This is a fascinating discourse on the African influence still evident in Sicily today!
Africans are so often portrayed as the underdogs, nowadays, that we sometimes forget they conquered southern Europe twice and ruled it for centuries.
The Sicilians don’t forget, though, for the Africans invented pasta as we know it, shaped their language and gave them the word Mafia, and brought them their citrus fruit trees, taught them to make dazzling coloured ceramics and founded street markets that still flourish like chaotic souks in central Palermo today.
The first wave of Africans were the Carthaginians. Carthage is now Tunis, in Tunisia. They spoke Phoenician, a Semitic language related to Hebrew, and were a cultural and ethnic mix of colonists from Lebanon and indigenous African Berbers. They never ruled Sicily without a fight, but first started founding cities here in the 8th century B.C. and always had a foothold on the island…
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