I remember never learning anything positive about Africa and African cultures, except Anansi stories. In school I learned that African history was mostly comprised of slavery, colonization, courageous rebellions fought to gain freedom in various countries or that white leaders granted “freedom” to the Africans. From freedom came segregation, racism, systematic racism and discrimination, apartheid and 21 century genocides in Africa that were a direct result from colonial influences. However, nothing was taught in school about the great Kingdoms of Kush, Great Zimbabwe, Buganda or Asante or Berbers etc. Its only when I took African history, I learned about more about Africa’s contributions to the world and her beautiful cultures, that they were vaster than portrayed. The cultures of Africa were more advanced then European in ancient and medieval times and many things we attributed to Europeans were in fact invented by Africans or from African cultures all have been well documented by Islamic scholars. We need to be teaching all especially young black kids about the power of Africa and its people, that their descents were inventors, kings, queens, doctors, scientists- Not slaves. There has been a lot of contributions to medicine, astrology, math, music, dance, art, food etc. from African cultures and their diaspora that has been not taught or had been claimed by outsiders. So, with this series I am going to be positing once a month about how Africans and Black people have contributed to our society by focusing on the positive contributions of this wonderful continent, its people and diaspora have given us.
Buna or Coffee
When you think of black liquid gold, you think of coffee right? How many of you know where this beverage came from, who were the original people who created this drink?
The answer is Ethiopia, a country in eastern Africa located in a region called the horn of Africa which comprises of the countries of Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and Kenya. For more on the history of Ethiopia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bbk54q0Jks8, here is a quick video.
The beverage billions consume daily is native to this country. Ethiopia is a country with fascinating history and with many different cultures. Preparation of coffee beans has been a part of Ethiopian culture since before 900 AD. There is an Ethiopian legend of a goat herder named Kaldi who discovered the Arabica plant (Coffee Bean plant) one day. He noticed his goats becoming more active after eating those red berries and he himself tried those red berries and noticed the stimulant affects. Kaldi took these berries to some monks located in a region called Zege. The Zege is near Lake Tana, this region has many ties to early Christian monasteries- communities and where the coffee beverage we enjoy so much was invented. How we brew coffee today was created by Kaldi and the monks when they wanted to preserve the berries’ beans. To do so they dried the beans, roasted them and ground them into what we call coffee grounds today. The stimulant drink was used to help the monks get through their nightly prayers (1). The drink is called “Buna or Bunna” (Boo-Na) or coffee. There is a beautiful ceremony call coffee ceremony comes from this. To check out a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, click here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ob9dOYkLjA . Coffee was traded with Yemense people who then adapted their own ways to brew it and it spread throughout the world from trade.
So next time you drink your cup of coffee, please say “Buna tetu” (2) as a way to honour those inventors whose craftmanship is the reason why you are able to pay attention at your 9 am meeting.
Next Month, I will be writing about African contributions to modern day music and dance from Jazz to Cumbia.