Ancient Africa Writings - Nsibidi

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Ancient Africa Writings - Nsibidi
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Oral tradition plays a very strong role in African culture, leading to the erroneous conclusion that Africans south of the Sahara do not have a history of writing.  Although writing in Africa is not well known due to the dominance of colonial languages, archaeological, historical, and epigraphic evidence point to the fact that literacy began in Africa south of the Sahara in times BCE and a few remain in use today albeit for ceremonial and decorative uses.


A majority of modern writing systems around the world originated from the hieroglyphs, making modern writing unarguably an African invention. Although the Egyptian hieroglyphics is the most celebrated of the Continent’s writing systems, it is not the only writing system that emerged from the Motherland. Using symbols and writing in various ways, Africans invented many writing systems and the earliest form of writing on the Continent was a syllabic system that included hundreds of phonetic signs. These were shortened over time to no less than  22 key signs, which were used as alphabets by the Egyptians, Meroites, Phonesians and Ethiopians.

By far the oldest form of writing recorded in Africa aside Hieroglyphs is the Nsibidi writing.  The Nsibidi set of symbols is independent of Roman, Latin or Arabic influence and a completely indigenous creation of its African inventors. Also known as Nsibiri, Nchibiddi or Nchibiddy, Nsibidi writing is an ancient ideographic writing system  that is indigenous to the Uguakima, Ebe or Uyanga ethnic groups of western Africa and dates back between 4000 and 5000 BC.  The writing in found in the cultures of Cross River among the Ekoi, Efik, Igbo people, and related peoples of southeastern Nigeria and Cameroon.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 April 2016 16:56
Written by Ovie Farraday

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