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The African continent is home to more than 800 million people living in more than 50 countries that occupy a land mass that covers one-fifth of the Earth’s surface. Ongoing research in any number of the Earth sciences repeatedly points to Africa as the birthplace of humanity.
Is there any wonder African culture is the most diverse and richest on the planet?
Often described as several worlds within one continent, Africa is a land of contrasts that are celebrated in local and regional African culture arenas. The general population of the continent is comprised of peoples of many tribal and ethnic groups which each brings its own language and lore to the mystique of the continent as a whole.
The distinct and separate history of many of these social groups is celebrated in cultural events and the arts presented by each group. The music and dance of each culture describes the history and spirituality of the group. Traditional dances, replete with costumes, song, and musical instruments unique to the people, are important aspects of African ritual and ceremony.
The arts and crafts that define the African culture are as varied as the geography. Historically, arts and crafts from any region are made with the materials found in the local environment. With Africa’s mountains, beaches, savannahs, deserts, and jungles, there is an almost unlimited choice of materials to work with and the individuality of a tribe is vividly reflected in the craftsmanship of its artisans.
The vast continent is home to hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects, each with its own rendition of myth, folklore, and fable. There are many thematic similarities in these stories of history and wisdom but each is unique to the language and people telling them.
As it is with cultures everywhere, the foods and beverages enjoyed across the continent may best define African culture. The geological diversity influences the traditional foods enjoyed by the different people, just as it influences so many other aspects of African life.
Africans living in coastal zones enjoy diets consisting of large amounts of seafoods while those living inland rely on land animals for their protein intake. Some African cultures are vegetarian while others live on a diet heavy in meat and dairy products. As with all things African, the cuisine is diverse, bold, and brimming with local flavor.