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Native African Tribes


Native African Tribes

Cultures and Languages

Native African tribes include a large diversity of cultures and languages. However, not all tribes that presently exist in Africa are native African tribes. Rather some tribes had their origin outside of Africa and only relatively recently arrived in Africa. An example being the Arab tribes whose origin was in Asia and only gained a significance presence in Africa after the eight century with the invasion of Arabs from the Middle East. Perhaps the easiest way to determine if an African tribe really is native, is its language. English is an Indo-European language as are virtually all the languages of Europe. The languages of native African tribes include four major language groups: Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Khoisan, and Niger-Congo. Native African tribes speaking Afro-Asiatic languages include Afar, Amharic, Somali, Oromo, Berber, and Hausa. Interestingly, ancient African tribes such as the Ancient Egyptians spoke an Afro-Asiatic language. The Nilo-Saharan languages are extremely diverse, being spoken by a great variety of native African tribes, including Kanuri, Songhay, Nubian, Luo, Dinka and Maasi. Similar to Chinese, the Nilo-Saharan are tonal languages, with the same word taking on different meanings, depending upon the pitch. The Niger-Congo language family includes the greatest number of native African tribes speakers. Similar to the Nilo-Saharan languages, the majority of the Niger-Congo languages are tonal; examples being Yoruba and Igbo. The largest group of Niger-Congo languages is the Bantu family which extents across a large geographic range and numerous native African tribes including the Himba, Xhosa and Zulu tribes. Lastly, the Khoisan language group includes about thirty languages that are found in Namibia, Botswana, and Tanzania, including Sandawe and Hadza. The Khoisan group of Native African tribes is famous for having unique clicking sounds referred to as “click consonants” with the Bushmen of the Kalahari being an example.  


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