Lovemore Ranga Mataire The Reader
Cheikh Anta Diop, the Senegalese author, Egyptologist and philosopher has contributed a lot to debunking orchestrated attempts by European historians to reduce African contribution to world civilisation as mere myth.
Anta Diop has adequately debunked these myths in his phenomenal book titled “The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality” (1974), which makes the case that both mankind and civilisation started with black people.
Diop unravels historical facts through archaeology and ancient writings to assert the view that Ancient Egypt was largely Black African in both race and culture during the first 2 000 years of its civilisation.
One of the overriding reasons behind the writing of the book by Diop was not just to write back against Empire but also to urge Africans to desist from a culture of self-hate and self-contempt.
Africans, Diop argues, must desist from referring to their race as cursed because such a label plays into Western constructed-stereotypes. Reviewing Diop’s book is such an emotional encounter for one has to desist from romanticising Africa’s glorious past.
Diop’s books transcends generations in that it connects Africa’s pre-colonial past, present and devise ways of how its inhabitants can start reconstructing their lives that had long been reduced to intellectual and cultural servitudes of colonising Europeans.
Indeed, Africa needs to reclaim its history and culture in the same manner that the Asians have successfully reclaimed theirs.
European perceptions about Africa are largely reflected in narratives authored by their own historians.
Bertrand Russell is one such author who attempts to reinforce the idea that Egyptian civilisation was just an offshoot of Greek civilisation yet historical records paint a completely different picture.
Thus in his book, “A History of Western Civilisation”, Russell posits that:
“(The Greeks) invented mathematics and science and philosophy; they first wrote history as opposed to mere annals; they speculated freely about the nature of the World and the ends of life, without being bound in the fetters of any inherited orthodoxy.
“What occurred was so astonishing that, until very recent times, men were content to gape and talk mystically about the Greek genius. It is possible, however, to understand the development of Greece in scientific terms, and it is well worth while to do so.”
It is regrettable that Russell attempts to undeservedly ascribe ingenuity to the ancient Greeks. Only those untutored in history can ever believe the wholesale ingenuity ascribed to the Greeks.
The truth of the matter is that Greek civilisation thrived within the civilisational influence of Egypt.
Greek civilisation did not just spring up rather mythically like what Russell and other Western scholars would want the world to believe. The truth of the matter as clearly illustrated by Diop is that the Greeks borrowed, stole or plagiarised ideas from those ancient civilisations.
It is sheer historical amnesia for European historians to conveniently ignore the fact the Ionians who later became Greeks were former vassals of Egypt and later Persians.
It is the Egyptians who invented mathematics, which is denigrated by Russell as a “form of rule of thumbs”.
Pythagoras, whom whites would like to credit for the mathematical theorem, was actually a student in Egypt yet he is regarded by Europeans as the father of mathematics.
It is bewildering for anyone to imagine the Egyptian building such an intricate structure like the Pyramids without any knowledge of trigonometry and geometry.
Egyptian civilisation has suffered the ignominy of being painted white, something that Diop seeks to debunk in his book.
It is regrettable that very few Africans know much about this brilliant scholar, who contributed a lot in debunking the lies about white Egypt and re-tracing the antiquity of Black history distorted by colonialists and imperialist ideologists masquerading as scholars.