Africa Decolonized: Native Place Names, No Borders

AfricaEndonyms
Endonyms of Africa. Map by Jordan Engel

The map of Africa that most of us know today was drawn during the era of European colonialism – from the borders which divided the continent, to the erasure of indigenous place names.

This map seeks to remedy colonial cartography by erasing the borders, orienting to the South (in the tradition of 11th century Amaziɣ cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi), and labeling locations in their predominant native language.

Below, you’ll find a list of all locations on this map:

Abidjan – Abidjan (Ebrié)

Accra – Nkran (Akan)
Addis Ababa – አዲስ አበባ / Addis Abäba (አማርኛ [Amharic], “new flower”)
Alexandria – الإسكندرية / al-Iskandariyyah (العربية [Arabic])
Algiers – ⴷⵣⴰⵢⵜ (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber])
Antananarivo – Antananarivo (Malagasy)
Atlas Mountains – ⵉⴷⵓⵔⴰⵔ ⵏ ⵡⴰⵟⵍⴰⵚ / Idurar n Waṭlaṣ (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber])
Cairo – القاهرة‎ / al-Qāhirah (العربية [Arabic])
Canary Islands – ⴽⴰⵏⴰⵔⵉⴰ / Kanaria (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber])
Cape Town – //Hui !Gaeb (Khoekhoegowab [Khoekhoe], “where the clouds gather”)
Casablanca – ⴰⵏⴼⴰ / Anfa (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber])
Comoro Islands – Komori (Shikomori [Comorian])
Conakry – Kɔnakiri (Sosoxui [Susu], “other bank”)
Dakar – Ndakaaru (Wolof)
Dar es Salaam – Dar es Salaam (Kiswahili [Swahili])
Drakensberg – uKhahlamba (isiZulu [Zulu], “barrier of up-pointed spears”)
Durban – iTheku (isiZulu [Zulu], “bay/lagoon”)
Harare – Harare (ChiShona [Shona])
Hoggar Mountains – ⵉⴷⵓⵔⴰⵔ ⵏ ⴰⵀⴰⴳⴳⴰⵔ / Idurar n Ahaggar (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber])
Horn of Africa – Geeska Afrika (Af-Soomaali [Somali])
Johannesburg – iGoli (isiZulu [Zulu])
Kalahari Desert – Kgalagadi (Tswana, “a waterless place”)
Kampala – Kampala (Oluganda [Luganda])
Kano – Kano (Hausa)
Kinshasa – Kinsásá (Lingála [Lingala])
Khartoum – الخرطوم / al-Kharṭūm (Arabic)
Lagos – Èkó (Yoruba)
Lake Chad – Sádǝ (Kanuri)
Lake Malawi – Nyanja ya Malawi (Chi-Chewa [Chewa])
Lake Tanganyika – Ikiyaga Tanganyika (Kirundi)
Lake Turkana: Anam Ka’alakol (Ng’aturk(w)ana [Turkana])
Lake Victoria – Nalubaale (Oluganda [Luganda])
Luanda – Lwanda (Kimbundu)
Lusaka – Lusaka (Chi-Chewa [Chewa])
Madagascar – Madagasikara (Malagasy)
Maputo – iMaputo (SiSwati [Swati])
Mogadishu – Muqdisho (Af-Soomaali [Somali])
Mount Cameroon – Mongo ma Ndemi (Kpwe, “mountain of greatness”)
Mount Kenya – Kĩrĩnyaga (Gĩkũyũ [Kikuyu], “where God Lives”)
Mount Kilimanjaro – Ol Doinyo Oibor (ɔl Maa [Maasai], “mountain which is white”)
Nairobi – Enkare Nairobi (ɔl Maa [Massai], “Place of cool waters”)
Namib Desert – Namib (Nama, “vast place”)
Niamey – Niamey (Zarma)
Ras Dashen – ራስ ደጀን / Rās Dejen (አማርኛ [Amharic], “head guard”)
Sahara Desert – ⵜⵉⵏⴰⵔⵉⵓⴻⵏ / Tinariwen (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber], “the deserts”)
Sinai Peninsula – سينا / Sīna (العربية [Arabic])
Thabana Ntlenyana – Thabana Ntlenyana (Sesotho [Sotho], “beautiful little mountain”)
Toubkal – ⵜⵓⴱⵇⴰⵍ / Tubqal (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber])
Tripoli – – ⵟⵔⴰⴱⵍⵙ / Ṭrables (ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ [Berber])
Zanzibar Island – Unguja (Kiswahili [Swahili])

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4 comments

  1. I find using the Xhosa name for Cape Town on this map problematic – Xhosa is no more an indigenous tongue of the Cape Town area than English or Afrikaans are. Better to use the modern name for it in the Khoekhoegowab dialect of its original indigenes – //Hui !Gaeb . Or the name for Table Mountain, Hoerikwaggo

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