Africa is an amazingly diverse continent. It has thousands of different languages and ethnic groups, over fifty countries, and many different religions, beliefs, and cultures. Africa is amazing because it has such diversity and variety. No other continent has as many wonderful new ideas and beliefs about life and happiness.
WHAT IS CULTURE?
Culture is a set of beliefs that a region or group has learnt over thousands of years. Culture includes ideas about art and music, as well as bigger ideas about religion and society. Celebrations, rituals, and traditions are all culture. Culture brings groups of people together so they can feel part of a big history. It is very important.
WHY DOES CULTURE VARY?
Culture varies because of different human experiences. Some groups may have different ideas about religion or faith simply because an elder a long time ago taught a different story to yours. Some might have cultural rituals that other areas just don’t need – in east Ethiopia, they use ‘rain dances’ to bring rain in dry seasons. In wetter regions, this might not need to exist. That does not mean it is not important for Ethiopian people.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand other people’s cultures. They might have different beliefs to you. When you have grown up surrounded by the same culture as everyone else, when you meet someone who believes something different, you might be surprised. But it is normal to have lots of different opinions about life. It can create discussion, and produces different kinds of art, beliefs, and people.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO RESPECT DIFFERENT CULTURES?
Having lots of different beliefs is a good thing, not something to feel confused about. Different cultures benefit lots of people, and should be respected. This is because:
- It may upset the person from a different culture. They have grown up believing in a certain set of values and ideas, just like their friends and family. To tell them they are wrong is unkind and undermines their whole community.
- Culture is good for bringing people together. Learning about different cultures is fun and interesting, and you can often find surprising similarities! It is fascinating to know what someone else may think about something you believe.
- New and useful ideas. Different culture means different approaches to fundamental ideas in your society. A different group might be able to help your community learn something new. They could teach you new languages or new ways to cook food or make clothes.
- A unified country. If people can celebrate their differences, they can work together to move forward and develop. They can recognise alternative beliefs and accept them.
Africa is so amazing because it has so many different cultures. It is normal to feel confused when you meet someone who has different ideas to you, but you should feel happy Africa can have such a variety of beliefs and concepts. It means Africa has some of the most unique cultures on earth. Celebrating diversity is essential to a strong community and nation.