Africa: the last 13,000 years


Chimamanda Adichie, who warns us against the danger of the single story!

The following is based mainly on chapter 19 of Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel” (2005) – with his racist framing taken out:

The best way to understand the last 13,000 years in Africa is to look at its languages – particularly at the words people use for the plants and animals they eat. Throw in archaeology and glottochronology and you can work out who was where when and why.

The native language families of Africa:

Language families of Africa, c. 2000

  • Afro-Asiatic: from Ethiopia. Spreads to most of North Africa and the Middle East. Ancient Egyptians, Ethiopians, Somalis, Arabs, Jews, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Berbers, Tuaregs, Moors. What the Bible calls the sons of Ham and Shem. Copper and iron tools. Native plants and animals that could be domesticated: sheep, goats, cows, donkeys, camels, wheat and barley. Suited for…

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