The African origin of civilization


Myth or Reality by Cheikh Anta Diop, a review.

I promised to do this at the earliest opportunity and so here we are. For the purposes of this review, we will not dwell on whether the Egyptians were a “black White people”, a “reddish brown white” or whatever other shade of white you can think of. All we will mention here that they depicted their god, Osiris, as black.

Diop argues that the only place or rather to the only people that circumcision/ excision made any sense were those of ancient Egypt. He argues, to these ancients, just as their gods were hermaphrodite, babies too were. So by removing a small part from the male or female organ, these children became male or female. Before circumcision, they were all like gods.

He says the evidence available to us shows the Egyptians were to pray to their gods at minimum 7 times a day. In this respect, the Mohammedians only sought to reduce the burden of the people by making the minimum number of prayer times 5.

He argues because of their settled lifestyle as a result of abundant food supplies along the Nile valley, they had the luxury to worship gods. He also argues these societies were matriarchal. And that patriarchy started with the nomads, that is, almost everyone else except the Egyptians.

From his works, one can arrive at the conclusion that the Bible/ Torah is legend based on the stories the Jews had heard laced with creative imagination.

It’s an easy to read book. Well written. He has attempted to provide documentary support for his many claims from Egyptian frescoes to statements from those who interacted with Ancient Egypt such as Herodotus. It’s a book I would recommend to anyone.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

30 thoughts on “The African origin of civilization

  1. Sounds good Mak. The historian in me is intrigued.

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  2. Ubi Dubium says:

    I’d like to know what his sources are for all of this stuff, because I’ve read tons about ancient Egypt, and never heard anything about babies being considered hermaphrodites or praying 7 times a day. My understanding is that Osiris is usually shown as green-skinned, because he’s dead and god of the underworld.

    The worship of the old gods had been very much altered during Greek and Roman rule, and had then pretty much been replaced by Coptic christianity when islam took over, so the “reducing the prayer load” wouldn’t have been applicable.

    I suspect that this author may be making up his own interpretations of stuff, or relying on Herodotus, whose information has been shown to be sketchy and often inaccurate.

    But I do agree that the mythology of the ancient Hebrews was drawn from the surrounding cultures, then reworked into a “god likes us best” narrative.

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    • makagutu says:

      I will send you the list of sources he mentions.
      The passages he quotes Herodotus are those where he talks of his visits to Egypt and is describing the people he saw.

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      • Ubi Dubium says:

        Herodotus is interesting. He went to Egypt as a tourist, and wrote down stuff that the people told him. So some of it’s right, and some of it is probably legends told to him by local tour guides, and it’s hard to sort out what’s true.

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        • makagutu says:

          That’s an interesting observation.
          Do you think when he writes that the Egyptians had black woolly hair, is this what he would have observed or what he was told or are we so far removed from history to adjudicate

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          • Ubi Dubium says:

            That he may have observed, but when he talks about things like the process of mummification he had to have been going on what he was told.

            But we can confirm what kind of hair the ancient Egyptians had, since we have so many mummies with preserved hair we can examine.

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          • makagutu says:

            He visited Egypt about 450bce, do you think mummification had ceased by then?

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          • Ubi Dubium says:

            No, it continued on well into the Roman era. They changed the style of outer wrapping though. They used to do an ornamental wrapping design, and those who could afford it would have a coffin with a stylized face sculpted on it. In the later era the outer wrappings would often be encased in cartonnage (like paper-mache), and a realistic painting of the deceased would be glued onto the front. We know what the Egyptians of that time looked like because we have so many wonderful portraits of them. Here’s a sample: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fayum_mummy_portraits

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          • makagutu says:

            Interesting. Do we have any such from say 1400bce? Or earlier?
            I will get back to you on the references in a few days.

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          • Ubi Dubium says:

            They weren’t doing those lovely realistic portraits in 1400 BCE, back then they were doing the much more standardized paintings and sculptures. It’s very hard to recognize individual faces in paintings from back then (except for during the short Amarna period, when there was a loosening of the old conventions, and a flowering in what could be represented). Sculpture was somewhat better, but was still usually governed by rigid rules about allowable proportions.

            There was a dynasty of Nubian Pharaohs, 25th Dynasty, around 700 B.C.E. Their statues are recognizable as Sub-Saharan Africans, instead of the usual generic North-African/Middle Eastern faces you see in most Egyptian art.

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    • makagutu says:

      He doesn’t quote his source on Osiris, but writes that he is the redeemer god, who sacrifices himself, dies and is resurrected to save mankind.
      He continues to write “Osiris at the tribunal of the dead is indeed the ‘lord’of revealed religions, sitting enthroned on judgement day.
      Since he doesn’t give a source for the above, I don’t know how reliable it is, or how far we should take it.

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      • Ubi Dubium says:

        Osiris was killed by his brother Set and brought back to life by his wife Isis. It wasn’t self-sacrifice at all. I don’t think the Egyptians had the same ideas about “saving mankind” as modern christians do. Osiris is the judge in the underworld, and it’s each person’s heart that is weighed against the feather of righteousness. If your heart is not heavy with evildoing you pass and get into the afterlife, otherwise you are thrown to the “eater of souls” and cease to exist. There’s no big “judgment day” for everybody all at once, each person is judged after they die.

        Osiris doesn’t “save you,” you save yourself by being a good person, by making sure you have the proper funeral rituals arranged for, and by having a copy of the Book of the Dead in your tomb, with all the magic spells needed to get through the hazards of the underworld.

        Christianity certainly picked up a lot of ideas from Egyptian religion, since Judaism doesn’t really have the idea of being judged worthy after you die or going to heaven.

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  3. basenjibrian says:

    Many of the portraits at Ubi’s link look stereotypically “Semitic” (we would say Arab today)….but not all of them. Interesting the variety of facial features and hair types, even.

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  4. Wow, you covered a lot of ground in such a short post; you are going to keep quite a few people busy with this for some time.

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  5. This is a book I think I’ll check out.

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  6. Do you have a soft copy of that book, Noel? I’d like to go through it too.

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