We have discussed several times that one of the most volatile battles in academia is establishing the original inhabitants of ancient Kemet (Egypt). We have no problem saying emphatically, and without reservation, that they were black Afrikans. They migrated up the Nile River from the Great Lakes region (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) and the birthplace of humanity, Ethiopia, or Abyssinia, as referred in spiritual texts. It must also be mentioned that several European and Arab scholars disagree.
In the last decade or so, there has been some new research to come on the scene. This may have evolved from ancient texts, oral traditions, or a reaction to European and Arab scholars stating that humans in West Afrika have absolutely nothing to do with ancient Kemet. That is an argument we will re-visit in the not too distant future. But for now, it is time to look at some new, emerging research related to Kemet and West Afrika.
What we now know is that there are great West Afrikan cultural groups that trace their origin to ancient Kemet. Nations such as: Ashanti (Ghana), Yoruba (Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Togo), Wolof (Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania), Dinka (Sudan), Dogon (Mali), Mandinka (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Berkina Faso, Mali, CotedÕ Ivoir), Zulu (South Afrika), and many others. Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (pronounced Jop), from Senegal, Afrika’s greatest multi-scientist, is credited with pioneering this modern research. In perhaps his greatest literary work, Civilization Or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology, he talks about the cosmological similarities found in other parts of Afrika that originated in Kemet. “That is why one finds the symbolism of the twenty-seven copper rings among the Woyo as well as among the Kongo. The symbolism of the number is also the basis of the Yoruba cosmogony (branch of science that deals with the origin of the universe). The Egyptian ennead (set of nine) has also survived in Nyambism, in Zaire, in the form of nine principles of cosmic energy.” These are important concepts related to deep Afrikan traditional beliefs.
In their book, The Nile: Histories, Cultures, Myths, edited by Haggai Erlich and Israel Gershon, they seem to confirm Dr. Diop’s research of Kemetic diffusion into West Afrika. “In his many publications, including his contribution to the UNESCO International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa, Diop claimed that Africa was inhabited by people from the Nile Valley. He also said that ‘in all likelihood, after the drying of the Sahara (7000 B.C.), Black mankind first lived in bunches in the Nile basin before swarming out in successive spurts toward the interior of the continent,’ and that the Yoruba are of Egyptian origin. According to Diop, the nations of the Kara from southern Sudan and Upper Oubangui, the Kara-kare from the northern Nigeria, the southern Yoruba Nigeria, the Fulani, the Poular, the Serer, the Zulu, and others, all originated in the Nile Valley.”
A word of warning, the previously mentioned book is not one I would recommend. Although there are droplets of good information here and there, and while it tries to give the appearance it is scholastically objective, it really sits on the side of those right wing conservatives who attempt to deny that Afrikans had anything to do with ancient Kemetic civilization.
In J.O. Lucas book, Religions in West Africa and Ancient Egypt, there are similarities between some West Afrikan cultures and Kemet that may not seem important in our culture, but are very significant on the continent. The list is very extensive. Here are just a few: “Royal paraphernalia similar to that used by the pharaohs including whips, crooks and flails. Similarity of Nigerian bronze work related to the Oni (Ife ruler) with that found in ancient Egypt. Egyptian deities have survived in name and/or attribute in West Africa. These include Osiris, Ra, AMen, Ptah, Min and Horus. The deity Shango of the Yoruba, whose sacred animal is the ram and who resembles the deity. Ideas relating to life after death. Practice of making provision for this life, and of the concepts of Ka and Khu. The amulet of the head-rest in ancient Egypt survives in the Sika Gua “Golden Stool,” of the Ashantis and other emblems of the West. Piercing of ears and nose and tattooing; shaving as a restriction of the priest; ivory arm-clamps found among the Masai. Divine royal blood was passed through Egyptian queens, and the West African matriarchal tradition. The funeral practice of dismembering and unfleshing the body; the recognition of the helical rising of Sirius among the Dogon and the ram as a symbol of divinity. The use of sacred numbers including 2, 4, 7, 9, 27, 42, 75, 77, 110, etc. For example, the 42 day Adae ceremony of the Ashanti, and the 27 divinities of the Woyo cosmic order. Use of ‘Nubian’ wigs in Egypt and West Afrika, and the use of similar braided wigs. Greeting each other by making a low bow and dropping one hand to the knee, and young men stepping aside to make room for seniors. Similar types of leather shoe design.”
This represents just a small sampling of the evidence that is being revealed today. The promising aspect of this work is that Afrikan world scholars are engaged in the research, so that the results do not have to depend on European or Arab scholars, who oftentimes can slant the findings to suit their particular agenda.
Scholars, who constantly profess that Afrikans in West Afrika have absolutely nothing to do with Kemet, but bare only a legacy of slavery, have to rethink their positions with the overwhelming evidence that is beginning to surface. As there is more discussion of the Afrikans in Kemet being the creators of civilization, it is highly possible that those Afrikans who were enslaved, were their descendants.
– Dr. Kwaku’s next class, Afrikan World Civilizations (Part II), conducted on 11 Friday evenings, 7-9 p.m. at Kaos Studios in Leimert Park, will begin February 22, 2008. For details go to: www.drkwaku.com.