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 9: Peopling of Africa from the Nile Valley

Diop, based on what was known in the 1950s, says that most people in Africa came from the Nile Valley, particularly in and near the country of Sudan.

Today we use genetic studies to work out ancient migrations. In Diop’s day that was not possible.

Diop based his ideas on two things:

The old stories that people in Africa told about where they came from the names of peoples and gods that keep reappearing across Africa

Most of the old stories follow this pattern:

They start out at the Great Water.
Cross through a land of short men.
Point back towards a region in or near Sudan as their starting point.

The Egyptians and Nubians say they came from the south, the West Africans from the east and the Bantus say they came from the north.

So the Great Water appears to be the Nile, not the ocean. And the short men are apparently the Pygmies, who still live in the middle of Africa and who were more widespread thousands of years ago.

The pattern of names shows the same. For example: There is a tribe that calls itself the Nyoro in Sudan and also one by that name far to the west in Mali.

The names Goula, Goule, Goulaye and Gilaye appear both along the Nile and again in West Africa.

There are people who call themselves Serer, Sere or Sara in Senegal, Central Africa and Chad. In those same places there are stone monuments that look like big penises. There are more such monuments to the east in a line that goes all the way to Ethiopia.

Diop believes the Serer built the megaliths as they slowly moved west across Africa.

Megaliths in Tondidarou Mali
Megaliths in Tondidarou Mali
One scholar, Dr Joseph Maes, disagrees, saying this: Anyone familiar with Black psychology can state almost categorically that these works which require a considerable amount of effort, without any immediate apparent usefulness, without any relationship to the natural functions of eating and copulating which alone interest the black man have not been executed by the black race.

This leads to Diop making an important point for his book as a whole:

This attitude, typical of the Western world when we are concerned, shows how absolutely necessary it is for us to dig out our own past, a task that no one people can do for another, because of passions, national pride, and racial prejudice resulting from an education distorted from the ground up.

Although Maes got most of his facts right, his racism affected how he made sense of them. Diop concludes: The magnitude of the doctor’s errors … indicates how necessary it is for us to interpret our own culture, instead of persisting in seeing it only through Western eyes.

Chapter 10: Evolution of Ancient Egypt

Some points Diop makes about the history of Ancient Egypt from -3000 to -525:

1. The priesthood was largely independent.
Because they had their own lands. Sometimes the pharaoh was one of their own, but most of the time they simply acted as a state within a state.

2. Egypt never became a republic.
Egypt was ruled by kings throughout. Even when the pharaoh, the king of all Egypt, fell, the idea was that in time another one would take his place.

That set Egypt apart from the Greek and Roman world where revolution was common. Diop says there are two reasons for that: Egypt was too big and the masses too unlettered to stage a successful revolution across the whole country at the same time. A city here or there might be overthrown, but not the whole country.

Most people in Egypt were not slaves, so most people were not desperate and determined enough to overthrow the social order. On both counts Egypt was the opposite of many Greek city-states – and, say, Haiti.

3. The whitening of Egypt
Egypt started out as unmistakably black, as made clear from the old pictures of its early pharaohs.

Pharaoh Zoser 2600s
Pharaoh Zoser 2600 BC
Egyptian civilization – its mathematics, science, art, invention, architecture, religion, law, government and all the rest – were all in place by the 2600 BC, long before whites began to arrive in large numbers after 1300 BC. It has been the waves of light-skinned foreigners since then that have increasingly whitened Egypt down through the ages.Before 1300 BC, Egypt was far more advanced than Europe, Asia and Libya, the lands where whites came from. When whites did begin to arrive in large numbers, they came as barbarians, slaves, farmers and soldiers, not as a civilizing force. They had more to learn from Egypt than the other way round.

But from 1300BC to 525BC Egypt slowly fell behind Asia and Europe. It fought a long, losing battle to keep Egypt free from foreign rule.

The Delta especially became increasingly white: not just the people, but even the army and all but the top commanders. The Egyptians called them “Libyans”, whether they came from Libya or not.

From time to time whites in the Delta rose up against the pharaoh, either on their own or with the help of foreign armies. Sometimes Egypt would fall apart; sometimes order would be restored from the south, either by Upper Egypt or even Nubia.

Most Egyptians welcomed Nubian rule. They saw the Nubians as restoring the old ways of Egypt, bringing back the good old days. But it was not to last: in -661 Thebes, in the heart of Egypt, fell to the Assyrian army.

The Assyrians did not stay, but the Persians in 525 BC did.


  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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