Matrilineal descent has been instrumental in tracing the origin of some of Africa’s tribes and it’s a huge part of Africa’s history and evolution. In the past, matriarchy’s, or families, groups, or states ruled by women, were prevalent in Africa. Matrilineality refers not only to tracing one’s lineage through maternal ancestry, it can also refer to a civil system in which one inherits property through the female’s family line. More interesting is the fact that most of Africa’s matrilineal tribes are still in existence.
Here are the top 7 female-led tribes in Africa.
The Serer tribe is a West African ethno-religious group that makes up the third largest tribe in Senegal. This group represents 15 percent of the Senegalese population. The Serer people are also present in Gambia and southern Mauritania. The group originated from the Senegal River Valley and moved south between the 11th and 12th centuries. They are historically known as the matrilineal ethnic group that long resisted the expansion of Islam.
Also referred to as Aawambo, the Ovambo people are a tribal ethnic group predominantly found in southern Africa. They are the largest tribe in Namibia, accounting for 50 percent of the country’s population. The group mostly occupies Namibia’s northern region. The Ovambo people are also found in southern Angola, where the name Ambo is very common. They are said to have moved south from the upper regions of Zambezi around the 14th century. Most of them practice Christianity and speak the Ovambo language.
Named after Nuba, a region along the Nile River, Nubians are said to have originated from the Noba people who were nomads occupying present-day northern Sudan and southern Egypt. The region was home to one of the earliest civilizations of ancient northeastern Africa, with a history that can be traced back to 2,000 B.C. During the post-classical era, Nubians were divided into various kingdoms, which resulted in the “Arab-anization” of much of its population.
Ngazidja is a tribal group of people predominantly found in Comoros. They are estimated to be about 393,000, according to People Groups. These people are part of the Swahili-speaking Bantus, occupying the sub-Saharan African kinship bloc. Their primary language is Ngazidja Comorian, and they are predominantly practicing Muslims.
Also spelled as !Xun, the !Kung San is an ethnic group predominantly found in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, Botswana, and Angola. They are well-known for their extensive use of click consonants. Letter “!K” in the name “!Kung” is a click sound similar to how a cork sounds when pulled from a bottle. !Kung San originally lived in semi-permanent camps of about 10 to 30 people who were mainly hunters and gatherersr. They are also animistic and animalistic, which means they believe in personification and impersonal forces. !Kung San people speak the !Kung language, commonly referred to as Ju.
Also known as the “Berbers,” the Amazighen people are an ethnic group occupying north Africa. They are settled in an area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Niger River. Originally, the Amazinghen people spoke Berber languages, which together formed the Berber branch of the Afro-Asiatic lanuage family, but colonization introduced new languages like French and Spanish. This group of people is predominantly Muslim.
The Kom people are the largest ethnic group in the northwestern region of Cameroon. They originated from upper Mbam in Tikari and later settled in Liakom. Their elaborate language and rich culture are similar to their closest neighbors, the “Tikar.” The Kom people mainly speak the Kom language, also known as Itangikom and are largely Christians.