The indigenous peoples of Africa are the historical result of the various waves of immigrants that the continent has received over the centuries, as well as the changes that have occurred after colonization. In what follows we show you a list of the main indigenous communities from Africa.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Pygmy Community

The Pygmy community is made up of a human group of hunter-gatherers that inhabit the african rainforests. Pygmies have a common physical characteristic: their short stature. So much so, that the average height of men is 1,5 m.



Most Pygmies inhabit the Congo region, located in central Africa. This community is made up of several tribal villages, among which the Mbuti, who inhabit the Ituri jungle (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Similarly, other communities such as the Aka, Baka, Binga, Gok, Efé and the Twa stand out.

These groups collect fruits, honey, and tubers and are used to functioning by means of barter of food and other materials with neighboring towns.

Some work in these towns, which is why the resulting language is a mix between the different dialects of this group of towns. They hunt various animals with nets, javelins and arrows, including monkeys, pigs and various species of birds.

For these people, the jungle is owned by ginger, the spirit of the jungle. In addition, the pygmies stand out for their compositions of vocal music, among which the yodel or song to the Tyrolean stands out, which consists of the singer making sudden changes in the tone of his vocal register.

The bushmen

The Bushmen, also known as Pueblo Saint, basarawa o Sho, constitute another indigenous community of Africa composed of hunter-gatherers.

The predominant languages ​​among these human groups belong to the family of those called Khoisan languages, characterized by the use of clicks or clicks when talking. In turn, the term Bushman Afrikaans proceeds boschjesman, which literally means forest man.

The Bushmen are more than 95.000 people, who are distributed among Botswana, Namibia, Angola, the Republic of South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with Botswana being the country where the largest number is found, with about 40.000 Bushmen.

However, as a whole, most Bushmen inhabit the kalahari desert, which covers an area of ​​more than 500.000 km² and is located in southern Africa, because during the s. XIX this human group maintained one of the largest commercial networks of pre-colonial times through this desert.

Among the most notable rituals of these groups, the weddings or marriages by capture, especially the ceremonial aspects of them. Participants are required to assume a behavior of utmost respect from the moment they are aware of their marriage.

On the wedding day, a simulation is made in which the woman is captured and forcibly taken from her parents' house to another authorized for the occasion. The bodies of the bride and groom are smeared with special oils and aromatic powders. All this ritual is done with the aim that the marriage begins as something stormy.

The Masai

The Masai, Maasai or Maasai are an indigenous people that inhabit Africa, specifically southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, especially in the Great Rift Valley. In total, it is estimated that there are about 880.000 inhabitants, who speak the language ol maa, an Eastern Nilotic language.

However, being one of the most internationally known African tribes, many Maasai individuals know how to express themselves correctly in Swahili or even in English, as shown in the following video, where they also teach us the famous dance of the Maasai jumps:

The Masai are a picturesque town that has survived the colonial era with its own culture intact. An example of it is its traditional animistic religion, which revolves around the mystical beliefs, although a minority have come to know Christianity.

Many cultural traits of contemporary Masai are exactly the same as those of their ancestors, including the unimportance of the passage of time, but their existence is closely linked to sunrise and sunset, as well as the change of the seasons.

Most of the Masai are shepherds who travel great distances across the plains of the savannah in search of green pastures and water for their livestock, consisting mostly of wildebeest, giraffes and zebras, among other animals.

Its economy and traditional culture are based, ultimately, on the livestock care (cattle, sheep and goats). They hardly make a living from agriculture, since their constant movement prevents them, but they do collect some plants and fruits that they find along the way.

Also highlights the maasai crafts, mainly his clothes, beads and hematite ornaments, among others. They tend to wear a red fabric with geometric details knotted on the shoulders.

The Suri

The Suri ethnic group, also called SurmaIs a indigenous community that inhabits the southwest of Ethiopia, Kaffa region, and part of the Boma plain, in Sudan from the south.

They live in small huts made from branches and are one of the most aggressive warrior tribes in the region. Although they are known as Suri, they call themselves Women o Dhuak.

Its economy is based on herds of cows, which are their main wealth, followed by agriculture, which has been greatly affected in recent decades by the civil war in Sudan, which has led them to acquire a poaching system together with the Nyangatom, which is ending with the wild fauna of this region.

They are very introverted and possessive when it comes to their territory and have no shame in getting to shoot those around the vicinity.

Despite constant attempts by the government to make the Suri adapt to general ways of life, this ethnic group keeps its traditional ones alive. The Surma women, who pierce their lower lip and place a small plate as a dilation and, over time, increase its size.

This body accessory is very important when the time of marriage arrives, since the larger the plate, the greater the dowry that the bride's family will be able to request from that of the groom.

The Zulus

The Zulu or Amazulu are direct descendants of the Nguni people, who inhabited the banks of the Congo River during the XNUMXth century.

This community later migrated south from its current location, which is divided between Lesotho, southern Malawi, southern Mozambique and Zululand, and northern Natal in South Africa. In total, the Zulu ethnic group is made up of more than ten million inhabitants. They are the neighboring town of the Bushmen.

They speak the Zulu language, which is derived directly from the Bantu language family, which is a subfamily of the Niger-Congo languages. The Zulus constituted a kingdom during the XNUMXth century and played a very important role in the history of South Africa during that century.

In 1879 the so-called Anglo-Zulu War between the Zulu ethnic group and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which meant the end of the independence of the Zulu as a nation and thus becoming a British possession. In this video you can see more about this warrior community:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG6ZNhlBGxA

However, with the arrival of the XNUMXth century, Zulu citizens began to be discriminated against and classified as second-class citizens, although, today, they are the largest ethnic group in South Africa, which gives them equal rights.

Regarding their religious beliefs, the Zulu people believe in the existence of a creator God called Nkulunkulu, which is present in all matters related to people. The Zulus believe in divination as a bridge to the invocation of the ancestors, called AmaDlozi in their language.

The role of fortune teller corresponds to women, who are of great importance in the daily life of this ethnic group. They believe that everything negative, including death, is the result of an evil sorcery performed by the offended spirits of their ancestors.

The Malagasy

The term Madagascan is the gentilicio used to refer to the inhabitants of Madagascar, an island country belonging to the African continent and located in the Indian Ocean off Mozambique.

Madagascar is the largest island in Africa and the fourth in the world with its 587.041 km². Therefore, it is not surprising that its population is about 21 million inhabitants, of which 99% are of Malagasy origin.

The Malagasy, in turn, are made up of various ethnic groups from Malay-Afro-Indonesian origin. Thus, the first inhabitants of Madagascar came directly from Indonesia, which is why the current Malagasy have Asian features and differ in them several typical customs of Southeast Asia.

Likewise, its language, Malagasy, has dialect features of the Malay-Polynesian family of languages, similar to that spoken on the island of Borneo. Later, several waves of Bantu immigrants arrived from Africa and, in this way, they mixed with the previous ones.

From this mixture the current Malagasy emerged, which were distributed between the center of the island and the coast. The ethnic groups of central Madagascar mainly have Malay features and, of these, the most representative are, on the one hand, the Merina (3 million inhabitants), and, on the other hand, the Betsileo (about 2 million inhabitants) .

On the other hand, the inhabitants of the coastal zone have more African characteristics, such as the Betsimisarak town or the Tsimihety, among others.

The religion professed by the Malagasy is one that believes links between life and death, that is, they believe that the dead and death ally with their ancestors and acquire the rank of divinity.



Therefore, it is the ancestors who guide the destiny of their living descendants. It is customary in the Malagasy town to speak what is fair and necessary and even not to call each other by their first name so that the spirits do not know who it is and, in this way, they cannot harm them.

Mursi Community

The Mursi are an ethnic minority of less than 10.000 members who inhabit Debub Omo, Ethiopia, specifically the Jinka steppes and the Omo Park mountains.

Of Nilotic origin, they are a warrior community that speaks the Mursi language, a language belonging to the Nilo-Saharan language family. Together, this ethnic group is considered a warrior tribe, another trait they have in common with the Suri or Surma.

Within the town the Pulled, a kind of council formed by the most veteran men who are the ones who make the decisions.

The women draw attention, who, like the Suri, perform large dilations on the lower lip, where a plate is placed.

Men for their part also decorate their bodies by painting it with white chalk or also using the technique of scarification or incision, consisting of producing eschar on the skin, that is, deep cuts are made in the dermis so that the wounds produce a dark-colored crust, which makes the skin look as if it were raised.

The Mursi maintain the ancestral tradition of the Dunga, that is, a festive battle that is celebrated between young people with long canes to commemorate the victory of a warrior, who, after this rite, obtains the right to choose a wife and be respected for their opponents.

The Herero

The Herero are an indigenous people that inhabit the extreme southwest of Angola, Botswana and Namibia. They are neighbors of the Bushmen. They settled in these countries throughout the XNUMXth century, when they migrated from the great lakes of East Africa to the Kunene River.

The Herero are divided, in turn, into several subgroups:

  • Kuvale
  • Tjimba or Ximba
  • mahereo
  • Zeraua
  • mbandero

The economy of the Herero has revolved from time immemorial around the raising of cattle. For this reason, they are considered excellent guides and expert hunters.

Regarding society, the importance that the Herero give to clothing stands out, especially the Cuvale women, who usually wear elaborate turbans made from lambskin. Likewise, Ximba women are striking for the elaborate ceremonial veils they wear.

On a religious level, the Herero practice the cow worship and they consider it as a sacred animal, which is why it is the center of many ceremonial acts. Another custom of a religious nature is to avoid burying the deceased with members of other indigenous communities.

The Himba

The Himba live in the arid Kunene region and Outjo area of ​​Namibia. They are a semi-nomadic people whose economy is based on livestock. In reality, this tribe has many similarities with the Herero, since it is with them that they share their origins as well as the otjiherero language.

The Himba are currently the only indigenous community that still conserves the lifestyle that they maintained centuries ago intact. We leave you with an interesting video where you can see how these indigenous groups live:

Within the Himba village there are several tribes at the same time, each of which is governed by a chief, who, in turn, is the spiritual leader. The polygamyAlthough a man cannot spend more than two nights with one of his wives without attending to the other.

When an offense is committed, the chiefs of each tribe meet to negotiate what the fine to impose will consist of, which will be based on the payment of head of cattle. Furthermore, if a woman is murdered, the punishment is more severe than if it is the murder of a man.

As for their clothing, the Himba are semi-naked. Both men and women wear loincloths, but the upper part is exposed. However, they use a wide range of accessories such as necklaces and bracelets.

Women are especially striking for their characteristic hairstyle, since they wear a kind of dreadlocks made from the paste that results from mixing ocher, butter and herbs. This same mixture is what they use to cover their entire body, which is why the appearance is reddish. They actually use this skin covering to protect themselves from the intense sun.

Hadza people

The Hadzas, be plural hadzabe'e, inhabit central Tanzania, specifically, the surroundings of Lake Eyasi, in the Great Rift Valley south of the Serengeti National Park. They speak their own language, the Hadza language, which is not related to any language family, although it is characterized by the use of many clicks, a characteristic feature of Khoisan languages.

The Hadzas have always based their economy on hunting and harvest, although today this lifestyle is changing due to pressure from environmentalists and the country's economic regulations.

Men and boys hunt with bows and arrows without the presence of women. They hunt all kinds of animals, from lions, leopards, and other felines to jackals, vultures, and hyenas, including reptiles like snakes and lizards.

As for their communal organization, their intrusion into society begins already in childhood. Girls are obliged to help their mothers, brothers and sisters from a very young age in tasks such as picking berries or seeds, digging edible roots and extracting the pulp of baobab trees, a food that is present in 80% of the daily intake of a Hadza individual.

They also highlight the customs related to marriage and, in general, the freedom possessed by all individuals of this ethnic group. Everyone can go in and out of the village as they please, and then rejoin the camp without anyone caring.

The same happens with marriage: if the married couple is separated for more than two weeks, they are considered to have abandoned the marriage and can then look for a new partner.

Konso Community

The Konso, also known as Komso o karati, are a population that inhabits the town of the same name located at the southwestern Ethiopia, on the banks of the Sagan River.

They speak the Komso language, which is of Afro-Asian origin and are neighbors of other indigenous villages such as the Oromo, the Gawada and the Borana. Although its origin is unknown, it has been shown that certain family and cultural traditions coincide with those of the Cucuta peoples, so it is estimated that the Konso could be a sub-ethnic group derived from this group.

The villages of the Konso community are characterized by their construction, as they rise high in the hills. They also have several defensive fortifications that usually measure between 3 and 4 m in height around which they enable their cultivation fields.

For its part, the Konso people are divided between nine clans called of. According to this system, marriages must take place between people of different clans and each of has a religious authority called pokwalla.

The Konso believe in wow, God of heaven, whom pokwalla they must honor by serving as intermediaries between it and the members of the clan. If this mediation is done correctly, peace and consequent prosperity will be achieved for the whole of.

In relation to these religious beliefs, the Konso make the Weight, a kind of 1 m high wooden statuettes that they build in memory of those deceased who had an important role in society.

The Tuaregs

The Tuaregs, also known as imuhaghs, are an original Berber community from the Sahara desert.

As a whole, the Tuaregs are spread over five African countries:

  • Algeria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Niger

This community has its own language and writing, the latter called tifinagh and characterized by the use of the Libyan-baby alphabet.

Tuareg society stands out for being hierarchical, which means that it distinguishes between nobles and vassals and, in turn, between free or ilellan and slaves íklan.

Thus, the first group includes the aristocracy, priests, pastors and artisans, while the second group corresponds to the servitude, who works in camps serving the ilellan. As of today, it is estimated that about 7% of Niger's population are slaves.

As for the religion practiced by the Tuaregs, most of them are Muslims, although they are not usually as strict as the rest. Thus, for example, they are faithful to the fulfillment of daily prayers, but do not usually carry out fasting during Ramadan.

The Tuaregs believe in the constant presence of spirits or djinns. The Koran is very present in the life of every individual belonging to this ethnic group, so much so that most men use amulets containing verses from the Koran to protect themselves.

Men begin to wear the popular veil that characterizes the Tuaregs from the age of 25 and, from that moment on, they never take it off. However, women are not required to wear a veil.

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