African people

It is impossible to understand African people in terms of the ethnicity, tribes and other processes taking place in contemporary Africa without knowledge of its past.

Historians and philosophers of Europe up to the 19th century operated with such documents as testimonies of ancient historians, written monuments of the peoples of North Africa, partially Ethiopia, Sudan and Muslim peoples of East and West Africa.

Quite accurate information about tropical Africa can be found not only in special historical and geographical literature, but even in the novels, folklore, and poetry of some ancient and medieval peoples.

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Mentions of black Africans can be found in Homer’s Odyssey, Dante’s Inferno, Perso-Tajik’s Kabus-name, the Tang novels of China, the old French Song of Roland, etc., along with the hypotheses, however fantastic they may be, the facts – linguistic, anthropological, archaeological, ethnographic, confirming the identity of African culture, its long internal development and contacts with other civilizations – were gradually accumulated.

Ancient and medieval cultures of Africa are beginning to be resurrected by the young science of African studies. It is still very much controversial and hypothetical: researchers have neither an exact chronology nor historical sources, unlike scientists who study the civilizations of the Old World. For a long time, the “black” continent was considered “devoid of history,” for African people were denied the ability to create a distinctive culture and statehood. This racist myth has now been completely debunked.

Most Africanists consider the question of the origin of the African peoples to be largely resolved. Many scientists share Ch. Darwin’s view of this continent as the ancestral home of mankind. This view is supported by anthropology and genetics. Lower Paleolithic tools, remains of Australopithecus and Zinjanthropus, which were not yet human but already upright, used simple natural tools and ate plant and meat food, were found on this continent.

Even today, Africa is home to chimpanzees and gorillas, the closest living anthropoid relatives of humans. The stages of hominid evolution are represented in Africa, and the continuity of the development of archaeological cultures from the Stone Age and the Metal Age can be traced. Therefore, it is unreasonable to raise the question of the settlement of Africa by people from other continents.

Since ancient times, the ethnogenesis of the peoples of Africa has proceeded quite independently, without the predominant participation of alien ethnic elements. Of course, there have been migrations and intermingling within the continent. One of the reasons for this is the thermal maximum that led to the drying up of the formerly fertile Sahara some seven to four millennia ago.

From the northern edge of the tropical forests of the Congo and Cameroon, the ancient homeland of the Bantu, these peoples moved southward, pushing the Bushmen and the Hottentots, the Nilots and the Cushites.

About a thousand years ago, the Bantu people reached the east coast of Africa and the Great Lakes region. The Bantu-speaking Pygmies, this aboriginal population of Tropical Africa, are also the result of Bantu migrations. As a result of the thermal maximum, a part of the Semito-Hamitic community also moved to the Asian continent, to which the Isthmus of Suez connected Africa (before the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869).

In ancient times, there were contacts between Africans and the peoples of South and Southeast Asia. How else to explain the distant affinity between Dravidian languages of India and some languages of East Africa, found by linguists? Why is there a great similarity between the fauna of Madagascar and Hindustan, which has long been noted by zoologists? Why in ancient historians (Scylacus, Hecateus of Miletus, Herodotus, Nearchus) do we encounter the statement that India and Africa were once connected by a bridge? After all, we have learned about it only recently, after the work of geologists and oceanographers. It is quite possible that the study of the floor of the Indian Ocean and its seas will force us to reconsider many questions related to the origin of humanity and the oldest civilizations of our planet.

It has been proved that in the Upper Paleolithic, the formation of the African man of the modern species took place and that in North Africa at about the same time, the Caucasoids, apparently originating from the eastern part of the Mediterranean, lived. During this period, the Africans were engaged in hunting and gathering.

Even then, the African world was not closed. This is evidenced by the findings of early Negroid (Grimaldians) and their traces in the Aurignacian layers of Italy, in the Mesolithic and Neolithic of Switzerland, Ukraine, the Volga region and England. Ancient African agricultural cultures are marked by Neolithic monuments of Maghreb, Nile Valley, Ethiopia, Senegal and Niger valleys. The pastoral economy in the Sahara and the ancient culture of the Guinea coast developing in tropical forest conditions had peculiar features.

The ancient peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, in contrast to the peoples of Europe, Asia and North Africa, did not know the Copper and Bronze Age, passing directly from stone to iron. Iron in the first millennium AD spread from Western Sudan and Southeast Africa to South Africa. This allowed the agricultural population to develop the vast areas relatively quickly, quite deeply and culturally.

We learn about the ancient inhabitants of the continent and their appearance from ancient Egyptian sources and from the drawings of Egyptian artists who depicted the Negro Cushites (inhabitants of Nubia), the dark-skinned inhabitants of Eastern Sudan, the Negro-European Ethiopians, light-skinned Libyans and the short-skinned Pygmies.

Testimonies of the ancient Egyptians, written accounts of the Carthaginians and other sources and monuments allow us to judge the racial heterogeneity of African peoples in ancient times. Meanwhile, the bourgeois ethnographic literature widely promotes the erroneous view that Africa was first inhabited exclusively by pygmies, as if they were the only autochthonous population, and then the land-tilling Negro tribes came from Asia, which widely spread over the continent, and finally, even later, the Hamitic cattlemen, peoples of the Caucasoid race, migrated from there.

From these light-skinned “highly gifted” Hamites, the “backward” Negroes allegedly inherited a higher civilization. The formation of purely African states, the creation of high cultures on the African continent is explained by the influence of the Hamites. “Hamitic theory” as a variant of racism is also untenable scientifically: first, there is an unacceptable confusion of the concepts of “race” (biological) and “language” (linguistic); second, there is no Hamitic race, nor even a Hamitic anthropological type, unlike the Hamitic languages.

The ancient culture of African people

Not only the ancient cultures of the interior of Africa but also the slave-owning ancient Egyptian civilization with its early statehood (from about 3000 BC) are distinctive and grew up on African soil. Magnificent “space” frescoes of Tassili in the Sahara desert and no less beautiful, though not as widely known rock paintings of Fezzan, Tanganyika, South Africa; an amazing complex of majestic structures of dry stonework Zimbabwe, where once tried to find the mines of King Solomon, and no less monumental – in the mountains Inyanga, the creation of which took no less labor than the construction of the Egyptian pyramids; The bronze masterpieces of Benin and the even more ancient and beautiful statues of Ife; the mysterious ruins on the shores of East Africa and the no less mysterious drawings of South Africa; the great kingdom of Aksum in Ethiopia and the ancient kingdom of Meroe on the Middle Nile (2nd half of the 6th century BC. The great kingdom of Axum in Ethiopia and the ancient kingdom of Meroe in Middle Nile (2nd half of the 6th century BC – 4th century AD); the uniqueness of the Arab-Moorish civilization and the specificity of Moorish crafts and architecture in North Africa – all these are only fragments, only separate pages of a huge volume of centuries-old African history.

The backwardness of African people

The reasons for the destruction of African civilizations, the backwardness of African peoples in recent centuries from European and many Asian nations are various. This is a geographical factor – the inaccessibility and poor development of vast areas, a certain ethnic fragmentation and natural isolation from the world economic centers – and the specificity of historical conditions.

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when most African civilizations were experiencing their greatest rise, the continent was blossoming with crowded and rich cities and vast states. Nevertheless, labor productivity remained low and technology primitive: nowhere except Ethiopia and Nubia were ploughing implements used, and the land was cultivated with hoes and sticks.

African music
African music

There was no potter’s wheel in Tropical Africa, and craftsmen used the simplest tools. African artisans spent incomparably more labor to produce beautiful works than in Western Europe, China, India or Japan. In this regard, primitive forms of labor cooperation were preserved in Tropical Africa.

The basis of small-scale subsistence production was formed by the large family community and patronimia – a clan and economic association of relatives. Nowhere south of the Sahara, a single class of feudally dependent peasants was formed. If Nubia and part of Ethiopia had entered into developed feudalism, West Africa was only in some places approaching this level of development (the Niger Valley, Hausa country), and many vast areas had just entered the stage of early feudalism.

Finally, part of the African population was still living under the conditions of the primitive communal system.

Development of people of Africa

Indeed, the development of African societies had its own peculiarities. The slow pace of development of productive forces and the associated preservation in some cases to this day of archaic forms of social organization, community in various forms predetermined the peculiarity of forms of class formation, exploitation, state and political organization.

In Africa, there was an intertwining of phenomena characteristic of both class and pre-class society, aggravated, moreover, by the destructive impact of the colonial regime on traditional relations.

Some African scientists and others have proved that despite the diversity of forms of class society formation in individual African peoples, there are also features common to all regions of the continent.

  • *Firstly, no slave-owning formations were formed anywhere in Tropical Africa, although slavery was well known and persisted among many peoples until the establishment of the colonial regime.
  • *Secondly, the early class societies of Africa retained relatively more vestigial features of the pre-class society than other parts of the globe.
  • *Thirdly, owing to specific natural conditions, all Negro peoples of Africa, with the exception of the Congo and Angola, switched earlier to iron-working than to copper-working. Consequently, the Bronze Age was not characteristic of African society as a special historical epoch. As has already been pointed out, from the Neolithic, the Africans moved immediately into the Iron Age. Early acquaintance with iron contributed to the more rapid development of social production among these peoples.
  • *Fourth, sub-Saharan Africa did not know essentially direct exploitation of the communal worker, and from this side, the formation of class relations proceeded at a very slow pace. But on the whole, the dominant trend of development has invariably remained feudal. Slavery before the arrival of the Europeans was patriarchal in character.

As some scientist points out, in Africa, the extremely slow rate of growth of the social product, which ensured the stability of the communal organization, prevented the transformation of the captive into a slave in the ancient sense.

Therefore, before the European slave trade, Africa was characterized by a wide variety of intermediate forms between the position of a slave and a feudally dependent peasant, especially since the stagnant nature of the economy greatly facilitated the coexistence of very different socio-economic modes within the same social structure.

Finally, as has shown by the example of pre-colonial societies of the Guinea coast, the basis of alienation of the surplus product was the monopoly of the ruling strata not for the means of production, i.e., not primarily for land, but for the performance of organizational, economic and military-organizational functions. But this is not specific to Africa as a whole.

The picture of the historical development of African peoples in pre-colonial times is complex and far from being uncovered. That is why there are many views on specific problems of Africa’s socio-economic history.

There was no single zone of civilizations on the continent, and the progress of individual civilized countries was hampered by their constant contact with the pre-class, less developed societies surrounding them.

Barbaric conquests sometimes swept the old cultural centers off the face of the earth. As a result, in the Middle Ages (up to the 19th century), Tropical Africa exported mainly not agricultural products and handicrafts, but by-products of hunting and gathering (ivory, resins, spices, etc.), gold and slaves. It was only in the 19th century that agriculture in Tropical Africa began to adapt to the needs of the world market.

Meanwhile, even in the Middle Ages, there was a revival in the outside world, from Japan to England, prepared by the rise of productive forces, the growth of the commodity economy and cities. In the main civilized countries, including Egypt and Tunisia, capitalist relations were emerging. In this sense, Sub-Saharan Africa lagged behind European and Asian countries.

Oral art of African people

Culturally, pre-colonial Africa was not a blank spot. Its peoples possessed knowledge and skill and produced works of great value in architecture, sculpture, music, dance, poetry and oral literature.

The oral art of the Africans, of whose vast wealth we still have only a vague idea, is by no means a sign of the backwardness of the society. It should be studied by a special field of ethnography – ethnopedagogy. The emergence of writing does not necessarily mark the transition to a “higher” level of culture.

African women beating drums
African women beating drums

Oral art as a means of expression of any civilization is always closely connected with different aspects of social life. Having many functions, it is the “memory” of society and transmits norms of behavior and aesthetic expression from generation to generation. Deeply rooted in the heart of the people, the oral arts of Africans preserve descriptions of a multitude of phenomena and explain them. These may include history, rituals, the environment, the organization of society, labor skills, relationships between people, and ties with neighboring ethnic groups.

In other words, oral art was a form of learning that passed from generation to generation. It became the property of the entire ethnic community or even several ethnic groups. As a form of learning, oral literature tells about the past, the world as a whole, and the present, and teaches the younger generation norms of behavior in accordance with customs.

The very nature of oral communication had a decisive influence on the content of culture and on the transmission of cultural traditions. They were “preserved” in the memory of society. The lack of literacy in pre-colonial Africa was not considered a sign of cultural backwardness. On the contrary, once educated, the Europeanized elite most often lost touch with their native culture and traditions (educational systems in contemporary Africa take this into account).

African oral literature is extraordinarily rich in both form and content. The depth of interpretation of its images depends on the vivid imagination of the listeners and the degree of their perception. It is a comprehensive art, in the creation of which everyone participates. Oral communication is accompanied by gestures, music, rhythms, with complete freedom of expression and improvisation, so that the value and content of oral art is timeless.

The rich treasury of oral art, including legends, stories and rituals, stories about mythological heroes, people and animals, poetry, songs, proverbs and riddles, offer, in fact, unlimited opportunities for research.

In contact with Europe

Since the end of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, all Africa has been in stagnation and decline. On its shores came the conquistadors of the Age of Discovery: the Chinese, the Turks, especially the Portuguese, the Spaniards and other Europeans. Africa became linked to the outside world not only through trade contacts, but also through the vicissitudes of world politics.

Contacts with Europe during the period of initial accumulation of capital brought this vast continent into a state of long stagnation. The slave trade and related wars cost an estimated 100 million lives and the labor of many generations.

The old cities, grown up on trade with the Arab world, steadily declined and were replaced by the factories of the European powers, which became (with the exception of the Cape Colony in southern Africa) mere appendages to the world trading system through which the wealth of Africa was pumped to Europe and the Americas. The influx of cheap industrial goods undermined traditional crafts.

This era of robbery in Africa, which lasted until about 1870, ended with the colonial division of the continent at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Africa was turned into a colonial continent: only Liberia and Ethiopia remained formally sovereign states.

The colonizers stripped the African peoples of their right to self-government. Of the 50 political-administrative units by 1923, 45 had colonial status (colonies, possessions, protectorates, mandated territories).

African countries were subordinated to the interests of metropolises and turned into agrarian and raw materials appendages of European states. Agriculture was given a monocultural character in the interests of the monopolies. Africa was “directly leased to the companies,” wrote F. Engels.

During the period of territorial division, the colonizers paid little regard to linguistic, ethnic boundaries. Nationalities and tribes were fragmented among the various domains of the Western European powers.

As a consequence, the populations of most of the new African states that emerged from the former colonies are characterized by a mixed ethnic composition. For example:

  • Some Ewes live in Ghana and some in Togo and Benin;
  • The Maasai live in Kenya and Tanzania;
  • The Wolof live in Gambia and Senegal;
  • The Malinka live in Guinea, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia;
  • Somalis live in northern Kenya and Ethiopia;
  • Bakongo in Zaire, Congo and Angola;
  • Azande in Sudan, Zaire and CAR;
  • Yoruba in Nigeria, Togo and Benin;
  • Akan in Ghana and Ivory Coast, etc.
Maasai tribe
Maasai tribe

Hence a number of inter-state conflicts (for example, between Somalia and Ethiopia) have arisen in recent years in areas of Africa. The problem of African unity is also the problem of the correct resolution of ethnic, national and territorial problems. Currently, within the existing and legally established borders of the former metropolitan states, there is a complex process of unification of the ethnically diverse population and the formation of national consciousness.

During the years of colonialism, the backward countries, which had not yet embarked on the path of independent capitalist development, were subjected to double exploitation.

The mortality rate of Africans increased sharply, the population decreased, the nationalities lost their statehood, and some of them were forced to adopt an alien religion.

There were some changes in the economy and in the formation of peoples and nations. For example, colonizers built ports, railroads, and administrative and trading centers. The mobility of the native population increased. The language of the metropolis began to become an inter-ethnic written language. The colonial policy was based on the denial of African languages as a means of disseminating culture and knowledge. The colonizers considered them “primitive” languages, incapable of conveying scientific thought.

Consequently, the process of isolating one of the dialects and transforming it into the written language of a nation or nationality came to a halt as the well-developed language of the colonizers became a common language for a number of multilingual nationalities forming into a nation.

Colonialism dealt a terrible blow to traditional culture. There is ample evidence of centuries of interaction between African cultures themselves and between Africa and other continents. The Sahara Desert, considered a natural barrier to interchange, was, in fact, a link between different regions, as evidenced by the remarkable stone bas-reliefs of Tassili and Tenere. The fusion and interpenetration of Arab-Berber culture and the cultures of the peoples of Tropical Africa constitute the basis of African identity.

During the period of colonial expansion, however, African cultures were geographically fragmented and isolated from one another. Once entire cultural areas were divided, and as a result, not only centuries-old ties were lost, but the foundations of culture were destroyed and crumbled. Some cultural areas were deliberately maintained by the colonizers at the expense of others, which seriously disturbed their social, economic and political equilibrium. Since then, the gulf between town and countryside, between coastal and inland lands, between “pacified” and “unconquered” areas has been growing wider and wider.

The geographic divide was accompanied by a breakdown of temporal contacts. Colonialism sought to sever Africa’s ties with its past, its traditions, its culture. Traditional African schools were closed, places and objects of worship were destroyed, and native teachers were persecuted. In the cultural vacuum thus created, a tiny minority of Africans could be educated in a new language and accustomed to a new way of thinking. Education under colonialism was primarily a means of subjugation, obedience and alienation.

The class structure of the nationalities became more complicated during colonialism. Along with the light industry enterprises in the colonies, the working class and the local bourgeoisie emerged, and the major nationalities began to be transformed into a nation. But the sustained period of nation formation begins with the victory of the capitalist mode of production over the feudal mode of production.

Therefore, this process in a number of already independent African countries has been extremely painful. The different nationalities in Congo, Nigeria and other African countries are beginning to understand that a common economic life requires a common state system, i.e., unifying tendencies prevail over separatist tendencies. Imperialism, on the other hand, seeks to split these peoples in order to keep them in the system of the capitalist economy.

The difficulties of the consolidation of African peoples are exacerbated by the problems of language building. In the Congo, for example, where no one language dominates the languages of the other peoples, it is likely that French, which is widely spoken there, will continue to serve as an inter-ethnic language.

The acquisition of a developed inter-ethnic language proceeds faster than the development of a backward mother tongue, whose qualitative leap, like all other languages, is prepared by the gradual accumulation of small new elements.

Thus, the ethnocultural processes taking place in contemporary Africa are complex. Africa is facing many problems, and they are by no means theoretical in nature. Most independent African states now have to deal with the complex problems of national culture, the relationship between local African languages and the languages of former metropolises, language construction, and the development of writing systems. Naturally, these problems cannot be solved without taking into account the specific ethnic situation in each individual region.

Anti-imperialist movement

There is an anti-imperialist movement in Africa, in which all the races and peoples of the continent have joined, although Negro Africans play a major role in the movement. It must be noted, however, that in the ideological and spiritual life of Africa, the ideology of nationalism occupies a prominent place.

Nationalism takes many forms. Among them, there are some that grow not only on nationality itself but also on ethnic, linguistic, cultural, class, communal, religious, racial, etc., bases. Regional nationalism – Arab nationalism (pan-Arabism), African nationalism (pan-Africanism, Afrikacentrism), religious-communal nationalism (Muslim nationalism, etc.) – acquires a special significance in the epoch of imperialism. The internally contradictory nature of nationalist ideology in the countries struggling against colonialism. On the one hand, it expresses the progressive, democratic – anti-imperialist, anti-colonial and anti-feudal – interests of the entire population of these countries, and above all of their working masses.

On the other hand, it also carries a reactionary content, reflecting the position and interests of the expatriate upper class, especially the national bourgeoisie, exaggerating the role and importance of national particularities in the historical and cultural development of African peoples and raising them in some cases to the level of national and racial exceptionalism and racial superiority.


In relief, this reactionary content is manifested in various concepts of “colored” racism, religious-idealistic and mystical teachings, and the theory of “negritude”. The creator of the latter is a major statesman and political figure of new Africa, former president of the Republic of Senegal, scholar-philologist, sociologist and publicist, poet and critic Leopold Sedar Senghor.

The essence of the concept of “negritude” is the need to revive and develop original African culture, designed to reflect certain specific, supposedly unique features of the “negro-African soul”. “Negritude” is about anchoring individuality, self-affirmation.

African women
African women

Senghor believes that Negro-African peoples have their own particular understanding of life and way of life, their own particular way of speaking, singing and dancing, drawing and sculpting, even laughing and crying, a specific and totally unique character of civilization and culture. “Negritude” is the sum total of the values of the civilization of the Negro world.

In the course of their long history, African peoples have developed their own conception of man and the world around them. They have created their own system of values, and they have developed their own attitudes toward those values. African culture has absorbed the highest values of humanity – moral, aesthetic, religious, social, economic, scientific, technical.

Senghor’s assertion of cultural identity is not an attempt to emphasize the individuality of Africans, nor is it a painful reaction to the pernicious effects of colonialism, nor is it a reflex of self-defense in the face of the onslaught of culture brought about by scientific and technological progress, nor is it an expression of extreme nationalism. The affirmation of cultural identity in Africa is not born out of hatred, racism “backwards,” or feelings of resentment.

From the beginning, Senghor’s teachings expressed a desire to contrast the morality of the colonizers with a humanist conception of the right of African peoples to a dignified place in the family of humankind.

Subsequently, however, some adherents, and at times enemies, of “negritude” emphasized the thesis of the exceptionalism of the “black race,” and overshadowed the idea of the brotherhood of all races and peoples. Senghor and his theory put the problem in terms of mutual exchange and dialogue, not in terms of antagonism or racial hatred.

Certain circles, using the concept of “negritude” and “perfecting” it, seek to shut out the peoples of Africa under the pretext of “protecting” Negro-African culture from the reception of other cultures and especially ideological systems, especially scientific socialism. Preaching the absolute spiritual superiority of the peoples of Africa, their traditional way of life, ethical norms and attitudes sometimes turns into a conviction that these traditions and worldviews are also applicable, even fruitful and necessary for other peoples, especially the “white peoples of the West”.

Relying on such hegemonic sentiments, reactionary forces in Africa try to replace the objective commonality of interests of the Afro-Asian peoples in their struggle against imperialism and neocolonialism with the mythical community of the “African spirit” and its contrived opposition to the “materialist civilization of the white West” into which the countries of socialism are included along with the world of capitalism.

Such an amalgamation of capitalism and socialism into an artificial “civilization of the West” is not only completely untenable but also deeply reactionary. The ideological struggle around the formation and development of a new culture in the independent states of Africa has a specific aspect. It is about determining the best ratio of new and traditional in modern African cultures, about the place of traditional culture in the cultural construction of independent Africa, about the main trends in the development of African art.

African Arts

African art is indeed developing in communication with the art of the world, giving it expressive forms and rhythms and drawing from it new directions.

Of course, in the struggle for the self-assertion of the creative personality, Africans will necessarily be freed from the pernicious influence of the worst manifestations of modern Western modernist art – the art of dodgy craftsmen and rich snobs. The decolonization of African talent now goes hand in hand with the rejection of the extremes of traditionalism, which unequivocally demands a “return to identity,” canonization of the past. Of course, colonialism dealt a terrible blow to traditional culture, but with the onset of a new era, free African art takes up new tasks, develops new ideals, and helps mobilize people to build a new society.

Cultural values of pre-colonial Africa (cave paintings in the Sahara, the architecture of medieval Ethiopia, the Nok culture in Nigeria, bronzes of Ife and Benin, wooden sculptures of Tropical Africa) and modern folk and professional art (music, dance, cinema, etc.) constitute the specificity of folk art. But it is possible to admire the ethnographic culture without striving to return to the extinct traditions and magical rituals with which the artworks of the past were closely connected. National art is created by the generalization of ethnic elements and the assimilation of new traits through the exchange. Isolation and the oppressive influence of archaicism would lead to epigonism and stagnation in creativity.

In the context of the nation-states of Africa, there are important ethnic processes related to the socio-economic development of Afro-Asian peoples. These are processes of integration and disengagement. Especially visible are the processes of integration, i.e. the rapprochement and interaction of peoples different in language and origin, in the level of socio-economic and cultural development, which contributes to the formation of large ethnopolitical communities. Growth of national self-consciousness, the obliteration of tribal distinctions and the rejection of narrow ethnic interests are being observed. The processes of ethnic separation, the increasing role of the ethnic factor in African countries’ political life, and the strengthening of local separatism and tribalism are also noticeable.

In Kenya, for example, the Ndorobo hunters, the Nilotic Luo farmers, the Bantu-speaking Gusii and Suba are assimilated by the Kikuyu; In Sudan, Arabs assimilate the Nubians, the Bedja; in Ethiopia, the Agau people (of Cushitic origin), most of them already speaking Amharic (their native language is used only in everyday life), are assimilated by the Amharic people; in Nigeria, the intensive processes of Hausaization of small tribes (Butawa, Kudawa, Afawa, etc.) are underway.) Assimilation is typical of many other African countries.

In Africa, large ethnic communities are formed on a homogeneous ethnic basis, i.e. on the basis of kindred tribes or groups of tribes, and the formed ethnos is further consolidated in the process of its socio-economic and cultural development. These processes are called the processes of consolidation.

They were typical for most of the peoples of Europe at the dawn of the unification of tribal groups into states. In Africa, these processes were typical of the Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria), Akan (Ghana), Luhya and Kikuyu (Kenya). However, national consolidation has not yet ended, and sociopolitical stratification is slowing down this process (as in the Yoruba in Nigeria).

The state promotes the development of ethnic communities and the rapprochement of peoples, its progressive socio-economic, cultural, national policies, migration processes, and urbanization. However, the level and pace of ethnic processes are influenced by the multiform socio-economic structure of young African states, the traditional occupations of certain ethnic groups, their ethnic professionalization, the still present prejudice against certain types of labor, and a certain ethnic insularity.

Consequently, there are two main trends of ethnic development in contemporary Africa: consolidation (individual-related ethnic communities turning some of them into nations) and intra-state integration. Africa, with its heterogeneous ethnic composition, many types of ethnic groups, complex ethnic processes, archaic institutions and structures are nevertheless characterized by general patterns of ethnic history among African peoples and social development in general.

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