Africa — страница 12

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important bearing upon the culture of peoples, will be found on the whole to be greatest in the third zone and also in the eastern highlands, and of course least in the desert, the steppes and savannas standing midway between the two. As might be expected these variations are accompanied by certain variations in culture. In the best-watered districts agriculture is naturally of the greatest importance, except where the density of the forest renders the work of clearing too arduous. The main portion therefore of the inhabitants of the forest zone are agriculturists, save only the nomad Pygmies, who live in the inmost recesses of the forest and support themselves by hunting the game with which it abounds. Agriculture, too, flourishes in the eastern highlands, and throughout the

greater part of the steppe and savanna region of the northern and southern zones, especially the latter. In fact the only Bantu tribes who are not agriculturists are the Ova-Herero of German South-West Africa, whose purely pastoral habits are the natural outcome of the barren country they inhabit. But the wide open plains and slopes surrounding the forest area are eminently suited to cattle-breeding, and there are few tribes who do not take advantage of the fact. At the same time a natural check is imposed upon the desire for cattle, which is so characteristic of the Bantu peoples. This is constituted by the tsetse fly, which renders a pastoral life absolutely impossible throughout large tracts in central and southern Africa. In the northern zone this check is absent, and the

number of more essentially pastoral peoples, such as the eastern Hamites, Masai, Dinka, Fula, &c., correspondingly greater. The desert regions yield support only to nomadic peoples, such as the Tuareg, Tibbu, Bedouins and Bushmen, though the presence of numerous oases in the north renders the condition of life easier for the inhabitants. Upon geographical conditions likewise depend to a large extent the political conditions prevailing among the various tribes. Thus among the wandering tribes of the desert and of the heart of the forests, where large communities are impossible, a patriarchal system prevails with the family as the unit. Where the forest is less dense and small agricultural communities begin to make their appearance, the unit expands to the village with its

headman. Where the forest thins to the savanna and steppe, and communication is easier, are found the larger kingdoms and ``empires'' such as, in the north those established by the Songhai, Hausa, Fula, Bagirmi, Ba-Hima, &c., and in the south the states of Lunda, Kazembe, the Ba-Rotse, &c. But if ease of communication is favourable to the rise of large states and the cultural progress that usually accompanies it, it is, nevertheless, often fatal to the very culture which, at first, it fostered, in so far as the absence of natural boundaries renders invasion easy. A good example of this is furnished by the history of the western Sudan and particularly of East and South-East Africa. From its geographical position Africa looks naturally to the east, and it is on this side

that it has been most affected by external culture both by land (across the Sinaitic peninsula) and by sea. Though a certain amount of Indonesian and even aboriginal Indian influence has been traced in African ethnography, the people who have produced the most serious ethnic disturbances (apart from modern Europeans) are the Arabs. This is particularly the case in East Africa, where the systematic slave raids organized by them and carried out with the assistance of various warlike tribes reduced vast regions to a state of desolation. In the north and west of Africa, however, the Arab has had a less destructive but more extensive and permanent influence in spreading the Mahommedan religion throughout the whole of the Sudan. The characteristic African culture. The fact that the

physical geography of Africa affords fewer natural obstacles to racial movements on the side most exposed to foreign influence, renders it obvious that the culture most characteristically African must be sought on the other side. It is therefore in the forests of the Congo, and among the lagoons and estuaries of the Guinea coast, that this earlier culture will most probably be found. That there is a culture distinctive of this area, irrespective of the linguistic line dividing the Bantu from the Negro proper, has now been recognized. Its main features may be summed as follows:—-a purely agricultural life, with the plantain, yam and manioc (the last two of American origin) as the staple food; cannibalism common; rectangular houses with ridged roofs; scar-tattooing; clothing of