Last Updated on July 8, 2022
Both mysterious and gorgeous, Africa is a phenomenal continent. People from other regions of the world still struggle to fully comprehend the depth of the locals’ traditions. Aside from Asia, Africa is the second-largest and most populous continent as it is home to 1.216 billion people who speak about 2,000 different languages. Each of these languages also has different dialects peculiar to certain people and Arabic is considered one of its most spoken languages. The continent of size conceals a lot about its inhabitants and the history of its culture.
Many countries have attempted to colonise and conquer African countries throughout history. Many of them were successful, and over time, the continent was shaped significantly by our western influences. During the “Scramble/Partition For/Of Africa,” nearly the whole region that is now referred to as Africa was colonised by foreign nations. Ethiopia and Libya are the only modern-day African nations that were not colonised by Westerners. In this article, we shall attempt to ascertain how the continent came to be known by its current name, Africa, and what its original name was.
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Experts who study the history of the African continent claim that Alkebulan was the continent’s original name in antiquity. Translations of this name include “mother of mankind” and “the garden of Eden,” respectively. The word “Alkebulan” has indigenous origins and is quite old. This word was widely used throughout Africa, especially by the Ethiopians, Nubians, Moors, and Numidians.
The world’s oldest populated region is Alkebulan, or what we now call “Africa.” Because records of fossil remains in Africa demonstrate that it was the first continent where humans were discovered, it is regarded as the birthplace of humanity. According to these fossils, humans may have been present on the continent 7 million years ago.
Alkebulan was not the only name given to the continent, though. There were other more names used by the locals throughout history, including Corphye, Ortigia, Libya, and Ethiopia. Alkebulan, though, is the most typical. The ancient Romans and Greeks gave this continent the name Africa, which stuck and is what the continent is called today. When the name ‘Africa’ came to be in use in the 17th century was initially used to refer to the northern part of the area known to be the African continent, what currently makes up Tunisia’s northern regions. The names “Libya,” “Aethiopia,” “Sudan,” and “Guinea” were by far the most often used names to describe the various constituent sections of the north half of Africa up to the late sixteenth century.
Nearly the entire region south of the Mediterranean Sea and west of the Nile was referred to be “Libya” by the ancient Greeks. The ancient Greeks also referred to the Berber inhabitants of the region by this name. The Aegean Sea served as the geographic centre for the three larger “regions” of Europe, Asia, and Libya, according to the ancient Greeks. Additionally, they thought that the Nile River served as a border between Libya and Asia, dividing Egypt in half and placing the other half in Libya. Cartographers followed the Greek model for many centuries, even into the late mediaeval era, by designating the Nile as the boundary between the landmasses.
Early Arabic cartographers often adopted the Greeks’ usage of the term “Libya” to refer to large portions of North Africa outside of Egypt. Later Arabic cartographers adopted the term Bilad al-Sudan, or “the land of the blacks,” to refer to the region south of the Sahara, which stretches from the Senegal River to the Red Sea. This is how the modern-day country of Sudan got its name.
How, then, did the continent come to be known as “Africa”? This question is addressed by a number of hypotheses. The Romans discovered land on the other side of the Mediterranean, according to the most widely accepted theory, and gave it their name. They gave this place the name of a Berber tribe that had once resided nearby Carthage. That tribe’s name, according to a number of sources, was Afri. It is believed that the Romans originally referred to the continent as Afri-terra, which was later changed to Africa.
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The Theories Behind The Name
Other hypotheses attempt to explain how the name Africa came to be associated with the continent. Numerous authorities concur that the name is actually a combination of two Phoenician words. The Arabic terminology for maize and fruit were “friqi” and “pharika.”
It truly makes sense that the Phoenicians considered Africa the “country of maize and fruit.” It’s likely that the Phoenicians, who lived in towns along the Mediterranean shore, also managed to find Africa.
Other names for the continent have also been the subject of climatic theories. Many people think that the word “Africa” comes from the Greek word “aphrik,” which means “country without cold.” The Roman term “aprica,” which means sunny, is another one that is frequently used. The Romans also used the word ‘Africans’ in reference to the part of the Carthaginian Empire which is presently found in Tunisia.
There was the belief that Leo Africanus (al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-wazan), a well-known traveller and invader of the 16th century, gave the place its name. Leo travelled the continent and would describe what he observed during his journeys and invasions.
Whatever the case, it is simple to see how the weather could have had a significant impact on the name this continent was given. Although it can be difficult to generalise the weather of an entire continent, those who “discovered” Africa probably only saw a tiny portion of it before giving it a name.
The majority of schools of thought have theorised and even come to the conclusion, that the name change from Alkebulan to Africa was an effort by Europeans to erase the Black past and separate them from their culture and language.
It is generally accepted that the 18th-century theory, which claimed that as Latin became more popular than other languages, “Afri,” which in Latin translates to mean people in the northern part of the continent, was adopted. By adding the suffix “ica,” which means “land,” to the word, the name “Africa” was coined, adopted, and used to refer to the continent populated by Black people, even though there is still no clear and direct explanation as to how it came to be so.
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