In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the introduction of alien cultures, practices, and influences into Africa had a major effect on the traditional norms, ideas, and customs of the people. As a result, western culture and civilization started to infiltrate Africa’s socio-cultural environment. Prior to this entry, Africans had various polities and governments, each with its own set of groupings and conventional structures (Njoh 10). Some, for example, had a well-organized set of social units including clan and family systems. However, in the 16th and 17th centuries, two foreign powers, Europeans and Arabs, had a major impact on local African practices and rituals. For a long time, the Africans had interacted with these foreigners. The lifestyles and values linked with Europeans and Arabs had been integrated and indigenized (Kamalu 21). However, the foreign traditions altered the indigenous African social or family relations, sexuality, building patterns, religion and language.

Prior to the entrance of the Europeans and Arabs in the continent, most Africans were organized into extended family. It was a beneficial instrument, which provided the African community with social security, and social verve. Moreover, African values were highly respected and cherished. However, the established system was slowly replaced by nuclear family and its values slowly started to disappear (Njoh 13). In terms of religion, most parts of the Western African had adopted Islam prior to the sixteen century. However, the European introduced Christianity in some parts of North Africa and Western African. Christianity greatly affected the indigenous belief structure of the Africans. It enhanced the spread of new concepts and modes of existence. The missionaries initiated western education, which greatly emphasized learning of foreign languages and literacy. The western education also turned out to be the requirement for joining the modern era (Kamalu 23). Most importantly, it sought to replace polygamy with monogamy. Similarly, Christianity influenced the spread of nuclear family structures.

Furthermore, prior to the 16th century, Africans culture was based on collectivism and communism. However, after the entry of Europeans and Arabs the idea of individualism started to emerge. In addition, the foreign languages were introduced in the countries such as French, Portuguese, Arabic, and Spanish, which were particularly used in communication especially during trade (Njoh 39). The rise of foreign language established a contradiction between the indigenous people and the elites. It also led to decline of the African languages, which had significant effect on culture. The foreigners also changed the sexuality as Africans become more promiscuous than before. Initially, issues such as virginity were highly esteemed (Kamalu 30). Finally, the entry of foreign cultures and culture also created the racial and cultural superiority among the Europeans, which eventually led to scramble for African in nineteenth century. Furthermore, it cause rise of cultural dualism and tension at various stages of social and communal settings (Kamalu 31).


The entrance of foreign cultures in African especially from the Europeans and Arabs had serious effect on indigenous African customs and traditions. They influenced the African language, the social and family values, religious beliefs, language and sexuality (Njoh 10). Most importantly, the entry of these foreigners caused feeling of cultural superiority, which culminated into colonialism of African continent (Kamalu 21). In addition, it contributed to spread of western culture and traditions in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Finally, it also caused cultural dualism.

Work cited

Kamalu, Chukwunyere. The Little African History Book-Black Africa from the Origins of Humanity to the Assassination of Lumumba and the turn of the 20th Century. Lulu. com, 2007. Print

Njoh, Ambe J. Tradition, culture and development in Africa: Historical lessons for modern development planning. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. Print

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