Zulu Creation Story and Zulu Pantheon

As with many African ethnic groups, the Zulu people have a creation story and a pantheon (a collection of all the gods and goddesses of a people/religion). According to Zulu tradition, the first god or source, Umvelinqangi, was the Sky Father and the god of thunder and lightning. Umvelinqangi descended from the heavens to Uhlanga,… Continue reading Zulu Creation Story and Zulu Pantheon

Mandela, Mantis and Moon

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is known famously as the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, philosopher and president, who spent 27 years in prison. He was, however, also a curator of culture, who helped to gather African stories, myths and legends. He once said, “It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller will never die in… Continue reading Mandela, Mantis and Moon

The Whitewashing of Afrikaans (Part 2)

From around 1815, Afrikaans, written in Arabic script, began to be used in Islamic schools. Historian Achmat Davids found a koplesboek, an exercise book in which madrassa students copied down prayers and lessons, dating back to 1806. Perhaps because of these links to slave populations, for centuries Afrikaans was considered derogatively as an uncivilised "kitchen"… Continue reading The Whitewashing of Afrikaans (Part 2)

The Polyglot Origins of Afrikaans (Part 1)

Did you know the earliest Afrikaans text was written in Arabic script? Afrikaans is a language spoken in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The name Afrikaans is a shortened form of the Dutch name Afrikaans-Holland which means “African Dutch.” Beginning in the 17th century, Dutch was passed down among the descendents of settlers from… Continue reading The Polyglot Origins of Afrikaans (Part 1)

Sona Designs: Stories Through Mathematics in Central and Southern Africa

Sona designs (lusona in singular) are a series of geometric patterns originating from communities in present-day Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The designs, which have been in practice since the 6th century BCE, were used to transmit knowledge to the community through riddles, games, proverbs, fables, etc. The designs were usually… Continue reading Sona Designs: Stories Through Mathematics in Central and Southern Africa

The Bantu Migration

Many historical narratives, consider pre-colonial Africa to be a static continent where not much changed until the arrival of European settlers.  However, the Bantu migration shows that dynamism has defined Africa's history for centuries. The Bantu Migration was the southward movement of peoples from the adjoining regions between Nigeria and Cameroon in West Africa, into… Continue reading The Bantu Migration

A Prophecy and the Fall of the Xhosa Nation

How might the words of a 15 year-old prophetess have led to the deaths of 400,000 cattle and 40,000 individuals, as well as the displacement of a further 40,000 others? In 1856, in the present-day South Africa, Nongqawuse (15) with her friend Nombanda (≈9), went to her uncle Mhlakaza's farm along the Gxarha river, to… Continue reading A Prophecy and the Fall of the Xhosa Nation

The Herero and Nama Genocide of Namibia

In 1904, the Herero and Nama people of Namibia began a rebellion against German colonial rule, the Herero led by Samuel Maharero and the Nama by Captain Hendrik Witbooi. As a retaliation for their revolt, the Germans began a 4-year campaign to exterminate all Herero and Nama people - about 80,000 Hereros and 10,000 Namas… Continue reading The Herero and Nama Genocide of Namibia

The First Heart Transplant

On 3rd December 1967 in Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital, Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant. The procedure involved a cardiothoracic team of 30 and lasted nine hours! At the “Heart of Cape Town Museum” in South Africa, visitors can see recreations of the original operating rooms. The patient was Louis… Continue reading The First Heart Transplant