THE HISTORY OF WEST AFRICA (PART 2)

Transportation

The Trans west African coastal highway is a transnational highway project to link 12 west African coastal states, from Mauritania in the north west of the region to Nigeria in the east with feeder roads already existing to two landlocked countries Mali and Burkina Faso.

The eastern end of the highway terminates at Lagos Nigeria. Economic Community of west African states (ECOWAS) consider its Western end to be Nouakchott, Mauritania, or to be Dakar, Senegal, giving rise to these alternative names for the road: Nouakchott – Lagos Highway. Dakar – Lagos Highway. Trans– African Highway 7 in the Trans African Highway Network.

Rail Transport. One of the goals of the Economic Community of west African states (ECOWAS) is the development of an integrated railroad network. Aims include the extension of rail ways in member’s countries, the inter connection of previously isolated railways and the standardization of gauge, brakes, couplings and other parameters. The first line would connect the cities and parts of Lagos, Cotonou, Lome and Accra and would allow the largest container ships to follow on a smaller number of large ports while efficiently serving a larger hinterland.

Air transport. Each country in the west Africa have a notable airport, some serve different purposes to the country. Of the sixteen, the most important hub and entry point to west Africa is kotoka international Airport and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, offering many international connections.

Despite the historical damage that has been done to the region’s wildlife populations, there are still some protected nature reserves within the region. Some of these include: The Bandia Nature Reserve in Senegal, The Yankari National park in Nigeria, The Ankasa conservation Area in Ghana. West Africa is also home to several baobab trees and other plant life.

Overfishing is a major issue in West Africa. Besides reducing fish stocks in the region, it also threatens food security and the livelihood of many coastal communities who largely depend on artisanal fishing. The overfishing generally comes from foreign trawlers operating in the region.

Culture. Art. Religion. Music.

Despite the wide variety of cultures in West Africa, from Nigeria through to Senegal, there are general similarities in dress, cuisine, music and culture that are not shared extensively with groups outside the geographic region. This long history of cultural exchange predates the colonization era of the region and can be approximately placed at the time of the Ghana Empire (wagadou Empire), Mali Empire or perhaps before these empires.

 West African primarily speak Niger Congo languages, belonging mostly throughout exclusively, tults non Bantu branches, through some Nilo Saharan and Afro Asiatic speaking groups are also found in West Africa.

The Niger Congo speaking Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Akan and wolof ethnic groups are the largest and most influential in the central Sahara, mandinka or mande groups are most significant. Colonial language also plays a pivotal cultural and political role, being adopted as the official language of most countries in the region as well as linguae Franca in communication between the north wards.

 African Traditional Religion

Voodoo altar with several fetishes in Abomey, Benin traditional African religions (noting the many different belief systems) are the oldest belief systems among the populations of this region and include Akan religion, Yoruba religion odinani and serer religion. They are spiritual but also linked to historical and cultural heritage of the people. Although traditional beliefs vary from one place to the next.

 Christianity was largely introduced from the late 19th century onward when missionaries from European countries brought the religion to the region. West African Christians are predominantly Roman Catholic or Anglican some Evangelical churches have also been established.

Islam is the religion of the religion’s biggest ethnic groups by population. Islamic rules on livelihood, values, dress and practices had a profound effect on the populations and cultures in their predominant areas. Traditional Muslims areas include. Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, Niger The upper coast and inland two thirds of Sierra Leone and in land Liberia. The western, northern and far eastern regions of Burkina Faso and the northern halves of the coastal Nations of Nigeria, Benin, Togo Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Nollywood of Nigeria is the biggest film industry in west Africa. The Nigerian cinema industry is the largest film industry in terms of number of annual film production ahead of the American film industry in Hollywood. Senegal and Ghana also have long traditions of producing films

 The talking drum is an instrument unique to West Africa. Mbalax, highlife, fuji, Afro beat are modern musical genres of west Africa and its diaspora. Traditional folk music is also well preserved. Some types of folk music are religious in nature such as the Tassou tradition used in serer religion. Music is really popular in West Africa and also has a large role in the music industry of the world.

 In contrast to other parts of the continent south of the Sahara Desert, the concept of hemming and embroidering clothing have been traditionally common to west Africa for centuries, demonstrated by the production of various breeches, shirts, tunics, and jacket.

Typical pieces of west African formal attire include the knee to ankle length, flowing boubou robe, dashiki and Senegalese kaftan (also known as Agbada and babariga) which has its origins in the clothing of nobility of various west African empires in the 12th century.

Scores of foreign visitors to west African nations (e.g traders, historians, emigrants, colonists, missionaries) have benefitted from its citizen’s generosity and even left with a piece of its cultural heritage, via its foods. Several dishes of west African origins are currently enjoyed in the Caribbean (e.g the west Indies and Haiti). West Africans cuisines include fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits. The small difference maybe in the ingredients used. Most foods are cooked via boiling or frying. Commonly featured, starchy foods include yams, plantains, cassava and sweet potatoes. Rice is the most common of all dishes in West Africa.

FADESERE DAVID

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