African History: Facts Not Taught in Western Classrooms

by Duke Magazine

Ancient African civilizations are the bedrock of human history. For thousands of years, the world has marveled at the excellence of Africa, its innovations, literature, science, technology, and architecture. Conversely, Africa and her achievements are rarely touted in Western classrooms where they prefer to credit the greatness of Africa to the Greek and Roman cultures. Here we will highlight a few of the interesting facts about Africa that are not taught in Western classrooms.

1.  An ancient East African city near the coast of Kenya called “Gedi,” dates back to the 14th or 15thcenturies. There remains a ruined mosque, which contained a water purifier for recycling water made of limestone. The palace contained evidence of piped water with tap control as well as indoor toilets and bathrooms.

2.  Africans were mapping and studying stars and their movements such as Orion, Bellatrix, Aldebaran, Triangulum, and the Moon with which the lunar calendar of 354 days was created in 300 B.C. 

3.  Half of the gold mined on earth came from a single source, a mine in South Africa, called Witwatersrand, South Africa.

4.  Sudan has more than 200 pyramids, double the number found in Egypt.

5.  The world’s oldest mine was found in South Africa, a hematite mine was found in the 1960s in Ngwenya mountain range, with stone mining tools and 300,000 artifacts later estimated to be 43,000 years old.

6.  Ethiopia was called “Aithiopis” by the ancient Greeks, a name meaning “blackface” and applied to all black people. The ancient Egyptians called it Kush.

7.  Before colonial rule, Africa was comprised of 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with distinct customs and languages.

8.  The Sahara desert is the largest in the world; it is larger than the continental USA.

9.  African empires were rich in gold and thriving civilizations. There are exhibits in the British Museum of African “Headrests” since the time of Egyptian pharaonic rule, some covered in gold foil.

10.  The 9th-century city of Eredo in Nigeria was recently discovered surrounded by a wall 100 miles long and seventy feet high. The entire city was said to encompass a staggering 400 square miles. 

11.  The largest earthworks city in the world prior to the mechanical era is called the ancient city of Benin in Nigeria. The system of defensive walls totaled 10,000 miles in all.

12.  On a pilgrimage to Mecca, a Malian ruler, Mansa Musa in 1324 AD brought with him so much gold, it collapsed the economies of Egypt and Arabia. The region would not recover for twelve years.

13.  Malian sailors arrived in America in 1311 AD, a full 181 years before Columbus, authorized by a Malian Ruler Mansa Abubakari who was the predecessor to Mansa Musa.

14.  A Ghanaian Emperors palace built in 1116 AD was well built and fortified, decorated with sculptures and pictures and having “glass windows”.

15.  The capital city of ancient Ghana, Kumbi Saleh is said to have thrived from 300 to 1240 AD in modern-day Mauritania. Archeologists discovered houses several stories high, with underground rooms, staircases with connecting halls, some with as many as nine rooms. One section of the city is said to have housed 30,000 people.

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