History for Contemporary African American

Clark Atlanta University
The Meaning of KMT (Ancient Egyptian) History for Contemporary African American
Author(s): Asa G. Hilliard III
Source: Phylon (1960-), Vol. 49, No. 1/2 (Spring – Summer, 1992), pp. 10-22
Published by: Clark Atlanta University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3132613
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The Meaning Of KMT (Ancient Egyptian)
History for Contemporary African
American Experience
A REVOLUTION in the study of KMT (Egypt), a native black African
civilization, has been in progress. It began slowly during the closing
decades of the nineteenth century. It has accelerated markedly during
the past three decades or so. This revolution can and will have great
meaning for African Americans and for people of African descent all
over the world.
Two important concepts are the foundation of considerations about
the meaning of KMT. These two concepts are fundamental challenges
to traditional Egyptology and to racist scholarship associated with the
European colonial period. The concepts are these:
1. Ancient KMT from its beginning and during its greatest periods
of cultural development was an indigenous black African
civilization. Its birthplace was inner equatorial Africa.
2. Ancient KMT remained at its core culturally unified with the
rest of Ancient Africa. African cultures had more similarities
than differences. As a result KMT must be considered as an
African classical civilization.
KMT is the name for the country that was used by the Ancient
African people in what we now call Egypt. It means “the black land”
or “the black people of the land.”‘ The currently accepted date for the
beginning of KMT is 3,100 B.C. This nation was founded by a king
from the south who unified the northern or lower part of the land with
the southern or upper part of the land. (The Nile River flows from the
south to the north.) Twelve native African dynasties were in power for
more than one thousand years. This included the pyramid age. At
least two more of the most important dynasties, the 18th and the 25th,
were initiated by kings from the south. Kemetic civilization, the
earliest recorded, lasted for nearly three thousand years.
Some scholars have divided the history of KMT into thirty dynastic
periods, the last being a period of Greco-Roman political domination
just before and after the time of Christ. It was after this period, or
tCheikh Anta Diop, ‘Origin of the Ancient Egyptians,” in G. Mokhtar, ed., General History of Africa I: Ancient
Civilizatiom of Africa (Berkeley, 1981), pp. 27-57.
10 Vol. XLIX, Nos. 1, 2, 1992
more precisely, it was after the time of the first Councils at Nicea in
the fourth century A.D. that the knowledge of Ancient Kemetic
civilization was lost to Europeans. This was due primarily to their
sustained systematic efforts to destroy the remnants of Kemetic
cultural forms which had been strong influences and which remained
as powerful influences on European culture, even during the period of
Greco-Roman political control of KMT. Over a period of two hundred
years or so following the Councils at Nicea, the Romans gradually
succeeded in closing the Kemetic temple/universities and destroying
the Kemetic priesthood/professoriate,2 in an attempt to declare their
total intellectual and spiritual independence from Africa.
The revival of widespread European interest in Ancient KMT began
with Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquest in 1798. Napoleon is said to have
taken nearly two hundred academic specialists with him. These
specialists were given the opportunity to study various aspects of
Kemetic history and culture, ancient and modern. Perhaps the single
most important outcome of this scholarly attention was the discovery
at Rosetta on the mouth of the Nile, a stone that proved to be the key
to the decipherment of the Mdw Ntr (hieroglyphics).3 The credit for
this decipherment in 1822 is given to Jean Francois Champollion le
Jeune. After Champollion, it took years to translate the vast ancient
writings to be found on the walls of temples, tombs, monuments,
coffins and on papyri. That work is not yet completed. Therefore, it
can be understood why it would be in the later decades of the
nineteenth century before the stunning impact of those translations on
the interpretation of the influence of KMT on Western and world
civilization would be revealed. The more KMT was studied the more
astonishing were the findings that showed its culture to be antecedent
to developments in world science, religion, education, art, architecture,
Beginning with W.E.B. DuBois, there was a gradual growing
African American awareness of the greatness of KMT and of the fact
that KMT was a civilization created by Africans who were black
people. From that time numerous African American scholars have
extended the study of KMT.4 Many European and European American
‘George G. M. James, Stolen Legacy (San Francisco, 1976, first published, 1964).
‘E.A. W. Budge, The Rosetta Stohe in the British Museum (London, 1929).
‘Yosef ben-JochannanB, lack Man of the Nile and His Family (New York, 1972);J acob H. Carruthers,E says in
Ancient Egyptian Studies (Lo Angeles, 1984); W.E.B. DuBois, The Negro (London, 1970, first published, 1915); W.E.B.
DuBois, The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part which Africa has played in World History by W.E. Burghardt
DuBois (New York,1 972, first published, 1946);D rusilla Dunjee Houston, WonderfuEl thiopians of Ancient Cushite
Empire (Baltimore, 1985, first published, 1926); John Jackson, Introduction to African Civilization (Secaucus, N.J.,
1974); Ivan Van Sertima, ed., Special Issue on Egypt Revisited, Vol. 4(2), Journal of African Civilization (November
1982); Chancellor Williams, The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 BC to 2000 AD
Scholars also began to lift the veil of ignorance and to destroy racist
ideas about KMT and the role of Africans in it.5
Perhaps no single scholar has had the impact on the recent
direction of traditional Egyptology as has Cheikh Anta Diop. Almost
single-handedly he took on the traditional Egyptological establishment
in a frontal assault on cherished presuppositions about KMT as a
white or non-African civilization.6 This multidisciplined genius led the
fight to reconstruct conceptions of KMT. His original research in
history, linguistics, archeology, paleontology and other disciplines, and
his synthesis of a vast field of interdisciplinary literature has had its
telling effect. For example, Diop even developed a simple chemical test
to determine the Melanin content in the skin of a mummy as a way of
determining its “race.” The mummies he tested from the Marietta
excavations proved to be “black.” While many Egyptologists struggle
to hold on to old conceptions of a non-African KMT, they have been
forced by the data to give up much ground. Nowhere is this more in
evidence than in the recent volumes on ancient African history which
were developed under the auspices of the United Nations Educational
and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by an interdisciplinary group of
leading scholars from all over the world.8 Anyone who compares the
writings of some of the authors (traditional Egyptologists) of chapters
in the UNESCO publication with almost anything that those authors
had written previously will see the shift toward Cheikh Anta Diop’s
thesis of a black African KMT. Most notable was the failure of Diop’s
opposing scholars to make any points in a UNESCO sponsored debate
held in Cairo in 1974. The debate centered on the origin of the ancient
Egyptians. The results of that debate are best summed up by the
official commentator’s remarks:
Although the preparatory working paper sent out by UNESCO gave
particulars of what was desired, not all participants had prepared
communications comparable with the painstakingly researched
(Chicago, 1974).
‘Albert Churchward, The Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man (West Port, Conn., 1978, first published, 1913);
Gerald Massey, A Book of the Beginnings, Vols. I and II (Secaucus, N.J., 1974, first published, 1881); C.F. Volney, The
Ruins of Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires: And the Law of Nature (New York, 1950, first published, 1793).
‘Cheikh Anta Diop, “Pigmentationo f the Ancient Egyptians: Test by Melanin Analysis,”B ulletin de L’institute
fondamental D’afrique noire, Serie B, Sciences Humaines, Tome XXXV, No. 3 (Juillet 1973): pp. 515-30; Cheikh Anta
Diop, TheA fricanO rigino f Civilization:M ytho r Reality? (New York,1 974, first published,1 955):C heikh Anta Diop,
The Cultural Unity of Black Africa (Chicago, 1978, first published, 1959).
‘Diop, “Origino f the AncientE gyptians.”
“J.K i-zerboe, d., GeneralH istoryo fAfrica 1:M ethodologya nd Pre-history( Berkeley,1 981);G . Mokhtar,e d., General
History of Africa 1I: Ancient Ciuilizations of Africa (Berkeley, 1981).
Vol. XLIX, Nos. 1, 2, 1992
contributions of professors Cheikh Anta Diop and Obenga. There was
consequently a real lack of balance in the discussions.’
It is necessary to set forth here a more fully developed list of certain
operating assumptions which determine the framework for the
discussion that follows. It is not possible to discuss each of these
assumptions in detail in this paper. However, a number of authors
have done so previously.?1 Assumptions:
1. Mankind (hominids) began in African, near Lake Nyanza
(Victoria), nearly 5 million years ago and was dark skinned.”
2. KMT (Egypt) is Africa’s oldest recorded classical civilization and
the world’s oldest civilization.
3. KMT is the child of “inner Africa.”
4. Egypt, like the rest of Africa, began as a black civilization.
5. KMT is the world’s second oldest recorded nation (Ta Seti in
Nubia is currently documented to be at least two hundred years
older than Egypt).”2
6. Indigenous Africans were driven from Egypt by various invasions
occurring after the 12th dynastic period circa 1783 B.C., settling
in other parts of Africa, including West Africa. There were also
many other migrations of nilotic and equatorial Africans
throughout the millennia.
7. KMT was a major influence on world civilization and is the main
parent of “Western” civilization.
8. Ancient KMT is culturally unified to the rest of the African
The Uses of History and Culture
History and culture play central roles in national development.1′
They also play central roles in the lives of cultural groups within given
national boundaries. The leadership of nations and groups –
especially viable nations and groups – is almost always acutely aware
of the importance of history and culture. This can be understood in
part when we examine internationally the tremendous national, state
‘Diop, “Origin of the Ancient Egyptians,” pp. 76-7.
“AlbertC hurchwardT, heS igns and Symbolso f PrimordialM an;D iop, “Origino f the AncientE gyptians;”H ouston,
WonderfuEl thiopians;J ackson,I ntroductiont o AfricanC ivilizations;M assey,A Booko fthe &Bginmins Van Srtima,
Special Issue on Egypt Revisited.
“CheikhA ntaD iop, *AfricaC radleo f Humanity,”in I. Van Sertima,e d.,Nile ValleyC iviliations (Journalo f Afican
Civilization, Ltd., Inc., 1985).
“B. Williams, ‘The Lost Pharoahs of Nubia,” in I. Van Sertima, ed., Nile Valley Civilization&
“Amilar Cabral, Return to the Source: Selected Speeches by Amilar Cabral (New York, 1973); J.H.P. Serfontein,
Brotherhoodo f Power:A n Exposeo f the SecretA frihanerB roederbond( Bloomington,1 978);R obertS t. John, Tongue
of the Prophets: The Life Story of Eliezer Ben Yehuda (North Hollywood, Calif., 1975, first published, 1952).
and local investments in faculties of history in schools, in museums, in
monuments, in holidays, and in symbols. This is especially true in the
United States.
The attitude of national governments toward history and culture is
not casual. Often the teaching of history is required by law. Desirable
cultural activities are supported by the provision of financial resources,
e.g., the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting. In using legal and financial resources to
support the development and retention of history and culture,
governments make selected history and culture legitimate. At the
same time, the mainstream’s neglect of a particular history and culture
may tend to minimize its significance unless independent efforts are
made by minority or powerless groups who initiate activities to support
their own heritage.
Israel is a modern day example of historical and cultural rescue,
and of using a rescued and refurbished history and culture as the basis
for building a national identity for Jews throughout its diaspora. For
example, Hebrew was virtually a dead language. It was largely a
reading language for priests or rabbis. The remnants of this ancient
language were insufficient to serve as a fully operating modern
language. Yet through the efforts of a single individual,1 the language
was literally recreated. Although there were English, French, Chinese,
and many other national languages that serve as the lingua franca for
hundreds of millions of people worldwide, the State of Israel opted for
a language that was spoken by few people in the world. Clearly a
national interest took precedence over the apparent practicality of
selecting an existing international language.
An extremely negative example of the function of history and
culture at the national level is found in the Union of South Africa.”
The Dutch who now rule were dominated by the British, politically and
culturally. Their history and culture were suppressed. The culture,
especially the language of the Dutch, was stigmatized, with
tremendous negative impact on the psyche of the Dutch people.”
In other words, the Bond’s primary motivation was to prevent the
disappearance of the Afrikaner Volk as a separate political, language,
social and cultural entity. The identity of the Afrikaner had to be insured
at a time when economically and culturally impoverished, he was faced
“St. John, Tongue of the Prophets.
“Serfontein,B rotherhoodo f Power.
Vol. XLIX, Nos. 1, 2, 1992
with the threat of being swamped and absorbed by the stronger English
group, which at that time regarded this as an inevitable process.
Although the constitution of the Union of South Africa entrenched the
language rights of both white groups, and although in law members of
each group enjoyed full equality, in practice the Afrikaner was in many
ways a second class citizen.
More bitter for the Afrikaner than the fact of physical inequity was the
English attitude of superiority, arrogance, and contempt for the Afrikaner
and his language. At that stage, Dutch was still the only other official
language, and would only be replaced by Afrikaners … it was the time
when many an Afrikaner’s school child came home with tears in his eyes
because he had been punished by the unilingual English teacher for
daring to speak Afrikaan on school grounds. Such punishment not
infrequently included walking around with a board slung on your neck
which read: I am a donkey. I spoke Dutch.’7
After Dutch wrestled control of South Africa from the British, they
did not stop at the establishment of political totalitarianism;18 they
invested vast resources and energies in establishing a cultural
totalitarianism as well. Government control of every aspect of South
African cultural life has been ironclad and complete. The political
value of the sports program, the arts, education, religion, the Afrikaans
language is clearly understood by the Broederbond (the Brotherhood),
a secret group of South Africans who control the nation. That control
was and is calculated and is a key part of the foundation of the present
social order.
Leaders of all nations are conscious of the powerful function of
culture in groups. They take greater of lesser actions to capitalize on
it as a political resource. At home, it strengthens national unity.
Abroad, it has been used as a weapon to subdue militarily conquered
peoples. No conqueror has won a final victory over any people until
their memory or history and culture was destroyed. All wars of
conquest ultimately are cultural wars.9 Conquerors must erase the
memory of conquered people. They prevent the practice of indigenous
culture. They change names of conquered peoples and places. They
destroy or stigmatize the symbols of conquered people. As Fanon has
observed, these actions are not accidental. They are the outcome of
careful study of human group dynamics.20 Successful conquerors know
that history and culture is the jugular vein and Achilles’ tendon of a
‘I. Wilkins and H. Strydom,T he Broederbond(N ew York, 1979).
“Cabral, Return to the Source.
F”. Fanon, A Dying Colonialism (New York, 1966).
Claims on Antiquity: Greece as Europe’s Classical Civilization
The ubiquity of Greece and Rome in the European and European
American historical and cultural image needs no documentation. This
is true even though there is little historical justification for many non-
Greek or non-Roman Europeans to identify so closely with “classical
antiquity.” Indeed, they did not always do so. For most of the period
of Greek and Roman rule, there was no “Europe” as such. North
Western Europe was considered to be the hinterlands. Later it became
politically advantageous and psychologically satisfying to assert a
strong cultural connection between all of Europe and the classical
Greco-Roman world.2′ In this case, the use of history and culture was
carried out based on assumptions that bore little relationship to the
truth. Yet the claims on antiquity served vital social and political
functions nevertheless.
Claims on Antiquity: KMT as Africa’s Classical Civilization
Egypt will play the same role in the rethinking and renewing of African
culture that ancient Greece and Rome play in the culture of the west.”
Unfortunately, even in the 1980s it is necessary to deal with the
fact that supposedly enlightened people hardly are aware of the
physical presence of KMT on the African continent. More serious
however is the fact that the ancient Kemetic population is often not
seen as an indigenous black African population. The evidence for a
black African KMT has been accumulating for some time.2 In recent
years the floodgates have been opened and the data are overwhelming
in support of KMT as a black civilization and as a child of Cush or
Many people see KMT as alien to the rest of Africa. Cheikh Anta
Diop provided the scholarly foundation to refute that notion. But more
than that, Diop gave evidence and a framework for binding the history
and culture of East Africa to the whole of the culture of the continent,
and by extension to its diaspora. Diop described and documented the
“Martin Bernal, “BlackA thena:T he Denial of the Afro-AsiaticR oots of Greece”( Unpublishedm anuscript,I thaca,
N.Y.:C ornellU niversity, 1984);E . Durkheim,” Educationa nd Social Structure,”i n J. Karabela nd H.H. Halsey, eds.,
Power and Etiology in Education (New York, 1977).
“Cheikh Anta Diop, in Leonard Jefferies, Jr., Review of Civilization or Barbarism’ The Legacy of Cheikh Anta Diop,
Vol. 4(2), Journal of African Civilization (November 1982).
“Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality? (New York, 1974, first published, 1955);
I. Van Sertima, Nile Valley Civilization&
“Diop, “Origino f the AncientE gyptians;”H ouston, WonderfuEl thiopians;V an Sertima, Nile ValleyC ivilizations.
Vol. XLIX, Nos. 1, 2, 1992
cultural unity of black Africa.26 The recognition of that unity is an
important step in understanding the meaning of KMT for African
Americans. African Americans, African diasporans throughout the
world, as well as African continentals are the legitimate heirs of the
world’s oldest classical tradition. Moreover, this tradition lives today
in part, and is available for rescue and reconstruction in light of
today’s realities.
We must also recognize that KMT is the world’s oldest recorded
classical civilization. As such it influenced world culture.” We may
use Europe as an example, as the following section will show.
Claims on Antiquity: The Kemetic Claim on Greco/Roman Antiquity
Recently Martin Bernal, a professor at Cornell University and
grandson of Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner, has written a penetrating
analysis of the history of our ideas about Greek history.” He has
identified two theoretical models to explain the history of Greece and
its relationship to Europe. The “ancient model” held sway until about
two hundred years ago. Until that time history and legend placed the
origin of Greek civilization in Africa, specifically in KMT (Egypt).
According to Bernal this story was held to be true by many classical
authors, for example Herodutus Book VI, and was denied by none.
Moreover, there is no ancient tradition of an invasion of Greece from
the north. In Book VI of his Histories, Herodutus wrote:
How it happened that Egyptians came to the Peloponnese and what they
did to make themselves kings in that part of Greece has been chronicled
by other writers: I will add nothing therefore, but proceed to mention
some points which no one else has yet touched upon.”
According to Bernal, a second model, the “Aryan model,” was
invented at the Gottengen University by German and British
professors. Without any new data, and in the teeth of the ancient
writers, they proclaimed an “Aryan” origin of Grecian civilization. This
was and still is without an empirical foundation.
And so we have before us not merely the fact of a black presence in
ancient Greece, but the possible fact that Kemetic Africa played the
major creative role in the establishment of the cultural patterns that
are uniquely thought of as Greek civilization! A few black faces on the
“Cheikh Anta Diop, The Cultural Unity of Black Africa (Chicago, 1978, first published, 1959).
“Houston, WonderfuEl thiopians;R unokoR ashidi, ed., “AfricanP resence in Early Asia,”S pecial Issue: Journal of
African Civilization (1985).
“‘Bernal, “Black Athena.”
2Ibid, p. 12.
remnants of pottery do not begin to tell the whole story.’ Black
Africans were deeply involved in the lives of the Greeks. Note the
writings of Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. What may be more
important than the presence and importance of black Africans in
Greco-Roman antiquity is the story of how the knowledge of their
certain presence and importance was “lost.”
There are certain givens that can be derived from a fair study of the
historical record.
1. It cannot be denied that African Kemetic (Egyptian) civilization
is older than the Greco-Roman by at least 2,000 years.
2. It cannot be denied that many of the features that are identified
as key elements in Greco-Roman civilization were well recorded
in ancient African Kemetic civilization long before either Greece
or Rome existed. For example, consider the 18 dynasty temples
at Waset (Luxor) that are called Karnak (originally called Ipet
Isut), and Luxor (Southern Ipet) temples. Compare these and
even earlier Kemetic structures with the Parthenon and other
later Greco-Roman colonnaded temples. Clearly KMT was first.
Compare the ancient region of Asar (Osirus), Ast (Isis) and Heru
(Horus) to early Greek and Roman religion and even later to
Greco-Roman Christianity. In fact, until the rise of organized
Christianity, Kemetic religion was a major if not the major
religion of the Greco-Roman world.3
3. It cannot be denied that Greece and Rome were in close
geographical proximity to Africa, the birthplace of high
In light of all the above, why would it be necessary or even rational
to be surprised at a black African presence in ancient Greece and
Rome? Why have most scholars looked for Africans in Greece and
Rome only as slaves when there is documentation to show some
Africans as: (1) founders of Greece;32(2 ) emperors of Rome;33(3 ) popes
in the early Christian church’ and (4) models of civilizations.”
“Frank Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience (Cambridge, MA, 1971).
“E.A.W.B udge, Osirus and the EgyptianR esurrection( New York, 1973, first published, 1911);C hurchwoodT, he
Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man; Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism (New York, 1967, first published,
1939); I. Meyer, The Oldest Books in the World (New York, 1900); Van Sertima, Nile Valley Civilizations.
“Asa G. Hilliard, “KemeticC onceptsi n Education,”in I. Van Sertima,e d., Nile ValleyC ivilizations( 1985): 153-62;
George G.M. James, Stolen Legacy (San Francisco, 1976, first published, 1954).
Bernal, Black Athena.
“J.A. Rogers, World’sG reatM en of Color( New York, 1972, first published, 1946).
“Robert Fulton Holtzclaw, The Saints Go Marching In: A One Volume Hagiography of Africans, or Descendants of
Africans who have been Canonized by the Church Including Three of the Early Popes (Shaker Heights, Ohio, 1980).
Vol. XLIX, Nos. 1, 2, 1992
Africa was the source of two major forces that greatly affected the
development of Europe. The first was the impact of KMT during the
first millennium B.C. The second was the impact of the Moorish
(inheritors of the Kematic culture) invasion and settlement in Southern
Europe from 711 A.D. to 1492 A.D. The evidence for the impact of
these two contacts is pervasive and overwhelming. When a more
truthful and rational world history is widely known, the distortions
and blind spots of colonial historians will be sources of amusement.
The “loss” of blacks in antiquity is due to defective theoretical
historical paradigms, chauvinistic historians, the legacy of the
distorted scholarship of white supremacist professors,” the failure to
rely upon primary data sources, the consequent repetition of popular
historical error, and the failure to allocate resources for the
investigation of questions appropriate to the rediscovery of black
people in antiquity.
The influence of black Africa’s cultural antiquity is not limited to
Europe or even to the African continent itself. Africans in antiquity
are to be found in a diaspora that stretches in a band that reaches
around the globe, especially around its equatorial regions.”
Historians have been too tentative and too cautious in describing
Africa’s place in world history. When this picture is drawn properly,
blacks in the antiquity of the infant civilizations of Greece and Rome
will come as no great surprise. On the contrary, it would be a miracle
if this were not the case.
The uses of Ancient Kemetic Heritage
The civilization of ancient KMT may seem remote to many African
Americans, in time, in physical location, and in relationship to
meaningful priorities for 1985 in the United States. Yet there is an
urgent need for African Americans to rescue and reconstruct this and
other parts of all African heritage. As shown above, KMT was an
integral part of a culturally unified continent. It is, because of KMT’s
abundant records, the best window on the dynamics of African culture
generally. African Americans and other Africans in the diaspora still
retain some general African cultural forms. Therefore, it is wrong to
consider African Americans as if their heritage is merely European or
as if all their African heritage has been obliterated.
“Diop, TheA frican Origino f CivilnrationM: yth or Reality?;J ohn Jackson, Introductiont o African CivilwNtion.
Bernal, Black Athena.
‘7RauhidiA, frican Presencei n Early Aia; Houston, WonderfulE thiopian&
The existence of advanced African cultural developments in
antiquity, continental cultural unity, and diasporan cultural
continuities may be of interest to many. However, it is the utility of
these things that must be considered here. History and culture are ongoing
creative processes that arise out of any group’s struggle to
survive. For African Americans that struggle continues. As the
struggle continues, there are several clear uses for the cumulative and
continuing history and culture of our people.
1. The source of philosophy. In the face of an integrated ancient
philosophical/religious system, the parent of world systems, it
would be foolish for its heirs to act in ignorance of it. There is
no reason for heirs of African systems to be more impressed by
the answers to questions given in other philosophical/religious
systems than they are with their own. Ideas about world views
(metaphysics), knowledge views (epistemology), and value views
(axiology), have been fully developed by African ancestors. They
still contain avenues to truths that are worthy guides to mental
and spiritual life.’ In fact, they have guided European thought
through such institutions as churches and fraternal orders such
as the Masonic order.
2. A foundation for group unity and identity. The destruction of
group unity and identity is a precondition for the enslavement of
a people. The absence of group unity and identity reduces the
power of the group and individuals within it. Group cohesion is
a prerequisite to effective action. Group cohesion is rooted in
shared culture.
3. A source of resistance to alien domination. CabralP was astute
in his recognition of the role of indigenous culture in the practice
of freedom. He saw that only by the organized, systematic, and
effective repression of a people’s culture could a foreign or alien
power dominate a native or culturally distinct population. It is
for this reason that colonizers and oppressors all over the world
have always declared war on ethnic culture. Conquerors are
fully aware of the power of history and culture.
History teaches us that in certain circumstances, it is very easy for
the foreigner to impose his domination on a people, but it also
teaches us that, whatever may be the material aspects of this
“Meyer, The Oldest Books in the World.
“Fanon, A Dying Colonialism; Cabral, Return to the Source.
“Cabral, Return to the Source
Vol. XLIX, Nos. 1, 2, 1992
domination, it can be maintained only by the permanent organized
repression of the cultural life of the people concerned. Implantation
of foreign domination can be assured definitively only by physical
liquidation of a significant part of the dominated population …
In fact, to take up arms to dominate a people is above all, to take up
arms to destroy, or at least neutralize, to paralyze, its cultural life.
For with a strong and indigenous cultural life, foreign domination
cannot be sure of it perpetuation.”
4. A basis for independence. Once freedom is won it must be
sustained. It is pitiful to see so many of those who have won
their freedom, having paid a blood price for it, surrender their
initiative and enter into voluntary cultural servitude. A free
person or group must have an independent conception of
identity, purpose, and direction. The history and culture of
African people provides the foundation for the construction of
independent visions, no matter where the sons and daughters of
Africa are.
5. A basis for creativity. Many African Americans are rightfully
suspicious of romantic calls for a return to the past. Clearly,
what is needed is reality and not romanticism in the
contemporary world. Moreover, no return to the past is even
possible for anyone. Yet one’s own past can and must be used in
the present as building material for the future. Real
romanticism appears when misguided African American people
try to build their futures out of the alien heritage of others, as if
it were their own.
The use of one’s past is not a rejection of technological
creativities. It may help to put technology into perspective and
to shape it. To know one’s past is not to live in the past or to be
stymied in the present. The past contains the seeds for the
A computer without a memory is dysfunctional, even though it has
available a sophisticated program. The program simply would have
nothing to process. A people without a memory or with a false memory
is a disabled people. They have nothing to process or more likely they
have “garbage” to process. For too long African Americans have been
deprived of a true history. This means functioning without a vital
asset that any people requires. The rescue and reconstruction of
1Ibid., pp. 39-40.
Kemetic history is but one small part of what should be a grand design
for the rescue and reconstruction of the full picture. The culturally
disarmed cannot stand as peers in a culturally armed world!
Vol. XLIX, Nos. 1, 2, 1992

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