Did Africa have a written language before colonization?

Original question: Did Africa have a written language before colonization?

Well, I'm assuming this "colonization" stuff is referring to the specific European colonial era from the 16th century to 20th century. For starter, we have to know which script did the European colonists use in the colonial times. Turns out they used Latin script and they still do today.

They had written language, just not their own. The Northern Africans used various languages of more powerful neighbours, such as Phoenician, Greek and Arabic. Sub Saharan Africans did not have a written language that was anything more than pictographs (the most basic form of written communication) with the possible exception of Ethiopia, but recent evidence has shown that this too was stolen, form what would become modern day Yemen.

Nsibidi, also known as nsibiri, nchibiddi or nchibiddy, is a system of ideographic writing or symbols indigenous to what is now southeastern Nigeria. The system of symbols is estimated to have been around from 400 to 1400 CE, as the earlier forms of the symbols appeared oNsibidi is a very exclusive system said to have been primarily used by the Ekpe (leopard) secret society, also known as Ngbe or Egbo, found among the Ekoi, Efik and, later adopted by the Igbo people. However, because the largest collection of Nsibidi was found among the Ejagham people of northern Cross River region, the origin of Nsibidi was attributed to them by the colonial administrators.

The western world came to know about Nsibidi in 1904 when T.D. Maxwell noticed the symbols. In 1909, historian and Reverend J. K. Macgregor, who studied nsibidi symbols, claimed in his work, Some Notes On Nsibidi, that the script was traditionally said to have originally come from baboons and was handed down to the Uguakima, Ebe or Uyanga tribes of the Igbo people. This theory was later discarded by historians.

In the colonial era, P.A. Talbot described Nsibidi as "a kind of primitive secret writing", explaining that it was used for messages "cut or painted on split palm stems".

Original Question :Did Africa have a written language before colonization?


Where do you think writing started?

Let me just tell you of our own Ge'ez. Eritrea and Ethiopia still use it.


Did Africa have a written language before colonization?

Many answers to this question have already touched on the well known writing methods used in pre-colonial Africa :

1. Ge-ez Script , Ethiopia

The most well known and used African writing system. also known as Ethiopic, is a script used as an abugida (alphasyllabary) for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea. ... In Amharic and Tigrinya, the script is often called fidäl (ፊደል), meaning "script" or "alphabet".

I guess you are referring to sub saharan Africa? Some parts had a written language, some parts did not. The kingdoms of the Sahel used arabic script, and the Mali kingdom was even famous for its library and a lot of the manuscripts are preserved to this day.

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