What are the different tribes in Africa?

There is the need to point out here that before the coming of the colonialists, Africans did not look at themselves in terms of tribes. This was a term sparingly used and in relation to biblical groups mostly. The colonialists, for racial reasons, started using the term more frequently, and to it they attached condescending stereotypical images relating to the black person. Beyond just the racial values to the white colonialists, as Bill Berkeley has argued, the gathering of Africans into identifiable 'tribes' was also a convenient administrative tool. Particularly under British administration, in countries like Uganda, Kenya and South

Africa, administrative subdivisions were built upon this image of 'tribal' blocks. Tribalism solved the colonial dilemma of how to dominate and exploit vast numbers of indigenous inhabitants with a limited number of colonial agents, by mobilizing groups on the basis of linguistic and cultural similarities that formerly had been irrelevant. (12)

The term 'tribe' as such, that is relating to ethnic groups in Africa, is more a creation of the colonialists than a concept that had been existing before colonialism. Assuming, therefore, that this question is based on the colonial designation of tribe and its attendant meaning—a group of people bunched together by colonialists simply because it was believed they spoke the same language or were culturally similar—then one can say there are hundreds of "tribes," thousands even, in Africa.

Do you have lawns in Africa?

This is one of those questions about which every detail still stands out clearly on my mind. I had just bought a lawn mower from one of those super stores in Minnesota, and then I asked if it could be partially dismantled and packaged so that it could withstand the long trip home. This elderly lady, who was a sales associate, confirmed she could get someone to help me, but she remembered to ask where home was since she was sure the mower was in shape for any trip within continental USA. When I told her Cameroon, she asked me, "And where is that?"

"West Africa," I replied, already too familiar with the fact that not many people had heard of Cameroon.

"Oh! You people do have lawns out there?" She asked, looking genuinely surprised.

I smiled calmly and replied, "Yes Ma'am, we do have lawns out there."

"I see," she answered, completely at a loss as to how that could be true, given what she sees on television about Africa as a jungle "peopled" by animals and wretches who could hardly afford any luxury.

Yes, Africa does have lawns, and they are so beautiful and healthy; they do not need to fertilize them at all for them to flourish.

Is Africa dark as a continent?

This is a term of reference that one hears from time to time without knowing exactly what those using it mean, besides the fact that it makes Africa come across in that fantastic barbaric light that Africa seems to thrive in best within Western illusions. However, besides a fraction of the native inhabitants who are dark skinned (there are others of lighter complexion), the continent is itself like any other part of God's earth with day and night alternating. The idea of a "dark continent" that probably gave birth to this question is possibly more a reference to the complexion of some Africans themselves than to the suggestion that the continent does not receive the bright light of God's dawn. Beverly G. Hawk's interpretation is even more original for he points out that the expression is an allusion "not only to the skin color of its inhabitants, but to their ignorance of European ways" (4). Why Africans were supposed or expected to bother themselves about knowing European ways while living in Africa remains puzzling. No, Africa is not dark; it is some of her sons and daughters whose skin color is dark.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >