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Cheikh Anta Diop: The African Origin of Civilization Myth and Reality

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Cheikh Anta Diop: The African Origin of Civilization Myth and Reality

Cheikh Anta Diop

In the spirit of the fact that #EverydayIsBlackHistory we’d like to continue to remember the pioneering work done by the great Cheikh Anta Diop, who was born in Dakar on the 29th of December 1923 and died on the 7th of February 1986. Diop was a historian, anthropologist, physicist, and politician who studied the human race’s origins and pre-colonial African culture. Though Diop is sometimes referred to as an Afrocentrist, he predates the concept and thus was not himself an Afrocentric scholar. However, “Diopian thought”, as it is called, is paradigmatic to Afrocentricity. His work was greatly controversial and throughout his career, Diop argued that there was a shared cultural continuity across African peoples that was more important than the varied development of different ethnic groups shown by differences among languages and cultures over time.

Diop did his most significant work under the tutelege of Professor Frédéric Joliot in Paris. This culminated in (Diop’s) seminal work “The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality” (1974) is one of the seminal works on African proto history and history. It makes the case that both mankind and civilization started with black people. It argues that Ancient Egypt was largely Black African in race and culture during the first 2,000 years of its civilization. When Diop first put forward his thesis his work was resoundingly debunked by white Egyptologists and anthropologists, notably Bruce Trigger and other Europeans. But Diop was persistent and his theories were brilliantly defended by him.

Diop’s work has posed important questions about the cultural bias inherent in scientific research. After 1960, Diop went back to Senegal and continued his research and political career. He established and was the director of the radiocarbon laboratory at the IFAN (Institut Fondamental de l’Afrique Noire). Diop dedicated a book about the IFAN radiocarbon laboratory “to the memory of my former professor Frédéric Joliot who welcomed me into his laboratory at the College de France.”

Cheikh Anto Diop BookThe computer wunderkind, Julian Abagond has written a comprehensive review of Diop’s great work and he published it in his blog abagond.wordpress.com a site on which he writes 500 words a day. Of course this analysis of the book makes remarkable reading, but there is no substitute for reading the book. Still if one were to look for a review of Diop’s book you would not find a one than that written by Abagond. Here it is in full:

Diop’s model goes like this:

Homo sapiens began in Africa and began as black people. It was as black people that they spread over Asia and Europe, taking the place of the Neanderthals. The rise of different races: Over time black people in northern Eurasia became light-skinned and began to look like the people who live there today.

Between -3000 and -1500, the region stretching from North Africa through the South West Asia to India became civilized: Egypt, Canaan, Elam, Indus, etc. People were dark-skinned, like they still are today in Ethiopia and southern India. The Bible calls them the sons of Ham. The Greeks saw them as Ethiopians of one sort or other.

After -1500 this region has become whiter over time as wave after wave of light-skinned barbarians over thousands of years have come down from the north. In India people were separated into light- and dark-skinned castes. Elsewhere they have mixed more thoroughly.

Egyptian civilization spreads north of the Sahara to Western Europe by way of Greece and south of the Sahara to West Africa by way of Nubia.

I have written a post on each chapter:

1. Diop: What were the Egyptians? – the ancients saw the Egyptians as closely related to the Ethiopians
2. Diop: Birth of the Negro Myth – where the idea that black people are incapable comes from
3. Diop: Modern Falsification of History – how European scholars in the 1800s began to distance Egypt from the rest of Africa
4. Diop: Origination in the Delta? – Egyptian civilization did not start in the Delta
5. Diop: An Asian Origin? – civilization did not come from Mesopotamia
6. Diop: Egyptian Race Seen by Anthropologists – there is no proof from science that Egyptians were mostly white when civilization arose there
7. Diop: Arguments for a Negro Origin – Ancient Egypt was rooted in African culture, not Asian or European culture
8. Diop: Arguments Against a Negro Origin -Diop knocks these down
9. Diop: Peopling of Africa from the Nile Valley – particularly from the country now called Sudan
10. Diop: Evolution of Ancient Egypt – mostly about the whitening of Egypt
11. Diop: Contribution of Ethiopia-Nubia and Egypt – the idea of “the Greek miracle” is rooted in a white racist reading of history
12. Diop: Reply to a Critic – replies to French historian Raymond Mauny of the Sorbonne
13. Diop: Early History of Humanity: Evolution of the Black World – how mankind started out black and stayed that way for a long time

Even apart from how right or wrong Diop is, the book is an excellent account of how whites twist history and science for their own ends and why blacks need to write and know their own history.

15 COMMENTS

  1. The genius of Diop amazes me, just as the bigotry of his critics shocks me. It is also shocking that the truth of African origins, both in terms of our species and our human civilization, is still denied in American schools.

  2. With the most recent discoveries in genetics, anthropology. Archaeology and linguistics Diop has been proven to be Correct. And the areas in which he was wrong was due to the same racist indoctrination which even affected him.

    • What are you talking about? The complete opposite is true. As advances in DNA sequencing have evolved, Diop has been shown to be mostly wrong

      • Name one peer reviewed study that proves any of Diop’s main conclusions of the Black African origins of Homo Sapiens and Ancient Nile Valley civilizations to be false. Name one. The Abusir genetic study of 2017 has been soundly denounced by peer reviewed geneticists, btw. In other words, all of Diop’s critics have been resoundingly crushed to silence.

        • It was published in Nature, the foremost journal of natural sciences in the world. It was never retracted. Who are these “peer reviewed geneticists” who denounced it? What are their names? Where did they publish their critiques?

  3. Merci à cheick Anta ,notre Pharaon,merci à Théophile Obenga ,du Congo,Coovi Gomez Kalala omotunde,et tout les savants africains.Nous defenderons avec courage et sagacité notre histoire

    • Dr Diop presents a strikingly compelling argument to debunk the revisionistic and spurious research presented by Western investigators. His work is by far, of the most objective of all scientists involved with human evolution. His findings must live on.

  4. This is still extremely contested. This idea that all these greeks learned in egypt, and that egypt was black, are not settled. Most of this attribution to greeks studying in egypt came from later writers wrting about them, a point that is totally glossed over in this article. They “travelled”, then afrocentrists just assume.

    And the whole black egypt thing is not settled. There is dna evidence that shows sub saharan dna, and dna evidence that doesnt. Egyptians males were always red in their art, and nubians were always black. Egyptian females were yellow. They always made a distinction.

    Everything Diop researched on was about race. He was highly motivates to prove egypt was black. Hardly unbiased. Afrocentrists talks about archaeologists white washing, but where is the evidence for that, especially recently. The same conference in 1974 that most egyptologist disagreed egyptians were black also disagreed egyptians were white. It is part of the conspiracy message though.

    • You obviously have never read what Ancient Greeks said in their own contemporaneous words about not only travelling to Ancient Egypt but studying directly under the tutelage of their BLACK master teachers. They directly attribute all of their learning to the BLACK Ancient Egyptians who these Greek scholars claimed, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, were the first to develop the sciences millennia before the first Greek arrivals in Africa. You need to actually read what the Ancient Greeks say before commenting garbage that you do not know.

    • Echoing Afriaspora Films, I did all the research not even a debate that ancient Kemetic were indigenous black Africans from the Nile and East/West Africa.

      The black figurines that show Kemet/Egyptian lifestyle are a sight to behold, have you seen them?
      In those scenes, I did not see any white or olive skinned characters.
      Also, this was the beginning of all civilization, and there were no white or olive people there.
      At 4000 or 3000 years ago, the sun was 90 to 120 degrees, and walking or building pyramids without shirts would have resulted in your skin frying.

      Did you know that every type of African Egyptian culture can be found throughout Africa? This is why they were able to build one of the greatest civilizations in the world.
      Africa is the most genetically diverse continent on Earth, with a wide range of physical and cognitive traits.

      This diversity was a key factor in the success of African Egyptian culture, as it allowed them to adapt to a variety of environments and challenges.

      In other words, they represent the extremes: the smartest and dumbest, the tallest and shortest, and the fastest and slowest.
      And, the most creative and non creative.
      That group of indigenous black African came together at the same-time in a perfect storm .i.e. NBA Dream Team 1992 in Kemet.

      This is the only thing that makes sense!!!!
      Mic drop time, the ancient Kemetic were spirit people that believe the earth, wind, animal and people are all collected in spiritual cosmic order.

  5. 𓋹𓍑𓋴 Furthermore, you need to travel.

    I studied in Egypt as a student at the American University in Cairo. I have spent a lot of time in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Aswan, Giza, Saqqara, Tel Al Amarna, Alexandria, Sinai and various museums and exhibits all over the world. So, my knowledge comes from direct experience NOT images on the internet.

    I can tell you this, Ancient Egyptians used brown, black, reddish brown, yellowish brown and yellow pigments to depict themselves and Ancient Nubians at various periods of time over a three thousand year history. The color used the most to depict both male and female skin tones was the exact same medium brown. See the art of the 18th Dynasty (King Tut and his wife are the same medium brown; Queen Tiye, Tut’s grandmother, and her husband Amenhoptep III are the same medium brown; Amarna depictions of Akhenaton and his entire family are the same medium brown. And theses are just a handful of famous examples which show your statement to be false out of thousands of other images that are not famous.)

    Nevertheless, all skin tones used by Ancient Egyptians to depict themselves regardless of time period are the same skin tones found in all of Africa typically described as BLACK Africa today. Black Africans are NOT black in color. We come in every shade of brown imaginable from the darkest, so dark that you see black to the palest of yellowish, pinkish white (see “black African” albinos like famous Malian kora player Suleiman Keita, who has blonde hair and blue eyes, btw). That is the full range of UNMIXED (with Europeans or Asians) so called BLACK African people. African DNA is the oldest and most diverse in the world. All human phenotypes can be found in indigenous African people without Eurasian and Neanderthal admixture. When and if you actually travel in the continent you will discover this.

    The images on the internet are truly a carefully selected set of images to promote an extremely Eurocentric myopia of the world. Read more and travel more if your cherished notions guarding your fragility can handle it. If you do, however, and you can heal from your engrained cognitive dissonance, I guarantee your world view will change for the better of everyone.

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