The African concept of traditional society reflects on the way people live in the society. According to Anthropologists East Africa is a region where first human lived in Africa. Over thousands of years, people spread over the continent, forming distant culture and societies. During early phrase of their history, Africans lived as hunter-gatherers, who get their food by herding animals. About 9,000 years ago, some begin to grow native crops. They cultivate crops, raised cattle, capture the wild cattle and hold them in circular thorn hedges that resulted in domestication.
They also made pottery and built stone settlements representing the life of people in traditional African society.African culture displays certain common features that represent the cultural unity of Africa. One such common cultural feature is that those kings that are ritually isolated oversee societies in which people are arranged in age groups and kinship divisions. The kinship division depends upon certain parameters that include nuclear family, extended family, Age set, clan, and lineage.
The age set mean the group of all individuals within a given community born in a few years of one another. Men who had been born in same two, three years forms special bonds as they had the duty to help each other. The Traditional African society is based on the concept of the extended family system where families lived in one household and share the values and culture together. Families with common ancestors formed clans. Neighbors in African society are also considered as a part of family.
Polygamy is common in parts of Africa. The Traditional African society is polygamous. The polygamy helps to ensure the future of the family, gives women raising children and in if a man died, his brother was expected to marry his widow and care for his children. It also gave women help in gardening and other household chores.In Africa, culture and religions are tightly bounded with one another. The traditional African religion has always been passed down orally. There is no written set of beliefs, carried down from generation to generation by word of mouth. It includes the worship of ancestors, spirit, gods, animal, land, inanimate objects and natural phenomena. There are a variety of lesser and intermediary gods, constantly involved in human affairs. People communicate with these gods through ritual, sacrifices and prayers. The ancestral spirits were called at the time of need and trouble. Families gather in the clan to share news, food with ancestors, hoping spirit would protect them. People in traditional African society believe in sharing their services with one another as in the words of John Mbiti whatever happens to the individual happens to the whole group and whatever happens to the whole group happen to the individual.The family life in African traditional society was being divine. In traditional Africa, most religious rituals and rites were based on the family unit e.g., naming, marriage, offering sacrifices etc. Things related to the well – being of the family were respected. The family was extended and all the people lived together in the situation of happiness and misery. Family members respect and support each other. Families that had children in them are blessed by god and had respect in the society.The relationship between family and clan represent the cultural beliefs of the society. They shared common ancestor, common land and custom and language. They support and work together. Various clans constitute the tribe in which they shared common customs language and lands. They shared same religion knows as Animism and remained loyal to their tribe.The traditional African society is patriarchal which divides the role of an individual in society. Men are being headed of the family, who wields a lot of authority on decision-making process. Their basic job was to take care of things that held outside the household. They hunted and farmed crops. The typical African man was expected to have a number of loyal wives in the same household. This aimed at expanding the clan and breeding pride and prestige. The set standard of society represents more children mean more wives, more land, more access to animals, more title and you are the richest person of the clan. The male heads of the families jointly governed the tribe and organized the work. They allocated portions of land to their family members to cultivate and distributed the harvests.The role of women in traditional African society. A woman as a mother is responsible for the upbringing of their children. They bear and instill moral values into their children. They are loyal and loving to their families and most times subordinate themselves in the service of their children, husbands, families and clans. The status of women is always considered as inferior to men in patriarchal notion. She was always treated as minor before and after her marriage, before marriage she is under the guardianship of her father and her husband after her marriage.The importance of children in traditional African society reflects the traditional beliefs of the society. The bearing of children by the newly married couple strengthened the bond between husband and wife and a direct sign of goodwill from god as childless marriage is a curse in the society. They are believed to be a continuation of the life of ancestors and parents after their death. Their upbringing is not only held by mother but every other person in the family and clan contributed their efforts. The role played by children in traditional African society. Right from their early childhood the roles are divided between boys and girls. Boys taught by their father on one hand, they would go with their father to the field and learn things done on the field. This includes herding, farming; clearing lands etc while on the other hand mothers and grandmothers gave instruction to girls on how to perform domestic duties which includes agricultural skills, cooking, hygiene etc. Children were seen as a source of manual labor to perform all kinds of work. They are great security assets to the family in future when the parents would have grown old and weak. They would be looked as reliable protectors. They buried their families after their death with great honor and respect.Elders in traditional African society were viewed as valuable assets with an abundance of knowledge and experience. Their duty is to preside over religious ceremonies and make the major decision affecting families and clans. They advise the members of the society what steps they should take during the times of difficulties. They teach the youth their responsibilities and general customs of the society. They meditate between god and people, ancestors and spirits. Sometimes elders taught their lesson through storytelling where they shared information about the rich language, culture and history. Hence, they played the role of teaching, guidance and counseling on moral values in the society. They act as the custodians of traditions and customs of the society.