Twitter practically gave itself an aneurysm over Taylor Swift’s newest music video Wildest Goals, which had all the same old cliches that make its location instantly identifiable as idyllic, romanticised “Africa”: sunsets, wildlife, safari boots and positively no natives. You begin to marvel, is that each one there may be to this huge continent? Are Africans good for nothing else?

So I’ve ventured into the darkish recesses of the net to find how Africa formed our world and gave us a few of our favorite issues. Maintain on to your pith helmets.

See more: Top 10 african contributions to world civilization


Italians gave it to us brief and powerful, People served it filtered then ratcheted up the energy by including syrups, whipped cream and even pumpkin. However everybody’s favorite stimulant originates from Ethiopia, the place it grows wild. It presumably dates again to the tenth century, when nomadic individuals would have eaten the pink cherries relatively than making a beverage with them.

A espresso home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. {Photograph}: Karel Prinsloo/AP

Trendy artwork

Africa’s modern artists are having a little bit of second, however the world nonetheless largely ignores the continent’s position in inspiring celebrated artists corresponding to Picasso, Matisse or Kirchner. Within the early 1900s the aesthetics of conventional African sculpture grew to become what the Met Museum in New York describes as “a strong affect amongst European artists who fashioned an avant-garde within the improvement of recent artwork”.


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The historical past of arithmetic is so Eurocentric that the majority accounts of historical mathematical programs appear to start and finish in Egypt. However the Lebombo bone present in Swaziland and the Ishango bone, found on the border between Uganda and Zaire, each baboon fibulas, are the world’s two oldest mathematical objects – the previous at the very least 35,000 years outdated. The Ishango bone stands out as the oldest desk of prime numbers.


The Democratic Republic of Congo holds half of the world’s reserves of cobalt, used to make rechargeable batteries corresponding to these utilized in cellphones. {Photograph}: Herbert P Oczeret/EPA

Not all of it, obvs, however within the internal workings of your most valuable possession lie bits of the Democratic Republic of Congo within the type of the mineral cobalt, which is used to make rechargeable batteries. In response to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the DRC “holds nearly half of the world’s cobalt reserves”. And that’s not all: the DRC is among the many world’s largest producers of cobalt, copper, diamonds, tantalum and tin.


Sure, Nando’s, “the house of the legendary Portuguese flame-grilled peri-peri hen” and the coveted black card. Since its humble beginnings in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1987, Nando’s mix of hen, sizzling sauce and African music has unfold throughout the globe. Eventually depend there was a Nando’s on each continent besides Latin America, some 1,000 eating places in 30 international locations. No chicken-loving nation is protected.


Within the face of refugee disaster, the phrase “ubuntu” has by no means been extra necessary. Popularised by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela as a option to heal post-apartheid South Africa, the traditional Bantu phrase encapsulates the concept of shared humanity: “I’m, as a result of all of us are.” Right here’s how the New World Encyclopedia defines the phrase that can also be utilized in Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Zimbabwe: “It implies an appreciation of conventional beliefs, and a relentless consciousness that a person’s actions as we speak are a mirrored image on the previous, and could have far-reaching penalties for the longer term. An individual with ubuntu is aware of his or her place within the universe and is consequently in a position to work together gracefully with different people.”


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It’s all in regards to the polyrhythms – two or extra completely different rhythms taking place on the identical time – which European people music additionally has however African music unfold. The Pulitizer prize-winning composer and creator Gunther Schuller wrote that “each musical aspect – rhythm, concord, melody, timbre, and the fundamental types of jazz – is actually African in background and derivation”.

However Africa didn’t solely give us blue notes, it might even have given us Beethoven. This yr, a gaggle of musicians revived the query about Beethoven’s ethnicity, arguing that his piano music ought to be performed polyrhythmically and that, as performed by most classical pianists, the left hand seems to have nearly no rhythm, no soul. Ouch.

Shea butter

A lady sells shea butter at a market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. {Photograph}: Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

Chances are high you’ve purchased cleaning soap, lip balm, pores and skin lotion and even shaving cream that incorporates shea butter, which grows in 19 international locations throughout the continent from Senegal within the west to Sudan within the east. Skincare model L’Occitane calls it “nature’s miracle magnificence balm; the right fast repair for nearly something”. Cleopatra, who knew a very good factor when she noticed it (whats up, Marc Antony!) is claimed to have used the butter, making it a really priceless commodity throughout her reign.

Penis transplants

After performing the primary coronary heart transplant in 1967, South African surgeons scored one other first by this yr finishing up the world’s first transplant of the male organ. The nine-hour operation in March 2015 allowed its 21-year-old recipient to develop into sexually lively, and he wasted no time in proving its efficacy. In June head surgeon André van der Merwe introduced that the younger man’s associate was pregnant.

Jollof rice

Now that Jamie Oliver has written a recipe for Jollof, the rice dish could quickly attain such dizzying heights of recognition that its west African origins might be forgotten. Simply don’t ask which specific nation launched it to the world. Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal – its origins proceed to be hotly contested.

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Jollof rice, fried plantain and hen {Photograph}: Alamy

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