PROPERLY EXAMINING ANCIENT EGYPT
By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (August 4, 2000)
Until recently, there had been a scholarly debate among European intellectuals, as well as some Blacks, on what they referred to as the peopling of ancient Egypt. What this question really posed was who were the ancient Egyptians? Were they Black, white, mulatto, etc.?
This issue has been at the core of European history, or better yet, European historiography (the science of how history is written) for more than two hundred years. This framework of European hegemony over the history of the world has had a devastating impact on African people and the African mind.
It is in this context that we understand the intellectual devastation of the European conceptualization of the world order. We should understand this in relation to our movement for an African centered education aimed at helping our people come out from beneath this European intellectual assault.
Let me use renown African deep thinker and scholar Dr. Jacob Carruthers in a paper he wrote on the "Race of Ancient Egyptians" in helping clarify this subject. This paper gives us the insights we need to understand in this regard.
Dr. Carruthers observes, "The doctrine of white supremacy was launched by philosophers like David Hume who asserted in 1749 `I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the whites.´ This position was expressed in a different context by Montesquieu about the same time."
We are guided by Dr. Carruthers when he explains, "In the Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu asserted, `it is impossible for us to suppose these creatures to be men, because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow that we ourselves are not Christians.´ Montesquieu was justifying the enslavement of Africans that was one of the major reasons for inventing the doctrine of white supremacy."
Upon further examination, Dr. Carruthers reveals "Obviously the emerging doctrine could not gain credibility among those who were familiar with the traditional wisdom among Europeans that the ancient Africans of Egypt had achieved a very high level of civilization and had transmitted to the ancient Greeks many of the major ideas considered a part of Greek civilization."
Dr. Carruthers explains, "Several decades after the founding of the concept of white supremacy George Wilhelm Friedreich Hegel supplied the solution of this latter difficulty when at the beginning of the 19th century, he asserted that Africa was `not a historical part of the world.´"
Finally, Dr. Carruthers quotes Hegel to demonstrate the ultimate in European intellectual arrogance, Hegel states, "Historical movement in it that is its northern part belong to the Asiatic or European world... Egypt will be considered in reference to its western phase, but it does not belong to the African spirit."
Through this conceptualization Dr. Carruthers reveals, "Thus Hegel took Egypt out of Africa and Africans out of Egypt. He also removed Africans from history."
As an outgrowth of this kind of thinking by European scholars the field of Egyptology began to emerge. Egyptology as a field of study is the creation of the European mentality that seeks to gather evidence (artifacts and antiquities) that supports the idea of the European origin of civilization.
Egyptologists have literally attempted to remove Egypt from the geographical confines of Africa and reposited it within the geographical domain of Asia.
The removal of Egypt from Africa serves a twofold purpose. First, it leads to the obvious idea that Egypt is not a part of Africa, therefore its population could not have been Black. Secondly, it servers the purpose of implying that civilization did not begin with the Black race.
Fortunately, we have always had Black scholars among us, who did not get trapped in the European conception of the world. It started with men like Hosea Easton, Henry Highland Garnett, and Martin Delany who "took the biblical myth of Ham and used it to establish Blacks as the authors of the great Nile Valley civilizations."
Also, "They... used ancient European works such as Herodotus, Diodorus and whatever modern works they could find. This tradition has been an honorable endeavor and has taught us much." The old scrappers, according to Dr. Carruthers, "are still among us slugging it out as per our beloved Professor John G. Jackson."
Through the work of Senegalese scholar Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Théophile Obenga, Yosef ben Jochannan, and Chancellor Williams the origin of the ancient Egyptians should never ever be a question for African people. This question has been resolved. We should be clear that the ancient Egyptian (or more properly called Kemetic people) were Black.
Diop points our that Herodotus "after relating his eyewitness account informing us that the Egyptians were Blacks, then demonstrated, with rare honesty (for a Greek), that Greece borrowed from Egypt all elements of her civilization even the cult of gods, and that Egypt was the cradle of civilization."
Our scholars, thinkers, and researchers should never again raise the question of were the ancient Egyptians. Clearly they were Black people. This question has been resolved!
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