In traditional African societies, family and community are the cornerstones upon which individuals build themselves.
The importance of community in African culture can be seen in several ways, from how people interact with each other to the role that community plays in shaping the values and beliefs of African people.
Growing up, we were taught to regard those in our community as family. Bonds formed within the community were strong, perhaps even stronger than familial bonds, and this was proven by how such relationships stood the test of time.
Many terms describe “Community” within various African societies, but the meaning remains the same.
So, what different words are used to give a sense of “Community” in Africa?
Bulshada is a Somali word for community, which refers to a gathering of individuals who come together to foster social connections.
In Somali, community implies a sense of responsibility and commitment, which is manifested through the actions of members of the society.
Obodo carries significant meaning in the Igbo culture. The term refers to “a community of people” with common ancestry, language, or way of life.
In Igbo culture, the community is a source of strength and resilience in times of distress. It also promotes unity and purpose among the Igbo people.
In Rwanda, the word “Umuryango” gives a sense of community. However, the term carries a broader meaning: “The family.” This implies that members of the community regard themselves as one big family.
Using the term “Umuryango” promotes a strong bond of unity that would stand storms that could cause division among Rwanda’s people.
Gemeenskap is an Afrikaans term that refers to a community or society united by cultural, social, and economic ties.
In South Africa, the community fosters a positive and supportive environment for people to thrive. It also emphasizes a sense of belonging and working together for the betterment of all members of society.
Jamii is a Swahili term meaning community or society. It implies that individuals are part of a larger whole and that individual well-being positively impacts the community at large.
Each member is expected to show a sense of responsibility and accountability to contribute to the growth and development of the community.
Setjhabneg is a Sesotho word that means community. The Sesotho people also use the term “Stjhaba” to refer to “nation.”
Both these words convey the idea of personal accountability and unity to promote social cohesion.
You may also want to check: 30 African Proverbs About Community
Ammudzi is the Chichewa word for Community. In the Chichewa culture, community ensures the well-being of individuals.
Aside from cultural activities, the members of Chichewa culture embrace a sense of community by supporting each other during difficult times.
Munharaunda means community or neighborhood in Shona. In the Shona culture, the community is more than just members of the society.
People within the community form tightly-knit familial bonds, evidenced by the support and guidance offered to ensure each individual’s sense of belonging and responsibility.
In the Yoruba language, spoken in Western Africa, Awujo translates to community. It also refers to a collective gathering of individuals in a community that allows people to join, share their experiences, and build meaningful relationships.
Ekuhlaleni is the Xhosa word for Community. Their cultural values emphasize the importance of interconnection and compassion towards others.
The extended family system also promotes a sense of community among the Xhosa people.
Umphakathi is the Zulu term for “Societarian,” which loosely translates into “pertaining to the society.”
In Zulu culture, community is essential as it gives individuals a sense of belonging and support. They believe in the “Ubuntu” principle, which means “I am because we are.”
Al’umma describes the public, community, population, people, and society in Hausa. Community is centered on the values of relationships, sharing, and mutual assistance.
It is also where cultural traditions are passed down to newer generations.
Other African Words You Should Know: