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African Trading History
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Our Past, Our Present, Our Future

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We've been here before

African Trading History

The Middle Passage has been a commercial trading triangle, where goods were shipped to and from the continent of Africa, including the mass incarceration of people that would remain enslaved for over 400 years. The vast majority of our ancestors were captured in Africa and brought to Europe, Americas and the Caribbean Islands in the most inhuman conditions; to be enslaved in a land to build the most prosperous democracy in the world. From the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors, this rugged land, called the United States of America, was made into a great country. Due to this historical reference, Sankofa Global Trading Company was formed to re-take the Middle Passage in Trading between the continents of Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Sankofa Global Trading Company remembers the history of the Middle Passage and the effect it has had on the African Diaspora. We know it is our responsibility to govern the trade in the Middle Passage on behalf of our ancestors and those who lost their lives; whose blood is in the waters of the Atlantic, in the land of Europe and the Western Hemisphere. In their honor, we commit to govern trade of products and services that retrace the journey that our ancestors took. We know "if we don't remember the past, we are bound to repeat it". In the spirit of Sankofa, we will "take the good of the past and bring it to the present", as we move goods and services across the World. We pledge to help bring wealth and prosperity to Africa and the African Diaspora.

Africa has the longest and oldest economic history, where trade has been a source of international exchange from the northern most point of Tunisia to southern most point of South Africa for millennia’s.  The world changing inventions that the people of Africa have given the world include:

  1. Mathematics - The invention of mathematics is placed firmly in African prehistory.  The earliest known surgery was performed in Egypt around 2750 B.C. Medical procedures performed in ancient Africa before they were performed in Europe include vaccination, autopsy, limb traction and broken bone setting, bullet removal, brain surgery, skin grafting, filling of dental cavities, installation of false teeth, what is now known as Caesarean sections, anesthesia and tissue cauterization.

  2. Medicine - Many treatments used today in modern medicine were first employed in Africa centuries ago.  The earliest known surgery was performed in Egypt around 2750 B.C. Medical procedures performed in ancient Africa before they were performed in Europe include vaccination, autopsy, limb traction and broken bone setting, bullet removal, brain surgery, skin grafting, filling of dental cavities, installation of false teeth, what is now known as Caesarean sections, anesthesia and tissue cauterization.

  3. Speech - Estimates supported by genetic, archaeologic, paleontologic, and other evidence, suggests that language probably emerged somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa during the Middle Stone Age, hence, the first words by humans were spoken by Africans.

  4.  Architecture and Engineering - The African empire of Egypt developed a vast array of diverse structures and great architectural monuments along the Nile, among the largest and most famous of which are the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Sphinx of Giza. Later, in the 12th century there were hundreds of great cities in Zimbabwe and Mozambique made of massive stone complexes and huge castlelike compounds. In the 13th century, the empire of Mali boasted impressive cities, including Timbuktu, with grand palaces, mosques and universities.

  5. Mining of Minerals - The oldest known mine on archaeological record is the “Lion Cave” in Swaziland, which radiocarbon dating shows to be about 43,000 years old. The ancient Egyptians mined a mineral called malachite. While the gold minds of Nubia were among the largest and most extensive in the world.

  6. Metallurgy and Tools - Many advances in metallurgy and tool-making were made across the entirety of ancient Africa. These include steam engines, metal chisels and saws, copper and iron tools and weapons, nails, glue, carbon steel and bronze weapons and art. In places like Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, the advances in metallurgy and tool-making surpassed those in Europe.

  7. Navigation - Evidence suggests that ancient Africans sailed to South America and Asia hundreds of years before the Europeans, debunking the propaganda that Europeans were the first to sail to the Americas. Many ancient societies in Africa built different types of boats, from small vessels to large ships that could carry up to 80 tons.

  8. Law and Religion - Evidence shows that the ancient Ethiopians were the first to honor their gods, offer sacrifices and organize other religious customs for people to honor the divine as well as the first country to have established law. 

  9. Astronomy - Several ancient African cultures birthed discoveries in astronomy. Many of these are foundations on which we still rely, and some were so advanced that their mode of discovery still cannot be understood. The Dogon people of Mali amassed a wealth of detailed astronomical observations. They knew of Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, the spiral structure of the Milky Way and the orbit of the Sirius star system.

  10. Philosophy - Philosophy in Africa has a long history dating from pre-dynastic Egypt and continuing through the birth of Christianity and Islam. One of the earliest works of political philosophy was the Maxims of Ptah-Hotep, which were taught to Egyptian schoolboys for centuries. Ancient Egyptian philosophers made extremely important contributions to Hellenistic philosophy, Christian philosophy and Islamic philosophy.

  11. Art – The oldest art objects in the world — a series of tiny, drilled snail shells about 75,000 years old — were discovered in a South African cave.

  12. International Trade - Evidence shows that international trade was first developed between Africa and Asia, and among these international trade contacts were the exchange of ideas and cultural practices that laid the foundations of the earliest civilizations of the ancient world.

Source: October 1, 2014: 12 African Inventions That Changed the World , Atlanta Black Star by Yanique Dawkins

While in the United States, African Americans have made too many to name contributions to the world, here are just a few:

  1. Automatic Gear Shift - Richard Spikes – Driving up a steep hill got a whole lot easier in 1932, thanks to this guy.

  2. America’s First Clock - Benjamin Banneker – He was a farmer, mathematician, astronomer and land surveyor

  3.  Automatic Elevator Doors - Alexander Miles 

  4. Blimp - John Pickering – His was the first blimp to have an electric motor and directional controls. Goodyear better have this man’s picture in their lobby.

  5. Blood Bank - Dr. Charles Drew – For his invention of a method of separating and storing plasma, allowing it to be dehydrated and banked for later use, Dr. Drew was the first black person awarded a doctorate at Columbia University.

  6. Clothes Dryer - George T. Sampson – Giving laundry baskets a greater sense of purpose since 1892.

  7. Dust Pan - Lloyd P. Ray – Mr. Ray patented the reason we have far fewer backaches.

  8. Electric Lamp - Lewis Latimer – He also invented the carbon filament inside light bulbs.

  9. Folding Chair - John Purdy – With patent partner James R. Sadgwar, Purdy made taking a chair with you purdy easy. Get it?

  10. Gas Heating Furnace - Alice H. Parker – Forever changing the way we stay warm in the winter.

  11. Gas Mask - Garret Morgan – It all started when this guy rescued trapped miners wearing a hood to protect his eyes from smoke and had tubes leading to the floor to draw clean air.

  12. Golf Tee - Dr. George Grant – They say he was an avid golfer, but not a great one. Hopefully his patent improved his game.

  13. Home Security System Marie Van Brittan Brown – And television has been part of home security ever since.

  14. Ice Cream Scooper - Alfred L. Cralle – You’ve been screaming, I’ve been screaming, we’ve all been screaming for this since 1897.

  15. Ironing Board - Sarah Boone – The reason we no longer iron across a piece of wood balanced on two chairs.

  16. Lawn Mower - John Albert Burr – The lawnmower’s best makeover ever brought better traction, rotary blades, and allowed cutting closer to buildings.

  17. Lawn Sprinkler - Joseph A. Smith – We should honor this man for helping with Father’s Day ideas every year.

  18. Mail Box - Phillip Downing – Before this invention, people had to make a long trip to the Post Office to mail a letter.

  19. Modern Lock - Washington Martin – His patent was an improvement on the 4,000-year-old Chinese bolt.

  20. Modern Toilet - Thomas Elkins – He influenced several major patents, but it’s this one we appreciate most

  21. Mop - Thomas W. Stewart – He’s kept us off our hands and knees since 1893.

  22. Pacemaker - Otis Boykin – On top of this lifesaving invention, he was born in Dallas, Texas.

  23. Portable Pencil Sharpener - John Lee Love – A carpenter clever with names for his inventions, calling this one the ‘Love Sharpener.’

  24. Potato Chips - George Crum – You have to love that his last name is Crum.

  25. Reversible Baby Stroller - William Richardson – He’s also the reason wheels move separately. We feel certain there are fewer crying babies in the world because of this man.

  26. Super Soaker - Lonnie G. Johnson – Being a NASA engineer is impressive, but we love him for inventing the Super Soaker!

  27. Suspenders

  28. Thermostat & Temperature Control - Frederick Jones – His refrigeration equipment made it possible to transport blood and food during World War II.

  29. Touch-Tone Telephone - Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson – And that’s not the only way Dr. Jackson made our telecommunications lives easier Along with being the first African American woman to earn a PhD from MIT, she gave us the portable fax machine, caller ID, call waiting, and the fiber-optic cable.

  30. Traffic Light - Garrett Morgan – Three cheers for the red, green and yellow. Mostly for the green!


Source: February 1, 2018, 30 Reasons to Thank a Black Person – CW33-


Creativity and invention have been fundamentally in the DNA of ancient and modern day people of African descent.  Whereas, we have individually made invaluable contributions to the world, collectively we can achieve even more.  The reconnecting with mother Africa offers the hope, once lost in 400 years of slavery, is rebirth through our international exchange.  Let us begin this journey with the knowledge that we stand on the shoulders of greatness.
Coffee Beans

While Ethiopia is the birthplace (around 800 B.C.) of the arabica coffee plant, Sankofa Global Trading imports coffee from Gabon, Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and other regions of Africa because of the rich complexity of flavor found in the mocha, cherry, blackberry, lemon, vanilla and spice found in the regions. Ethiopian and Uganda dominate the region with 62% coffee production, and the Ivory coast come in 3rd for the Sub-Saharan region.

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Rooibos, red bush tea, is native to South Africa and has been enjoyed by Africans for centuries. It has now become popular around the world, known for it's high antioxidants and robust flavor. Kenya is the 3rd largest tea producer in the world, with 50% of its tea being exported to Great Britain. Sankofa Global Trading  imports from these regions to bring the robust flavors and medicinal value to North America.


South Africa is one of the largest wine producers in the world, with over 560 wineries in the Cape Town region alone. The South African wine history dates back to 1659, when the first South African wine was made from French Muscadel grapes. Boycotts of South African produce due to Aparthied isolated them for many years.  Wine growers have perfected their craft and are now ready for the world stage. Sankofa Global Trading is ready to introduce them to North America.

Gourmet Olive Oil
Olive Oil

For years South African olive oils have been winning awards at olive oil competitions around the world. From New York to Japan and everywhere in between, our South African olive oils are going up against big international producers and bringing home the gold.  In fact, South African olive oils are regarded, by olive industry insiders around the world, as some of the best in the world. In contrast, much of the olive oil exported by the big producer countries like Italy and Spain is not very high quality. The oils are often blended with inferior oil to bring down the cost while still technically qualifying as Extra Virgin oil. 

spices on spoon

Zanzibar is known as the The Spice Island of Africa. This island's spice heritage harks back more than four centuries ago. In fact, it was previously an ancient trading hub of seafaring routes that circled between India, mainland East Africa, Malaysia and Portugal. The legendary spices of Zanzibar have made their mark on island's tasty cuisine. Every visitor who lands in Zanzibar is offered what is now customary known as a 'mandatory' spice tour around the island. Among these are turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, chilies, nutmeg, black pepper, and vanilla. The African region exports tons of spice annually.

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Authentic African fabrics will always be a high-valued commodity. Its global demand increases as appreciation for its art and culture is turning around in their favor. As long as the continent’s textile manufacturers continue to spin and weave fabrics of their people, the industry will flourish. Abstract names are given to the prints to suggest an important event, personality or a popular proverb. According to the merchants, the wearer uses the symbolism of the print as a form of visual communication. African textiles are important to the export and import for both Africa and North America.

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