Africa is a vast continent with an enormous amount of history and culture. Some of the most wonderful things to have come out of it are:
Each region has a distinct musical history, tradition, and sound. North Africa has very close ties with music from the Middle East, while East Africa has been influenced by Arabic music, as well as Indian, Indonesian, and Polynesian music. South, Central, and West Africa draw many of their influences from Western Europe and North America. They enjoy genres such as soca, calypso, rumba and salsa.
Dancing in Sub-Saharan Africa tends to be representative of community life. The sound of rhythm of the drums expresses the mood of the people while its beat signifies the pulse of the community. Traditionally dance is done collectively and often teaches social patterns and values. It’s used as a channel to express joy and sorrow, to recount stories, proverbs, and history.
The cultural and ethnic diversity of Africa is reflected in the ingredients and preparation styles used in their cooking. Central Africa’s basic ingredients are plantains and cassava and its style remains relatively uninfluenced. East African cooking however has adapted itself to the tastes of its settlers. Rice is steamed with saffron and other spices brought in by the Persians, and meat is often marinated and roasted as was taught by the Portuguese. North African cooking incorporates Middle Eastern ingredients and serves meat that has been prepared in clay tagines.
Traditional African clothing is vibrant in colour. Textiles are a large part of African cultural heritage, where the weaving tends to be done by the men while the women spin the thread. In North-eastern Africa the traditional costume is the embroidered Jellabiya, while in the North West Dashikis and Djellabas are the custom. In East Africa it is common for women to wear a Kanga or Gomesi and for Swahili men to wear Kanzus. Today’s Western fashion sees many African influences, namely in the patterns, colours and cuts of clothing.
Again, diversity is the word. While styles and mediums vary by region, culture, and artist, the key emphasises and themes are; the human figure, visual abstraction, sculpture, and performance art. Many of the great twentieth century Western artists, including Picasso, Van Gogh, and Modigliani were influenced by African art. Contemporary African art has seen the emergence of some brilliant and internationally known artists.
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