The history of defining African inventions and innovations has never been told enough to the world. There is always a prevailing narrative that Europeans were the only purveyors of science, medicine, art, philosophy and travel.
Throughout the course of history, there is evidence strongly suggesting that most of the technological advancements present today have their original roots in Africa. Propaganda has worked to the effect of eroding Africa's relevance in contributing to the developments of human civilization as a collective.
Africa is replete with the excellence of a people that were determined on making life better.
The information that is common to almost everyone is that navigation was started by the Europeans. And yet, it was Africans who started sailing. Take for instance the fact that Christopher Columbus' voyages led to the "discovery" of the Americas. Evidence shows "Africans sailing and settling in the Americas were black Egyptians led by King Ramses III, during the 19th dynasty in 1292 BC. In fact, in 445 BC, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs’ great seafaring and navigational skills." Egyptian artifacts have been found across North America.
2. Architecture and Engineering
Some of the structures in Africa simply go beyond the comprehension of the feeble mind. They speak volumes of precision, pure work of genius minds, and sophistication. One can easily make mention of the Sudan and Egypt pyramids that are now a glorious reminder of the best empires to ever grace the face of the earth, with the pyramids still intact up to now. Or make mention of Timbouktu, a once thriving city in Mali, with buildings bearing marks of sheer architectural brilliance.
This equally feared and respected field in education has solid origins in Africa. You cannot talk of mathematics without including the name Africa. The oldest mathematical artifact, the Lebombo bone, was found in Swaziland. It is described as "the oldest known mathematical artifact. It dates from 35000 BC and consists of 29 distinct notches that were deliberately cut into a baboon's fibula." And also, over 35,000 years ago, Ancient Egyptians took the task of scripting mathematics textbooks, inundated with information on " division and multiplication of fractions and geometric formulas to calculate the area and volume of shapes."
When it comes to developing a systematic culture of medicine, that credit can only be afforded to Africa. Ancient Egyptians created an orderly way with which to administer treatments and surgeries. They had the ability to record the progress they did in medicine. The earliest known surgery was performed in Ancient Egypt around 2750 B.C. These were some of the procedures they were proficient at: mending broken bones, dealing with maladies of the digestive, nervous, and cardiovascular systems, vaccination, autopsy, limb traction and broken bone setting, bullet removal, brain surgery, skin grafting, filling of dental cavities, installation of false teeth, anesthesia and tissue cauterization. The first Caesarian section recorded in modern medical history was first performed in Uganda in 1884, long before it became popular in Europe and across the rest of the world.
5. Metallurgy and Tools
The foundation of metallurgy and tool-making can never be divorced from Africa. The ground for what came later - steam engines, copper and iron tools, carbon steel and bronze weapons and art - was laid in Africa. Iron smelting in Africa started about 2, 500 years, at a time when much of the world was not acquainted with such. It also led to the maximum utilization of mining. So, in essence, metallurgy and tool-making also meant Africa was leaps ahead in terms of mining developments.
6. International Trade
What is the world as we know it today without this fundamental aspect? International trade is essentially the backbone of what makes the world one global village. It is striking how this aspect is referenced to Africa only in passing. The first major trade route was developed between Africa and Asia.
The concept of dates originated in Africa. Ancient Africans had mastered astronomy at its advanced stages for that time, and as such, they had learned how to present the movements of the Earth, Sun, moon, and stars into an organized system. The earliest evidence of this is attributed to a structure in Southern Africa consisting of stone circles, called the Adam's Apple. The stone structures are precisely assembled in what appears to be an astronomical calendar. Scholars have debated much on this, but they agree it is at least 75,000 years old.
The mastery of astronomy gave rise to the birth of the calendar system. With the Ancient Egyptians, they charted the the movement of the sun and constellations and the cycles of the moon and divided the year into 12 parts and developed a yearlong calendar system containing 365 ¼ days. The Dogon people of Mali were also conversant with astronomical knowledge. It is said that they knew of Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, the spiral structure of the Milky Way and the orbit of the Sirius star system.
9. Law and Religion
The idea that Africa has to thank Europe for these concepts so vital to human existence is warped. Ancient Ethiopians were among the first in Africa to honour their gods, and offering sacrifices. It was also the first country to have established law that everyone adheres to.
Not much of Africa art has been spread and glorified to the world. Perhaps this explains why former European colonizers are very adamant when it comes to returning stolen cultural and historic artifacts adorning their museums and galleries.
"The oldest art objects in the world — a series of tiny, drilled snail shells about 75,000 years old — were discovered in a South African cave."
Credits - Ancient African Inventions and Atlanta Black Star
Header image credit - Atlanta Black Star