Back To CourseGeography: Middle School
55 chapters | 528 lessons
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Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.
The term cultural pattern refers to the way people behave over time. When large numbers of people behave the same way, we refer to their behavior as a 'custom' or 'cultural pattern.' On the surface of it, it may not look like the diverse cultures found in Africa and the Middle East have a great deal in common.
However, upon closer examination, we can see that both regions share common cultural themes that either unite or set some of their native peoples apart. This is not only to say that their cultures are the same, or even remotely similar. Instead, they show how different aspects of culture can have a comparably strong effect on completely different groups.
Take language, for example. As many as 2,000 languages are spoken throughout Africa, with about two dozen majority and minority languages spoken in the Middle East. In Africa, there has long been a need for a lingua franca, or a common language known to everyone. In much of Eastern Africa, people speak Swahili. In parts of West Africa, people speak Hausa. Arabic functions as the lingua franca in the Middle East, but with one distinction. While plenty of people speak Arabic as their native language, it is actually quite different from the Arabic used as a lingua franca.
So, how would a West African speak to an East African? He or she would have to learn Swahili, or the other person would have to learn Hausa. Likewise, if an Arab tries to communicate with an Arab from a different country, both parties might find themselves using the same word differently. Customs and patterns of language in both Africa and the Middle East are diverse and present both regions with the same cultural challenge. As a result of this challenge, there has been a real push in both Africa and the Middle East to communicate in English and French.
Major faiths found in Africa include Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and traditional African rites. In the Middle East, the major faiths include Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all of which are monotheistic and share a historical relationship with one another.
Throughout much of the Middle East, religion is the most important aspect of people's lives. It determines whom they can marry and what kind of work they can do. In countries like Lebanon, it even determines one's role in politics. Loyalty to faith often precedes loyalty to a political state. Sometimes, faith also forms the basis for political and religious warfare.
By comparison, religion is something that is largely absorbed into existing beliefs in Africa, where faith practices may combine the beliefs of indigenous religions, Christianity and Islam. As a result, it's not uncommon to find someone praying in Arabic to a pagan-looking idol alongside a cross and calling God Allah.
Despite their differences in religion, land use is one place where many Africans and Middle Easterners find some common ground. Historically, powerful local leaders in both regions controlled most of the fertile land, but largely ignored the deserts and grasslands. As a result, fertile land is highly valued, while other lands remain largely unregulated. As a result, large numbers of nomads populate places like the Arabian and Sahara deserts.
Due to the discovery of oil, gold and diamonds in Africa, some states have started to enforce land rights. As you might imagine, this causes some level of friction with nomadic groups who have had access to the land for centuries, such as the Bedouin and the Khoikhoi.
Finally, as is true of many places in the developing world, educational patterns in Africa and the Middle East differ from those found in the Western world. Despite the best efforts of governments, education at the primary level is still traditional in nature. In Africa, the lack of qualified teachers in many areas serves as a barrier to more advanced education. However, recent advances in online and open-source learning have led to significant gains in areas with access to technology.
In major cities throughout the Middle East, as well as in Turkey and Israel, some educational systems are based on the elementary school models found in the West. Students in the some of the Gulf Arab states learn in a madrassa, an Islamic school that focuses on traditional Islamic studies. In the past, these were known as maktubs.
However, such traditional studies are all but abandoned when students reach college. Here, they're encouraged to only study what is practical. As a result, there are many more engineers, doctors and businessmen in African and Middle Eastern universities than there are poets and musicians.
In this lesson, we examined some of the cultural patterns in Africa and the Middle East, including those related to language, religion, land use and education. The term cultural pattern refers to the way people develop customs or behave in large groups over time.
To promote communication among diverse peoples, some African regions have sought to establish a lingua franca, or common language, such as Swahili in Eastern Africa and Hausa in Western Africa. Although Arabic is the lingua franca in the Middle East, it differs from native Arabic.
Natives of Africa and the Middle East include Christians, Jews and Muslims; Hinduism and traditional African beliefs can also be found in Africa. While Jews and Muslims of the Middle East tend to be defined by their faith, some Africans combine elements of Christianity, Islam and paganism.
Education continues to face challenges in both Africa and the Middle East. In Africa, there is a severe lack of teachers. In the Middle East, philosophical approaches differ between Western and Islamic approaches to education. Both regions emphasize study of practical skills at the university level in lieu of the liberal arts.
Historically, powerful local leaders in both Africa and the Middle East controlled the use of land. However, the discovery of oil, gold and diamonds in Africa has disrupted the traditional nomadic lifestyles of the Bedouin and the Khoikhoi.
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Back To CourseGeography: Middle School
55 chapters | 528 lessons