Safi Mafundikwa: Ancient African Alphabets, a Longstanding Tradition

Safi Mafundikwa: Ancient African Alphabets, a Longstanding Tradition

Ancient African Alphabets and Graphic Design

Safi Mafundikwa gave a TED Talk in February of 2013 about the longstanding tradition of African alphabets.

It is often thought that the African continent did not produce significant forms of writing, but this is far from the truth.

Mafundikwa, founder of the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA), has been incorporating ancient African alphabets into graphic design with stunning results. His book, "Afrikan Alphabets", explores this theme in great detail.

Watch his TED Talk below to learn more.

Also be sure to read our article about learning languages with TED Talks.

Ingenuity and Elegance in Ancient African Alphabets

About Safi Mafundikwa

In his book Afrikan Alphabets, Saki Mafundiwaka includes a Ghanaian pictograph meaning “return to the past” This is exactly what he did in 1997 when he cashed in his publishing job 401(k) and left New York to open the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) in Harare. (“Vigital” denotes visual arts taught using digital tools.)
As a kid growing up in Zimbabwe, Mafundiwaka loved to sketch letterforms he saw in books and magazines, but he didn’t know graphic design was a career option until he arrived in America. "Sometimes you have to leave home,” he says, “to discover yourself.” He opened ZIVA to pay it forward. “The dream,” he says, “is for something to come out of Africa that is of Africa."

In 2010, he made the film Shungu: The Resilience of a People, a compelling narrative of the strategies ordinary people use to survive in Zimbabwe today.

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