Chic African Culture Blog

Did you know?

1. No African country names begin with the letters F, H, I, J, O, P, Q, V, W, X, or Y.

2. Africa is surrounded by water but by definition Africa is not an island because Africa is a continent.

3. The Republic of the Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa.

African Culture is World Heritage

Appreciate Africa through African art, food, proverb sayings, folklore, biographies, spirituality and African living history.

African Writing Systems Before Europeans

Nearly 5,000 years before Christ was born, Proto-writing was well-established form of written expression in North and West Africa. 


The dominance of European languages through colonialism has led to the mistaken belief that the written languages in Africa did not exist before the arrival of Europeans. However, Africa has the world’s oldest and largest collection of ancient Symbolic and Writing Systems. 

Here are five African symbolic and writing systems you should know about to dispel the myth that Africans were illiterate people before European colonialism.


5 Ancient African Symbolic and Writing Systems


Nearly 5,000 years before Christ was born, Proto-writing was well-established form of written expression near the near the Kharga Oasis in the Libyan Desert of Africa.
Proto-writing is symbolic communication 

Proto-Saharan

Dated 5000BC - 3000 BC
Before the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations, there were inscriptions labeled proto-Saharan. Nearly 5,000 years before Christ was born, Proto-writing was well-established form of written expression near the near the Kharga Oasis in the Libyan Desert of Africa. Proto-writing is symbolic communication which the reader understands the symbol as a written expression.  

Egyptian 

Dated 4000 BC - 600 AD
Perhaps the most famous symbolic writing system in Africa is the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Egyptian hieroglyphs

Perhaps the most famous symbolic writing system in Africa is the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. A logogram is a written character that represents a word or phrase. Egyptians invented three scripts: hieroglyphic 4000 BC – 600 AD, hieratic 3200 BC – 600 AD, and demotic 650 BC – 600 AD.

Proto-Sinaitic
Dated 2000 BC - 1400 BC
Proto-Sinaitic, also known as Proto-Canaanite, was the first consonantal alphabet.
Proto-Sinaitic was the first consonantal alphabet. 

Proto-Sinaitic, also known as Proto-Canaanite, was the first consonantal alphabet. In 1999, Yale University archaeologists identified an alphabetic script in Wadi El-Hol, a narrow valley in southern Egypt. Dating to about 1900 B.C., the Wadi El-Hol script bears resemblance to the Egyptian hieroglyphs, but also the much older writing system. A similar inscription that dates to 1500 B.C. was found in Serabit el-Khadim on Egypt’s segment of the Sinai Peninsula.

Tifinagh

Dated 300 BC - 300 AD
Tifinagh is the traditional writing system of the Tuareg people, who are scattered throughout different countries of northern Africa.
Tifinagh is the Berber name for the ancient Libyan Alphabet. 

Tifinagh is the Berber name for the ancient Libyan Alphabet. Tifinagh is the traditional writing system of the Tuareg people, who are scattered throughout different countries of northern Africa. The name Tifinagh maybe means the Phoenician letters, or perhaps, from the phrase tifin negh, which means 'our invention.

Nsibidi

Dated 400 AD - 1400 AD
Nsibidi script comprises  nearly a thousand symbols.
Nsibidi script comprises 
nearly a thousand symbols.

Nsibidi comprises nearly a thousand symbols. Nsibidi is an ancient system of graphic communication indigenous to the Ejagham peoples of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon in the Cross River region. It is also used by neighboring Ibibio, Efik and Igbo peoples. Aesthetically compelling and encoded, nsibidi does not correspond to any one spoken language. It is an ideographic script whose symbols refer to abstract concepts, actions or things and whose use facilitates communication among peoples speaking different languages.

African symbols

Did you know?
Proto-writing is different from True writing. True writing is information of verbal sound sets that the reader must structure the exact sound written down in order to understand the meaning. In True writing systems, a person must understand something of the spoken language to comprehend the text.


"There are truths on one side of the world which are falsehoods on the other" - African Proverb

Africa is surrounded by water but is not an island, here are a few African Island facts.

Madagascar is the 4th large island in the world and is located in the Indian Ocean supporting a unique biology, about 90% of its plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth.

Composed of 155 islands, Seychelles is Africa's smallest country. By far the largest island is Mahe, home to about 90% of the population and the site of its capital city of Victoria.

Cabo Verde has a strategic location 310 miles or 500 km from the west coast of Africa near major north-south sea routes; important communications station; important sea and air refueling site.

Africa is surrounded by water but by definition Africa is not an island because Africa is a continent. Continents can not be considered islands because of their size and also by historic definition since many people who study geography define islands and continents as two different things.

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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

Chic African Culture


Be better than average and support African history and culture. Since 2008 Chic African Culture and The African Gourmet highlight Africa through her food and culture. Contact us culture1africangourmet@gmail.com

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