Cannabis in Africa

Africa is a place that has a rich history and culture, and this does include cannabis. Here, we’ll discuss the history of cannabis, including how it originated there. 

How did it Arrive? 

While cannabis is actually associated with northern and more Mediterranean Africa, it’s actually not indigenous to it, and it evolved originally in Asia and then it went west. But it was cultivated for at least 1000 years there, and there is some evidence that it appeared in Egypt about 5000 years ago, and it was mostly found in the more northern parts of the Mediterranean area. 

In north Africa, it was found that the records go back much further than in sub-Saharan Africa.  During the 12th century, it was found that there was psychotropic uses of this already, usually done via smoking or edibles. This was found in Egypt, which was more along the lines of the red sea in most cases.  When you went west though, it was a bit different. In area such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, it was a bit different, since they actually used hashish more than in the other areas, since this is something that was imported into there from Greece and Lebanon. 

Cannabis and Language 

If you go south of where the Sahara is, that’s where the history seems a bit murky, since this doesn’t really show much evidence in the archeological sense, mostly because most of the evidence from the colonists was not right. They called cannabis “African tobacco” which was an attempt to distance it from the natives, and there wasn’t much of an answer there. 

But one of the most useful ways to track this in sub-Saharan Africa, is dagga, which is attributed to the people called the Khoekhoe that were located in the southern part of Africa. This word means cannabis, but it refers more to the state of this, since it was found that there was a plant that was similar to the cannabis plant itself that contributed to this. 

The first recording was in 1658, in a journal.  When recorded, the usage of said word spread throughout. While we can’t tell much about how long it was used before tis point, since this, it was implied that cannabis is actually prevalent during this point. 

The origin of this is unclear though because there was confusion between cannabis, and the mint plant that was called leonotis leonurus. They even had the same name and the same serrated leaves, but there were flowers which were different, and the mint plant doesn’t cause the high that cannabis does. 

So it’s not clear where the word described this, or maybe it was wrongfully used at one period of time, but this actually caused scholars to put forth various explanations here. 

One post about this was also from the Dutch word called Tabak, which talks not only of the cannabis usage before the colonies, but there was another suggestion that also this came from daXa-b, which is a word for tobacco in Kohekhoe language. 

So who used it? Well, there were a few types of people. For the most part, cannabis was used a lot in Egypt, with the hemp rope and other product, and they also used this in holistic medicine, and they did accept the cannabis plant. Some of it was ritualistic though. The khoekhoe were also another people that used this, and they were around the Dutch settlers that used this as well. They actually were warlike at first, and they worked with the Dutch to coexist and use it together, which may attribute it to that.