10 Things You Probably Thought Were African But Aren’t!

You would be shocked to find that a lot of things that feel ‘African’ did not originate from Africa. From cultures and food to lingo, I made a list!

1. Fried Plantain 

fried plantain
Photo: Pinterest

We all know that fried plantain is a jollof rice staple and Africans treat it with great relish. Did you know, however, that it originates in Southeast Asia, where most fried snacks are popular? Fried plantain is enjoyed across Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and some Caribbean countries like Haiti and Cuba.

2. Malt

Nothing screams African like a can of malt drink, no matter the brand. However. this drink that welcomes every visitor in a typical African home, has roots elsewhere. Several countries produce this drink including the UK, Poland, Germany, Sweden, and the Middle East.

3. Ankara 

Photo: Pinterest


Shocked? I know! Telling you that this beautiful African symbol isn’t originally African feels like such a betrayal, doesn’t it? Well, Ankara is formerly known as Dutch Wax Print, first manufactured by the Dutch for the Indonesian textile market. However, it caught the attention of most West African countries and it’s not hard to see why!

4. Christianity 

Africans are one of the most religious people in the world, with Christianity as the most popular one. This Jewish tradition had sailed to Subsaharan Africa with the help of European colonial masters. The rest, they say, is history.

5. The word, ‘nappy’

Photo by Viajero from Pexels

What is sometimes used to describe kinky hair wasn’t originally the ‘black and proud’  term you think it is. ‘Nappy’ was used historically to belittle the dry and coarse nature of kinky hair. Today, this derogatory word has now being reclaimed as a symbol of liberation.

6. Lace/Brocade

Photo: Pinterest

Like Ankara, this class of decorative fabrics did not come from Africa. Lace was first worn by the British while Brocade is indigenous to ancient China. Today, we have adopted this style in most West African cultures as Asoebi, fabrics worn during an important ceremony to show solidarity with the celebrant.

7. The word, ‘Pomade’

If you grew up in a typical African household, you would think that “pomade” is a term that we made up to describe all forms of creams. In truth, ‘pomade’ is an English word derived from the French pommade’ which means ointment. However, not a lot of people use this term anymore.

8. Stockfish 

stockfishThis unsalted fish wound its way from the shores of Norway into the heart of the West African culture. Stockfish is popularly enjoyed in soups across the continent (particularly Nigeria), not just as protein but as a flavouring.

9. The Brand ‘Indomie’

Indomie is such a popular noodles brand that it is used as a generic term for all kinds of noodles. It is most enjoyed by Nigerians as a quick meal option, but you’d be amazed to know how much it is being consumed elsewhere too. The Indonesian food brand is distributed in Australia, Asia, Africa, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, and Europe.

10. Kissing your teeth 

You know that sound you make when you’re trying to show disapproval or disgust? It goes like this: “Mtcheeeew.” Yes, that one. It was first popularized by Jamaicans and West Indians, but Africans do it so well that it has become our “thing.”

What other things can you think of that Africans have colonized? Share them in the comment section! 

Also Read: 5 Traditional African Dances You Should Watch Right Now 



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