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Africa’s Indigenous People – Part 2

Africa’s Indigenous People – Part 2

By on May 6, 2018 in Blog |

There are many different indigenous groups throughout the continent. Throughout the years these different groups of people have moved around the continent adapting to the different climatic and environmental conditions that they have been located in. One of the most recognizable groups have been the Maasai people that are found in Northern Kenya and Southern Tanzania. The current population is around 850,000 found in Kenya with another 150,000 being found in Tanzania.

The most remarkable aspect of the people is their average height which is 6 foot 3 inches. The group often survive in semi-desert area. Their main agricultural produce is cattle, feeding off the milk, meat and at time the blood of the animals. They have also been known to feed off wild game and nowadays many work in the game reserves helping to preserve endangered species. They are also renowned as fearsome warriors and in times of the slave trade the traders would actively avoid the Maasai. Their appearance is also well known with the rings ear lobes being pierced and stretched. Their clothes are often colorful with red being a popular color and the females always wear plenty of beads for ceremonial occasions.

The Maasai bead jewelry

One of the world’s most famous athletes is David Rudisha, who is the current world record holder at 800m, and has won both the Olympic Games and World Athletics Championship gold on two occasions.  He is a Maasai and Kenya is home to many of the world’s greatest long distance runners. A great number of these belong to the Kalenjin group. In Kenya their population is around 5 million and their prowess in the marathon was underlined in October 2011 when 32 runners from the Kalenjin ran the marathon in 2 hours 10 minutes. Only 17 USA athletes have done this in the whole history of the event.

Part of the Kalenjin culture is the ability to withstand pain and many of the ceremonies they take when approaching adulthood, holds them in good stead for running long distances. The largest indigenous group in the country is the Kikuyu people which has a population of over 6 and half a million. Prior to the arrival of the British the area around Mount Kenya was known as the Agikuyu nation. It was the political force in the area and fiercely defended its area from slave traders. They were known as good farmers and shrewd businessmen, and their economic success held them high in Kenyan society.

After the British left Kenya in 1963 the Kikuyu rose to the top of the social chain. The first prime minister was Jomo Kenyatta who then became the country’s president from 1964-1978. He was from the Kikuyu people born and raised in the village of Ngenda and today the Kikuyu continue to play a major part in the country’s economic development.

Kenyans out for a morning run

Central Africa is also home to large numbers of pygmy populations. Pygmy populations are defined when the average male height is below 4 foot 11 inches tall. The biggest population are the Congo Pygmies where between 300,000 and 600,000 live in a number of different central African countries that contain the Congo Rainforest plus connecting swamp areas. The remoteness of these areas is the reason why it is not possible to quote a more accurate figure of actual survivors. The pygmies are hunter-gatherers who live off a combination of what they farm from the forest and what they are able to trade with local farmers.

The lack of sunlight in the forests have often been used as an explanation to why they are not tall. Their lack of height does make them more mobile in the more densely vegetated areas. In their history they have been persistently discriminated against by the Bantu people.

The Bantu’s represent the largest ethnic group in Central Africa which is subdivided in to over 400 separate groups. They are all united by speaking Bantu and their large population sees them being the most dominate group in many countries. They first migrated 3000 years ago from West Africa to settle in the Central and Southern areas of the continent. The language, Swahili, is now used by over 140 million people in Africa to communicate although it is only the mother tongue for 5 million of them.