Africa is humankind’s home continent. Homo sapiens, with the anatomical and cognitive capacity to have human language as we know it today, originated in Africa between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago.
Then, as an abundant fossil and archaeological record makes clear, some of our human ancestors left Africa. They spread to neighbouring continents, taking their languages with them. Others remained behind; their descendants speak what we call “African languages”, pointing to these communities’ long histories on the home continent.
There were also those who migrated out of Africa and whose descendants later returned. These include the ancestors of