You are here:

African -American History/Writing & Literature in Sub-Saharan Africa


QUESTION: Dr. Kwame Adouaw,

I am curious about the historical writing systems and literature of Sub-Saharan Africa. I know the Latin Alphabet has been around since about 700BC, and the Arabic script since around 400AD. I also know Asian writing systems, such as Chinese characters have been in existence for thousands of years. Was there no written language or literature from Sub-Saharan Africa? I'm aware of Arabic script usage in North Africa, but I'm speaking strictly about Sub-Saharan Africa.

Most African languages seem to have only been put into written form quite recently and seem to use the Latin alphabet. Was there any literature from Sub-Saharan Africa prior to the past 500 years or so, and what type of writing systems were used?

Everyone is familiar with Shakespeare for example, and though he lived over 400 years ago, his novels are not even considered old by most standards, yet I don't recall ever hearing of any Sub-Saharan African literature from even Shakespeare's time, let alone anything prior. Am I just uninformed?

Thanks for your time, Bethany

ANSWER: Dear Bethany,

I admire your innocence  and yes you are misinformed. Most writings that have been credited to other nations such as , China, Scandinavia Arabic and others are authentically African in origin. For instance, the great philosopher Aesop was a black Africana but it is not reported as such by popular sentiment.

If you research the origins of modern mankind ( homo sapien sapien), as well as, researching sources from prominent historian such, Ivan VanSertima, Diops, Joel Rodgers, Drusilla Houston, etc... You will find extensive resources on a variety of topics. Finally, four of the five original language groups are as follows, Nilo Saharan, Afro Asiatic, Nilo Congo, Khoisan . There is countless DNA research that supports my treatise. Enjoy!

Happy hunting,

Dr. K Adouaw, Ph.D.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Dr. Adouaw,

I will look into the historians you have mentioned. I did look up Aesop and I have in fact heard of Aesop's Fables. When looking him up online I have read, " Although his existence remains uncertain and (if they ever existed) no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day." The article did mention that some claim he was of African, Ethiopian specifically, origin.

I'm not looking for storytelling or an oral tradition though, but rather actual written works of literature - something I could check out from a library or purchase in book form written by it's original author rather than something written recently to record an oral tradition - something such as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, for example.

I have been researching literary works written prior to the 1700s and have many novels from China, India, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Various other European nations, etc. in origin but can find nothing from sub-Saharan Africa prior to the past 100 years or so.

Can you please give me a list of maybe 10 novels written prior to the 18th century that I could obtain and read, that were written in Sub-Saharan Africa, (regardless as to whether they are credited to their African origins) What are some of the well known examples of African literary works which have been credited to others? Thank you.


I will send you to some sites where you may extract some credible reading material. The original African Heritage Bible is based upon the entire Sub Sahara region. The Phoenicians who development modern script or cuneiform are African. Look up the DNA MIGRATION most of what is attributed to your sources are in African in origin. By the way 700 BCE is fairly recent. I must point out that Shakespeare was a thief who actually wrote nothing of any significance.

By the way, I am not a fan of fictional writings as I Will grandly direct you to credible sources as was my previous commitment.
I look forward to hearing how the sources work for you!

Cities, Altius, Fortius,

Dr. Adouaw  

African -American History

All Answers

Ask Experts


Dr. Kwame Adouaw, ThM, PhD


Answering questions related to Early European, US, Near Eastern, African and MesoAmerican history. I cannot answer questions based upon speculation, internet scholarship or conjecture.


Over 30 year of intensive quantitive reseach in the areas of African, US, Early European and Near Eastern Studies. Also, biblical historic correlation to modern day events and happenings. Pan African Apologist.



BA (US History, Th.B (Theology/Apologetics, Th.M (Theology/Apologetics), Ph.D (African Sudies)

Awards and Honors

Past/Present Clients
U of M Dearbor, MI Henry Ford Community College University of the Virgin Islands University of Ghana University of Nigeria Government of Trinidad & Tabago

©2016 All rights reserved.