100 Interesting Facts About Africa

1William Kamkwamba

A Malawian teenager named William Kamkwamba taught himself how to build a windmill out of junk and bring power to his village. He then went on to build a second, larger windmill to power irrigation pumps. He did this all from books he read in the library.

2. A small lake (Lake Nyos) in Africa killed 1,700 villagers and 3,500 livestock overnight when it suddenly released 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide, suffocating everything within 16 miles. Scientists still don't know what triggered the event.

3. Encephalartos woodii is the 'loneliest organism' in the world. A single, lone cycad tree which was dominant tree during the dinosaur era, was discovered in Africa in 1895. They have yet to find a mate to pollinate it.

4. 10,000 years ago, Lions were the second most widespread land mammal, after humans. They existed across Africa, Eurasia, and America.

5. In 2009, a pigeon named Winston raced Telkom, South Africa's largest ISP, to see who could deliver 4GB of data to a location 60 miles away from the fastest. By the time Winston arrived with the 4GB flash drive, Telkom had transmitted only 4% of the data.

6Kalenjin community

70% of elite distance running races have been won by Kenyans from the Kalenjin community, who make up just 0.06% of the world’s population.

7. The average black-market price of an AK-47 worldwide is $534. In certain areas in Africa, prices of AK-pattern rifles can be as low as $30. It is estimated that up to 100 million Kalashnikov assault rifles are still in use today.

8. In 1798, when Napoleon came to Egypt the Sphinx was buried up to its neck. It wasn't until between 1925-1936 the French engineer Emil Baraize was successful in clearing the sand to reveal the base of the sphinx.

9. Talking drums were used in Africa for centuries to transmit messages over long distances by mimicking speech. When these were brought to America during the slave trade, they were banned because slaves used them to transmit messages their masters couldn't decipher.

10. In Rwanda plastic bags are illegal and carry with them a $100-$150 fine. In fact, at airport customs, all plastic bags are confiscated which has resulted in Rwanda being one of the most litter free countries in Africa

11South Africa

South Africa is the only country to have ever developed its own nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantled them.

12. When Elon Musk was 28 in the year 2000 he contracted one of the most lethal forms of Malaria while on vacation in South Africa and nearly died, losing 45 pounds and taking six months to recover. He cites this near-death experience as the moment that gave him a renewed focus and energy.

13. There are 4 million square miles of fertile land in Africa that can't be cultivated because tsetse flies keep killing farm animals

14. In 2005, Benedict Cumberbatch was abducted and held at gunpoint by armed men in South Africa. After being let go he was eventually rescued by a stranger. He commented: "It taught me that you come into this world as you leave it, on your own. It's made me want to live a life less ordinary."

15. A man named Yacouba Sawadogo in Africa single-handedly stopped the desertification of his region by reviving ancient farming and irrigation techniques despite being ridiculed by his community.

16Starving African people

There are people starving in Africa so your suffering is invalid argument has a name: Fallacy of relative privation

17. Elephants killed 605 people in Assam b/w 1994-2006. In South Africa, 3 elephants killed 63 rhinos. Biologists think increased elephant aggression is the result of species-wide trauma from poaching & habitat loss, and direct trauma for those who saw family members murdered before their eyes.

18. In 1970, John Lennon paid all of the fines for 96 people who had been arrested for protesting against the apartheid South Africa rugby team playing in Britain.

19. AIDS orphan tourism in Africa is a thing, where volunteers temporarily care for children who have lost their parents to the virus and has left children with attachment disorders and encouraged orphanages to purposefully keep them in poor conditions to attract more volunteers.

20. Farmers in Botswana have started painting eyes on their cows' bottoms to stop lions from attacking them.

21Pfizer

In 1996, Pfizer may have killed 50 kids in Nigeria while improperly testing experimental anti-meningitis drugs.

22. In 1972, a pocket of uranium in Africa was found to have undergone self-sustaining nuclear fission for over 100,000 years, making it the only known naturally formed nuclear reactor.

23. A teenage girl named Nongqawuse of the Xhosa people in Africa convinced her entire tribe to kill all their cattle, saying it would bring about a cataclysm destroying English colonizers. Tens of thousands died in the subsequent famine, and the English were unharmed.

24. There's a bar (Baobab tree bar) in South Africa entirely inside a 6,000-year-old baobab tree, a species which naturally begins to hollow after it reaches about 1,000 years old.

25. Beehive fences (spaced along the edge of their property) in Africa help farmers ward off elephants without harming them, while also producing honey that they can sell in addition to other crops.

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