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African Mathematics

Date: 10/24/2001 at 04:58:17
From: Nadia O'Brien
Subject: African Mathematics

I am investigating the history of mathematics within the African 
context. Although I have found significant information on Egypt's 
contribution to mathematics, I cannot find anything on the 
contribution, development, etc. made fsrther south on the continent. 
I have found reference to the Joloff who used a base 5 system (library 
reference material).

I find this lack of information quite perplexing, as the San, Bushmen, 
etc. were herders and would surely have developed some kind of system 
to keep count of and record the numbers of their herds. I need this 
information for a Numeracy Textbook I am writing for Grade 3 learners. 
I have searched the Net and have spent hours at the library. Please 

Date: 10/24/2001 at 10:22:39
From: Doctor Jodi
Subject: Re: African Mathematics

Hi Nadia,

I'm glad to hear that you are going to include information about 
history of maths, and about African math, in your textbook.

I taught  a course in history of math this summer. I encountered 
several books that touched on this subject.

Claudia Zaslavsky's is by far the most comprehensive. Her book is 
called _Africa Counts_, and was published by Prindle, Weber, and 
Schmidt, New York in 1973. Zaslavsky has also written many journal 
articles about multicultural approaches to math and about the history 
of African math.

Another book you may find helpful is by George Gheverghese Joseph: 
_The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics_, 2nd. 
ed. London: Penguin Books, 2000. (Review at   , 
publisher site, including link to table of contents at   .)

In Web searching, I found one bibliography entitled _African Origins 
of Science and Math_ [Sadiki] - perhaps that would help. You can find 
it at   

Another bibliography that might be interesting, entitled African Math 
Bibliography, can be found at   

You can also find the Web site of the African Mathematical Union's 
Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa. The site includes 
downloadable newsletters and membership information.   
Perhaps their members would be another resource for your research.

Best luck, and let us know how it goes!

- Doctor Jodi, The Math Forum   
Associated Topics:
High School History/Biography
Middle School History/Biography

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