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Friday, June 21, 2024

How Africa Got its Name – Different Postulations Behind It

Over many decades now, there has been an argument regarding how the name “Africa” came to be.

Although several schools of thought have come with their different perspectives on how Africa got its name and various times in history during which the name changed, the argument is still on.

Amidst all the suggestions given by scholars, researchers marshaled out five origins to help clarify the audience and the general public.

On this topic, we will be telling you what Africa is formally known as, what led to its current name, and other things associated with the name.

Please proceed with your reading as we throw more light on issues regarding the name Africa and how the name came into existence. 

A glimpse at the history of the name “Africa”

The name Africa existed since the 17th century (a time when the colonial masters colonized the continent), and as of that time, it was only the northern part of the continent that bore the name.

The colonial masters (Europeans) were the ones that influenced the name from its original name Alkebulan which means “mother of mankind,” or “the garden of Eden,” in the present term. 

The colonial masters named the continent a dark or black continent, a kingdom in the sky, and the land of cush or kesh.

Before the colonial masters visited Africa, the continent had several names, such as Corphye, Ortigia, Libya, and Ethiopia

Various scholars and schools of thought have argued how African continents got their name “Africa.” Most of them analyze their report based on findings, while others leave their suggestion based on nature and other things.

As it stands now, about five-known theories have philosophical views on how the name emanates, and funny enough, none of these views are the same.

Africa’s original name

The original name of Africa was Alkebulan, which means the mother of humankind or the Garden of Eden.

Without wasting much, we will evaluate this topic based on several views of scholars and theories. 

Theories and schools of thought about the name ‘Africa’ and full details on the causatives factors that influence the views

1. The Roman theory

We have the Roman perspective on the list of scholars and theories of their views. They named the continent after a nearby tribe they discovered.

According to belief and research backing it up, the Romans calved out the continent’s name before their recent discovery of land adjacent to the Mediterranean.

They decide to name the band after a nearby tribe that was in existence as of that time. 

The name of the tribe is the Berber tribe, and it was near the carnage area, which is now called Tunisia.

They believe that the name of the tribe, Berber, means Afri, and with that, the Romans gave the continent the name “Afri-terra.” 

2. Weather theorist (Greek) views

After the Romans theory, the Greek or weather theory emerged, which concludes that nature impacts the name. 

They believe the continent’s name has to do with the climate. 

In their opinion, the continent got its name from the Greek word aphrike, meaning a land free from cold and horror. 

3. The Geographical theory

And immediately after the Roman postulate comes the geographical theory, which talks about the influence of the Indian traders on the name “Africa.”

The geographical theory is also one of the theories that talks about Africa using the existing geographic knowledge to explore the continent.

The geographical theory believes that the name comes from a long distance, all the way from the Indian merchandise that comes to the horn of Africa for business.

The Indian traders gave it the name Apara, which in their Hindi language means to come after, but geographically, it means a place to the west.

4. The Africus theory

After the views of the geographical theory, the Africus theory counters the opinion and brings up their suggestion.

The Africus school of thought brought its speculations, emphasizing the contribution of the Yemenite chieftain effect on the name.

The theory came immediately after the geographical idea, believing that the name ‘Africa’ emerged from Africus, a Yemenite chieftain who conquered the northern part during the 2nd millennium BC.

Note: Yemenites means a native or rather habitant of Yemen.

5. The Phoenician theorist views on the name Africa

Lastly, we have the Phoenician theory, another school of thought that believes that the name ‘Africa’ comes from two Phoenician words.

The theorists in this school gave the idea on a general principle that the name came from two Phoenician words, “friqi and pharika,” meaning corn and fruit.

The Phoenicians see the continent as the land of corn and fruits, making them believe that the name should come from that basic concept.

What is Africa named after?

After the initial name of Africa (Alkebulan), the Roman school of thought discovered a region opposite the Mediterranean and decided to name it after the land, which is Afri, meaning the land of Afri.

What was Africa called in the Bible?

There’s no specific name given to Africa in the Bible, but all the regions were called Canaan

It will also be essential to note that Palestine and Israel extended the African mainland before being artificially separated from the central African continent by Suez Canal.

Final words

The above postulations and schools of thought on how the name Africa came to be will give the public a view that the word “Africa” is neither a vacuum nor a mirage as some people think.

Despite the vast opinion of people towards the name, one thing is for sure: it is about the first theory – all the schools of thought all agree on the first name, Alkebulan.

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