While fractal geometry can indeed take us into the far reaches of high-tech science, its patterns are surprisingly common in traditional African designs, and some of its basic concepts are fundamental to African knowledge systems.
Fractals are characterised by the repetition of similar patterns at ever diminishing scales. Traditional African settlements typically show this self similar characteristic: circles of circles of circular Dwellings, rectangular walls enclosing ever smaller rectangles, and streets in which broad avenues branch down to tiny footpaths with striking geometric repetition.
Not only in architecture, but in traditional hairstyling, textiles, and sculpture, in painting, carving, and metalwork, in religion, games, and practical craft, in quantitative techniques and symbolic systems, Africans have used the patterns and abstract concepts of fractal geometry.
Fractals are generated by a circular process, a loop in which the output at one stage becomes the input for the next. Results are repeatedly returned, so that the same operation can be carried out again. This is often referred to as 'recursion', a very powerful concept.