Archaeologists discover three ancient tombs in Egypt dating back 2000 years

Egyptian mummy (Source: BBC / AFP)

Yes… I think most of Egypt is truly a treasure for archaeology, and for humanity as a whole. I would love to have the chance to work on one of those excavations!

The excerpt below is from the BBC. For the full article, please go to the BBC article.


Archaeologists have discovered three tombs that date back around 2,000 years in southern Egypt.

They were found in burial grounds in the Al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area in Minya [Governorate ]/ province, south of Cairo.

The tombs contained a collection of different sarcophagi, or stone coffins, as well as clay fragments.

Egypt’s antiquities ministry said the discovery “suggests that the area was a great cemetery for a long span of time“.

One of the tombs, which was reached through a shaft carved in rock, contained four sarcophagi that had been sculpted to depict a human face.

In another, excavators found six burial holes, including one for the burial of a small child. …

Proverbe sur les mots blessants / Proverb on Hurtful Words

Natte africaine, African mat (Source:

Une parole est comme un fil de raphia; si vous le tirez de la natte, vous ne pourrez le remettre à sa place (Proverbe Bornu – Tchad).

A word is like a thread of raffia; once you pull it from the mat, you cannot put it back (Bornu proverb – Chad).

African Art has inspired Great 20th Century Artists

Picasso art work on Daley Plaza in Chicago, US

I already knew that the great Pablo Picasso had been inspired by African art (just a look at his sculpture on the Chicago plaza reminds you vividly of a Fang mask of Cameroon, Gabon, or Equatorial Guinea), but this is the first time I read it clearly in the BBC, an international magazine. It is about time that the world knew how much Africa has inspired the world, and this throughout the ages from ancient Egypt to modern-day Congo as in the case of Picasso, Matisse, and others. See… and then we are told that our ancestors were not savvy: have you ever looked at an African mask? The geometry, symmetry, symbolism, and emotions are amazing! Enjoy! This is just an excerpt of the article by Fisun Güner of the BBC. For the full article go to the BBC.


A small seated figurine from the Vili people of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo was instrumental in the lives of two of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. The carved figure in wood, with its large upturned face, long torso, disproportionately short legs and tiny feet and hands, was purchased in a curio shop in Paris by Henri Matisse in 1906. The French artist, who liked to fill his studio with exotic trinkets and objets d’art, objects that would then appear in his paintings, paid a pittance for it.

‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ by Pablo Picasso (Source: Wikipedia)

Yet when he showed it to Pablo Picasso at the home of the art patron and avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein, its impact on the young Spaniard was profound, just as it was, though to an arguably lesser extent, on Matisse when the compact but powerful figure had fortuitously caught his eye.

For Picasso, his appetite whetted, visits to the African section of the ethnographic museum at the Palais du Trocadéro inevitably followed. And so precocious was the 24-year-old artist that it seemed that he had already absorbed all that European art had to offer. Hungry for something radically different, something almost entirely new to the Western gaze that might provide fresh and dynamic impetus to his feverish creative energies, Picasso became captivated by the dramatic masks, totems, fetishes and carved figures on display, just as he had with the Iberian stone sculptures of ancient Spain which he also sourced as material. Here, however, was something altogether different, altogether more dynamic and visceral.


artists were struck by a directness, a pared-down simplicity and a non-naturalism that they discovered in these objects. But no thought was given to what these artefacts might actually mean, nor to any understanding of the unique cultures from which they derived. The politics of colonialism was not even in its infancy.

Pablo Picasso (Source:

The Trocadéro museum, which had so impressed Picasso, had opened in 1878, with artefacts plundered from the French colonies. Today’s curators, including those of the Royal Academy’s Matisse exhibition in which African masks and figures from the artist’s collection appear, at least seek to acknowledge and redress this to a small extent. A similar effort was made earlier this year for Picasso Primitif at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, an exhibition exploring Picasso’s life-long relationship to African art. The sculptures, from West and Central Africa, were given as much space and importance as Picasso’s own work and one could appreciate at first hand the close correspondence between the works.

Paul Gauguin, perhaps the quintessential European artist to ‘go native’, …, had long felt a disgust at Western civilisation, its perceived inauthenticity and spiritual emptiness.


French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Gaya 23 June 1895

Niger_Zinder_Gaya_Liptako_with all modern day regions
Map of modern-day Niger with the Gaya region highlighted in orange, and the Liptako and Zinder regions as well.

Here is yet another French treaty signed in Niger, this time in the Gaya region. It is hard to say if this treaty was just for the area encompassing the city of Gaya, in Niger today, or the entire department of Gaya in the Dosso Region of Niger, or even if it went as far as the city of Gaya in Nigeria.

The treaty was signed between the King of Gaya, H.E. Abdoulaye, and the French officer Georges Joseph Toutée, on 23 June 1895. The French original is found here: Niger_Traite de protectorat France avec le Roi de Gaya 23 Juin 1895. The English translation below is brought to you by Dr. Y.,


23 June 1895

 Treaty between the French Republic and the King of Gaya in Niger

Between the Undersigned,

H.E. Abdoulaye, King and owner of the city and dependencies of Gaya, assisted by his council, on one hand, and Georges Joseph Toutée, Staff captain of artillery, Knight of the legion of Honor, commander of the imperial order of Annam, acting in the name and in accordance with the instructions of the French Republic on the other hand,

It has been agreed the following treaty.

Article I

The Kingdom of Gaya is placed for life under the sovereignty and exclusive protectorate of France.

Article II

The present treaty, which will take effect immediately is hereby submitted for ratification by the French government.

Article III

On the occasion of this convention, the King of Gaya accepts the presents sent to him by the French government, as well as the tricolor flag, symbol of the union between the two countries.

Made in Gaya on the Niger river, the twenty third of June eighteen ninety five, in three expeditions, including one in Arab.

And have signed: 

The King                  X

         The Captain,         G. Toutée

    The adjutant          Douse

African Joke – Efferalgan

Seashore (View of the Atlantic ocean from the Door of No Return, Goree, Senegal)

An American, a Belgian, and an Ivorian meet a genie by the sea shore. He tells them:

Throw anything in the water. If I find it, you will die. If I don’t find it, I die, and the person who win will become as rich as Croesus.

The American throws a tiny metallic marble into the water. The genie finds it, and he dies.

The Belgian throws a small transparent nylon thread. The genie finds it, and the Belgian dies.

Effervescent tablet (Source:

The Ivorian throws something into the water. The genie looks, and looks, and looks; but does not find the object. Tired, he asks: “Djo, what have you thrown in the water?

The guy replies: “A piece of Efferalgan (effervescent pill), buddy!

The original in French is found on Translated to English by Dr. Y.,



French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Liptako 23 Mai 1891

Niger_Zinder_Gaya_Liptako_with all modern day regions
Map of modern-day Niger highlighting the Liptako region (in blue) which extended into Mali and Burkina Faso, and Gaya and Zinder.

Here is another treaty signed in Niger, this time in the Liptako region which was part of the Liptako Emirate, a hilly region beginning on the right back of the Niger river, and today part of Burkina FasoMali, and Niger. Modern-day Liptako, most of which falls in 10 to 19 provinces of Burkina Faso, along with Niger‘s Tera and Say Departments, and small parts of Mali, is a hilly and in parts sparsely populated area. It is also known as Liptako Gourma, from the name of its original historic inhabitants the Gourmantche.  Parfait-Louis Monteil was the French officer who signed this treaty on 23 May 1891 with Boubakar, son of Boari, the King of the Liptako.

Parfait-Louis Monteil: De Saint-Louis a Tripoli par le Lac Tchad, voyage au travers du Soudan et du Sahara accompli pendant les années 1890-91-92. Paris 1895

The French original is found here: Niger_Traite francais de protectorat et de commerce avec le roi du Liptako 23 Mai 1891. It was also translated to Arabic at the time, which was the language of business at the King’s palace and in the region. The English version is brought to you by Dr. Y.,


Treaty between France and the Liptako

Between us, Monteil (Parfait Louis), Captain in the general staff of the infantry of Marin, Knight of the legion of Honor, Officer of the Academy, representing the government of the French Republic and imbued with necessary powers, and, Boubakar son of Boari, King of the Liptako, and mandated by him, the following treaty was concluded:

Article I

The King of the Liptako in his name and in the name of his successors places his country under the protectorate of France.

Article II

France acknowledges the independence of the Liptako under the current king and his successors.

France agrees to ensure this independence against attacks from neighboring countries.

Article III

The King of the Liptako commits to protecting by all means in his power the trade of the caravans.

Article IV

The trade will be entirely free in the Liptako, the caravans shall not be subject to any duty either upon arrival or departure.

Article V

In all countries under French domination or protectorate, the caravans coming from the Liptako will be efficiently protected and no duty shall be levied on them.   

Article VI

The French or French subjects who will come to settle in the Liptako for trade will be, they, and their goods, under the sincere protection of the King who will be responsible for any looting or vexation committed against them.  

Article VII

The King of the Liptako agrees not to sign any treaty with another European foreign power without submitting it to the prior sanction of the French government.

Article VIII

As a sign of our effective protection that he can use as a matter of right, the King of the Liptako has received the French flag which he agrees to keep.

Made in Dori, the twenty third of May eighteen ninety one, in two expeditions, including one which was left in the hands of the king to serve him as matter of right, the other one was kept by us.

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Zinder 9 June 1895

Niger_Town of Zinder 1906 from the French fort
Town of Zinder viewed from the French fort in 1906

France had many colonies in Africa. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the French colonial empire was the second largest colonial empire behind the British Empire . This explains why today France has a seat at the table of world powers, mostly because of its colonial heritage which continues with its French Colonial Tax in Africa in action to this day with its slave currency called CFA Franc. As a part of the Scramble for Africa, France aimed to establish a continuous west-east axis across the continent, in contrast with the proposed British north-south, Cairo to Cape, axis. It had colonies in North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Madagascar and the Comoros.

Map of modern-day Niger with the Zinder region highlighted (this is smaller than the original 19th century version)

I am sharing with you here a treaty that was signed in an area which was part of French West Africa (AOF), in modern-day Niger, between the King of Zinder and the French representative Georges Joseph Toutée on 9 June 1895. Note that in the treaty, it states that “the king places his territory, without any restriction or reserve, under French sovereignty.” Zinder was part of the Sultanate of Damagaram, a powerful kingdom founded in 1731, which lasted until the 1890s with the French conquest. In the mid 19th century, the state covered some 70,000 square kilometers and had a population over 400,000, mostly Hausa, but also Tuareg, Fula, Kanuri, Arab and Toubou. By the end of the 19th century, Damagaram could field an army of 5,000 cavalry, 30,000 foot soldiers, and a dozen cannons, which they produced in Zinder.

The English translation of the treaty, below, is by Dr. Y., For the French original click here: Niger_Traite de protectorat avec le roi de Zinder 9 Juin 1895.


Zinder in Niger, 9 June 1895

 Treaty between the French Republic and King Atikou of Zinder

Between the Undersigned,

Atikou, King and owner of the city and territory of Zinder in Niger, stipulating for him and his successors on one hand, and Georges Joseph Toutée, Staff Captain of artillery, Knight of the legion of Honor, Commander of the royal order of Annam on the other hand,


Article I

The King Atikou places his country, without any restriction or reserve, under the sovereignty and exclusive protectorate of France.

 Article II

He makes the solemn declaration that he has never made any commitment to any other European power.

 Article III

In sign of which he accepts the French flag.

 Article IV

The present convention, subject to the ratification by the French government shall nevertheless enter immediately into force.

Made in Zinder, the nine June eighteen ninety five, in three expeditions, including one in Arab.

The King

The Captain

Kenyan Anthropologist discovers 13-million-year-old Ape Skull

Flag of Kenya

I admire this African anthropologist’s determination. Thanks to his perseverance, he was able to make a discovery which changes our understanding of humanity, or rather of what humans’ ancestors may have looked like. Isaiah Nengo of DeAnza College in the US, made a discovery in Kenya, in the Turkana Basin, of a 13-million-year-old ape skull. When he embarked on his research, no one wanted to follow him, and everybody told him what a waste of time this would be. But determined, he set out by himself, hired 5 local Kenyan fossil finders, and went off to the area he thought would bring results. A month went by without results, and at the end, as the team was leaving the area, they stumbled upon the skull. He had made a discovery, as it turned out, the team found what is thought to be the most complete skull of an extinct ape species in the fossil record. His findings have just been published in the Aug. 10 issue of the journal Nature. You can also read more in this article published in the Washington Post. Talk about perseverance!

15-Year-Old Sierra Leonese Inventor Wowing MIT

Sierra Leone_flag
Flag of Sierra Leone

This is old news, but I am still in awe with this kid and had to share it with you. Meet then 15 years-old Sierra Leone boy, Kelvin Doe, who wowed MIT! Enjoy! He is very creative: he created his own battery because of electricity shortage, he made his own radio because he wanted to broadcast to people in his neighborhood, he made his own generator because he needed it. He works by reverse engineering. Enjoy!