Acculturation in sub-Saharan Africa

Byron G. Adams, Amina Abubakar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the region on the African continent south of the Saharan desert. It excludes the Arab countries of Northern Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Western Sahara), but includes several other Afro-Arab countries (Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros and Mauritania). As a region, SSA is one of the most economically underdeveloped regions in the world. The population was estimated at 926 million in mid-2013 (approximately 13 percent of the world's population; Goldberg & Murphy, 2013), with approximately 37 percent of this population urbanized. It is projected that SSA will have the largest regional population growth rate within the next 36 years (Population Reference Bureau [PRB], 2013). SSA comprises 47 countries. It is so diverse that the number of cultural, ethnic and linguistic groups remains largely disputed. With ethnicity and language largely related, it is estimated that there are between 1,200 and 2,100 (Heine & Nurse, 2000), and even 3,000 (Epstein & Kole, 1998) languages spoken on the subcontinent. As one of the most culture-rich contexts in the world, SSA provides a unique and interesting context for the study of acculturation. However, there seems to be a limited number of theoretical and empirical studies on acculturation in the region. In this chapter, our objective is to provide an overview of the context and examine the few studies on acculturation previously conducted. The Sub-Saharan African context In this section, we provide a brief discussion on the SSA context, dealing with themes that we argue provide a backdrop for understanding culture and acculturation in SSA. Three themes considered salient are discussed at length: colonization, multiculturalism and globalization. While these themes are somewhat related, each one provides a very unique contribution to our understanding of acculturation psychology in the region. We believe that they may provide insight into culture, identity, intergroup relations and psychosocial functioning, which are all aspects that are considered important for understanding acculturation psychology. It is important to note that the SSA context is vast and it is impossible for us to discuss these themes for every country. This does not reduce the importance of future research considering these themes within each country; however, we provide a general overview, and where needed discuss specific examples.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Acculturation Psychology, Second Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781316219218
ISBN (Print)9781107103993
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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