Precolonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop
In Chapter One,
In Senegal, ''society is divided into slaves and freemen.'' (Diop., page 1).
The society is broken down into, ''the Ger comprise the nobles and all freeman with no manual profession other than agriculture, considered a sacred activity.'' (Diop., page 1). The rest of the population was the Neno which, ''comprise all artisans: shoemakers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, etc. These are hereditary professions.'' (Diop., page 2). In Senegalese society, this was done to break down the task of everyday life and to give structure and meaning to society.
In African societies the ''caste'' system existed to provide order and not an indication of one's worth or value because humanity trumped one's occupation. The nobility class cannot mistreat the rest of the population. It was looked down upon. But, ''the stability of the caste system was assured by the hereditary transmission of social occupations, which corresponded, in a certain measure, to a monopoly disguised by a religious prohibition in order to eliminate professional competition.'' (Diop., page 8).
In India, ''a division of labor, without any ethnic connotation,'' (Diop., page 12) existed and was a fact of everyday life. The life of each Indian was governed by the four Laws of Manu. Which broke down the society into hereditary occupations. The Brahmanas are the teaching and studying caste, The Kshatriya is the warrior caste to protect the people and land. The Vaisya tend to cattle and cultivate the land. While The Sudra is to serve the above three castes. (Diop., page 13).
''The Aryan meant to effect an economic classification of society, in India as well as in Rome and Greece, and not an ethnic separation.'' (Diop., page14). The caste system was formed for economic and political reasons. The dominant population wanted no competition over resources, power and mobility within society. It was only natural to create a system that is hereditary to eliminate and suppress social uprisings and to maintain control at all times.
The Untouchables were the conquered population turned into lesser beings. They are described as a ''man of impure origin, who belongs not to any caste, (varna, but whose character is) not known, who (though) not an Aryan, has the appearance of an Aryan, one may discover by his acts.'' (Diop., page 14). The untouchables are the Indigenous population of India who lost their lands to those that have conquered them. The victor will always paint the loser in warfare as inferior. They are excluded from every facet of society to continue their oppression and quench any uprising that may occur as a result of poor mistreatment.
In both Senegalese and Indian society, the caste systems were formed for social organization and most importantly for economic reasons. Both societies didn't want people competing for resources and power. By making the occupations hereditary it protects the higher class and prevents competition from the lower classes. It was never about colour but over time it became about race, one's hue and etc.
African Origin of Civilization Myth or Reality by Cheikh Anta Diop
In Chapter Thirteen,
A western scientist didn't want to accept that Blacks can be the foundation of all life, therefore his people the white race aren't a ''primitive Negro substratum.'' (Diop., page 262). He continues to argue that, ''the white race must have been elsewhere, in some location not yet excavated. But its existence at that period cannot be doubted.'' (Diop., page 262). He cannot reconcile a Black genesis of the planet with his racist ideas and outlook on human development. The Black person in scientific history was at the bottom of the racial hierarchy and intelligence.
But when presented with facts they always find ways to whiten the ancient Egyptians. ''It is certain that these are not true Negroes, in the usual sense of the word. These are men comparable to the Nilotics in the Great Lakes region, or else comparable to the lighter-skinned populations of those territories.'' (Diop., page 268). It is clear by now that the modern Nilotes are the ancestors of the ancient Egyptians, Sudanese and Ethiopians to name a few. With these findings, it makes sense to draw them closer to the white race to authenticate a possible white beginning of Egypt. So, in this case, a clear racist distinction is made by western scientists, scholars, academics and so on to classify Negro (Bantus) and Nilotes as in ''larger blacks'' as two separate groups of people. When in reality they are genetically the same.
Diop continues, ''in the Olduvai man, Cornevin sees the ancestor of the Nilotic, of the Shilluk, Dinka, Nuer and Masai. He makes him a Caucasoid.'' (Diop., page 268). The more advance that Black society is the more the racial tug of war tightens. It was convenient to present these Nilotes as closer to whites to serve European racist agenda of divide and conquer. ''The theory that makes Caucasoids of the Dinka, Nuer, Masai, etc., is the most unwarranted. '' (Diop., page 273). Diop is correct. Anything that divides the African people in history is poison for us as a collective.
To conclude the book the author states, ''the Negro has been there from the beginning; for millennia he was the only one in existence.'' (Diop., page 274). The foundation of all intelligent life came from the motherland as in Africa. All races on the planet occurred as a mutation outside of Africa. They left black-skinned and climate and nutrition changed their pigmentation from dark to light to survive in the new environment. Human beings should accept their collective history and responsibility to a better planet.
Young Africans are encouraged to see this book as, ''it is merely a progress report, prepared on the basis of documents available to us at the time. It is also an indication of the direction in which future generations of Black African scholars must continue calmly to work, for salvation lies at the end of that effort.'' (Diop., page 276). The work continues.
African Origin of Civilization Myth or Reality by Chiekh Anta Diop
Mr. Raymond Mauny a heavy critic of Diop's work stated in his criticism that, ''to determine the amount of melanin in pigmentation.'' (Diop., page 237), must be known and made available to the public. He does not believe Diop's findings of facts that assert that the ancient Egyptian were Black-skinned Africans. Because that would upset the white supremacist view of Black Africans and would expose modern daylight robbery of African people of their authentic history.
The Oracles of Amon and Dodona were two kidnapped Black-skinned women from Upper, Egypt according to Herodotus. This is an example of one of the most respected scholars in antiquity describing the ancient Egyptians. I doubt he was confused about their colour and appearance. The ancients were descriptive and were down to the last detail as far as detailing red, yellow, and brown undertones of people they've encountered. ''We shall see that for Herodotus, the Egyptian had black skin, woolly hair, and was circumcised.'' (Diop., page 243).
Mr. Raymond Mauny continues by saying,
''I fail to see anything that proves that the Egyptian were black.'' (Diop., page 245). He comes from a generation that has strong negative beliefs about Blacks. He cannot reconcile Diop's finding with his fundamental racist training in education and waking life in a white world. For Diop to be right it would mean western civilization was influenced by the very same people enslaved in the Americas, Carribean and so on.
Another famous tool of deflection that is used is, ''that in Egypt there was a melange of various races.'' (Diop., page 247). The first white population in Egypt were branded, slaves. It was only after the Egyptian dynasty was conquered in 525 B.C by Persia did Asiatics and so on continue to dominate. Such people were not the foundation of the Egyptian dynasty but were beneficiaries of its decline. White people then benefitted from the overthrow of the authentic rulers and then began to write and deceive the world of Egypt's authentic beginnings, being a Negro one.
Diop continues by saying, ''the colour of the Egyptians has become lighter down through the years, like that of West Indian Negroes, but the Egyptians have never stopped being Negroes.'' Diop., page 249). Meaning regardless of what happened in Egypt up to this day. The people in the land are the descendants of the ancient Black population that were conquered. ''The intellectual and affective dispositions of present-day Blacks are the same as those of the people who edited the hieroglyphic texts of the pyramids and other monuments and sculptured bas-reliefs of the temples.'' (Diop., page 250). Current day African people should not be judged through the lense of colonization that took thousands of years. Ancient African societies that were conquered became re-tribalize out of survival. African people should not be judged by what they did to survive but instead, we should understand what took place to understand the spiral decline.
Nyabuoy Gatbel is a South Sudanese Canadian currently living in Calgary, AB. She was born in Ethiopia in 1993 and moved to Canada as a refugee in 2002. She's currently a undergraduate student at the University of Calgary. Besides her studies she's a social entreprenuer focusing on the, ''Paarman Centre project,'' a fashion model, writer and author of the book, ''The Fire Within poetry in Thok Nath and English.''