Who invented the Bong?

Today it’s time for 420 seconds of Bong history. And because it’s hiSTORY, I too will tell you a story…

It was a nice, warm evening in South Africa when my plane landed. I still had a few hours to kill before my friend would pick me up. I had nothing better to do so I went to the toilet and began stroking and polishing my… Byba. It was pretty messy after a long and busy night with my pals a few days ago. There was a young guy there and he was curiously looking at me. He drew nearer and nearer and I got ready to defend my butthole with everything I’ve got. Luckily, he wasn’t interested in me, but in Byba. Phew, that was a close call (ok, not really). After a few shy questions we started talking about bongs, pipes and other interesting stuff a true herb lover should try.

Bongani asked me if I know who invented the bong. C’mon Bongani. I am well informed and well-read smoker, of course I know who invented the bong. There is a site about that on Wikipedia you know. I explained to him how the bong was a Thai invention and the name comes from the Thai word “baung”, which means a cylindrical wooden tube, pipe or container cut from bamboo.

Suddenly Bongani was smiling from ear to ear. In fact his smile was so wide that he almost seemed white (and that’s a rhyme, yo). He was incredibly happy that he could explain to me how I was wrong and proudly invited me to a cup of Rooibos tea, because the real story takes some time.

First African bong

Figure 1: Example of early African pipe

I’ll make the long story short for you. Apparently the world forgot about Africa and it’s early cultures… again. Apparently they smoked cannabis long before the introduction of tobacco. Bongani took his iPhone and showed me some pictures of early pipes from Africa. He said those pipes (displayed on the figure 1 and 2) dated back to the 13th and 14th century and contained cannabis residues, which proves that Africans used bongs before Asians. They still use them a lot- in different regions and in different ways. It’s their favourite way of smoking, because they really like water as a filter.

First Bong

Figure 2: Another type of early African pipe

He didn’t fully convince me that Africans were really the first, because I am pretty sure that ancient Romans also smoked weed, but I don’t know if they did it in bongs. However, we agreed on one point: he really has to try Byba. Since we were in Africa, supposedly the homeland of bong-smoking and because I really liked Rooibos, we tried something different and filled the bottle with tea. I must say it gave the herb smoke kind of a sweet-sour aftertaste and it was a really pleasant experience. And that gave me the idea to discover what other liquids Africans used when smoking. Of course, I was too stoned at the the moment, so this addition to bong history research will have to wait until some other time.