Here Are 5 of the most Popular Tribes In Africa.

Africa is home to an abundance of magnificent tribes that are rich in culture, ethnicity, and brimming with history. African tribes have individual senses of traditions and customs, which make every tribe unlike another.

With an estimated 3000 tribes, all of which incredibly vary in terms of language and culture, the tribal influence continues to be a dominant force in most parts of the continent. Africa has seen a great deal of progression in the former two millennia, however the influence African tribes possess is insurmountable. Being the effigy of strength, true character, and courage, African tribes still stand as tall as ever. Rich with traditions that survived thousands of years, these African tribes are an explorers dream, with that in mind, lets look at the 5 most popular tribes in Africa: 

1. Zulu

Learn Zulu’s courses are an introduction to the language and culture. (Image: SA Tourism)

Zulu is one of the most popular tribes in Africa.  One reason why the tribe is so widely known is because of Shakaland, which is acknowledged worldwide as the birthplace of the legendary chief Shaka Zulu. 

With an estimated population of 11 million people, Zulu is known to be the largest ethnic group in South Africa. 

The language spoken by the Zulu is known as “IsiZulu;” this tribe transformed into a great kingdom during the turn of the 19th century. A notable concept of the Zulu called “Ubuntu,” which means unity and togetherness, originates here. This philosophy of union and staying strong is what makes Zulu stand apart and be top on our list.

2. Maasai

The second popular on the list is the Maasai, a tribe still known to follow tradition and culture and keep it close to home. They are among the best known local populations internationally due to their residence near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes, and their distinctive customs and dress.

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Even when a great majority of African tribes are adopting a modern lifestyle, Maasai’s still life in Bomas and nomadically more around with large herds of cattle for a living. They mainly feed on meat, drink raw blood, and can be spotted anywhere in East Africa ,especially Kenya, wearing Shukas and exceptionally beaded jewels.

Although the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments have established programs to encourage the Maasai to leave behind their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, the Maasai people have carried on their age-old customs. However this is changing, albeit slowly.

3. San Bushmen

Third on the list is the tribe of San Bushmen. The Bushmen are the indigenous peoples of southern Africa. Largely hunter-gatherers, their territory spans several nations and they have called the region home for tens of thousands of years.

The San are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20 000 years. The term San is commonly used to refer to a diverse group of hunter-gatherers living in Southern Africa who share historical and linguistic connections. The San were also referred to as Bushmen, but this term has since been abandoned as it is considered derogatory. There are many different San groups – they have no collective name for themselves, and the terms ‘Bushman’, ‘San’, ‘Basarwa’ (in Botswana) are used. The term, ‘bushman’, came from the Dutch term, ‘bossiesman’, which meant ‘bandit’ or ‘outlaw’.

the San Bushmen ladies explained as to why their skin is so soft even though the live in the dry hot Kalahari Desert. Image source:

The tribes are well-known for the profound connection they have with their land, for their intimate knowledge of the natural world, and the delicate balance they have maintained for millennia with the environment.

Not related to the BaNtu tribes, the San are descendants of Early Stone Age ancestors. Clans and loosely connected family groups followed seasonal game migrations between mountain range and coastline. They made their homes in caves, under rocky overhangs or in temporary shelters. These migratory peopledo not domesticate animals or cultivate crops, even though their knowledge of both flora and fauna is vast.

4. Yoruba

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Yoruba is undeniably the largest ethnic group in Africa, with a population estimated at about 35 million people in total. The Yoruba constitute about 105 million people in total. The majority of this population is from Nigeria, where the Yorùbá make up 21% of the country’s population, according to the CIA World Factbook, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Most Yoruba people speak the Yoruba language, which is the Niger-Congo language with the largest number of native, L1 or first language speakers.

The manly occupy the South Western sides of Nigeria, as well as Southern Benin, with a great majority coming from Nigeria. Instead of being one individual group, the Yoruba are an amalgamation of various people who share a common language, culture, and overall history.

5. Xhosa

Rajesh Jantilal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Xhosa People are a Bantu ethnic group from Southern Africa mainly found in the Eastern and Western Cape, South Africa, and in the last two centuries throughout the southern and central-southern parts of the country. There is a small but significant Xhosa-speaking (Mfengu) community in Zimbabwe

The official language spoken by the Xhosa is known as IsiXhosa, also recognized to be a national language in South Africa.

The Xhosa have been divided into other tribes, some of which are the ImiDushane, AmaGcaleka, and AmaNdlambe. Though the tribe may be divided, they stem from the same heritage, which makes the people of the Xhosa so distinct, and a reason for being on our list of the most prolific African tribes of all time.

Image source: SA-Venues

The name “Xhosa” comes from that of a legendary leader and King called uXhosa. There is also a fringe theory that, in fact the King’s name which has since been lost among the people was not Xhosa, but that “xhosa” was a name given to him by the San and which means “fierce” or “angry” in Khoisan languages. The Xhosa people refer to themselves as the amaXhosa, and to their language as isiXhosa.

Answers Africa
– Yoruba People: Britannica
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