10 Important Innovations that Began in Africa

10 Important Innovations that Began in Africa

The brilliance of Africa is what is usually heralded whilst its innovations are kept under wraps. Africa is usually shown as a follower of world trends whereas it is responsible and led the way in a lot of ways. The African continent is responsible for being trailblazers in a lot of things that we do not acknowledge as often as we should. Here are some of the things we use almost daily that were either discovered or began in Africa before spreading to the rest of the world. 

1.      Coffee 

It is served as short and strong by the Italians, Americans serve it filtered but most people’s favourite stimulant was discovered by Kaldi an Ethiopian goat herder in the 9th Century. He noticed how his goats got excited after the nibbling on the coffee berries. He brought the berries to an Islamic monk in a nearby monastery. Today coffee is one of the world’s top stimulants that most people drink daily and it was first discovered in Africa. 

2.      Art 

The oldest known artwork in the world was discovered in the Bombos Cave in South Africa. It consisted of two pieces of engraved ochre depicting abstract designs and symbols. The world also ignores the influence African art had on globally renowned European artists like Picasso, Matisse, or Kirchner. The early 1900’s African sculpture’s aesthetics became what was described by the Met Museum in New York as, “a powerful influence among European artists who formed an avant-garde in the development of modern art.” 

3.      Mathematics 

The history of maths can be traced to the Egyptians who created the earliest numeric system on record, and they were also the first civilisation to solve arithmetic equations. Further evidence of early arithmetic was found in Swaziland (Lebombo bone) and the border of Uganda and Zaire (the Ishango bone) both baboon fibulas are the world’s two oldest mathematical objects – the former at least 35,000 years old. The Ishango bone is suspected to be the oldest table of prime numbers. 

4.      The Calendar

 Ancient Egyptians are credited with inventing the earliest calendar system over 5,000 years ago. The calendar system is the one that broke down a year to 365 days. It was heavily reliant on the solar system and flooding of the Nile. It was used to mark lunar events and important festivals. African societies also had an immense knowledge of astronomy which assisted in presenting the movement of the earth, sun, moon, and stars into an organised system. The knowledge of the earth’s movement assisted in the formulation of the calendar. The basis of the modern day calendar can be traced back to the Egyptian efforts over 5,000 years ago. 

5.      Architecture 

One of the most complex architectural structures ever built is found on the African continent. The west was in awe of the Egyptian pyramids and could not understand how they were built in a time where there were no machines. To undermine the work of Africans they put forth a notion that pyramids were built by Aliens. One of the oldest buildings in the world the Pyramid of Djoser constructed between 2667-2648BC is arguably the earliest highly complex architectural structure in the world. 

6.      Heart Transplant 

Impressive medical feats have been seen in the world, but it is important to identify where some of them were first successful. The first successful human heart transplant was performed at Groote Schuur Hospital in South Africa in 1967 by Christiaan Barnard. An estimated 3,500 heart transplants are performed annually worldwide, all following the footsteps of the first one performed in Africa. 

7.      Language 

After analysing over 500 languages Dr. Quentin Atkinson found compelling evidence that every language from English to Mandarin evolved from a prehistoric mother tongue first spoken in Africa tens of thousands ago. The findings do not just pinpoint the origin of language to Africa, they also show that speech evolved at least 100,000 years ago, far earlier than previously thought. 

8.      Medical School 

It is common cause that all civilisations discovered how to use some form of medicine the Egyptians are known to be the earliest civilisation to have recorded medical reports and a concrete medical training system. This led to Egyptians executing the earliest known medical surgeries. 

9.      Metallurgy 

Although the later part of industrialisation seemed to be slow on the African continent. Africans began iron smelting before the rest of the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that inhabitants of modern-day Tanzania were able to make carbon steel by at least 500 CE, if not earlier. The secret was in the advanced furnaces created by Africa people of the region which burned hotter whilst using less fuel. 

10.  Shea Butter 

Most people have used soap, lip balm, skin lotion, or even shaving cream that contains shea butter. Shea butter grows in 19 countries across the continent from Senegal in the west to Sudan in the east. Skincare brand L’Occitane calls it “nature’s miracle beauty balm; the perfect quick fix for almost anything.” Shea butter has been in production in Africa in the village of Saouga as early as the 14th century.

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