11 Ancient African Writing Systems That Demolish the Myth that Black People were Illiterate

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detail-pendant-with-vai-scriptVai (3000 B.C. – present)

Vai is one of the world’s oldest alphabetic scripts in continuous use, with more than 150,000 users in present-day Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It’s a highly advanced syllabary writing system with more than 210 distinct characters representing various consonants and vowel sounds used in the Vai language (a descendant of ancient Mande).

The popular story told about Vai is that it’s a wholly unique script invented circa 1830 by a West African whose friends helped him remember the writing system in a dream. However, evidence of its antiquity comes from inscriptions from Goundaka, Mali, that date to 3000 B.C.

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