African Inventions

African Inventions: Many inventions from Africa contributed to the birth of every technology that exists today. Of those many inventions, scholars such as John G. ... The Kemites of northern Africa discovered the need for something other than stone to write upon; therefore, they invented the paper from stripes of papyrus reed For the most part, our history textbooks here in the States love to portray Africa as an uncivilized continent. In schools, we learn about the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the Industrial revolution, and countless other ‘revolutions’ that all have one thing in common: they originated in Europe. Growing up and constantly hearing of European accomplishments and learning about history from a Eurocentric perspective, it’s not hard to see why there are still people who seem to think that everything great derived from Europe. Spoiler Alert: African history existed before slavery despite what textbook publishers want you to believe. Here are ten inventions that originated from Africa and have changed the entire course of human history.

Africa’s Major Contributions to Civilization

Africans invented Math
Contrary to popular belief, civilizations existed before Europeans ‘discovered’ them *gasp*. Ancient black Egyptians created the earliest numeric system on record, and they were also the first civilization to create and solve arithmetic equations.
Africans invented Art
No, neanderthals were not the first species to create art. In fact, the oldest known artwork in human history was discovered in Blombos Cave in South Africa. It consisted of two pieces of engraved ochre depicting abstract designs and symbols.
Africans invented Writing
According to Dr. Clyde Winters in his book The Ancient Black Civilizations of Asia, the oldest known form of writing developed between 5000 and 3000 B.C. in sub-Saharan Africa. This writing system has come to be known as Proto-Saharan.
Africans invented Language
Yup, our stone-age ancestors in sub-saharan Africa were the first human species to develop a language system. A recent scientific study found that every language in the world can be traced to the dialect spoken by our African ancestors over 100,000 years ago.
Africans invented Medicine
Although all civilizations had discovered how to use some form of medicine, ancient black Egyptians invented a concrete system of medicine that involved schooling for practitioners and written documentation of the methods of healing used. And let’s not forget that ancient Egyptians were also the first civilization to perform surgery.
Africans invented Mining and Metallurgy
The industrial ‘revolution’ would have never happened had it not been for Africans smelting iron over 2,500 years ago. Ancient Tanzanians had been producing carbon steel long before Britain industrialized metallurgy.
Africans invented Architecture
Despite the disturbing movement to prove that aliens were in fact behind the architecture of Egypt’s great pyramids (is it really that hard to believe that black people can create architectural masterpieces??), some of the world’s greatest and oldest architectural masterpieces are in Africa. The Pyramids of Giza, the Step Pyramid, the city of Great ZImbabwe, the Nubian Pyramids- all of these iconic sites are proof of the highly advanced system of architecture and engineering that ancient Africans developed.
Africans invented Phones
If you own a phone, chances are that it is made out of minerals deriving from Africa- specifically the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is a mineral found in DRC that is used to make rechargeable batteries. The DRC is one of the richest countries in the world in regards to natural resources, and everything from copper and cobalt to diamonds and tin are found there.
Africans invented The Calendar
Ancient Egyptians invented the earliest calendar system over 5,000 years ago. And the way that we divide our days into hours and then minutes? That is also because of Egyptians.
Africans invented Cooking
This one’s pretty obvious considering how many flavorful and seasoned dishes come from the motherland. Ash that was found in a South African cave has led archaeologists to conclude that our ancestors were cooking with fire one million years ago.
Africans invented Electricity

Electricity is the “fuel” for most technologies today. Many devices simply will not operate without electricity. The world has now become so dependent on electricity, that many people will find it extremely difficult to live without it. When I researched to determine the inventor of electricity, several sources credit that invention to the Greek scientist, Thales of Miletus. Even in their book entitled Electricity by C.A. Coulson and T.J.M. Boyd, the following statements were made:

The fact that a piece of amber, when rubbed, will attract small particles of matter was known 2500 years ago by Thales of Miletus.  From this simple experimental fact has developed the whole science of electrostatics, which deals with the properties of electricity at rest.  Indeed the very word electricity is derived from the Greek word for amber, η’λεκτρον.  Since the beginnings of physics with the Milesian school of philosophers in the sixth century B.C., a great deal of experimental knowledge of electricity has accumulated, especially in the last 200 years (4).


The descendants of Africans in America endured many years of physical, inhumane bondage known as chattel slavery, the worst kind of slavery that ever existed. However, a new form of bondage permeates throughout our society. Mental slavery has been implemented by the deliberate withholding of African history and the rewriting of history by people of European descent to justify their self-proclaimed superiority. Also, mental slavery thrives because of an ignorance of the correct history of this world that is not being taught in our schools. It is of dire importance that the truth is told and passed down to the next generations. Our history did NOT begin with slavery!


(1)   Ivan Van Sertima (Ed.), Egypt, Child of Africa (New Brunswick:  Transaction Publishers, 1995), 262.

(2)   Antoinette T. Jackson, Why Kemet? A Cultural Awakening, An African-Centered Journey into Ancient Egypt, (Oak Park, IL:  Seshat, 1998), 24.

(3)   Anthony T. Browder, Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization, (Washington, D.C.:  The Institute of Karmic Guidance, 1992), 75.

(4)   C.A. Coulson and T.J.M. Boyd, Electricity, 2nd ed. (London:  Longman, 1979), 1

(5)   Sertima (Ed.), Egypt, Child of Africa, 325-326.

(6)   Ivan Van Sertima, Egypt Revisited (New Brunswick:  Transaction Publishers, 1993), 325.

(7)   Jamieson B. Hurry, M.A., M.D., Imhotep, The Egyptian God of Medicine (Chicago: Ares Publishers, 1987), 4.

(8)   Sertima, Egypt Revisited, 329.


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