The Effect Of Sub-Saharan African Culture On The Modern Society

sub saharan african culture

The answer to this question will ultimately depend on whom you ask. But what is apparent is that a large number of citizens in Sub-Saharan Africa live in a state of relative economic and social inequality. This is manifested in the fact that some states in Sub-Saharan Africa – led by Morocco – rank high in terms of corruption as measured by Transparency International’s annual index. And there is reason to believe that this is a general trend with all African countries. For many years, leaders in other African states have been quick to point out the corruption in other African countries as an excuse for not leading their own communities. But the flip side of that coin has been that, in the last decade, some African governments have made anti-graft and corruption a priority.

No Sense Of Social Cleansing Or Individual Self-Centredness

A woman sitting on a bicycle

Consider a number of elements of Sub-Saharan African cultural heritage which seem to foster corruption in society. For example, consider corruption in Moroccan society. Here, Moroccan mosques are built very well, both in terms of ornamentation and materials. There is no sense of social cleansing or individual self-centredness. This all combines to create a climate conducive to graft and greed, the two things that tend to lead to corruption in a society.

Consider also the aspect of sub-Saharan African culture that I call “gift giving”. If one was to visit a traditional market in any of Sub-Saharan African cities, one would likely see a number of caravans sitting in the shade, chatting away while their livestock graze in the grass. The market does not function on commercial grounds alone. It is also a place where people come together to share the bounty of their everyday life. At the end of the day, when the sun sets, they head to the communal hall for late night meals and an evening of conversation and entertainment. What these people do not realize is that at this communal hall, they are celebrating the exchange of their everyday commodities, known as “gift giving”.

Particular Groups Or Ethnicities

Gift giving in Sub-Saharan Africa is not reserved to particular groups or ethnicities. Everyone from every walk of life participates in this cultural practice. It has even been stated by some experts that this practice is a key to understanding human interaction in such a diverse and complex environment as the Sub-Saharan African Culture. The fact that every member of a cultural group is able to contribute to their group’s communal life proves the proposition that each group in Sub-Saharan Africa is living in its own bubble of cultural diversity. It further illustrates that each individual within that cultural group is a separate entity, with his/her own identity and aspirations.

Consider the phenomenon that took place in January 2021, when the former President of South Africa Mogensha Kibaki publicly announced that he would like to introduce a new Constitution that would give power to the communities in that country. According to this Constitution, the power would be given to the communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the desire that they, as a community, would realize their rights to self determination and self management. When this Constitution was passed in the midst of mass celebrations, excitement and hope were documented in the media that followed. Many people, including myself included, expressed fear that this new move by the president may divide the communities and weaken the cultural identity that they had built. However, as the day progressed and as the communities got acquainted with each other, a common ground was discovered and an uneasy but beneficial relationship was established.

The Case Of The Mining Boom

Another example of a community coming together to uphold a common cause was the case of the mining boom in the Kalahari Desert region of Southern Africa, which was threatened by the effects of mining, which in turn threatened the very existence of the local cultures of the Kalahari Desert. Two tribes were forced to come together and work out a solution to this problem. One of these tribes was the San Tribe who came up with the idea of using sand as a means of protecting their cultural identity and their way of life, while at the same time mining was coming in to protect the environment and biodiversity of the Kalahari Desert. This shared vision between two cultures was documented in a documentary film called “Mbiti wa Thiong’o” which won an Academy Award for Best Feature. This story is just one of many that has been documented in the documentary realm highlighting the commonalities across various cultures and regions in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I’d like to highlight some other examples of Sub-Saharan African cultural unity that I’ve witnessed and been involved in. A recently completed school in Gauteng, South Africa has a very interesting theme: the value of dance. The school, which is mostly composed of students from the economically disadvantaged areas of the slums, has won awards for its exemplary performance in the field of dance. Throughout the duration of the last few decades, as crime rates have skyrocketed, traditional adeyemo and other forms of African music, which are popular throughout the rest of the country, have grown in popularity. At the same time, contemporary music styles, such as rock, rap, pop and jazz, have begun to be recognized more throughout the country.


Another remarkable example of cultural intermixing in Sub-Saharan Africa can be witnessed in the construction of a luxurious private community in Bloemfontein, South Africa, which includes both traditional adeyemo as well as contemporary music. This beautiful community, which is called the “Zwinkasi” by locals, was purposely built out of a disused tire factory in 1997. A mix of traditional, African craftsmanship and modern urban design and architecture, this gated community offers an excellent venue for meetings and recreation. Over the past few years the numbers of people living in these gated communities has drastically increased, even doubling in a short period of time. While most of these residents are middle class professionals and members of the upper classes, you will rarely find a resident of this exclusive community that is not involved in some form of artistic expression, whether it be in painting, dance, playing an instrument or singing.

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