African Traditions You Didn’t Know About

by scheidl

It would be impossible even to enumerate Africa’s hundreds of tribes and ethnic groups in one single post. Each of these historic tribes has its own language, history and rituals, so no wonder that Africa is such a culturally diverse continent. People usually associate African culture with tattoos, dances, shamanism or wooden masks. But I’m sure there are plenty African traditions you didn’t know about, so let’s try to learn a few together:


by shofar

The culture of African tribes was mainly an oral culture so no wonder that the African equivalent of a bard, the griot, still enjoys a lot of popularity in West Africa. The griot plays a very important role in a village or tribe: he entertains people with his songs and stories but he is also the one keeping track of people’s lives and events. Just like in the case of medieval bards, a griot’s art and stories are mastered through years of practice and handed down from one generation to another.

A few words about Maasai

The Maasai tribes are unanimously known for their interesting culture and habits. Their life in the Eastern African bush, in the presence of Africa’s most ferocious predators, has made the maasai quite skilled warriors and hunters. While men are expected to become warriors and train form a very young age, the maasai women are very skilled in the art of bedding.  Another distinguishing characteristic of their culture are the high jumps performed by men while dancing. The maasai traditional clothing is very colorful and richly ornamented, especially when it comes to ceremony costumes.


Another custom that is widely spread in eastern Africa is for women to wear a piece of clothing called khanga. This is usually square, with colorful motifs and sometimes even proverbs  printed on it. Khanga is also associated with the Peace Corps activity in this part of the continent, as the association adopted their own khanga.

Wedding traditions

by 5602

African culture values family life so weddings are often times the most important and elaborately planned rite of passage. It is customary in many countries for the groom to bring gifts and even pay a certain amount of money or goods for the bride. Many brides marry very early, so wedding ceremonies are both happy and saddening. Each wedding is a reason of joy and display of wealth, which is why the bride wears her best jewelries and is sometimes offered even more by the groom. Elders play an important role in the African societies, they are the one giving the blessings and precious advice for the newlyweds.


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