Black, red and gold – metals in Africa
These pages are based on a past exhibition about how Africans make and use metals. It concentrates on the two commonest metals, iron and copper.
Africa is rich in natural resources from the earth. Only gold occurs naturally as a metal in any quantity; metallic iron is locked up in minerals called haematite and limonite, copper is in copper pyrites and malachite. Africa contributed about 7.5 million tonnes of iron in various forms to the world economy in 2004. Although this is only about 1.5% of total world production, Africa’s share of world iron production is likely to rise to as much as 10% by 2010.
You can learn more about metals in Africa from the bibliography page.
At low concentrations near the ground surface, iron-bearing minerals, or iron ores can be found and have been used all over Africa.
Unlike iron, copper is only found in a few places in sufficient concentration to be useful. These include Katanga in the Republic of Congo and northern Zambia, Zimbabwe, northern South Africa, and Niger in west Africa.
This is a summary of Other Materials, more information can be found using the links below.
Iron is mainly the metal for tools for farmers and craftspeople requiring a sharp edge, without which they would not be able to produce anything
Play our interactive puzzle and see if you can solve the jigsaw..!
Blacksmiths were well known for their ability to re-forge outworn tools into 'new' items: an old hoe blade might be made into an axe-head; when that was worn out it might become an arrowhead or part of a musical instrument.
The books, papers and other research material used for this theme are listed here.