Portuguese interference in Africa disrupted the Kongo traditional system. Before 1000 Bantu-speaking farmers had developed numerous small states in the hills and valleys of present-day Angola and in the woodland savanna country on either side of the lower Congo River. By 1400 … Continue reading
The Kongo people live along the lower Congo River in the western DRC and in neighboring countries. In addition to the brass crosses discussed earlier, the Kongo are noted for several distinctive types of sculpture in Central Africa. Wooden figures known as nkisi … Continue reading
Kuba peoples in the DRC developed an elaborate culture of court ceremonials and art that focused on the king. The Kuba people had art forms that was unique in central Africa. This royal art reached its height in a series of seated wooden figures … Continue reading
Ancestor cults have been especially important in the traditional culture of the Fang and Kota peoples of Gabon and of many neighboring peoples. Among the Fang, cylindrical bark boxes traditionally held the skulls and other relics of ancestors. On top of the boxes, … Continue reading
The geological evolution of Africa has been hinged on stability. Africa contains three major cratons, or areas of basement-complex rock that have been geologically stable for hundreds of millions of years. The Kalahari craton is located in southern Africa, the Congo craton is in Central Africa, and the northwest African craton, forming the core of West Africa, is centered in the Western Sahara. Areas between the cratons contain somewhat younger rocks. These areas have undergone more extensive and continuing geological change since the late Precambrian Period, caused by processes such as faulting, volcanism, folding, and crustal displacement. The stability of the areas of basement-complex rock has helped define the geological evolution of Africa.
Early Central Africa
In Central Africa, the Bantu migration came full circle. By 1000 BC western Bantu-speaking farmers had crossed the Congo River and settled in what is now Angola. Approximately 1,500 years later, eastern Bantu-speaking groups—descended from groups that had spread throughout East Africa—met and intermingled with their distant relatives in what are now Angola, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and western Zambia.
For centuries, the trade in captives had dominated the commercial activity of Central Africa. North of the densely forested Congo River Basin the Bornu sultanate declined by the 18th century, and its place was taken by the sultanates of Wadai and Darfur to the east. These states conducted slave raids through what is now southern Chad and the Central African Republic and transported captives eastward through Kordofan to southern Sudan and the Nile River Valley. South of the Congo River Basin the Kazembe Empire had grown to eclipse the former Luba and Lunda empires of the region and was a powerful trading state. Meanwhile, the histories of the forest peoples of the Congo River Basin are some of the least known in Africa beyond their riverine trade contacts with peoples and states to the north, south, and west. However, these peoples became more and more threatened as Swahili slave raiders penetrated ever farther into the forest.
- Bantu Migration (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Art Forms in Central Africa (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Artistic Traditions of the Mangbetu kingdom in Central Africa (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Art of the Luba kingdom in Central Africa (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
Art of the Luba kingdom, in the southeastern part of the DRC, also emphasized the power of the king. Symbols of royal authority included carved three-pronged stands to hold bows used in hunting. The bow stands were considered too sacred for public display and were kept in carefully guarded rooms within the palace. They were decorated with a seated female figure, hands placed on her breasts. Her gesture symbolized women’s power to reproduce and was in turn a symbol of political power. Luba artists also created carved wooden stools supported by similar female figures, as well as headrests and bowls decorated with figures.
- Belgian Congo (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
Royal patronage was also the driving force behind artistic traditions of the Mangbetu kingdom, in the northern DRC. Among the objects produced for the rulers were decorative clay cups in the shape of women’s heads, with elongated foreheads and fanlike hairstyles. The cups’ shapes made them awkward for drinking, so they doubtless had another function. Some scholars have described them as portraits of ancestors or as memorials for dead rulers, but recent research has revealed that they were made for display and tourism. Mangbetu rulers, especially Chief Okondo, who ruled the Mangbetu until 1915, gave the cups as gifts to visiting African and European dignitaries. Among the other art forms of the Mangbetu were freestanding figures, pots, mural painting, decorated bark cloth, and metalwork.
- African Art and Architecture (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
Africa’s Demographics is said to be one of the most complex around the world. In 2008, 955 million people—or about 13 percent of the world’s population—lived in Africa. The most populous countries are Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Distribution of the population is highly uneven. Some parts of the continent, particularly the vast Sahara, have few permanent residents. Others rank among the world’s most densely populated areas, notably the Nile Valley of Egypt; the Atlantic coastal stretch from Côte d’Ivoire to Cameroon; Rwanda; Burundi; and South Africa’s province of KwaZulu-Natal. Overall, Africa’s population density was 32 persons per sq km (83 persons per sq mi) in 2008.
Until the mid-20th century census-taking was rare in Africa. Although most African countries have by now conducted at least several counts of their populations, reliable data on vital statistics are limited. Nonetheless, it is clear that Africa’s population has grown rapidly in recent decades. The continent-wide population growth rate peaked at 3.43 percent in 1979 and remained relatively high through the 1980s, averaging 2.69 percent. Rates have lowered since. In 2005 Africa’s growth rate was 2.08 percent, which is still high compared to other continents. In general, West, East, and Central Africa have experienced the fastest growth and North and southern Africa the slowest making Africa’s Demographics significant for the survival of the earth.