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Nsibidi (wikipedia.org)
55 points by benbreen on July 9, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments



Quite an interesting read, though the Marvel tidbit left a sour taste in my mouth somehow. I suppose I'm somewhat glad that nsibidi is remembered but, as I understand, it's not what's actually used on screen in Black Panther? I'd much rather see these niche languages and pictograms immortalized in art than simply used as a base for the creation of new ones that are a one-and-done deal.


Bear in mind not much is really known about Nsibidi, it's mainly the private domain of a secret society at this point. If they'd tried to use actual Nsibidi they probably get it badly wrong, which could be highly insulting or even seen as blasphemous as there are religious connotations, or get accused of cultural appropriation or both. I think creating something clearly separate but inspired by it and a homage to it strikes a pragmatic balance.


> it's mainly the private domain of a secret society at this point

It really isn't. But people outside Nigeria are generally barely aware of the existence of southeastern ethnic groups that are not Igbo, to talk of interested in their contemporary lives.

They could have tried to build a relationship/collaborate with (especially older) Ejagham or Annang people. But that would take time, effort and actually caring about bridging the gap, not simply aiming to make a buck.


The intro to this article is very confusingly written. It starts in the past tense and I thought these were a dead language (and moreover a largely unknown one) until the end.


This is awesome, we are now entering ancient Egyptian style history depth for some of the other regions of Africa and I love it.


Traditional pictographs are still used in Ghana: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adinkra_symbols


The fairly awesome fantasy series Akata Witch (by Nnedi Okorafor) discusses a magical variety of these at length. Well worth a read.


Below are some examples of nsibidi recorded by J. K. Macgregor (1909) and Elphinstone Dayrell (1910 and 1911)

< Examples follow >

Toilet soap

Ummmm?


I think that's 'toilet' in the French sense, soap for washing your face and body.


That would be surprising because the authors of those books are British.


The word "toilet" was indeed used in English in a way similar to the French "toilette", far less so today. For example "toilet water", meaning "eau de toilette".




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