mande ethnic group, the Yacouba tribe is found in Ivory Coast’s northern region, neighboring Liberia who they have a long history. Their largest settlement is located in Ivory Coast, with a population of around 700,000. Yacouba (or Yakouba) is the official name for them in Ivory Coast.

Each wife of the Yacouba tribe has her hut, generally built of mud and thatch, in which she stays with her children until they are old enough to leave. The kids are never allowed to live with their dads. They also practice polygamy, in which one man can have multiple wives.

 

  • Highest Jumper gets the bride (Massai tribe)

The leaping dance is a traditional initiation ceremony for young males, with the highest jumper claiming the best bride. It can also signify where boys grow up to become men. Men use leaping as a means of attracting women to marry. The higher the jumps, the more eligible he is as a bachelor.

 

  • The bigger the better (Sara & Lobi tribes)

Teenage girls from the Sara and Lobi tribes of Chad have a unique perspective on what it means to reach adolescence. The Lip Stretching procedure is carried out by them.

It generally entails the extraction of two lower front teeth and the slitting of the lower lip to allow for the insertion of a plate to extend the lip. In certain African tribes, the size of the lip plate is an indication of social or economic status. It’s an adornment for them, much like piercings are for teens.

 

  • No burial for you (Maasai tribe)

The Maasai have a lot of strange unique attributes and facts that separate them from a lot of other tribes. One of them is the lack of any burial customs or traditions for members of the tribe who passed.

Dead tribe members are left for scavengers in the fields. Only the most powerful leaders are buried. Because the Maasai think that burial is detrimental to the earth.

 

  • Ever burning fire for the god (Himba tribe)

Taking a look at the Himba tribe in the Kunene region, north-west Namibia and we learn about a tribe of hunter-gatherers and pastoralists.

Okuruwo, the sacred fire that represents the Himba’s link to their ancestors, who are in direct touch with Mukuru, their deity, is central to their culture. To symbolize this link, each community has a permanent fire, which is tended to by a fire-keeper from each household.

 

  • Masters at body art (Karo tribe)

The Karo (also called Kara) is a group of Nilotic tribes who live along the Nile River in the Republic of South Sudan, primarily in Central Equatoria State, but also in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

They’re known for their detailed face and body painting, which they do use a mixture of white chalk, charcoal, yellow rock, and iron ore to produce some very spectacular body artworks.

 

  • Insane tracking skills (Karo Tribe)

The San people are one of the world’s oldest tribes. Traditionally hunter-gatherers, are believed to be among the first people of South Africa. Today their descendants are a population of around 100,000 people across Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and South Africa.

The San’s tracking skills are renowned, and they have the skills to hunt and survive in the seemingly barren lands of Southern Africa’s deserts. They are easily recognized by the unique clicking sound they make when speaking.

 

  • No burial for the people (Maasai tribe)

The Maasai do not have a formal burial ceremony. Tribe members that have died are left out in the fields for scavengers. Only great chiefs are buried. This is because the Maasai believe burial to be harmful to the soil.

 

  • Male beauty contest to attract women (Wodaabe tribe)

During the rainy season, Wodaabe men in northern Niger compete in a male beauty pageant. To vie for the attention of the women, young men don cosmetics, jewelry, and their best clothing and line up to contest.

 

  • Practical potency test (Banyankole tribe)

In the Banyankole tribe of Uganda, the bride’s aunt has a lot of work to do to assist the niece who wishes to wed. A “potency test” and a “virginity test” are required by the bride’s aunt when a couple wishes to be married.

 

  • Extreme piercings on the skin (Karo tribe)

The Karo tribe conduct ritual scarification, cutting oneself with a knife or razor, then rubbing ash into the incision to generate a raised impression over time.

Women develop elaborate scarring patterns on their chests, stomachs, or backs to be regarded mature and lovely, whereas males scarify their chests to symbolize the slaying of foes or dangerous animals.

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