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9 Theories On How Africa Got Its Name

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Yemeni

Some have postulated that it is the name of a Yemenite chief named Africus who invaded North Africa in the second millennium B.C. and founded a town called Afrikyah.

Berber

A number of historians believe the Romans got the name from a corruption of what the Berbers called the region in which they lived. The theory asserts that “Africa” stems from the Berber ifri (plural ifran), the word for “cave,” in reference to cave dwellers. The same word is found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe originally from Yafran (also known as Ifrane) in northwestern Libya.

Egyptian

A few historians argue that the word “Africa” is indigenous to the continent, and the idea that the Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Hindus or any Caucasoid group created the name Africa is absolutely inaccurate.

This theory asserts that Romans and Greeks began using the term only after coming in contact with African people, such as the Greek conquest of Egypt and the Roman conquest of North Africa and Egypt.

The term “Afru-ika” means “birthplace” or “Motherland,” according to historian Ivan Van Sertima. Af-rui-ka means “to turn toward the opening of the Ka, womb or birthplace.”

Another hypothesis is that the name of the 4th dynasty pharaoh, Kh-afre, reveals that an early Egyptian king had the name “Africa.” It’s believed by some that because modern Egyptologists and others often mix the order of the hieroglyphs that the ancients wrote Kh-afre is supposedly written as Afre-Kh or Africa.

 

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