Indigenous Film Index: Africa



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Culture Groups


Afar


The Afar People also known as Adal, Teltal and Danakil are Cushitic-nomadic people located in the East African countries of Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. They prefer to be known as the Afar, since the Arabic word “danakil” is an offensive term to them. They are a proud people, emphasizing a man’s strength and bravery. The Afar are traditionally pastoralists, raising goats, sheep, and cattle in the desert. Socially, they are organized into clan families and two main classes: the asaimara (‘reds’) who are the dominant class politically, and the adoimara (‘whites’) who are a working class and are found in the Mabla Mountains. In addition, the Afar are reputed for their martial prowess. Men traditionally sport the jile, a famous curved knife. They also have an extensive repertoire of battle songs.

Source:
atlasofhumanity.com

Learn more:
Afar – University of Indiana brochure
Afar – Minority Rights Group

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Amazigh (Berbers)


The Amazigh people inhabits a territory spanning most of North Africa, from the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts up to the Sahel. Since the 20th century, it also has had a substantial presence in Europe through the Amazigh diaspora. The traditional territory of the Amazigh people is called “Tamazgha” in the Amazigh language. Many of the region’s inhabitants have Amazigh ancestors, but after centuries of Arabization, not all of them have preserved an Amazigh cultural and linguistic heritage. As a result, as of today, those territories of Tamazgha where significant populations recognize themselves as Amazigh do not have territorial continuity, being separated by areas where most of the people consider themselves to be culturally and linguistically Arab, or by mostly depopulated, desert regions.

Source:
nationalia.info

Learn more:
Free People: the Imazighen of North Africa – Intercontinental Cry
Berbers – Wikipedia

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Bamileke


The Bamileke are a Grassfields ethnic group. They make up the largest ethnic group in Cameroon and inhabit the country’s western region. The Bamileke are subdivided into several tribes, each under the guidance of a King or fon. They speak a number of related languages from the Eastern Grassfields branch of the Grassfields language family. The Bamileke are organized under several chiefdoms (or fondoms). The Bamileke also share much history and culture with the neighboring fondoms of the Northwest region and notably the Lebialem region of the Southwest region, but the groups have been divided since their territories were split between the French and English in colonial times.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Bamilieke – Britannica

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Borana Oromo


The Borana people, also called the Boran, are a subethnic section of the Oromo people who live in southern Ethiopia (Oromia) and northern Kenya. They speak a dialect of the Oromo language that is distinct enough that it is difficult for other Oromo speakers to understand. The Borana people are notable for their historic gadaa political system. They follow their traditional religions or (Ethiopian Orthodox) Christianity and Islam.

Source:
Atlas of Humanity – Borana Tribe

Learn more:
Boorana – Wikipedia

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Ju'hoansi (!Kung)


The Ju’hoansi (!Kung) are one of the San peoples who live mostly on the western edge of the Kalahari desert, Ovamboland (northern Namibia and southern Angola), and Botswana. The names ǃKung (ǃXun) and Ju are variants words for ‘people’, preferably used by different ǃKung groups. This band level society used traditional methods of hunting and gathering for subsistence up until the 1970s. Today, the great majority of ǃKung people live in the villages of Bantu pastoralists and European ranchers.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Smithsonian Magazine 
UNESCO: Memory of the World Register

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Karamajong (Dodoth)


The Karamojong live in the southern part of the region in the north-east of Uganda, occupying an area equivalent to one tenth of the country. According to anthropologists, the Karamojong are part of a group that migrated from present-day Ethiopia around 1600 A.D. and split into two branches, with one branch moving to present day Kenya to form the Kalenjin group and Maasai cluster. The main livelihood activity of the Karamojong is herding livestock, which has social and cultural importance. Crop cultivation is a secondary activity, undertaken only in areas where it is practicable. Due to the arid climate of the region, the Karamojong have always practised a sort of pastoral transhumance, where for 3–4 months in a year, they move their livestock to the neighboring districts in search of water and pasture for their animals.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Karamojong – Minority Rights Groups

Karimojong – Brittanica

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‡Khomani San


The ‡Khomani San are descended from several original San groups, including the ||Ng!u (close relatives of the !Xam, who lived south of the !Gariep River), the ‡Khomani who spoke the same language as the ||Ng!u but had a distinct lineage, the |’Auni, the Khatea, the Njamani and probably others whose names are now lost to us. Most San of this bloodline now speak Khoekhoegowap and/or Afrikaans as their primary language. There are only five of the original 23 confirmed speakers (there is no reference point for this statement – in 2016, for example) of the ancient N|u language, constituting an important component of the few surviving aboriginal South African San. Approximately 1,500 adults are spread over an area of more than 1 000 square kilometres in the Northern Cape Province. Approximately 8002 people live in the northern reaches of Gordonia, at Witdraai, Askham and Welkom, just south of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and in the towns of Rietfontein, Upington, Loubos, Olifantshoek and surrounding villages and settlements. The original San (sometimes known as Bushmen) hunter-gatherer groups lived on this land for about 100,000 years before the arrival of other black people and European settlers. When the pastoral KhoiKhoi (also known as Khoi) appeared 2,000 years ago, they saw people similar to them in physical appearance, but with a different culture. They called these elders of the land ‘the San’, which means ‘people different from ourselves’.

Source:
khomanisan.org

Learn about:
San.org: the ‡Khomani San
San People – Wikipedia

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Maasai


The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting northern, central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the best known local populations internationally due to their residence near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress. The Maasai speak the Maa language (ɔl Maa),a member of the Nilotic language family that is related to the Dinka, Kalenjin and Nuer languages. Except for some elders living in rural areas, most Maasai people speak the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania, Swahili and English. The Maasai population has been reported as numbering 1,189,522 in Kenya in the 2019 census, compared to 377,089 in the 1989 census. Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their villages to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle, in return for a fee.

The monotheistic Maasai worship a single deity called Enkai or Engai. Engai has a dual nature: Engai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Engai Na-nyokie (Red God) is vengeful. There are also two pillars or totems of Maasai society: Oodo Mongi, the Red Cow and Orok Kiteng, the Black Cow with a subdivision of five clans or family trees. The Maasai also have a totemic animal, which is the lion; however, the animal can be killed. The way the Maasai kill the lion differs from trophy hunting as it is used in the rite of passage ceremony. The “Mountain of God”, Ol Doinyo Lengai, is located in northernmost Tanzania and can be seen from Lake Natron in southernmost Kenya. The central human figure in the Maasai religious system is the laibon whose roles include shamanistic healing, divination and prophecy, and ensuring success in war or adequate rainfall. Today, they have a political role as well due to the elevation of leaders. Whatever power an individual laibon had was a function of personality rather than position. Many Maasai have also adopted Christianity and Islam. The Maasai are known for their intricate jewelry and for decades, have sold these items to tourists as a business.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Maasai People – Maasai Association
The Maasai Culture and Traditions – Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust

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Ovahimba


The Ovahimba are an Indigenous people with an estimated population of about 50,000 people living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene Region (formerly Kaokoland) and on the other side of the Kunene River in southern Angola. There are also a few groups left of the OvaTwa, who are also OvaHimba, but are hunter-gatherers. However, the OvaHimba do not like to be associated with OvaTwa. Culturally distinguishable from the Herero people, the OvaHimba are a semi-nomadic, pastoralist people and speak OtjiHimba, a variety of Herero, which belongs to the Bantu family within Niger–Congo. The OvaHimba are semi-nomadic as they have base homesteads where crops are cultivated, but may have to move within the year depending on rainfall and where there is access to water.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
https://www.association-kovahimba.net/en/

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Wodaabe


The Wodaabe are a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, southwestern Chad and the western region of the Central African Republic. The number of Wodaabe was estimated in 2001 to be 100,000. They are known for their beauty (both men and women), elaborate attire and rich cultural ceremonies.

The Wodaabe speak the Fula language and don’t use a written language. In the Fula language, woɗa means “taboo”, and Woɗaaɓe means “people of the taboo”. This is sometimes translated as “those who respect taboos”, a reference to the Wodaabe isolation from broader Fulbe culture and their contention that they retain “older” traditions than their Fulbe neighbors. In contrast, other Fulbe as well as other ethnic groups sometimes refer to the Wodaabe as “Bororo”, a sometimes pejorative name, translated into English as “Cattle Fulani” and meaning “those who dwell in cattle camps”. By the 17th century, the Fula people across West Africa were among the first ethnic groups to embrace Islam, were often leaders of those forces which spread Islam, and have been traditionally proud of the urban, literate, and pious life with which this has been related.

Source:
Wikipedia

Learn more:
Wodaabe Art & Life- University of Iowa
Wodaabe – Saylor.org

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