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

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

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Chapter 7: Arguments for a Negro Origin

Diop says there are two main reasons to believe that Ancient Egypt sprang from black Africa:

It is what the Egyptians themselves and all ancient writers believed.

Ancient Egyptian culture had more in common with African cultures than with European ones.

Diop says the Egyptians and the ancient writers all say that the Egyptians either came from the south or were close cousins to those who lived there.

That south has been called different things by different people:

Nubia (Diop),
Ethiopia (Herodotus),
Kush (the Bible), etc.

They all mean the same place. In fact, archaeologists were able to find its capital based on the writings of Herodotus and Diodorus of Sicily: Meroe.

Meroe is along the Nile in what we now call northern Sudan, not far from present-day Ethiopia. It was found to have 80 pyramids.

The ruins of Meroe
The ruins of Meroe
The ruins of Meroe: In Diop’s model the Egyptians came down river from Nubia. When Egypt fell under foreign rule from -500 onwards, Nubia became the centre of African civilization. In time it spread westward across the grasslands south of the Sahara, leading to the West African civilizations of Ghana, Mali, Songhai, etc.

In the white colonialist model of history, all civilization in Africa is due to light-skinned outsiders: Thus Nubia was civilized by the Libyans, of all people, and West Africa by the Arabs.

Ancient Egypt had a culture much more like that of black Africa than Europe. It had things like circumcision, matriarchy and totemism, which are common in Africa but rare in Europe.

By matriarchy Diop means property and leadership passing through the mother’s side of the family rather than the father’s. Even something like queens, therefore, were way more common in Africa than in Europe in ancient times.

Or take circumcision: Muslims and Jews practice it outside of Africa but it does not fit into any broader picture of the world. In Africa it does: both boys and girls had part of their genitals cut off to make them more clearly male and female, unlike the gods. The Jewish (and therefore Muslim) practice seems to come from Africa by way of Egypt.

In religion the Egyptians had many of the same gods as the Nubians and painted them black. Some of the stories of the gods take place in Nubia. All that would be rather odd if their religion came from Asia or Europe.

As to language, Diop noticed that even his native West African language of Wolof has certain features in common with Ancient Egyptian that cannot be accounted for by mere chance. For example, most of the pronouns are the same, the passive voice is formed by u or w and some words are a letter off from the same words in Egyptian: lad/nad (to ask), funa/fula (regular), lah/nah (protect, hide), etc.

Chapter 8: Arguments against a Negro Origin

Reasons why Ancient Egypt could not have sprung from black Africa:

Blacks are backwards and incapable of high civilization on their own.

Mummies had straight hair.

Egyptians painted themselves dark red, not black, in pictures.

Blacks were slaves in ancient times.

The Stela of Philae calls the people south of Egypt “blacks”.

Take each in turn:

1. Blacks are backwards and incapable of high civilization on their own.

African-boys of the Yao tribe in Malawi in a traditional circumcision ceremony
African-boys of the Yao tribe in Malawi in a traditional circumcision ceremony
West Africa was arguably more advanced than Western Europe in the 1300s. The accounts of Arabs in the 1300s and the first Portuguese to arrive there in the 1400s make that clear.

Further, Ibn Batuta, travelling through West Africa in the 1350s, said the roads were completely safe – no one tried to rob him – and that “the Negroes are of all peoples those who most abhor injustice.”

It was Europe’s advantage in ships and guns after 1500 that changed all that, allowing it to:

Dominate the continent and to falsify the Negro’s personality. That is how things still stand and that is what has caused the subsequent alteration of history concerning the origin of Egyptian civilization.

It also made possible the slave trade, which both destroyed civilization in Africa and made it necessary for whites to see blacks as immoral half-animals.

2. Mummies have straight hair.

Picture of a mummy with “good hair” from race realist Mathilda’s Anthropology Blog
Picture of a mummy with “good hair” from race realist Mathilda’s Anthropology Blog
At least the mummies museums like to show have straight hair. So do some blacks. But from Herodotus’s description and the sort of hair styles Egyptian women are pictured wearing, it is clear that most did not have fine, straight hair like white people.

3. Egyptians painted themselves dark red, not black, in pictures.

A dark red master beating his dark red slave. Slavery in ancient times was not based on colour.
A dark red master beating his dark red slave. Slavery in ancient times was not based on colour.
Dark red is within the skin colour range of black Africa, not of white Europe or Asia. Even Europeans understood that – that is until the 1800s when:

It was recognized with amazement that Egypt was the mother of all civilization. Then eyesight suddenly improved and it was possible to distinguish, on the frescoes where everyone had previously recognized Negroes, evidences of a “white race with red skin”, a “white race with dark red skin”, a “white race with black skin.” But they never distinguished, as Egyptians, a white race with white skin.

4. Blacks were slaves in ancient times.

Cheikh Anta Diop Chapter 8 Vis 5 Not only does this picture fit American ideas of race and slavery, it has been changed to fit them even better. Compare especially the head oversThis is currently the #1 picture on Google Images for “slaves in Ancient Egypt”. Not only does this picture fit American ideas of race and slavery, it has been changed to fit them even better. Compare especially the head overseer: Some blacks were slaves. Yet some of the oldest pictures in Egypt show dark-skinned Egyptians taking whites as slaves.Cheikh Anta Diop Chapter 8 Vis 6 Nubian prisoners

5. The Stela of Philae calls the people south of Egypt “blacks”.

The Stela of Philae

The Stela of Philae was a stone marker at the southern limits of Egypt. The Egyptian written on it calls people to the south Nahasi, southerners – not “blacks” as latter-day European mistranslation would have it. Herodotus was mistranslated the same way, some putting “blacks” where he said Ethiopians, giving readers the false idea that Herodotus saw Ethiopians as black and therefore different from Egyptians. The Egyptians themselves only used “black” (khem) to mean themselves or their country.

The Stela of Philae
The Stela of Philae

14 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.

  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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