Friday 14 June 2024


Africa is not named after a Roman general! You have heard me say this before? If so, it is because I have pledged to repeat it again and again with the hope that it will someday sink in.

Africa is not named after Roman general Scipio Africanus. Nor is it named after Leo Africanus--a man who comes much later.  These are myths. I repeat, these are myths!

Scipio Africanus is the Roman general who engineered the defeat of the African nation called Carthage--centered in what is now Tunisia. Carthage was a colony from Phoenicia. It was established in 814 BCE. The Nile Valley was still thriving at this time and the civilization called Nok--based in what is now Nigeria--was rising up. The Phoenicians themselves had an African mixture and with the passage of time Carthage itself became increasingly African. Carthage means "the new town" and the most famous Carthaginian was General Hannibal Barca. The Romans called this entire area Africa. And so with the defeat of the Carthaginians Scipio is given the name "conqueror of Africa." So Scipio Africanus does not give his name to Africa. He gets his name from Africa! Get it? Make sense to you?

Now the man named Leo Africanus was himself an African. Indeed, his name means Leo the African!! He got his name from Africa.  He did not give his name to Africa.

Now before you tie yourself up in knots and begin to ask "Runoko Rashidi what was the original name for the continent of Africa" please ask yourself, "What makes you think that ancient people thought of themselves as living on continents?"

The notion of continents is a European notion and it is a relatively recent one at that. The word Ethiopian is Greek. It means land of the burnt faced people. And Alkebulan does not even appear to be an African word.

So why not start looking at things from an African perspective. Why not use our own frame of reference?

We need to spend more time educating each other. I try and do it each day.

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