In North Africa there was in 700-tfKr. formed an alliance of trading cities under the leadership of Phoenician Carthage, which conquered northern Tunisia and established trade links between the surrounding Libyan-Berber communities and the cities around the Mediterranean. In 146 BC. the Romans conquered Carthage and then established the province of Africa. Originally, the area included the northern part of present-day Tunisia, Africa Proconsularis, but it was slowly expanded from east to west. In the year 46 BC. Numidia was involved, and in 40 AD. conquered the rest of present-day North Africa, which was transformed into two more provinces with the Caesarea (Mauretania Caesariensis) and Tingi administrative centers (Mauritania Tingitana).
Especially the eastern part of Africa was both politically, economically and culturally one of the most important areas of the Roman Empire. Large quantities of grain and olive oil were exported to Rome in particular. A rich urban culture developed around centers such as Carthage, Leptis Magna, Dougga and Caesarea. Economically and culturally, Africa’s heyday was in the 100’s and 200’s, however, with incipient social tensions and consequent unrest. Roman Africa became one of the most important bastions of early Christianity with ancient ecclesiastical theologians such as Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine, but disagreements in the view of Christianity also characterized the African Church (see Donatism).). In the period 429-439 the Vandals conquered Roman Africa, and in 533 the Byzantines took over the area.
The idea of African unity and co-operation is closely linked to Africa’s struggle for independence and autonomy. Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was one of the most ardent advocates of increased cooperation between the many young states that resulted from decolonization.
Despite great difficulties, in 1963 the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established.), which was headquartered in Addis Ababa. According to Countryaah.com, all independent states in Africa have the right to be a member; also the five North African countries, which are otherwise more oriented towards the Arab world, are members. One of the OAU’s main objectives is “to promote unity and unity between the African states”. However, the organization has not been able to reconcile the many views that have characterized the continent since decolonization. OAU has also been plagued by the fact that many heads of state have attached so little importance to the organization that they have not attended the annual summits. It should be mentioned, however, that the OAU has successfully maintained that national borders are fixed; they are not up for discussion or revision despite their background in colonial power relations.
The idea of African unity and co-operation has also led to the creation of a number of regional co-operation organizations. Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda formed the East African Community (EAC) in 1967; however, it disintegrated 10 years later due to differences between member states. In West Africa, 16 states set up a West African Common Market (ECOWAS) in 1975, which aimed to promote economic cooperation and create a common market. However, the results of ECOWAS have been rather limited, which can be explained both by political disagreement and by the countries’ different development strategies.
In southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 made it possible to set up a regional cooperation organization, the SADCC, for the countries of the region, but not South Africa. SADCC has had some success in attracting foreign development aid to the area; on the other hand, it has not really succeeded in developing cooperation between states.
A number of former French colonies in West Africa have entered into a currency cooperation in the so-called Franc zone. France guarantees the states a fixed exchange rate for their currencies as well as full interchangeability.
The continent’s colonial past is clearly seen in the infrastructure. Selected areas (mines, plantation areas) in the interior of Africa are connected to a port city, whereas connections between countries are often poor.
This export-oriented infrastructure is most clearly seen in the railway network, which is completely incoherent, but this also applies to the road network, which is of greater importance. The development of trans-African highways is a high priority, but requires major investments. The road network is generally poorly developed with major capacity problems; moreover, many dirt roads are impassable during the rainy season. The poor roads cause great wear and tear on the means of transport, and as there is often a shortage of these, the existing ones are overloaded, which further degrades the road network.
Port capacity is also limited, with long waiting times for ships. Despite certain investments, including aid funds, only a few African ports have adequate facilities, including container handling equipment.
For centuries, theater in sub-Saharan Africa has functioned as part of entertainment, education and religious rituals. In the religious festivities, the theater is used to portray historical and/or symbolic events as ritual highlights with the priests acting.
Entertainment was the primary purpose of the professional theater, which was developed by the traditional African courts, for example in Nigeria and Ethiopia. From here, traveling troops developed, which played theater for the people. This professional folk theater, which is played in many places in Africa, e.g. apidan or alarinjo in Nigeria, koteba in Mali and njauin Zambia, is made up of several short, alternately comic, satirical and serious games, whose dialogue is improvised around a synopsis, and which has many elements of mime, music and dance. As the performances take place on streets and squares, no scenography is used. Costumes, sometimes masks and few props indicate the character of the actor and the action of the play. One does not demarcate oneself from the spectators, but instead invites them to participate in the action. Each of them pays at will, but the biggest income comes from the private host who has invited the squad.
Amateur theater has an important social function in most societies, partly by creating cultural cohesion around history, ethical and aesthetic values, partly as social criticism or therapy. For a long time, a performance is created in which large parts of the village or city’s population participate. The costs are paid by the actors and the audience. According to AbbreviationFinder, the largest countries in Africa are Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Traditional African theater with both professionals and amateurs was further developed in many countries during the colonial era and later. Professional, so-called traveling theaters of various kinds were developed in Nigeria, Uganda and Malawi. In Ivory Coast, storytelling was combined with traditional theater for so-called griot dramas. Various traditional forms of theater have been combined with Western revues or mission school theater. In Ghana, concert parties and trios arose. In Nigeria, Hubert Ogunde has a yoruba opera led to sophisticated and extensive musical theater. The theater troupes are rarely stationary, but must seek out their audience by touring around the country, where they use schools and municipal buildings for their performance. All these forms of theater have both an entertaining and instructive function and not infrequently political undertones, either as propaganda from those in power or as popular opposition to them. In the latter case, the theater often receives all its financial support from the broad sections of the population both in town and on land. Local languages are used and there are rich elements of music and dance. Several of these popular forms of theater have early found expression in radio and television in several countries.
The colonial powers for a long time perceived the local theater traditions as pagan and suppressed them. Imitation of European drama and the use of colonial languages were encouraged. Thus, France supported only French aesthetics and French-language literature, resulting in a theater for a small elite. As England in its colonies supported an independent literature in local languages, these countries more quickly developed their own theater system. In East Africa, harsh colonial conditions and political developments have helped to hamper the development of the theater. In the Marxist-ruled countries, the theater is used to awaken the people’s political consciousness modeled on the Soviet agit plug. For the black population of South Africa, conditions have made any kind of theater system difficult until the mid-1980’s.
In the abandoned theaters of the colonial power and other state-sponsored institutions, an elite can now see plays created by playwrights, who are often also directors and actors, in both Western and African style. Some of these setups later result in printed dramas. From the 1980’s, traditional theater and other forms of oral expression have inspired modern theater in Western languages, for example in Cameroon.