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African and South Pacific Cultures

The culture of a region determines interaction that the society had with the environment. All parts of the world offer different natural conditions and therefore it is the ingenuity and intelligence of the locals to learn how to use the earth for their benefits in order to derive livelihood from it. In this regard, the environment has undergone transformations and divisions as cultures keep changing to adapt to the evolution  of ecosystems. Most parts of the African region have been occupied by the largest groups of Bantu, Cushitics, and Nilotics. The Bantu are farmers who used to settle in areas that they found to be fertile lands. It is true that their cultural activities affected the environment and thus, it altered their way of life in other perspectives. This essay aims at comparing in terms of time intervals how the cultural practices of both the African and the Southern Pacific regions with the view of the Papua New Guinean population influenced the natural world and how in turn the situation changed the customs. The paper will pay close attention to the food, shelter, water, the source of energy etc.

African and South Pacific Cultures 1000 Years Ago

By 1000 AD, the Africans had occupied some areas of the continent though the population was much smaller while the land was vast full of vegetation and forests in all angles. The Bantu were naturally farmers and had been looking for the territories where they could grow their crops. They also kept animals though in limited numbers to increase the protein levels. The Cushitics mostly inhabited relatively dry regions and carried out nomadic pastoralism in which they moved with their livestock depending on the season of the year. The Nilotics, on the other hand, were pastoralists and practiced fishing along the continent’s lakes and rivers. The Bantu food included agricultural products such as yams and cassavas; the Cushitics had blood, milk and meats together with the wild fruits while the Nilotics ate fish, milk, meat and wild fruits with honey. At that time, the environment was highly forested, and people used caves and thickets as shelter. Water was in plenty with lots of rivers crossing their territory while the Nilotics and the Cushitics whose areas did not have water supply throughout the year used roots of trees and tubers to get water. Transportation was done via human backs in cases of the Bantu and the Nilotics while the Cushitics had camels. The environment was sustainable, and it provided for their basic needs.

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In other regions where people lived on the islands, we may find the culture of the Papua New Guinean of the South Pacific. They depended on agriculture for food, which comprised breadfruit, wild sago, yams, rice, sweet potatoes and taro (CPNGF 2016). They also landed fish from the sea as well as wild greens and wild meat. The amount of human and water transport along with the population of that time were relatively small. Their food was mainly fish, and they used wood fuel to cook it. Moreover, people built simple wooden structures for shelter. The environment was swampy due to the proximity to the water; however, they spent comfortable lives. .

African and South Pacific Cultures 500 Years Ago

The population was then on the increase, and this resulted in migration to other areas, which the surplus residents could occupy. It was at the point when the three groups began to interact with each other; consequently, it lead to the changes in their diets. The Bantu could add to their nutrition more animal products that they could acquire from the Nilotics and the Cushitics. All of them used wood to light the fire for preparing meals; they could build some timber structures to live in. By that time, they reduced the forest cover since the Bantu were clearing the bushes in order to cultivate more land while as it is shown below, the Cushitics and the Nilotics overgrazed their fields leading to desertification of the territory. Thus, this issue forced them to spread far and wide and then they could depend on one another for barter trade where they exchanged food and other products. According to Kwashirai (2016), some of the cultural practices of these groups such as beliefs that their ancestral spirits had inhabited some trees helped in protection of forests since the nature and surroundings were preserved.

Unlike the Africans, the people of Papua New Guinea had not changed much by that time; therefore, their food still included hunted sea creatures such as shellfish and wild animals namely pigs and birds. Transportation was performed by means of human backs and water. They still used wood for both shelter and source of fuel. The environment was sustainable since the population was relatively small and hence not much of the vegetation was required to sustain the African and South Pacific inhabitants.

Fig.1. (O’Neil 2006)

African and South Pacific Cultures 100 Years Ago

100 years ago, the African culture was moderated and had already taken shape so it began to erode gradually. The means of transport for most communities included animals and human backs; however, vehicles were used in the emerging urban center. People could then live in better houses, and the variety of the crops grown was increased by the foreigners that had migrated into the region (Tyman 2016). Though they still practiced traditional cultures, their movement was restricted. The source of energy was charcoal in most homes. The environment was now under human pressure due to the high population, and this meant that more and more forests were cleared to pave the way for the new lifestyle and its demands.

Just like the African territory 100 years ago, the region of South Pacific attained independence, and they also underwent transformations. Their migration was restricted then, and they led a more urbanized lifestyle where motor vehicles became the mode of transport. They used fossil fuels as the source of energy and similarly faced the issue of greenhouse gasses that lead to the changes of climate with their environment becoming submerged to a greater extent. They also had an increased variety of food as those products that existed in one area were transported to the other field (Bourke 2009). For example, sweet potato was only available on the Huon Peninsula, but foreigners took it to the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago. The use of the swampy forest was high, and the amount of woodlands was reduced.

African and South Pacific Cultures 20 Years Ago

In the last twenty years, the African culture has transformed tremendously. The source of energy has upgraded to fossil fuels where paraffin is used to light the stoves while diesel and petrol are applied in motor vehicles. The modes of transport have changed to the operation of automobiles to travel over long distances while for short ones human backs and animals were still exploited. The food appeared in many varieties since the interaction of the communities was intense. As it is shown below, kachumbari became popular among the locals (Spooner 2014).The population has grown rapidly; the land was scarce and this forced people to practice localized farming as well as pastoralism. Water in most urban areas was tapped while those in the upcountry fetched it from the rivers. Due to the reduced vegetation cover together with the emission of greenhouse gasses, the climate has changed, and the amount of diseases increased, and since new illnesses could not be treated by traditional herbs now, people had to get medical care in hospitals.

African and South Pacific Cultures 20 Years Ago

Fig.2. (Spooner 2014)

Just like the African regions, in the last 20 years, the people of Papua New Guinea have modernized and the contemporary food includes French fries and present-day cakes. Water was  piped in most urban areas, and the use of motor vehicle as a mode of transport became common. Planes  also began to ferry the locals to different parts of the world. The houses got more permanent, and the population increased leading to the destruction of the vegetation to accommodate the rising quantity of residents as opposed to the situation in the past. According to the Country Report (2016), because of increased emission of fossil fuels and the destruction of the vegetation, global warming has led to the rise of the sea level, and as it is shown below, people are forced to construct raised houses to prevent drowning in areas that water has never reached.

African and South Pacific Cultures

Fig.3. (Country Report 2016)


Conclusively, it is evident that both regions have a lot of similarities in the gradual change of the environment as well as the remodeling of cultural practices. Both parts possessed vast tracts of woods 1000 years ago, where they fed on the wild food, and the population was relatively small. In the last 500 years, a moderate increase in  the amount of residents was observed as the forested area was rapidly destroyed for the creation of more land to settle and farm. At that time, humans were more interactive. In the African region, the exchange of goods was enhanced, by means of which different groups acquired what they lacked. In the last 100 years, one can see how the world has transformed since most areas gained their independence then. The cultures have been modernized and introduced new food and means of transport. The vegetation cover was substantially reduced, and the use of fossil fuels contributed to the emission of greenhouse gasses. The former factors promoted the rapid development of global warming, the effect of which becomes ever increasing every year.

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