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Africa Cruises
Africa Cruises

Culture

There are hundreds of ways to say “hello” in Africa. UNESCO has estimated that more than 2,000 languages are spoken there. Most originated in Africa, but others came from Europe and Asia. In Mauritius and Madagascar, where French is spoken, people say “bonjour.” In Sierra Leone, the Krios (descendants of West Indian slaves) say “ow de body,” as in “how’s the body?” In South Africa and Namibia, Afrikaans is the most widely spoken language. It borrows heavily from Dutch, along with Malay, Portuguese and Africa’s Khoisan dialects. The broad spectrum of languages alone gives visitors an idea of the cultural diversity on this continent of about 1 billion people.

Add to that the multitude of ethnic groups. Kenya in eastern Africa has more than 40. The largest are the Bantu, a general term for various tribes who speak the Bantu language. Togo, a sliver of land near Ghana long appreciated by the British for its beautiful beaches, has more than 30.

Music and dance play integral roles in many African cultures and usually have special meanings. Different steps and sounds were created for specific events, like weddings and baptisms. The rhythms of Africa have had worldwide influences; many styles of music and dance around the globe borrow from this continent bordered by the Atlantic and Indian oceans, including American rhythm and blues, Jamaican reggae and the Cuban danzon. But before this, African dance and music took form over the centuries through influences from invaders and settlers. The sounds of North Africa, for instance, where many people of Arabic descent reside, are inspired by Middle Eastern music. And in East Africa, musical traditions are influenced by such neighbors as India and Indonesia.

The same is true of multiple African cuisines, many of which are early examples of fusion dining. Fragrant Moroccan food is heavily seasoned with Arabic and Mediterranean ingredients. Preserved olives, mint leaves, walnuts, pomegranates and almonds are used in dishes. Meanwhile, South Africans often describe their food style as a “rainbow cuisine” to reflect the potpourri of eclectic influences with African, Asian and European roots. Combined, they make an appetizing spread.