African Civilization





African Civilization

Africa covers a wide geographical area inhabited by people with diverse cultures. It is therefore home to people of different political and economic categories. The large area under which Africa lies has ecological variations like those that some areas have deserts while others contain jungles. For example, whereas Mount Kilimanjaro of Tanzania is capped with a permanent glacier, the southern tip of Africa has penguins. The entire different climatic conditions center on the equator that runs right through the middle of the continent hence the cool wet air of the south Atlantic meets the warm dry air from the Sahara Desert. In addition, most of the African soil has large quantities of iron and salt but it is low on nutrients. Furthermore, it is often susceptible to soil erosion.

Africans of Egyptian descent were the first to introduce hunting, gathering and farming as ways of life largely due to the fertility of the Nile floods. They relied on the knowledge of their surrounding’s flora and fauna thus working for a few hours a day. Consequently, they engaged in stone making and artwork using the plenty of free time they had left. The resulting rock paintings that exist today offer a lot of information on their way of life during that period. In early 5,000 B.C., agriculture was also being practiced especially the farming of rice, millet and sorghum. This was carried out in the savannah. Many Africans became pastoralists and the herding of camels, goats and cattle was common. In order to survive in the harsh environment, they ate milk, blood and meat from these very animals.

As early as 3,000 B.C., the Bantu migration was underway. This was to continue for the next four thousand years. The word Bantu stands for “the people” and they introduced iron welding. They further initiated new methods of agriculture that led to the displacement of inferior hunters and gatherers. In the ancient times, most African societies were stateless but a majority preferred to be led by a few individuals whose authority was influenced through seniority, kinship and knowledge acquired. However, due to their small sizes, they also discussed their problems through consensus or debates. This was their earliest form of democracy.

Over time, these stateless societies became minimal since people increasingly desired a more centralized form of authority. The Igbo of Nigeria even had a phrase that states, “the Igbo have no kings”. Similarly, religion was a critical element in African development and each community had its own set of beliefs. What was common among them was their belief in pantheism whereby they assumed the existence of a single Almighty God who had many manifestations because he was too far for people to interact with. Notably, they neither had the notion of a conflict between good and evil nor in the apocalypse. In the performance of music, the audience is expected to join the musicians by clapping, singing and dancing to the tunes.

Northern Africans interacted with people from the Mediterranean and Arabia resulting in an increase in trade ties and assimilation of cultures. For example, Latin and Greek became languages of the elite in the society. From trading with Romans, Christianity quickly extended from the Middle East, North Africa and into Europe. Islam also spread across the region and these two religions were in competition to attract as many followers as possible.

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