Africa is a large continent and is home to a variety of kinds of people. Considered as the oldest civilization in the world, ancient Africa had a hierarchal society which primarily determined the positions of people in society.
The most popular social structure of ancient Africa is known as the caste system which is consist of town leaders, religious chiefs, merchants, free citizens and slaves.
In most cases, leaders are people who are considered to have discovered the settlement or community. Naturally, their lineage became the new chiefs of the communities as the years went by. Religious leaders, on the other hand, are also important members of the society who were believed to be chosen by divine intervention.
Merchants, meanwhile, are primarily consisting of successful traders and wealthy businessmen as well as farmers who are often considered to have an influence in the decision-making process of the leaders in the community.
Free citizens were known as the ordinary people of the land who lived middle-class lives and did not rely on anyone to survive. It is, however, the exact different for slaves and laborers who were sometimes classified in the same category and were the least respected members of the community. The typically depend on others to survive and worked for people who are normally chiefs and merchants of the community.
Other than that, ancient Africans also had social structures known as stateless societies which are smaller than city-states but are larger compared to communities of hunters and gatherers.
Dissimilar to the one mentioned above, stateless societies do not have any form of governance and leadership. More often than not, it is consists of slaves that are seeking refuge after being exiled from other communities.
Interestingly enough, stateless societies lasted longer as opposed to city-states thanks to their strategic routes which were continuously used by people around the world for trade and negotiations. A significant amount of citizens that were living in stateless societies were explorers and middlemen who have initially gained contact with people from other parts of the world especially Europe.
Caste systems are societies that had no appropriate organization of governance but are considered to be organized around social classes.
The Mande social structure originated in East Africa.
The Wolof social structure emerged in Senegal.
Griots are people from the Mande social structure who wrote exquisite poetries and poems for their respective patrons.