History of African civilizations in

the Nile Valley by Bethwell Ogot, a review.

In my view, this book is not meant for a scholarly audience but beginners in the study of African civilizations. It is quite thin on citations though the gives a selected biography for those who would want to carry out further reading on the subject.

Having said that, we can talk about the few portions of the book I liked.

In chapter 5 on contributions of the Pharaonic Egypt to Human history- cultural contributions he mentions The Dialogue of a pessimist with his soul which I thought is an interesting read and is true today as when it was written. Consider this portion

Spoke to my soul that I might answer what it said:

To whom shall I speak today?

Brothers and sisters are evil and friends today are not worth loving.

Hearts are great with greed and everyone seizes his or her neigh­bor’s goods.

Kindness has passed away and violence is imposed on everyone.

To whom shall I speak today?

People willingly accept evil and goodness is cast to the ground everywhere.

Those who should enrage people by their wrongdoing

make them laugh at their evil deeds.

People plunder and everyone seizes _his or her neighbor’s goods.

To whom shall I speak today?

The one doing wrong is an intimate friend and the brother with whom one used to deal is an enemy.

No one remembers the past and none return the good deed that is done.

Brothers and sisters are evil

and people turn to strangers for righteousness or affection.

To whom shall I speak today?

Faces are empty and all turn their faces from their brothers and sisters.

Chapter 6 where he treats of the Egyptian religious beliefs and the Judeo- Christian heritage. The conclusion one arrives at, though not explicitly stated by the author, is that what is original in the Judeo- Christian religion, if any, is quite minute. That these religions built on the conceptions of the early Egyptians. Parallels abound between what the Egyptians believed and what the followers of the Abrahamic religions believe. He argues that the origins of modern secular must be sought in the beginnings of the Bible’s ancient faith in a radically transcendent god. He writes

Only a religious faith that was radically polemic to the ancient culture of magic and indwelling spirits could have initiated the cultural and psychological and spiritual revolution necessary to cause entire civilizations to reject the gods and spirits men had revered from time immemorial. Only god can overturn the gods for the masses. Without faith in the new god it would have been impossible to dethrone the old gods. Thus secularization is the paradoxical, unintended, long-term consequence of a distinctive kind of religious faith. By privatizing religion, secularization multiplies the number of value systems that can co-exist within a common public realm. Instead of serving as the common inheritance of an entire community, religion becomes a matter of personal choice.

In the next chapter he introduces models that have been employed in the study of ancient Greek philosophy: The Ancient model which acknowledges Egypt as the source/ parent and the Aryan model which seeks to downplay the role of Egypt and thus Africa in Greek civilization.

In chapter 8 where he writes of the transmission of Egyptian philosophy, science, religion and so on by the Greeks and Romans, he mentions Giordano Bruno, he asks could he have been burned at the stake for among other things his belief that Egyptian religion not just as foreshadowing Christianity but as the true religion? Bruno wrote

Do not suppose that the sufficiency of the Chaldaic magic derived from the Kabbalah of the Jews; for the Jews are without doubt the excrement of Egypt, and no one could ever pretend with any degree of probability that the Egyptians borrowed any principle, good or bad, from the Hebrews. Whence we Greeks [by which he seems to mean Gentiles] own Egypt, the grand monarchy of letters and nobility, to be the parent of our fables, metaphors and doctrines.

In the same chapter, there is a quote from Newton’s Principia Mathematica thus

It was the most ancient opinion of those who applied themselves to philosophy, that the fixed stars stood immovable in the highest parts of the world; that under them the planets revolved about the sun; and that the earth, as one of the planets, described an annual course about the Sun … The Egyptians were the earliest observers of the ( heavens and from them, probably, this philosophy was spread abroad. For from them it was, and from the nations about them, that the Greeks, a people more addicted to the study of philology than of nature, derived their first as well as their soundest notions of philosophy; and in the Vestal ceremonies we can recognize the spirit of the Egyptians, who concealed mysteries that were above the capacity of the common herd under the veil of religious rites and hieroglyphic symbols.

This book just like the others I have read on the subject till now, which are few, do not answer my question: Who were the Egyptians and why did Africa turn out black?

this post has no title

Because I am too lazy to think of a title for it.

KIA has this post on his blog. One of the comments on the post is going to be the subject of this blog. Hopefully it will not be a long post. The comments will be indented. The author is spaniardviii.

First I would like to say that Yahweh and Allah are not the same God.

Technically maybe. Yahweh is the Jewish name of their god. Allah the way Arabs call their god.

Allah in the Qur’an has titles that belong to Satan in the Bible.

That’s like comparing lemons and oranges. They are different books with different authors.

Its hard to understand the character of God when one doesn’t understand the consequences of sin or evil in the world.

I don’t see how the two should be related. I am yet to meet a believer who knows the character of god. I have however read in many places where apologists argue the nature of god cannot be known or is beyond human understanding. Sin being a religious invention as an offence against god is doomed the same way god is doomed. We have no knowledge of what god is, we can have no knowledge of how to offend it nor know its demands.

For starters, logically speaking, nothing can create something just put it to the test and you will get nothing regardless of time.

Makes no sense.

God is holy and righteous and we are under the creators rules.

Citation needed.

His rules are based on His character which is love

We have no way of knowing this. This claim is arbitrary and has no basis in fact on experience.

Nothing unclean meaning sin can be with Him and as a righteous God sin has to be punished

We ask the believer to tell us whence sin came from? Did god allow it to be in the world? Was it helpless to prevent it from gaining a foothold?

Why God sends people to Hades? God never made Hell for people it was created for Satan and his fallen angels because they chose to rebel against God and sinned.

Not too fast. It seems settled god made hell. It also seems settled god had no intention to reform Satan and it does seem also that Satan and the fallen angels saw something defective with god that led them to rebel. We must find out what it was. Templeton Foundation could fund this study: On the rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels.

Once Adam sinned men were now going there because punishment for sin is Hell.

Is this not absurd? Punishing your last born child for the infractions of the first born, where the last born has no idea what the first born did, why they did it.

Why Hell? The Bible doesn’t say why it has to be fire but I can give you my opinion according to reading and studying scripture closely. Men’s spirit came from within God and since God is eternal we are eternal. Sin has to be punished and in Hell sin is being punished and since will live eternally we get punished eternally.

Believers claim their god is all knowing. One would wonder why not just create people in hell? What difference would a few years on earth make if one will be in hell for eternity plus one year?

Now just because we don’t understand Hell as being the appropriate punishment doesn’t make it untrue. Hell is so serious and God loves us so much that He sent His Son to get the punishment we deserve upon Himself which is death so that grace could it offered.

I don’t know about you, but there is no way I am going to express my love by killing my innocent child for the transgressions of my neighbour. Maybe my understanding of love is deficient.

Jesus died in our place, was buried and on the third day rose from the grave in victory to show the human race of His love that He was willing and did give up His life for us.

I don’t like to be the party spoiler. We have no evidence for Jesus existing. Nor for his dying for anyone’s transgressions.

Imagine a father who sees his son in danger. A bear is charging the boy and the boy’s father grabs his son and tells him to run. The father confronts the bear so that his son as a chance to escape to safety. In the process the father dies but he dies knowing that his son will live, that is true love

That’s being a responsible father. He dies not because he wants to. His death is unfortunate. It’s accidental.

The atheist believe in survival of the fittest who excludes self sacrifice.

I am yet to meet anyone who does something without the opportunity of benefit. What the benefit is can be conferred post-mortem. To use a mythical example, Jesus agrees to die on the cross so he can back to be with the father. Without that, he wouldn’t do it. And I guess, at the point of his death, he realizes it was all a waste. He had lied to himself. That is, if he lived!

I have strong testimonies of what God did for me and I have actually seen demons walking in my house.

Which is all good. Next time take photos of the demons or record them. We might learn something from them. I guess you don’t expect me to believe based on your experience.

I have witness the spiritual realm with my own eyes which strengthens my faith even further not that I needed it to obtain faith because faith comes from Jesus but it shows me the reality of darkness working against God to blind the eyes of people so that they won’t believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Darkness must be doing a better job than your god. Don’t blame people. It is your make believe god that has failed.



On a very light note

In the recent past, subscriptions to this humble blog have spiked quite a bit. I don’t know if the same has happened to the views. We will not check for we don’t like disappointments. To welcome all the new subscribers and to remind all the old subscribers that you all are cherished, I will share a poem by Abu al-Ala al-Maarri (this is where you search who he was :-)]

Lo! There are many ways and many traps

And many guides, and which of them is Lord?

For verily Mahomet has the sword

And he may have the truth-perhaps! Perhaps!

Now this religion happens to prevail

Until by that religion overthrown, –

Because men dare not live with men alone

But always with another fairy tale


Religion is a charming girl, I say

But over  this poor threshold will not pass

For I may not unveil her, and alas!

The bridal gift I can’t afford to pay.

Happy weekend everyone.

thoughts out of season

A few days ago I read this post by Robert Nielsen on the threat posed to the western values by Islam or rather by immigrant Muslims and it occurred to me there are many groups of people who could say that the world is always in a flux. Recall the Europeans posed a threat to values of everyone they colonized.  In fact, it was not just a threat to values, it included wholesale murder, rapine, dispossession, enslavement and I don’t know what else.

Well, let’s hope the murderous few heading ISIS or members don’t go beyond Iraq forcing all of us to learn Arabic and show our other faces five times a day if not more to an imaginary being with a pedo  for a prophet.

Perspective. Perspective.

The history of mankind is filled with bloodshed

After having had Jared Diamond’s Guns, germs and steel in my to read list for over a year, I have eventually got to reading it.

As the title of the post suggest, this is what happened in Nz not so long ago. Diamond writes

[..]before the Moriori could deliver that offer, the Maori attacked end masse. Over the next few days, they killed hundreds of Moriori, cooked and ate many of the bodies, and enslaved all the others, killing most of them too over the next few years as it suited their whim.

A Maori conqueror explained,“we took possession…in accordance with our customs and we caught all the people.  Not one escaped.  Some ran away from us, these we killed,  and others we killed -but what of that? It was in accordance with our custom.”

And that, my friends, is only a glimpse of how history has played out in  some places.

Is there a god? Any god?

The Ark has invited Christians to a challenge. So far, as at this posting,  none has taken it up. The one Christian who has commented has only questioned his motives.

My challenge on the other hand is to the godless; non believers, atheists, agnostics and whoever else in between. 

My agnostic friends tell me whether a god is or not and what it is or could be is unknowable but live their lives as if there is no god.

My atheist friends tell me no evidence for a god has been provided. They lack a belief in the existence of gods/ deities. 

My igtheist friends say the notion of god is incoherent and hasn’t been properly defined to warrant a debate on whether a god could exist. 

All these people live their lives as if there is no god. 

My question or challenge simply is to be told why all these groups are reluctant to say there is no god? What is a god to do if one or several were to exist? 


​Does an African philosophy exist?

This is the second last chapter in Diop’s Civilization or Barabarism. This is one of the chapters I liked the most in the book. 
He writes

 in the classical sense of the term, a philosophical thought must bear at least two fundamental criteria:

1. It must be conscious of itself, of its own existence as a thought;

2. It must have accomplished, to a sufficient degree, the separation of myth from concept. 

He limits his enquiry to Pharaonic Egypt and the rest of Black Africa. 

What these philosophies are/ were are not the interest of this particular post. 

A French Egyptologist, Amelineau, quoted by Diop, wrote

One was right to admire the speculating genius of the Greek philosophers in general, and of Plato in particular, but this admiration that the Greeks deserve without any doubt, the Egyptian priests deserve even more, and if we give them credit for the paternity of what they invented, we would only be committing an act of justice.

Egypt had inaugurated, from the first Egyptian dynasties onward and probably before that, a system of cosmogony that the first Greek philosophers, Ionian or Eleatic, reproduced in its essential lines, and from which Plato himself was not loath to borrow the basis for his vast speculations, which Gnostics, Christians, Platonists, Aristotelians and Pythagoreans all did only decorate with more or less pretentious names and concepts, whose prototypes are found in Egyptian works, word for word in the case of both the ennead and the ogdoad and almost that of the hebdomad.

Between (Aristotle’s) doctrine, Plato’s doctrine and that of the Heliopolitan priests, I could see no difference other than a difference of expression.

Elsewhere, our author quotes Strabo (58BC to 25CE), a Greek scholar, who wrote

We saw over there [in Heliopolis] the hallowed halls that were used in the past for the lodging of the priests; but that is not all; we were also shown Plato’s and Eudoxus’s dwelling, for Eudoxus had accompanied Plato here; after arriving at Heliopolis, they stayed there for thirteen years among the priests: this fact is affirmed by several authors. These priests, so profoundly knowledgeable about celestial phenomena, were at the same time mysterious people, who did not talk much, and it is only after a long time and with skillful maneuvering that Eudoxus and Plato were able to be initiated into some of their theoretical speculations. But these Barbarians kept the best part to themselves. And if today the world owes them the knowledge of what fraction of a day ( of a whole day) has to be added to 365 whole days in order to have a complete year, the Greeks did not know the true duration of the year and many other facts of the same nature until translators of the Egyptian priests’ papers into the Greek language popularized these notions among modern astronomers, who have continued, up to present time, to draw heavily from this same source as they have from the Chaldeans’ writings and observations. 

Towards the end of the chapter, Diop reflects on the death of classical philosophy and offers hope for a new philosophy. He writes

[..]All of the above shows that classical philosophy, as promoted by men of letters, is dead. A new philosophy will rise from these ashes only of the modern scientist, whether a physicist, a mathematician, a biologist or anything else, ascribes to a “a new philosophy”; in the history of thought, the scientist up to now, has almost always had the status of a brute, of a technician, unable to extract the philosophical importance from his discoveries and his inventions, while this task always fell to the classical philosopher.

Philosophy’s present misery corresponds to the time interval that separates the death of the classical philosopher and the birth of the philosopher; the latter undoubtedly will integrate in his thought all of the above-signaled premises, which barely point to the scientific horizon, in order to help man reconcile man with himself. 

Concerning reason or the ability to reason, he writes

Thus there is reason and its content of the moment, or more correctly, the aptitude, the ability to reason, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the more or less consistent, provisional materials brought to light by the sciences which are affected by this ability to reason; there is reason’s permanent structure and its always outmoded content, directly caused by scientific progress and which condition the operating rules of the logic of the moment. Only, reasoning reason is permanent, its content becomes modified with time. 

Writing on the bahaviour of modern man, he writes, in part, that

Ecology, defending the environment, tends to become the foundation of a new ethnic of species, based on knowledge: the time is not far off when the pollution of nature will become a sacrilege, a criminal act, even and mainly for the atheist, because of the one fact that the future of humanity is at stake; what knowledge or “the science of the epoch” decrees as harmful to the whole group thus becomes progressively a moral prohibition. 

As I have written elsewhere, this book is a good read. It, in my view forms the basis for further research on African anthropology for the interested scholar and maybe through such study, a work will be produced that will paint Africa not as the dark continent, as we have been made to believe, but as a pinnacle if not as civilization worthy of respect just as we have been taught of other world civilizations now dead.

On Africa continued

Galen, a 2nd century Greek philosopher, reduced the traits of the black person to two

  1. Inordinate length of his penis
  2. Hilarity,  strong propensity for laughter

And since then every racist has worked hard to make these the only or main characteristics of the black person.

It has been said Diop in his writings came out strongly in his defense of the black African. I don’t know how one would respond to this passage from Count Arthur J. Gobineau, who wrote

Whence this rigorous conclusion that the source from which the arts have sprung is alien to the civilizing instincts. It is hidden in the blood of the Blacks. 

[..]thus the Black possesses to the highest degree the sensual faculty without which art is not possible ;and, on the other hand,  the absence of intellectual aptitudes renders him completely unfit for the culture of the arts, even for the appreciation of what this noble application of the human intelligence can produce of significance. In order to develop his faculties, he must ally himself with a differently gifted race..

The artistic genius, equally foreign to three great types, has manifested itself only after the marriage of Blacks and Whites.

That, my friends is part of the literature written about the Black African not so long ago. I think it will take a long time to correct such a view.