Some Facts About Africa

Africa’s foundational value for human interaction is “Ubuntu,” characterized by compassion, and restoration of human relations.

 Before I explain why, here are some facts about the continent of Africa:

World Meters reports that the continent of Africa has a population of almost 1.3 billion people, based on the latest United Nations estimates.  If this is broken down into sub regions, the areas and their populations are:
Eastern Africa, 434 million
Western Africa, 382 million
Northern Africa, 238 million
Central Africa, 169 million
Southern Africa, 66 million

* Africa is home to one-sixth of the total world population.
* Among regions of the world - roughly equivalent to continents - Africa is the second most populous.
 * Africa has a land area of 11.44 million square miles, and a population density of only * 113 people per square mile.
* 40.6% of the population is urban
* The median age in Africa is only 19.4

With these statistics, we can see why Africa is a force to reckon with in the global economy, but this is a conversation for another day.

So, going back to attributes that define Africa,

Even with migration within and out of the continent, Africa’s image has been influenced by crosscutting cultural practices that have been carried on by various ethnic groups. These practices include “Ubuntu,” which has historically guided the way of life of the African People in conflict resolution, business negotiations, and trade. It is through Ubuntu that communities have historically managed good relations.

Other cross-cutting practices include sharing household roles, community farming, initiation ceremonies, dances, spirituality, oral education, and crafts, to mention but a few.

Transformations within the continent of Africa have historically been influenced by the changes in the environment, soil fertility and climate. In the past, these changes influenced the community setup, including economic activities.

Pastoralism was carried out in the rift valley region of East Africa.  Agriculture was common in the interlacustrine region, better known as the Great Lakes region, in East and Central Africa. This region is gifted with many lakes, including Victoria, Albert, Kyoga, Kivu, Tanganyika, Edward, and George, which endow the region with fresh water and fertile soils.

Records show that during the great African migration over 3,000 years ago, the Bantu are believed to have migrated from the Cameroon/Nigeria Border to the east and south.  Many settled in Congo and the Great Lakes region, and intermarried with the hunters and gatherers who occupied that area.  They created structured settlements, and elaborate administrative, governance  and economic systems that made them stand out in the region.

Along with other ethnic groupings, this region was home to many kingdoms, including the kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro, Burundi, Busoga, Buvinza, Buyungu, Buzinza, Gisaka, Heru, Igara, Ihangiro, Karagwe, Kimwani, Kiziba, Kyamutwara, Kyania, Mpororo, Mubari, Muhambwe, Nkore, Rwanda, Ruguru, Rusubi, andToro

In future episodes, we will learn about how these kingdoms/states were disintegrated at the hands of foreign entities.

Just as a reminder, Africa is home to various ethnic groups speaking over 3,000 languages.  Uganda alone is home to people speaking more than 50 languages.

African history and culture are broad and every aspect of them enables us to understand the continent and its people at home and in the diaspora.

Vivian Birchall

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