The Great African culture is the result of the influences of the African kingdoms and city states which thrived and prospered between 1200 and 1500 CE. In addition to this, the forces of cultural diffusion as well as trade had influenced and changed these African civilizations.
The ruling Kingdom of Songhai, due to the influence of the Arab culture and trading system, was replaced by the Mali. This new power in Western Africa influenced and expanded the ruling class, culture, society and its people.
On the other hand, through extensive trade contacts, Islamic traditions and customs were brought to East Africa. Consequently, this had a huge influence on the culture and politics in Swahili city-states. On the other hand, the Great Zimbabwe was able to deter the influence of Islamic cultural diffusion and other cultures despite having trading contacts from the Middle East, India and China.
This is due to the obstacles created by its natural geographic location. While Kongo in West Africa continued to trade slaves, goods in return for weapons from the Portuguese merchants, ultimately leading to a change in religion (towards Christianity). In 1500, the power of several African societies was reduced because of the expansion of slave trading in the region.
Generally, through trade, the African societies transact all the activities related to production and the reproduction of human life in its culture. Culture is consists of all that members of a society do. It is also passed on from one generation to another.
Trade and development eventually must be understood or recognized as a cultural process, wherein culture is identified to encompass the social, economic, religious, political and other areas of social life and activity.
In the African situation, conceivably greater than any other area of the world, culture as an incremental, as an inheritance and constructional basis of life and society, had a propensity to be forsaken in favor of unsystematic mimicry and cheap imitation of Western practices.
The consequence of this is failure during most of the post-independence period to crucially or “significantly improve the quality of life of the majority of people in the continent” (Ukaga and Afoaku, 2005). Accordingly, modern Africa is still one of the poorest regions of the world regardless of its vast endowments of natural and human resources.
Ukaga, O., & Afoaku, O. G. (2005). Sustainable Development in Africa: A Multifaceted Challenge. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, Inc.
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