Sisungule ithuluzi elisha
Leli thambo lizosiza abantu ukutui bafunde izinombolo
Singabaqambi bethuluzi elisha
In ancient times at the continent’s Southern points in the mountain range
We told time, counted the days, and tracked the moon
All it took was a baboon fibula tally by tally
We taught our people from the highest to lowest veldts
At least 44,000 years ago
This wasn’t decoration
This was for education as the Originator blessed us and those up north for our tools
I have to show South Africa some love here especially since this won’t be the only time I’ll mention things from that country when it comes to the content of this album. The Congo wasn’t the only nation to produce a calculator in ancient times. In the Lebombo mountains in what would eventually be South Africa and Eswatini (the country formally known as Swaziland), the natives created their own tally stick also using a baboon bone. That was certainly innovative and this needs to be better known because I literally can’t think of any history class I took in school that mentioned ancient African civilizations with the exception of a whitewashed Egypt or maybe a casual mention of Hannibal of Carthage (now modern-day Tunisia). See, there were important math elements in Africa among many other things. Major props to Dr. Y. for informing me about this lesser-known history!
The Lebombo Bone image is from Afrolegends.
Tosalaki eloko ya sika
(Eloko ya sika)
Mokuwa oyo ekosunga bato pona koyekola mitango
Tozali basali ya eloko ya sika
(Eloko ya sika)
Over 20,000 years ago, we crafted something still being taught to future generations. We made a calculator and calendar from a baboon’s bone. What a prime way for instructions from a primate. We solved problems and tallied up solutions. Nzambe bless our methods. Counting lunar cycles, adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying notch by notch. We made generations smarter and efficient. We know other civilizations wouldn’t be born in millennia. Our technology shall not be fractured, only modernized in future ages.
I would like to thank Dr. Y. and Deogratias from Lingala Academy for this song. The former has an article about this aforementioned ancient calculator and the latter helped me with the Lingala part of the song.
This was a good kickoff song besides the intro by covering this overlooked invention. I didn’t realize one of the first calculators was made from a baboon bone from what’s now the DRC. Anyone who says Africa had no civilization or inventions need to get educated. This bone was used as tallies and as a tool for multiple kinds of math problems. Okay, I wasn’t the best at math, but the fact that some of my maternal ancestors could’ve invented this does fill me with joy and some self-esteem.
From a musical standpoint, I listened to a ton of traditional Congolese drum music, so I wanted to do something very percussive, but still lively despite the lack of instrumental melodies. Using Lingala again has been great. It’s a very musical language and has a certain beauty to it.
What are your thoughts on the Ishango Bone or this song? Don’t forget that Dear Innovare is $7 on Bandcamp!
The Ishango Bone image is from MAA.