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Mapping Africa’s Cultural Influences

Mapping Africa
Close up of a globe on the African continent.

When we talk about “African Culture” or “African Market”, we can make the mistake of viewing Africa as a monolithic society or homogenised market.

Though in January 2021, The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) was established, bringing together 54 countries in an economic bloc worth $3.4 trillion. It is essential to picture the continent as a place with diverse history, religions, rituals, and wealth. There are more than 3000 ethnicities in Africa and more than 2000 languages are spoken. However, ethnic influences are more accentuated in some places than others and within one country, different tribes have different symbols and values. This diversity is reflected in the medium and quality of luxury exports from the continent.

Map of Africa

In South Africa for instance, the black population is divided into four main ethnic groups: Nguni ( Zulu, Xhosa. Ndebele and Swazi), Sotho, Shangaan-Tsonga and Venda. There are many subgroups in these main ethnic groups, Zulu and Xhosa are the largest. Most of the white population are of Afrikaans descent, and around 40% are from British or European descent. The coloured population has a mixed lineage, often comprising indigeneous khoisan genes, africans and white european (SA Venues, 2021).

South Africa has eleven official languages : English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Sepedi, Xhosa, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Zulu, Swazi and Tsonga

South Africa

Beyond the culture and ethnicities, the Luxury interests and influences of African countries and economies are also shaped differently. Check out the interview below for a snapshot of African Luxury consumption trends [2019]


  • Can you find some examples of how the luxury interests and influences of African countries and economies are shaped differently?

Share your findings and sources in the comments section below.

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Africa to the World: Analysing the Global Appeal for African Luxury Fashion

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