The African Americans

Search for Truth and Knowledge

By Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Jr.

Part Eight: Africa Continent of Light

New Discoveries and Scientific Finds

Over the past few decades new discoveries and scientific finds in Africa have destroyed many of the old myths and stereotypes about the so-called "Dark Continent." This new material has helped to clarify the historical record and establish some new truths. Myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings are continually being swept away. It is clear that Africa, far from being the continent of darkness, was a extraordinary and unique source of "Light" for human development and civilization. As more and more scientific evidence emerges, Africa takes its place historically at the head of the Human Family.

African is a vast continent. It is second only to Asia in size. Traditionally it has been divided into large geographical regions and studies have focused on its diversity and distinctiveness. As we learn more about Africa and its peoples, it is obvious that there are two major themes which will help us understand the diverse continent. One is that Africa is not jungle; it has a diverse geographical mixture of climatic zones with different ecologies and environments. In the North and South there are temperate zones. The dominant feature of these regions, however, are the deserts, particularly the Sahara which affects the northern part of the continent from the Red Sea in the East to the Atlantic Ocean in the West. In the central and eastern regions are the Great Lakes and mountainous zones, featuring Mount Kenya and famous Kilimanjaro and the Ethiopian Highlands. The vast majority of the continent in the East, the West and the South is Savannah or grasslands that have facilitated the migration and movement of peoples and animals. The rain forest or jungle covers less than 10% of the continent and is concentrated in the great watershed of the Congo River basin in the heart of Africa and along the West Coast.

The other theme centers around the cultural unity of Africa and its peoples. This subject is very important because the ethnic uniqueness of the various African groups often hides the cultural unity throughout the different regions of the continent. To better understand the many ethnic groups in Africa, it is helpful to look at the common functions of the most important institutions and similar practices of the folkways and custom. To more fully appreciate the uniqueness of the different African peoples, it is necessary to look at the value systems and the institutions that perpetuate these values. As a result, a more productive approach to understanding Africa and her peoples is to see the cultural unity within ethnic diversity. AFRICAN UNITY AND DIVERSITY.


African Ethnic Groups

Africa has many ethnic groups and distinct societies. Some are large populations, representing millions of people; others are small, representing thousands. Some have highly structured kingdoms with kings and chiefs and councils. Others have independent clan structures. Some are world famous for their art work and sculpture as well as weaving techniques. Some are unified culturally with sister groups and have developed high levels of civilization, such as the Akan, the Yoruba, the Mande, the Swahili, the Amharic and the Hausa-Fulani. Some are famous as cattle herders and warriors such as the Zulus, Masai and Kikuyu.


African Languages

It is generally accepted that African has over one thousand languages among its various people. Most of these local languages, however, can be grouped into major African language families. The principle of unity and diversity is applicable in the language area just as it is applicable in climate, geology, food production, culture and physical type.

Four language family classifications are:

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