Across the immense African continent, a variety of cultures emerged, ranging from wealthy trading kingdoms to nomadic herding societies to small farming communities. As people adapted to different environments and landscapes, their ways of life differed. Across Africa, communities varied in size, economic activity, family patterns, and forms of government. Still, they all had these features as well as their own religious beliefs, art, and technology.
Griots beat drums to tell their stories. Why do you think the beating of a drum is more powerful than a spoken word?
As you have read, the worldwide Neolithic Revolution led to the beginning of settled farming communities located in areas with fertile soil and proximity to water. These farming settlements grew as surpluses increased, enabling artisans to develop specialized skills.
Advancements in transportation, such as the use of the camel, increased a community's reach beyond its borders, and this exchange allowed villages to grow into towns. Extended trade brought additional wealth, leading to the creation of individual states and kingdoms. Throughout Africa, communities varied in size, environment, and economics. However, each society developed around four common elements—family, government, religion, and art.
Across Africa, as elsewhere around the globe, the family was the basic unit of society. Patterns of family life varied greatly. In some small societies, the basic family unit was the nuclear family, or parents and children living and working together as a unit.