5 Of Africa’s Biggest Ethnic Groups That Are Truly Transnational

Colonization did not allow African nations to organically form and take on identities symptomatic of a peoples’ values and history. European politicians, having arrogated to themselves the right to split the continent, also determined the future of nations in Africa.

The Berlin Conference of 135 years ago set Africans on an irreversible path.

Many historians caution against overemphasizing the significance of Berlin for Africans. Indeed, it is quite common to read among scholars that the conference was a diplomatic tactic Germany took as part of reinventing itself as an imperial power.

But the conference set Africa on an irreversible path. It has irrevocably shaped the lives of over one billion people on the continent.

Kingdoms and empires founded by ethnic groups were arbitrarily separated allowing for some groups to be present in more than one country.

This centuries-old division of common peoples has been the remote cause of most ethnic clashes. Unfortunately, unscrupulous African politicians have tended to add salt to the injury of disconnectedness.

We take a look at some of the biggest ethnic groups on the continent affected by the scramble for Africa. Note that all of these are present in more than two countries.



The Berber can be found in as many as seven countries in the northern and Sahel regions. These countries include Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia and Libya.

These days, the Berber, an autochthonous northern African people, are said to number about 50 million.




The Zulu can be found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi among others. But to the outside world, the Zulu are closely identified with South Africa.


There are more than 12 million Zulu in southern Africa. Across the countries in which they are found, the Zulu largely share the sameness of customs and language.




The Ewe are coastal-dwelling people found in three West African countries. These countries are Ghana, Togo and Benin, where together the Ewe are about seven million.

Across the countries in which they are, the language spoken by the Ewe comes with differences. There are even more than three Ewe dialects in Ghana alone.


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The Tutsi have become known to the world sadly due to the Rwandan genocide of 25 years ago. But they are a proud people who can be found in Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and Tanzania.

There are about 5 million Tutsi in central and east Africa.




The largest ethnic group in Africa by population are the Hausa people. Together, there are over 75 million Hausa in Nigeria (their main home), Sudan, Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Togo and some other six countries.

Unsurprisingly, the Hausa language is also one of the most spoken languages in Africa, apart from English, French and Arabic.


Written by PH

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