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  • Wolof - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    of Fulbe origin Much Wolof history has been preserved in oral praise songs which are recited by griots professional praise singers Portuguese traveler accounts from the 15th century indicate an organized Wolof presence in what is still their homelands Europeans established a fort on Gorée Island off the coast of modern day Dakar which served as one of the primary points of departure for slaving vessels bound for the Americas Since European contact Wolof history has undergone numerous conquests and revolts as competing rulers challenged one another for kingship Economy The climate of the Wolof area varies greatly from north to south The north is nearly desert like while the southern region is a tropical rain forest The crops grown in each area reflect the climate of that zone Staple crops are sorghum and millet Tomatoes peppers peanuts and beans are also grown Fish is very important and rice is a staple of urban Wolof diets Until the late 19th century Wolof rulers played a key part in the slave trade directing slave raids and selling captured individuals from inland peoples to the Europeans on the coast Political Systems Traditionally Wolof were ruled by several powerful headmen who were from high ranking lineages based on the length of time that they resided in the area These lineages then elected a supreme leader from a field of qualified candidates As there were often several qualified individuals for the job fighting often broke out between various contingents following the death of a leader Local chiefs were usually appointed by the leader and paid their allegiance to him by maintaining order in the hinterlands and collecting taxes and tributes Society was divided into a series of caste like categories and there were two categories of enslaved people those born into the household and

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Wolof (2016-02-13)
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  • Woyo - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    carved from wood Many are painted and all are adorned with leaves and feathers when used in ceremonies The Woyo also carve various utilitarian objects including pot lids which serve as an ingenious means of communication between husband and wife History Sometime prior to the 15th century Queen Nwe led her people who were to become the Woyo away from the Congo River cataracts to the general vicinity of their current location This first dynasty was destroyed when the neighboring KiKongo king permitted his troops to invade and plunder Woyo communities It was the King of the Kongo s sister who founded the second Woyo dynasty During the 17th century the Woyo tried to expand northward but were stopped before the Congo River by the Solongo As disease drought and slaving enveloped the region in the 18th century the royal power of the Queen witnessed a gradual decline Extended families instituted a more egalitarian system of rule Economy Living along the coast allows the Woyo to depend on the sea for much of their food Men fish in the ocean collect coconuts and make palm wine They also practice some hunting and do most of their own smithing Women also fish mostly in local ponds They contribute significantly to the local economy farming corn manioc bananas beans and pineapple Surplus food is often traded to inland neighbors for profit under the supervision of local lineage heads from individual villages Political Systems Woyo political leaders who are selected based on their individual abilities are usually directly descended from the family line of the original Woyo founders Many of those associated with Woyo religion such as priests and diviners are also representatives of this noble line as are blacksmiths and sculptors There are many who live in Woyo communities who are not

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Woyo (2016-02-13)
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  • Wum - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    of Northwest Province They originally came from an area to the north and migrated in various complex patterns throughout the last several centuries Fulani traders moving steadily southwards into Cameroon in the 17th century forced the Wum s southern drift Many smaller peoples combined while other factions split away as a result of pressure from the invading Fulani During the late 18th century many Fulani converted to Islam and their expansionist efforts grew as a result of religious zeal They successfully converted many Wum to Islam Economy People in the region played an important part in regional trade routes connecting with the seaport of Douala in the south and with Fulani and Hausa traders in the north The Wum are farmers who grow maize yams and peanuts as staple crops They also raise some livestock including chickens and goats which play an important role in daily sustenance Women who are believed to make the soil more fruitful are responsible for the tasks of planting and harvesting the crops Men are responsible for clearing the fields for planting and practice some nominal hunting Political Systems The Wum like all of the peoples who make up the Cameroon Grasslands culture area pay allegiance to the Fon Each village is governed by a leader who is selected by his predecessor and who is usually the head of the dominant lineage within that community Each Fon is served by a council of elders who advise him on all important decisions and who also play an important role in the selection of the next Fon Most chiefs serve for a lifetime abdicating the throne or stool only when nearing death Complex age grade societies also help to structure the community The Fon also oversees these secret societies Religion The Wum reserve the highest allegiance for

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Wum (2016-02-13)
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  • Yaka - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    along with the Suku were part of an invasion against the Kongo Kingdom that came from the Lunda Plateau in the 16th century Previous to that time Yaka culture was enveloped in Kongo language and agriculture Lunda expansion and creation of the Inbangala Kingdom in 1620 greatly affected the occupants of the Kwango River area which included both the Yaka and the Suku At one time the Yaka kingdom was comprised of several smaller ethnic groups including the Suku In an effort to expand to the northwest and east Yaka chiefs weakened their kingdom s strength and were forced to become subservient to the Lunda The Lunda Chokwe empire collapsed in the 19th century and the Yaka regained some of their independence Economy Among the Yaka the males contribute to the local economy largely through hunting They may hunt either individually or in groups and most often use bow and arrow or old rifles Hunting dogs are a prize possession among the Yaka and their ability to sniff out game is compared to the mgaanga s ability to sniff out witches The women contribute most of the food primarily through cultivation of cassava sweet potatoes beans and peanuts They further supplement the diet through the gathering of wild fruits and berries and occasional fishing Political Systems The Yaka follow matrilineal descent patterns which are overlayed with a reckoning of patrilineal ascent family name and land ownership Each community has a local chief who is the direct descendant of the original land owner and usually is controlled to some extent by a paramount regional chief The Cogngolese government officially governs each region in conjunction with the local chiefs controlling the extent of the power of those individual chiefs Ritual specialists and diviners who achieve their prominence through display of their individual

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Yaka (2016-02-13)
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  • Yombe - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    and 17th centuries migrations of Manyanga and then Bwende peoples arrived in the area Both groups eventually assimilated into Yombe communities The Kongo and Solongo expansions at the end of the 17th century forced the Yombe to withdraw from the banks of the Congo River Although European contact was limited until the end of the 19th century depictions of Portuguese people in Yombe art reflect 16th century Portuguese styles indicating a moderate degree of European influence in this region at quite an early date Economy Due to the thick forests surrounding Yombe territory the land must be cleared through slash and burn techniques before crops can be planted The land is usually cleared by men leaving the task of farming to the women Plantains manioc maize beans peanuts and yams are among the primary crops grown These are primarily used for local consumption but surplus is also sold in regional markets to obtain cash Goats pigs chickens and dogs are also raised Fishing on the Congo River and its surrounding tributaries provides an important source of dietary protein Men are also responsible for hunting weaving carving smithing and smelting Women create clay pots for domestic use Political Systems Primary Yombe social divisions are based on membership in one of nine clans All clans trace their heritage to Mbaangala who had nine daughters whose names are the same as the clan that each founded Yombe peoples more readily affiliate with fellow clan members and each clan has its own set of social and moral rules Historically the Yombe recognized a supreme chief but today there are instead localized land chiefs who act as supreme judges and maintain a great deal of religious power Descent is traced matrilinealy and each clan has a mfumu makanda supreme leader who is elected by his

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Yombe (2016-02-13)
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  • Yoruba - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    the 15th century aided by Portuguese guns Expansion of the kingdom is associated with the acquisition of the horse At the end of the 18th century civil war broke out at Oyo the rebels called for assistance to the Fulani but the latter ended up conquering all of Oyo by the 1830s The Fulani invasion pushed many Yoruba to the south where the towns of Ibadan and Abeokuta were founded In the late 1880s with the help of a British mediator a treaty was signed between the various warring factions Yorubaland was officially colonized by the British in 1901 but a system of indirect rule was established that mimicked the structure of Yoruba governance Economy Historically the Yoruba were primarily farmers growing cocoa and yams as cash crops These are planted in a three year rotational system alternating with cassava and a year of diverse crops including maize peanuts cotton and beans At the end of this three year cycle the land is left fallow sometimes for seven years It is estimated that at one time nearly 70 percent of people participated in agriculture and ten percent each working as crafts people and traders within the towns Yorubaland is characterized by numerous densely populated urban centers with surrounding fields for farming The centralization of wealth within cities allowed for the development of a complex market economy which encouraged extensive patronage of the arts Political Systems The political and social systems vary greatly in different regions and allegiance is uniformly paid to the large urban center in the area rather than to a singular centralized authority Each town has a Oba leader who may achieve his position in several different ways including inheritance gaining the position through participation in title associations or being personally selected by an Oba already in power

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Yoruba (2016-02-13)
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  • Zaramo - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    territory on their way to Lake Tanganyika bringing Islam along with them As Dar es Salaam the capital of Tanzania has grown exponentially in the last twenty years many Zaramo settlements have been incorporated into the city and many more Zaramo people have immigrated into the city in search of work Economy Most Zaramo cultivation is done by women using a hand held hoe They grow maize millet and rice near the coast Tomatoes potatoes peppers casava cucumbers and various other vegetables are grown Tropical fruits including mango bananas and coconut are abundant In the past fishing and hunting were important but have largely been replaced by raising domestic animals Dried fish brought inland from the coast are commonly eaten The Zaramo supply much of the fruit and vegetables that are sold in the markets of Dar es Salaam Sisal which is used for making ropes is grown on large plantations throughout eastern Tanzania Tanzania is the number one exporter of sisal Political Systems Zaramo did not have centralized political systems Their social organization was based on small scale matrilineal kin groups which were self governing Lineage heads were chosen by community leaders These leaders held the land rights of the lineage Occasionally a powerful leader emerged in the area who had greater influence Land ownership was determined by the original members who inhabited it The leader was responsible for distributing the land and maintaining lineage rituals Most of the leaders in Zaramo communities were men but on occasion they could be women They settled disputes between family members and were often attributed with spiritual powers such as the ability to make rain or to communicate with the spirit world Despite colonial reports indicating a lack of political unity in the area Zaramo peoples were able to assemble between four

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Zaramo (2016-02-13)
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  • Zulu - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    500 Shaka was followed by Dingaan who tentatively entered into treaties with English colonizers Mpande was the next king He allowed the British extensive control over his peoples By the time he died in 1872 the Zulu had had enough of the English invasion Cetewayo Mpande s replacement tried vainly for six years to avoid a confrontation with the British yet in 1879 war erupted Although the Zulu initially experienced some success the British army eventually prevailed In less than six months Cetewayo was exiled to England and the Zulu kingdom was divided to the British advantage The last Zulu uprising against European domination was lead by Chief Bombatha in 1906 In recent times Chief Gastha Buthelezi has doubled as the political leader of the Zulu and the head of the Inkatha Freedom Party leading the fight against Apartheid and the ANC demanding a voice for his people who are more than three million strong Economy Rural Zulu raise cattle and farm corn and vegetables for subsistence purposes The men and herd boys are primarily responsible for the cows which are grazed in the open country while the women do most if not all of the planting and harvesting The women also are the owners of the family house and have considerable economic clout within the family In the urban areas of South Africa Zulu and in fact all Africans are limited to labor intensive work and domestic duties Even as Apartheid as an institution has been dismantled it is still extremely difficult for Africans to compete for jobs for which they have not been trained and the country is still entrenched in de facto racism Political Systems As is evident by the history of the Zulu the leader or chief is invested with power based on his genealogy He

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Zulu (2016-02-13)
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