A Taxonomy of Indigenous Systems of Cartographic Communication in Africa
Africa has a rich, complex homegrown cartographic knowledge system by which the people effectively disseminate geographical information. Ironically, however, the traditional media and channels of cartographic communication in Africa have been largely neglected or marginalized. Thus far, not so much has been done by way of dedicated research to take stock of the modes, forms and channels of Afro-centric indigenous cartographic communication systems. Yet, the overall socio-economic development process of aboriginal African societies is intertwined with their indigenous knowledge systems, not the less, their indigenous cartographic communication systems. It is this body of indigenous or alternative cartographies that this paper is primarily concerned with. In other words, the paper exegetically looks at the ‘non-western’ cartographic cultures in traditional African societies. In particular, the paper explores the nature, content, and role of established indigenous cartographic communication systems in pre-colonial Africa. Hence, the various local media and channels of generating, storing, disseminating and utilizing geographical information are identified and discussed. Moreover, the paper attempts a classification of the different traditional forms of cartographic communication in Africa.