The Nsibidi (Nsibiri) script (Nigeria and Cameroon)
This script was invented by the Ejagham people of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon. The exact time of its invention is not known. Some sources say that sibidi means "cruel" in Ejagham; other sources say it means "bloodthirsty", while yet others say it means "magic". What is clear is that it is a mysterious script used only by secret societies and the rich and powerful. The ideographs represent life among the Ejagham and illustrate how advanced and culturally rich they were.
There were three types of nsibidi. First, there were common signs that were not secret or mystical-signs representing human relationships and communication. Then there were the "dark signs" representing danger and extremity and these were often black. The colors black and white were used to represent death and freshness respectively. Finally, there were the nsibiri or the very important signs of rank and ritual which were secret and known only by priests and initiates.
Nsibidi signs may be carved on calabashes, painted on walls, printed on cloth or painted or tattooed on the human body.
Nsibidi crosses the Atlantic
The cruel slave trade transported a lot of people from Nigeria and Cameroon who took their Nsibidi secrets with them. Today, nsibidi is still widely used by Cuban blacks and called anaforuana and used by such secret societies as the Abakua.