Other Free Encyclopedias » Science Encyclopedia » Science & Philosophy: Adrenoceptor (adrenoreceptor; adrenergic receptor) to Ambient » Idea of Africa - Origins Of The Name Africa, The Racialization Of Africa, Representational Discourses Of Africa, Geographical Conceptions Of Africa

Idea of Africa - Origins Of The Name Africa

african north continent called

The historical origins of the name Africa are in dispute. At least seven origins have been suggested: (1) it is a Roman name for what the Greeks called "Libya," itself perhaps a Latinization of the name of the Berber tribe Aourigha (perhaps pronounced "Afarika"); (2) it is derived from two Phoenician terms either referring to corn or fruit (pharika), meaning land of corn or fruit; (3) it comes from a Phoenician root faraqa, meaning separation or diaspora; a similar root is apparently found in some African languages such as Bambara; (4) it is drawn from the Latin adjective aprica (sunny) or the Greek aprikē (free from cold); (5) it might even stem from Sanskrit and Hindi in which the root Apara or Africa denotes that which, in geographical terms, comes "after"—to the west—in which case Africa is the western continent; (6) it is the name of a Yemenite chief named Africus who invaded North Africa in the second millennium B.C.E. and founded a town called Afrikyah; or (7) it springs from "Afer" who was a grandson of Abraham and a companion of Hercules (Ki-Zerbo; Spivak).

Clearly, there is little agreement on the sources and original meanings of the word Africa. The foreignness of the name once prompted Wole Soyinka to demand that it be dropped, and as an act of self-definition he proposed the adoption of terms for Africa and African rooted in an indigenous language, preferably Abibirim and Abibiman from Akan. It appears the term Africa was used widely from Roman times to refer initially to North Africa, originally called by the Greek or Egyptian word Libya, before it was extended to the whole continent from the end of the first century of the common era. The Arabic term Ifriqiya most probably represents a transliteration of the word Africa. In this sense, then, Africa was a European construct—as much as Europe itself was a construct inflicted by the idea of Africa (and Asia)—whose cartographic application was both gradual and contradictory in that as the name embraced the rest of the continent it increasingly came to be divorced from its original North African coding and became increasingly confined to the regions referred to in Eurocentric and sometimes Afrocentric conceptual mapping as "sub-Saharan Africa," seen as the pristine locus of the "real" Africa or what the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) called "Africa proper."

The divorce of North Africa may have started with the Arab invasions of the region in the seventh century, but got its epistemic and ideological imprimatur with the emergence of Eurocentricism following the rise of modern Europe, which for Africa entailed, initially and destructively, the Atlantic slave trade, out of which came the forced migration—the largest in human history—of millions of Africans and the formation of African diasporas in the Americas, diasporas that appropriated and popularized the name Africa and through whom Africa became increasingly racialized. For example, the adoption of "black" as the preferred name of African-Americans from the 1960s, in place of "Negro," simply reinforced the relabeling of Africa as "black," a tag that simultaneously rejected and reinscribed the old pejorative appellation of the "dark continent." For the French, Afrique noire served to distinguish the west and central African colonies from the fictive overseas provinces of metropolitan France in North Africa, especially Algeria.

Far less clear is when the appropriation of Africa, as a self-defining identity, occurred in the various regions and among the innumerable societies that make up this vast continent, the second largest in the world. Such an archaeological project has not been undertaken, partly because it is a daunting task to untangle the interpellations and intersections of political and cultural identities for Africa's peoples—ethnic, national, continental, and global—and partly because African intellectuals, whether nationalist or postcolonial, have been preoccupied with denouncing or deconstructing Eurocentrism.

Idea of Africa - The Racialization Of Africa [next]

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about 1 year ago

The name Africa came from Afar people who lived in along Red Sea even at this time. During Axum dynasty about 3000 up to 2000 BC their was no European state to give name to Africa, more over to this at that time Africa was civilized than Europe for your evidence you can see archaeological findings in Egypt and Ethiopia and you can not find in Europe.

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over 2 years ago

I found the text on this page to be of excellent quality and to be highly informative.I prefer [though with an open mind] the "Roman" derivation of "Africa" from the Carthaginian-Berber "Afri" as appropriated by Martin Meredith in his work 'The Fortunes of Africa. [Exciting article Thanks]

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over 5 years ago

Hegel never used the term proper africa. Nor is faraqa phonecian as it is aramaic and if I am not mistaken ifriqiya is derived from faraqa which means to divide/seperate.

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over 6 years ago

i love africa

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over 6 years ago

i love to see africain really life so much

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about 8 years ago

I have always wondered where the name "Africa" originated. when was the name first written/used (whether referring to the continent or just to the known territories then)?



by the way, re that comment about goodwanah: the aborigines in australia refer to their ancestral land as gondwanaland. could there be a link there?

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over 9 years ago

No one has checked out to see if the word in Arabic Afrake meaning divide could be the origin of Africa?

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about 3 years ago

wow I wonder who gave someone to name orther poeoples name. I bielive poeple who knows the fact are the one who maped the world, for instence what is the meaning of the word AmericA,AfricA,AsiA,EropE,AstraliA.AntlaticA. "NOTICE FIRST LETTER LAST LETTER". Someone is fulling us around ask CREDO MUTWA a ZUlU from South Africa............

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almost 3 years ago

has anyone ever of a british explorer named scipo africanus??????

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7 months ago

it is essential part of our heritage to know the origins. but always Africans dance to the tune of white romans. when they taught them that white humans with blue eyes are their god who came to earth to save them was killed by romans and so god left the whites in charge of the world to rule the world, they follow by millions abandoning what was before. when white Europeans taught them that the sun and planets rotate around the earth, they abandoned their findings and follow the romans...when they white latins taught them that the earth was flat and if you travel to the edge you will fall, they buy into it. when whiteman told them about fountain of youth and some mysterious king solomons mine, Africans gave their secrets to whiteman. so in the same way whites are instill hatred for arabs in the minds of the people of the world..WHY? I guess people are kept so busy with all sorts of rubbish they called news and history to keep brainswashing them. if you cant turn to the arabs for history its a shame because they are the only oldest existing encyclopaedia today. does anyone speak romans today? hmm. does anyone speak Egyptian Hebrew today? hmmm. does any one speak original latin today? hmmmm. well, let them keep diving you into pockets of tribes and pverty to still control your oil and minerals and let you do the killing for them. and also, throw your heritage down to the garbage and and follow the whites. since you trust them so much despite all the pains and sorrow they put our fathers, our lands, ourselves and our future through. hmmm.

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about 2 years ago

In other cases the word Africa/african is also derived from two word
"Afri which means face & from "Can which comes from the word canine
As much as I hate to say it Africa a a European word given to us blacks especially us blacks who've been given the name by the name givers of this world
Goodwanah is what I would say is the right name

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almost 10 years ago

I lived in Africa and traveled with griots. They said it was called by the natives Goodwanah perhaps my spelling is in correct but that is the sound.



We know that Europeans called it the name Africa but it is also said that the Arabs who divided much of the land which in Arabic Afrake means to divide.

So from Afrake it became Africa.

Could you all check out and see if it has any validity.

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over 3 years ago

tambok