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Did Africans discover the Americas before Europeans ?

October 12, 2015. the United States holds a holiday to commemorate the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on the in 1492. Children are taught that the Italian navigator discovered America. Parades are held in his honor and tributes tell of his skill, courage and perseverance. While many among the Italian and American societies celebrate this event, some argue that he did not discover the Americas. There have been Claims of Africans making pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact with the Americas and/or indigenous peoples of the Americas. Controversial and widely unheard evidence exists that Africans sailed to the Americas and settled there, almost 200 years before Columbus. Below we examine the evidence with regards to the question – Did Africans discover the Americas?


According to an American historian and linguist Leo Weiner of Harvard University, one of the strongest pieces of evidence to support the fact that Africans sailed to America before Christopher Columbus was a journal entry from Columbus himself. In Weiner’s book, “Africa and the Discovery of America,” he explains that Columbus noted in his journal that the Native Americans confirmed “black skinned people had come from the south-east in boats, trading in gold-tipped spears.

Portrait of Christopher Columbus

Portrait of Christopher Columbus

”According to the abstract of Columbus’s log made by Bartolomé de las Casas, the purpose of Columbus’s third voyage was to test both the claims of King John II of Portugal that “canoes had been found which set out from the coast of Guinea [West Africa] and sailed to the west with merchandise” as well as the claims of the native inhabitants of Hispaniola that “from the south and the southeast had come black people whose spears were made of a metal called guanín…from which it was found that of 32 parts: 18 were gold, 6 were silver, and 8 copper.

Historians are well aware of the knowledge, sophistication, and wealth of the Malian Empire from 1300’s. This information is considered vital by Pathe Diagne, Professor for Cornell University. In his book, he ensures he has proof through maps and documents that a West African mariner prince named Mansa Bakari II led an expedition of 2,000 boats to the New World and settled there. He claims that 1,200 skeletons found and initially stated to be members of Columbus’ crew during his second deployment to the New World, were confirmed to be the remains of free Africans through innovative DNA testing . These Africans were believed to be navigators and assistants directing Columbus to the New World.

Olmec Statues

Flat-faced, thick-lipped and other African facial characteristics were claims by Dr. Ivan van Sertima associating the enormous Olmec head statues found throughout Central and South America with beliefs that Africans had settled in America long before its apparent discovery.

One of the most important connections made to show that the Olmecs were Africans is the very strong similarities in race between the Olmecs and West Africans and ancient Nubians. The 22 or more colossal stone heads carved out of solid basalt rock has identifiable Black African racial features as well as cultural traits like cornrow hairstyle, braids with beads and kinky hair. Another notable observation includes the head piece worn on the carved Olmec sculpture which is supposedly related to a type of war helmet identified as Nubian thereby connecting them to Egypt/Sudan region.

Hundreds of clay and terracota busts, statuettes and figurines also show Black African racial and cultural traits. For example, scarification marks and keloid tatoos identical to those worn by West Africans and Sudanese Africans can be seen on some Olmec busts and terracota heads.

Olmec head - San Lorenzo Monument 4 at the De Young Museum

Olmec head – San Lorenzo Monument 4 at the De Young Museum

The Olmec civilization, which appears to have been of African origin or to have been dominated by Africans, was the Mother Culture of Mexico. Early Mexican scholars were convinced that the impact of the Black explorers on the New World was profound and enduring. One author, J.A. Villacorta, has written: “Any way you view it, Mexican civilization had its origin in Africa.

Other pieces of evidence include; accounts of other European explorers including Vasco Nunez de Balboa, who recorded seeing “Negroes” when they reached the New World and the discovery of narcotics only known to be derived from American plants in ancient Egyptian mummies.
The substances included South American cocaine from Erythroxylon and nicotine from Nicotiana tabacum. German toxicologist Svetla Balabanova reported the findings, which suggest that such compounds made their way to Africa through trans-Atlantic trade that would predate Columbus’ arrival by thousands of years.


The decades old campaign for the re-education of the discovery of the Americas isn’t without objection. “”Researchers have argued that the Olmec civilization came into existence with the help of Chinese refugees, particularly at the end of the Shang dynasty after discovering Olmec masks and sculptures with straights similar to the Chinese people.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Alice K. Bache, 1977

Olmec mask with Asian traits. – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,

Skeptical scientists also believe that materials found in the Egyptian mummies were either a general case of fraud or could have come from the surrounding environment since the mummy in this case, Ramesses II had been moved five times between 1883 and 1975.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, several scholars wrote books and articles about this subject and urged the academic establishment to change primary and secondary curricula across the United States to reflect the great contributions of African people to early America. Unfortunately, such pleas fell on deaf ears; so again this October 2015 , the children are being taught the tale that Columbus discovered America.

Did Africans discover the Americas before Europeans ? (Or did the Asians)

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