Top 6 Lies told about Africa

In order to enslave a group of people you have to strip them of any meaningful identity and devalue their humanity, and for people of African descent, historically this has been true. The perpetuated lies told by European and Arab writers involve ideas about how Africans have made no contributions to world culture and have no forms of respectable civilisation. Fortunately for us today, scholars are starting to expose these lies and put things into a more proper historical perspective.

We want to expose the top 6 lies spread by European and Arab writers.

6. All Africans live in mud huts

Among the many misconceptions, one of the most common is that all African people live in grass-thatched huts made of mud and dung. Like other aspects of the culture of Africa, the architecture of Africa is exceptionally diverse.

Throughout the history of Africa, Africans have develolped their own local architectural traditions. It is true that mud huts are one of the most common forms of housing in rural areas on the continent; however, it would not be fair for us to disregard the continent’s rapidly growing cities and urban centers with state of the art architecture. A simple google search on any city or town within the continent will illustrate conspicuous skyscrapers enhancing the landscape.

5. Africa is a dark continent

The most common answer to the question, “Why was Africa called the Dark Continent?” is that Europe did not know much about Africa until the 19th century, but that answer is misleading and disingenuous. Europeans had known quite a lot about Africa for at least 2,000 years, but because of powerful imperial impulses, European leaders began purposefully ignoring earlier sources of information. At the same time, the campaign against slavery and for missionary work in Africa actually intensified Europeans’ racial ideas about African people in the 1800s. They called Africa the Dark Continent, because of the mysteries and the savagery they expected to find in the “Interior.”

UNSPECIFIED – :: Cetawayo or Cetewayo (d1884) king of Zululand, South Africa 1873-1883. During the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 Cetawayo was defeated at Ulundi and taken prisoner. Here he is shown under guard in the British army encampment on the Black Umvolosi. Illustration by Frank Dadd (1851-1929) English artist and illustrator. From The Illustrated London News (London, 18 August 1879). Engraving. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

The truth is that Africa has a rich history which has existed for years. The history of Africa begins with the emergence of hominids, archaic humans and—at least 200,000 years ago—anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens), in East Africa, and continues unbroken into the present as a patchwork of diverse and politically developing nation states. In the Kingdom of Kush and in Ancient Egypt, the Sahel, the Maghreb and the Horn of Africa.

Read more on the History of Africa

4. Africans are a people with little to no strategy in warfare

This could not be farthest from the truth. The bullhorn formation of the Zulu tells you that African warfare was certainly organised. Flourishing ancient African kingdoms largely depended on their warriors and military for protection and expansion. A strong military guaranteed that many larger kingdoms were feared by smaller ones and maintained their dominance for many centuries.

The earliest mention of ancient African army is found in the history of ancient Egypt, one of Africa’s earliest known civilisations. Many other ancient kingdoms had equally strong warriors, some including the Somali and Mali Empire and the Dahomey warriors who were an all-female army.

Read: 10 strongest warrior tribes in Africa.

3. Egypt is the oldest civilisation in Africa

Evidence of the oldest recognizable monarctiy in human history, preceding the rise of the earliest Egyptian kings by several generations, has been discovered in artifacts from ancient Nubia in Africa.

Until now it had been assumed that at that time the ancient Nubian culture, which existed in what is now northern Sudan and southern Egypt, had not advanced beyond a collection of scattered tribal clans and chiefdoms.

The existence of rule by kings indicates a more advanced form of political organization in which many chiefdoms are united under a more powerful and wealthier ruler.

The discovery is expected to stimulate a new appraisal of the origins of civilization in Africa, raising the question of to what extent later Egyptian culture may have derived its advanced political structure from the Nubians. The various symbols of Nubian royalty that have been found are the same as those associated, in later times, with Egyptian kings. The new findings suggest that the ancient Nubians may have reached this stage of political development as long ago as 3300 B.C., several generations before the earliest documented Egyptian king.

2. Africa has no civilisations 

Whenever Africa comes up in popular culture, it is usually in forms of slavery, animals or starving children. The idea that Africa had its own glorious civilisations is seldom explored. The truth is some of the first  recognisable civilisations on the planet began in Africa, Africa had many kingdoms, large empires and capitals that can stand on their own. Many people falsely assume that Africa was primitive before European colonial invasion.

They believe the fallacy that it was a place of no cities, empires, commerce and in other words, no civilisation. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Africa has a rich and in depth pre-colonial history of magnificent and unspoken wealthy and developed empires and kingdoms.

In the 12th Century, the Mali Empire was larger than Western Europe and regarded as one of the wealthiest states in the world. The Mali Empire existed between c1230 to c1600.

1. Africa has no writing 

The importance of oral culture and tradition in Africa and the recent dominance of European languages through colonialism, among other factors, has led to the misconception that the languages of Africa either have no written form or have been put to writing only very recently.

However, Africa has the world’s oldest and largest collection of ancient writing systems. The evidence dates to prehistoric times and can be found in multiple regions of the continent.

By contrast, continental Europe’s oldest writing, Greek, was not fully in use untilroughly 1400 B.C. (a clay tablet found in Iklaina, Greece) and is largely derived from an older African script. The oldest Asian writing, proto-cuneiform, dates to around 3000 B.C. (clay texts found at Jemdet Nasr). However, the oldest known African writing systems are several centuries older.

Dr. Clyde Winters, author of “The Ancient Black Civilizations of Asia,” wrote that before the rise of the Egyptians and Sumerians there was a wonderful civilization in the fertile African Sahara, where people developed perhaps the world’s oldest known form of writing.

These inscriptions of what some archaeologists and linguists have termed “proto-Saharan,” near the Kharga Oasis west of what was considered Nubia, may date back to as early as  5000 B.C.

Sources: 1, 2,

There are more lies about Africa which are outright ridiculous and we’ve just covered the 6 we think are the most outrageous. You might have other lies you want to squash spread about Africa. Comment below on your most ridiculous lie told about Africa.

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