f_0023434_19177 - Africas Multicultural Tradition and...

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Fall 2011 The Ambassadors REVIEW 14 Africa’s Multicultural Tradition and Current Arab Trends HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie Chairman, Crown Council of Ethiopia frica’s multicultural tradition and its influence on the Arab Spring are challenging and singularly complex subjects, certain to frustrate those who seek neat, linear, cause-and-effect relationships. In many respects, Africa’s multicultural tradition, when juxtaposed against the complex and largely externally imposed circumstances of Africa’s turbulent history, and the realpolitik of today, is but a small—albeit critical—component in the dynamic, driving the people and institutions of modern Africa, and its regional neighbors, towards change. Washington’s US policy establishment, for instance, contains more fractious ‘tribes’ than Iraq and Afghanistan combined, each with its own political agenda and pandering media-congressional constituency. How, one wonders, can objective truth divining the complexly-nuanced affairs of ancient nations half a world away possibly emerge from such a riot of contending institutional interests and agendas? A contemporary map of Africa shows the borders imposed on the continent by the European colonizers during German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck’s Berlin Conference (1884). A map of Africa’s tribal or cultural groups, however, reveals much more complexity. European colonists in 1884 were wholly indifferent to existing groups and cultures as they delineated State borders, and most of these borders still exist today. Pre-colonial Africa was dominated by tribal religions. Islam subsequently spread into Africa from the northwest, while European colonizers brought Christianity to much of sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas a process of acculturation occurred in the Islamic areas (Islam completely replaced earlier religions), transculturation occurred in many of the European controlled areas as Christian beliefs blended and combined with existing tribal religions creating different, unique, Christian, or African-Christian, religions. The colonial boundaries imposed in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries have become the State boundaries of today. These artificially created structures, surrounding and concentrating large numbers of dissimilar cultural groups (tribes), have tended to breed and exacerbate inter-group tensions and rivalries spawning many seemingly intractable inter-country conflicts—Sierra Leone, Sudan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda are modern examples of this dynamic.
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0023434_19177 - Africas Multicultural Tradition and...

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