Category Archives: Africa

Kenyan Culture at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014

Khanga Khanga, also known as leso, is a rectangular piece of cotton fabric in bright colors and bold designs used throughout Africa. It originated on the east African coast in the mid-1800s, and was brought to Kenya from India in … Continue reading

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Global Glance: Mozambique

  Capital Maputo Size/Population 309,496 sq. mi./22,894,000 (2009) Land Hills, plateaus, highlands, mountains, rivers, lakes Politics Presidential republic Economy Agriculture Currency Metical Languages Portuguese, also Swahili, Makhuwa, and Sena Religion 56% Christian, 18% Muslim, 7% Animist, 19% None Ethnic Groups … Continue reading

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Global Glance: Mauritania

  Capital Nouakchott Size/Population 397,954 sq. mi./3,069,000 (2009) Land ¾ desert, plus plateaus and some mountains Politics Islamic republic Economy Iron ore Currency Ouguiya Languages Arabic, French, and various African languages Religion Sunni Muslim Ethnic Groups 30% Arab (Moors, Berbers, … Continue reading

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Global Glance: Chad

    Capital N’Djamena Size/Population 495,793 sq. miles/10,329,208 (2009) Land Desert, and savannah in the south Politics Presidential republic Economy Subsistence farming, livestock raising, crude oil Currency Central African franc Languages French, Arabic Religions 54% Muslim, 20% Roman Catholic, 14% … Continue reading

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Global Glance: Angola

Capital Luanda Size/Population 481,354 sq. mi./18,498,000 (2009) Land Forests, savannas, grasslands Politics Unitary presidential republic Economy Oil, diamonds Currency Kwanza Languages Portuguese, plus African languages (Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, etc.) Religion Over 50% Roman Catholic, approx. 25% Protestant Ethnic Groups 36% … Continue reading

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Ethiopian Castles and Churches

Two cities in northern Ethiopia are known as tourist destinations for their architectural treasures: Gondar, the “Camelot of Africa”, known for it’s castle complex, and Lalibela, known for the Christian churches carved from rock. Gondar Gondar is a city of … Continue reading

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African-Influenced Winter Holidays

Kwanzaa (Dec. 26­–Jan. 1) Beginnings Kwanzaa is a U.S. celebration honoring African-American heritage and culture. The name Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” meaning first fruits of the harvest. The holiday was started in 1966 by Maulana … Continue reading

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Timbuktu: History, Myth, and Culture

Continuing with last week’s desert theme, this week we’re in Timbuktu. Does it really exist? Can you really go there? The answer to both of these questions is yes. Known mostly in the West as a metaphor for a distant … Continue reading

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