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Who Discovered Africa?

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Many theories about the origin of man point to Africa as the beginning of it all. It is said that the different races of mankind that are in existence today all evolved from the native African man. There have even been a few television documentary specials produced around this core topic.

This makes us wonder then – who discovered Africa?

It is generally believed that Christopher Columbus discovered America, that Vasco de Gama discovered India, and that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. But when it comes to Africa, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly who made the “discovery”.

Human migration out of Africa mapA map of human migration out of Africa based on evidence.

Africa – the cradle of life

The main reason is because there had always been people dwelling in Africa way before explorations and expeditions even began. For the sake of argument, one can say that there are also native dwellers in the other mentioned places prior to the arrival of the explorers, but in historical records, these people are still regarded as the official discoverers. No such person or group has been given the credit for the discovery of Africa.

The beginning of mankind

Simply put, Africa just couldn’t be discovered because it had always been there since the beginning of mankind. They probably roamed the land and eventually scattered to different areas. Once the people were separated, they began the development of different races, different languages and different cultures. Each of these groups of people developed in their own ways and eventually took on a unique appearance that was influenced by their environment, their way of life and their geographical location.

Africa remained unchanged

Quite ironically, many of those that were left behind in what we now know as Africa remain to be rather primal, whereas those that were scattered to different places in the world had developed highly advanced technologies and acquired very modern lifestyles.

Who re-discovered it?

When people today ask who discovered Africa, it’s possible that what they want to know is who re-discovered it. Today, we already know that Africa is the root of all mankind but when European explorers first set foot there in the 15th century, they were not aware of this. When they realized that there were people living in these primeval lands, they took the Africans as slaves.

Origins of slavery in Africa

Incidentally, this is not the beginning of African slavery, although many believe that it is. African slavery had actually gone on a lot longer, with Arab merchants using Africans as slaves back in the 7th century. Even Africans had practiced slavery amongst themselves for many centuries before. During tribal wars, it was customary for the winning tribe to capture people from the losing groups to use as slaves. Of course, it is much more civilized in many parts of Africa these days although there are still some rituals being performed there that are considered to be barbaric by those living in more refined societies.

Unfortunate for Africa

In any case, if the explorers who “discovered” Africa knew then what we know today – that Africa is the cradle of life and the root of mankind – they would surely have treated the natives with a lot more reverence and respect than what they had apparently given.

More on Africa

  1. Facts about Africa
  2. Facts about South Africa
  3. What do Africans eat?