Blog Archive

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The term African people can be used in two ways. First, it may refer to all people who live in Africa (mostly black people), see also demographics of Africa. Second, it is commonly used to describe people who trace their recent ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa, in particular Sub-Saharan Africa. This includes members of the "African diaspora" resulting from the Atlantic slave trade. Many people who live outside Africa with recent African ancestry, such as African Americans, identify themselves as Africans.
The term Black people is often used as a synonym for people of recent African ancestry, particularly in the Americas, and Europe, although the two terms are not synonymous in many other countries.
The native population of Africa exhibits greater genetic variation than that of populations in any other continent, including, for instance L1 and L2 as well as the more widespread L3 mtDNA haplogroups.

The inhabitants of Africa
Family resemblances have probably been apparent and noted during all of human history, but during the second half of the twentieth century, information became available that could link very specific and measurable traits to the genetic inheritance of those who bore those traits. As with a photograph that is being put up random pixel by random pixel, it has often been impossible to guess how later-arriving pixels would modify and complete the picture. Sometime alternating ways of interpolating data have been suggested and the dots have been joined in competing ways. This process of gathering more information, retesting old hypotheses, and sometimes forming new hypotheses continues today. As more and more of the total picture fills in, it becomes less and less likely that radical changes in the general outlines of the picture can occur. Choices of what data to look at, and how to interpret it, have resulted in some contending pictures, but in general the picture has only become clearer as more information has become available.
Perhaps it is a function of the number of excavations actually performed in given areas, but it is at least suggestive that the five very earliest out of the twelve of earliest archaeological discoveries of Homo sapiens sapiens have been in Africa and the adjacent Arabian peninsula. (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and even more remote members of the genus Homo have their own sites and are not considered here.)

Africans Prehistoric populations
Speakers of Bantu languages (part of the Niger-Congo language family) are the majority in southern, central and east Africa proper. But there are also several Nilotic groups in East Africa, and a few remaining indigenous Khoisan ('San' or 'Bushmen') and Pygmy peoples in southern and central Africa, respectively. Bantu-speaking Africans also predominate in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and are found in parts of southern Cameroon and southern Somalia. In the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa, the distinct people known as the Bushmen (also "San", closely related to, but distinct from "Hottentots") have long been present. The San are physically distinct from other Africans and are the indigenous people of southern Africa. Pygmies are the pre-Bantu indigenous peoples of central Africa.
The peoples of North Africa comprise two main groups; Berber and Arabic-speaking peoples in the west, and Egyptians in the east. The Arabs who arrived in the seventh century introduced the Arabic language and Islam to North Africa. The Semitic Phoenicians and Jews, the Iranian Alans, and the European Greeks, Romans and Vandals settled in North Africa as well. Berbers still make up the majority in Morocco, while they are a significant minority within Algeria. They are also present in Tunisia and Libya. The Tuareg and other often-nomadic peoples are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa. Nubians are a Nilo-Saharan-speaking group (though many also speak Arabic), who developed an ancient civilization in northeast Africa.
Some Ethiopian and Eritrean groups (like the Amhara and Tigrayans, collectively known as "Habesha") speak Semitic languages. The Oromo and Somali peoples speak Cushitic languages, but some Somali clans trace their founding to legendary Arab founders. Sudan and Mauritania are divided between a mostly Arabized north and a native African south (although the "Arabs" of Sudan clearly have a predominantly native African ancestry themselves). Some areas of East Africa, particularly the island of Zanzibar and the Kenyan island of Lamu, received Arab Muslim and Southwest Asian settlers and merchants throughout the Middle Ages and in antiquity.

Indigenous peoples and ancient settlers

Modern Colonisation
Beginning in the sixteenth century, Europeans such as the Portuguese and Dutch began to establish trading posts and forts along the coasts of western and southern Africa. Eventually, a large number of Dutch augmented by French Huguenots and Germans settled in what is today South Africa. Their descendants, the Afrikaners and the Coloureds, are the largest European-descended groups in Africa today. In the nineteenth century, a second phase of colonization brought a large number of French and British settlers to Africa. The Portuguese settled mainly in Angola, but also in Mozambique.The Italians settled in Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The French settled in large numbers in Algeria where they became known collectively as pieds-noirs, and on a smaller scale in other areas of North and West Africa as well as in Madagascar. The British settled chiefly in South Africa as well as the colony of Rhodesia, and in the highlands of what is now Kenya. Germans settled in what is now Tanzania and Namibia, and there is still a population of German-speaking white Namibians. Smaller numbers of European soldiers, businessmen, and officials also established themselves in administrative centers such as Nairobi and Dakar. Decolonization during the 1960s often resulted in the mass emigration of European-descended settlers out of Africa — especially from Algeria, Angola, Kenya and Rhodesia. However, in South Africa and Namibia, the white minority remained politically dominant after independence from Europe, and a significant population of Europeans remained in these two countries even after democracy was finally instituted at the end of the Cold War. South Africa has also become the preferred destination of white Anglo-Zimbabweans, and of migrants from all over southern Africa.

European colonization also brought sizable groups of Asians, particularly people from the Indian subcontinent, to British colonies. Large Indian communities are found in South Africa, and smaller ones are present in Kenya, Tanzania, and some other southern and east African countries. The large Indian community in Uganda was expelled by the dictator Idi Amin in 1972, though many have since returned. The islands in the Indian Ocean are also populated primarily by people of Asian origin, often mixed with Africans and Europeans. The Malagasy people of Madagascar are a Austronesian people, but those along the coast are generally mixed with Bantu, Arab, Indian and European origins. Malay and Indian ancestries are also important components in the group of people known in South Africa as Cape Coloureds (people with origins in two or more races and continents).

During the past century or so, small but economically important colonies of Lebanese and Chinese have also developed in the larger coastal cities of West and East Africa, respectively.

Africans Contemporary Demographics

Main article: African diaspora African-descended people outside Africa
The term "African" has been used to describe people in a wide variety of contexts.

African Americans
The Black nationalist Marcus Garvey was an important proponent of the Back-to-Africa movement, which encouraged those of African descent to return to their ancestral homelands. This movement would eventually inspire other movements ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement, which proclaimed him a prophet. Garvey said he wanted those of African ancestry to "redeem" Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it.

No comments: