Cultures and Languages in Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan & Swaziland

African Language Family Distributions & Migration. Courtesy of ResearchGate
African Language Family Distributions & Migration. Courtesy of ResearchGate

All the Cultures & Languages in Africa

Cultural Diversity in Senegal

Signally set between the edge of Sahara Desert and the Atlantic, Senegal, home to 16 million as at 2018 and spread over 196,722 km2, has, for centuries, served a bridge allying Africanity, Islamic and many European civilizations; which partly accounts for its rich cultural diversity with more than 36 languages spoken. 12 of these being large. The largest and most influential ethnic grouping is the Wolof, that accounts for 45% of the population. Deemed national in its outlook, most ethnic tribes in Senegal embrace elements of its culture. Other weighty groups include: Fulani (24.5%), Serer (15%) Toucouleur (9%), Diola (5%), Lebu (4.3%), Mandinka (4%), Pulaar, Soninke, Ganja, Mankanya and Mandjak. 90% of the people identify as Muslim. French is the national language.


Cultural Diversity in Seychelles

Made up of 115 islands – spread over an area of 455 km2 – off the East Coast of Africa, Seychelles was first inhabited circa 1770 by the French, leading a small party of ‘whites’, Indians, and Africans. Later, this territory was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Paris in 1814. Then gained self-rule in 1976. 90% of the population live on the main island of Mahé. Now home to 96,762 (at 2018), it has retained its multi ethnic roots as a melting pot of various cultures. The major language on the island is Seselwa or Seychelles Creole a French based version of Creole spoken by 95% of the population. Other major dialects spoken are: French, English, Swahili and Malagasy. The main religion in the Seychelles is Roman Catholic.


Cultural Diversity in Sierra Leone

Ethnologically Sierra Leone is home to 16 major cultures, with over 150 sub-groups. The major tribes – Mende, Temne, Krio, Fula, Susu, Mandigo, Kono, Kuranko, Loko, Limba, and Yalunka – account for 80% of the tribe diversity. Most of Sierra Leone’s indigenous languages are robust and enjoy strong support on national level. The estimated number of common languages in Sierra Leone is close to 20, most belonging to one of the two main language families – Mende and Temne. The only North Atlantic language is Fula; descendants of rovers or migrants from Guinea.


Cultural Diversity in Somalia

Oft-times the charismatic Somali people have been represented as homogeneous, in view of 95% of the people of Somalia are ethnic Somalis – who regard themselves one tribe after whom the country took its name. This sheer weight of their number and unity makes the Somali one of Africa’s largest ethnic group. Somali, a Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family, is the official language, spoken by over 90% of the people. It is split into 3 unique groups: Benaadir, Northern, and Maay. Minority ethnicities include: Chimwiini and Bajun. 637,655 km2 in size, at the Horn of Africa, Somalia is home to about 16 million (2019).


Cultural Diversity in South Africa

South Africa has been suitably referred to as the rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures and religions. So much so, that there are 11 official languages: Afrikaans, Tsonga, Tswana, Ndebele, Southern Sotho, English, Venda, Zulu, Eswati, Xhosa and Northern Sotho. These are among thirty-five dialects indigenous to South Africa; with 19 major tribes. The black population of South Africa is divided into four major ethnic groups: Nguni (Swazi, Ndebele, Xhosa and Zulu) Sotho, Venda and Tsonga. A majority of the white population (about 60%) is of Afrikaans descent, with most of the remaining 40% belonging to British or European ancestry.


Cultural Diversity in South Sudan

Africa’s newest state, coming into existence in 2011 after decades of long wars, South Sudan, covers 619,745 km2 with a population of about 11 million (2018). It is now confronted with the urgent quest of nation building which includes practical decisions on aligning its multiethnic society. It hosts more than sixty cultural and linguistic groups, most with sub tribes, and each has a stronger sense of tribe than in the nation. The main glue that binds the country’s multiple ethnicities together is the history of their struggle for freedom and collective opposition to the north Its main tribes are chiefly Nilotic: Dinka, Bari, Latuka, Azande, Nuer, Acholi, Antuak, Kaligi, Toposa, Jie, Didinka & Kuku.


Cultural Diversity in Sudan

Although it’s almost three times as big as South Sudan, covering about 1,861,484 km2, the Islam pitched Sudan is less culturally diversified. Since the separation – between the North and South – in July of 2011, Islam now takes up over 96% of the population in Sudan. Islamic Sharia is now the source of legislation. It’s thought that about 90 ethnic groups exist in Sudan, though it must be said that many, since war sprung-up in 1993, like Nuer, Dinka, Fur, Lwo, Nubs, Hadendoa, Beja and Zande groups, have all but fled persecution in the North. Its national language is Sudanese Arabic. Lesser dialects include: Beja, Tigre, Domari and Nubian.


Cultural Diversity in Swaziland

The Kingdom of Swaziland is located in southeastern Africa. It is landlocked by South Africa on all the sides excepting to the east where it borders Mozambique. It has a total area of 17, 360 km2 of a mountainous and hilly country with middling moderate sloping plains. The estimated population was 1.2 million (2019). Swaziland has two official (state) languages: Swati, the national language, is spoken by more than 95% of the population, while English is the second official language, spoken and understood by most. Zulu, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, is also spoken to a lesser extent, as is Tsonga and Afrikaans. Other lingos spoken include the Chewa from Malawi, and Sotho (Sesotho) of Lesotho.


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  3. Cultures & Languages in Central Africa Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, and Equatorial Guinea
  4. Cultures & Languages in Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau
  5. Cultures & Languages in Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, and Mauritania
  6. Cultures & Languages in Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe
  7. Cultures & Languages in Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, and Swaziland
  8. Cultures & Languages in Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe