Difference Between African and African American

African vs African American

The world is a place of a wide range of diversity. Full of colours, cultures and ethnicities, the earth is a forever fascinating space. However, sometimes it is natural to get confused between one ethnicity and another, especially if by nature they share many similarities. African and African American are two such ethnicities that often tend to be mistaken for the other.

What is African?

African is the ethnicity attributed to natives or inhabitants of Africa or individuals of African descent. While the African continent is home to many ethnicities each with their own cultural attributes, African is the umbrella term under which each of these ethnicities fall. The varying geographical and climatic changes have affected the lifestyle of these people significantly, and people are seen to be living amidst jungles, deserts and modern cities all around the continent.

In West Africa, speakers of Niger-Congo languages are prominent such as the Yoruba, Fulani, Akan, Igbo and Wolof ethnic groups. Central and southern Africa are predominantly populated by speakers of Bantu languages as well as Nilo-Saharan languages and Ubangian. In the Horn of Africa, which is a peninsula in the Northeast Africa consisting of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti, Afro-Asiatic languages are the most spoken; however, Eritrean and Ethiopian groups are known to speak Semitic languages.

In the past, the North African population has mainly consisted of Egyptians from the east and Berbers from the West with Jews, Semitic Phoenicians, European Greeks, Vandals and Romans, and the Iranian Alans settling in the north, as well. Due to the colonization and other migratory events, Africa is also populated with Indian, European, Arab, Asian and other ethnicities, as well.

What is African American?

Also known as afro-Americans or black Americans, African Americans are residents or citizens of the United States of America whose ancestry is rooted totally or partially in Sub-Saharan Africa. African Americans are the second largest ethnic and racial minority in the United States. Most of the African American population in America are of Central and West African descent and are descendants of enslaved blacks from the colonial times. However, African American can also refer to Caribbean, African, Central American, and South American nations, and their descendants, as well.

The history of African Americans runs back to the 16th century when Africans have been forcibly taken as slaves to English and Spanish colonies. However, even when the United States of America was established, they continued to be treated as inferiors and slaves. However, with the Civil Rights Movement and the elimination of racial segregation, these circumstances were changed drastically. As proof of these changes in 2008, United States of America saw its first African American president, Barack Obama.

What is the difference between African and African American?

In appearance, it is almost impossible to tell Africans and African Americans apart. Although both African and African Americans have their roots in the African continent, many differences between these two groups give them a unique identity of their own.

•             Africans can be defined as inhabitants or natives of Africa. African Americans are residents or citizens of the United States whose ancestry is totally or partially rooted in the African continent.

•             Africans have lived in freedom. African Americans are descendants of enslaved blacks from the colonial times.

•             African Americans are a minority. Africans are not a minority.

•             African Americans mostly speak English. Africans speak a variety of languages such as Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, and Ubangian.

•             Africans embrace the tribal culture of Africa. African Americans are part and parcel of the westernized American culture.