Image of African Continent

The Future and Progression of Anthropology in Africa

History of Anthropology in Africa

Fellow African anthropologist are accused of practicing native anthropology or colonialism anthropology. Africa has been mapped out into zones by race and culture. Africa is divided ethnographically without considerations to the Africans living there. The word “ethnicity” was used by sociologist and adopted by anthropologist in the 1970s. African anthropologist have embraced the word “ethnicity” Black Africans do not get to know white Africans. Most anthropology research in South Africa is on non-white groups or on “poor whites.” White PhDs have more seniority than Black Africans born in Africa are considered natives but not South Africans.

The struggles of Black anthropologist

South African anthropologist who are Black or colored are educated by white professor but are inferior. Black anthropologist are natives. Chinua Achebe calls a Black anthropologist a leper. Black anthropologist struggle with acceptance in a white world. African anthropologist who wants integration are accused of betrayal by African scholar non-anthropological heartland against the struggle of decolonization. In the 1980s Ethiopia added anthropology as a field of study for national knowledge. Ocol does not want African studies to study anthropology in a white university.

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Map of Africa

The progression of anthropology in Africa

            Chinua Achebe says, “The world is like a dancing mask if you want to see it well you do not stand in one place.” To practice anthropology in a reterritorialized world means to do away with the distancing of the anthropological field. The field of anthropology is an uneven playing field negatively affected by global inequalities. For anthropology to progress in Africa it must not be divided by race. Africans do not have advanced anthropology training.

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Children in Africa

Sally Falk Moore

            Sally Falk Moore was an anthropologist and a professor at Harvard University. Moore did fieldwork in Tanzania. Sally Falk Moore was trained as a lawyer at Columbia Law School. In 1957, Moore received her PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. Moore was a professor at the University of Southern California (1977-1981) and Yale University (1975-1976) before joining Harvard University in 1981.

A female anthropologist

Marjorie Shostak

Marjorie Shostak lacked formal education in anthropology. Shostak earned a bachelors in English from Brooklyn College in 1966. In Africa, Shostak began making audio recordings of women from the! Kung San tribe (Bushmen) in the Kalahari Desert. Marjorie Shostak coauthored “The Paleolithic Prescription,” a book on the Paleo diet.

Anthropologist Virgina  Gutierrez 


            Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It covers an area of 356,669 square miles (923, 768 square kilometers which is about twice the size of California. English is Nigeria’s official language. Nigeria gained independence from Britain on October 1st, 1960. Nigeria ‘s education system is the largest in Africa. Nigeria has 125 technical training schools. Nigerians strive for higher education.

            In Nigeria age is respected. Men and women in there senior years have earned privileges and special rights. A handshake and a well wishes from family members and good health are expected when meeting someone. You must properly greet someone before conducting business. It is unacceptable to pass things with the left hand because it is considered unclean.

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Map of Nigeria


            Senegal is situated on the southern tip of Africa. It covers an area of 76,000 square miles (196,781 square kilometers). 90% of Senegalese are Muslim. In Senegal death is considered a pathway to join with one’s ancestor. Universities in Senegal include: The University of Dakar and the University of Saint Louis. The wealthy send their children to study abroad.

            In Senegal, the day starts with a greeting. Young men shake hands and young women bend one knee slightly to greet their elders. Disrespectful language is not accepted in Senegal. Conversational topics in a community in Senegal is about how one respects their community and about intelligence. Th largest single ethnic group is the Wolof which is one-third of the population.


Senegal, Flag, Map, Geography, Outline
Flag of Senegal


            Tanzania lies on the east side of Africa. There are 120 ethnic groups in this country. Swahili is the national language of Tanzania. The second official language of Tanzania is English. In Tanzania remembering one’s ancestor is important. Chicken and goat are sacrificed to their ancestors. A small vessel of beer is left in a special location for one’s ancestors.

            Tanzanians are proud of their strict upbring. The ability to keep control of one’s emotions is highly respected in this culture. Young men and boys hold hands as a sign of friendship. Females are not supposed to smoke or talk in a loud voice. Eiders are respected in their communities. Youths are challenging cultural norms in Tanzania like arranged marriage. The left hand is not used for cleaning.

Tanzania, Flag, Map, Geography, Outline
Flag of Tanzania


            Kenya is a country on the East of Africa. Its total land mass is 581, 309 kilometers. Kenya is a diverse country with 42 ethnic groups. The main language in Kenya is Swahili. Kenyans have a good sense of time and are punctual. People living in the rural areas of Kenya are flexible and are not timely to meetings.

The Kenyan personality is outgoing, and a greeting is preferred. Women shake hands with other women as a sign of respect. It is expected for a visitor to use Kenyan salutation like “jambo” which means hello to conduct business. Greeting someone for a longer time in Kenya will help you get lower prices. Hissing is a form of communication in Kenya.

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Zebras in Kenya


            Morocco is in North Africa. Morocco is slightly larger than the state of California. It covers 174,000 square miles (447,000 square kilometers). The summers are hot, and the winters are cold. 99.1% of the population are from the Arab-Berber ethnic group. Most Moroccans are Arab-Berber mix. 9% of the remaining populations are Jews, Europeans, and Black Africans.

            In Morocco when greeting each other they shake hands and touch their hearts. The people are separated by gender. Elders are honored and respected by the community. Timing is flexible and things might not happen in a timely fashion. White lies might be told to cover up an embarrassing situation. It is acceptable to show frustration during a tense moment.

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Streets of Fez in Morocco


            Egypt is in North Africa. Egypt is known for its beauty and its tourism. The official language of Egypt is Arabic. The population is approximately 90 million people.  Egypt has approximately 90 million people. Egypt has some amazing beaches. Responsibilities are not equal between men and women in Egypt. Men are the bread winners in Egypt. Women rights are improving in Egypt.

            Egypt follows the customs of other Muslim countries. Gift bringing when visiting someone’s home. Using your right hand to eat and greet. On public transportation everyone is willing to give up there sit for someone else. Egypt business meeting are formal affairs. Football is popular in Egypt and is a loved sport.


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Egyptian ancient pyramid in desert


            Libya is a North African country. The autumn or spring is the best time to visit Libya. The major language is Arabic. Islam is the major religion. Libya is a Muslim country. Shake hands at the start of a business meeting and at the end. Timing is flexible and meeting may occur off schedule. Dress code is modest. Libya does not prefer beach life but picnics.

            Libyans believe in family honor and good reputation. Do not embarrass or humiliate someone publicly. Smiles and direct eye contact are important. Men shake with men. A man must wait for a woman to extend her hand for him to shake it. Perfumed water is used for cleansing before meals. Only eat with your right hand.


International, Flag, Libya, Lybia
Flag of Libya


            Mali is a country in West Africa. Mali is 478,764 square miles (1,241,278 square kilometers). Malians speak many languages. The official language of Mali is French. In Malian farming communities both women and men are involved in farming activities. 80% of the Malian population is Muslim. Christianity is 1% and 19% is traditional practices. Western health is limited with one doctor per 18,376 persons.

            Malians are proud of their heritage of welcoming visits both local and international. In Mali there are greeting and salutations for birth, marriage, and death. Younger people are expected to initiate greeting as a sign of respect. Men and women are expected to adhere to the dress code. Wearing shorts are discouraged. Giving gifts and sharing your resources is what Mali culture is about. Malians must learn the proper way to give gifts.


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African Globe showing Mali


            Algeria is in Northern Africa. The population of Algeria is 31,193,917. 80% are Arab, 20% are Berber and 1% are European. The original language of Algeria is Berber. Arabic and Berber are most spoken. French is the language of commerce. The Algerian government provides free health care for children under sixteen and adults over sixty. Pensions are offered to elderly and discussed families.

            In Algeria greeting are long and lengthy. Inquires about wealth and family are made during greeting. It is rare to see males and females displaying affection publicly. Algerians are known for their generosity and hospitality. Visiting usually is within the family and tea, coffee and sweets are served. 99% of Algerians are Sunni Muslim.

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Great Post Office of Algiers in Algeria


            Sudan is in northeastern Africa. Arabic is the official language of Sudan. English is the language of commerce. Sudan has a population of 335 million. 52% of the population are Black and 39% are Arab. Sudanese have superstitions such as believing in the evil eye. An amulet or charm is worn as protection from its powers. Ramadan is the most holy holiday in Sudan. In Muslim tradition death is followed by several days of mourning when friends, relatives and neighbors respect the dead.             In Sudan greeting and leave-taking are religious “Insha Allah” (If Allah Wills) and “Ahamdu Lillah” (May Allah be Praised). Food is used in social interaction in Sudan. Foods brought to visitors include tea, coffee, soda, or a full meal. Sudanese eat from one bowl and use the right hand and not utensils. In a Muslim household people sit on pillows around a low table. Before a meal, a towel and a pitcher of water are passed around for hand washing


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Oriential style nature women in Sudanese clothing


            Botswana is a country in Southern Africa. It is 224,607 square miles (586,7330 square miles). This country is about the same size as France. Bantu, Khosian and Indo-European languages are spoken in Botswana. English is the official language of Botswana. Most Batswana are Christians. Some illnesses are considered European or African. People from the Botswana ethnicity has lived in Botswana for thousands of years.

            In Batswana culture excessive greeting is used. “Rra” Meaning father and women are called “Mma” meaning mother. Women and men with powers to heal lead their own churches. In Botswana household men contact ancestors to guide them. Religious specialist can bring rain, diagnose roots and special medicines.


Sunset, River, Silhouettes, Trees
Sunset river in Botswana


            Seychelles is a country in East Africa. The population is 79,164. The official languages are Seychelles, Creole, French, and English. Social stratification is based on skin color and ethnic origin. Seychellois who want higher education attend school and universities abroad. The people are laid-back and easy-going. Dress codes are relaxed, and formal clothes are worn. Complimenting a child is avoided because it may bring misfortune.

            Advanced medical care is not established but there is a hospital in the capital. 90% of Seychellois are Roman Catholic. The staple food is curry and rice. Seychelles has never fought a war. The ideal gan’bla family is nuclear. Plantation workers have a highly regulated system of fosterage. First-born children are given to the maternal grandmother or an aunt.

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La Digue In Seychelles


            Namibia is a country in Southern Africa. It covers 318,500 square miles (825,000 square kilometers). Most Namibians speak Bantu languages like Oshiwambo and Otjiherero. English is used as an administrative language. Education is valued but opportunities are limited in Namibia. Traditional religion is practiced. Majority of the people are Christian. Traditional healers are used in addition to biomedical system.

            Prolonged greeting and handshakes are customary in Namibian culture. It is polite to accept food and drink when it is offered. Emotional restraint is valued, and public display of affection is looked down upon. In rural areas, men and boys take care of livestock. Woman and girls do most of the agricultural labor, food preparation and household work.

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Quiver tree at dusk in Namibia

Final words on culture and anthropology

            The culture of the continent of Africa was explored. The progression of anthropology and its introduction is discussed. Sally Falk Moore and Marjorie Shostak are anthropologists who studied Africa. 11 countries and their interesting traditional practices was examined. Respect and greeting each other is viewed highly in African culture.



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