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 Cheikh Anta Diop, The Pharoah of Knowledge

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PostSubject: Cheikh Anta Diop, The Pharoah of Knowledge   Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:54 am

Cheikh Anta Diop, The Pharoah of Knowledge

On the 7th of February, 1986, Africa lost one of her illustrious sons, Cheikh Anta Diop, an
exceptional African whose singular destiny and contributions were in tune
with an Africa sometimes (promising), hopeful and some times despondent.

While leaving us, Professor Cheikh Anta Diop bequeathed to Africa a heritage of liberation without
precedence: the knowledge of one's origin.

would not strike the mind of any historian of the ancient Mediterranean
civilizations to deny the crucial role played by black Egyptian peoples, in
deed Ethiopians, in the development of sciences, arts, techniques, and it was
from distant antiquity. The idea of "black tabula rasa", (Africa
devoid of history (culture); in short, devoid of humanity, dear to colonial
histography is largely posterior.

Cheikh Anta Diop led throughout his life a pathetic struggle so that Africa might at long last get
rid of the claws of cultural alienation which had lasted far too long, so
that they would again become masters of a history which they had not lost
before colonialism. "Black nations and culture" was within the
context of an intense ideological struggle opposing the most awakened and
conscious elements, the most politically awakened of the African elites to
the tenants of colonial order who, to be witnesses to its collapse, were
nonetheless less solid and untouchable.

The European Africanists schools (all tendencies mixed) were unanimous in rejecting, more often
without examining, the fundamental theses of Cheikh Anta Diop relating to the
"cultural unity" of Africa to the migrations which, taking their
source from the original neolithic basin had ended up in the present peopling
of the continent; to the continuity of the national historical past of
Africans. It is that, in the eyes of some, the works of the Senegalese
historian appear a dangerous precedent susceptible, like every pioneering and
innovative work, to incite dangerous vocations. This concern was based on at
at least one point: the disintegration by Cheikh Anta Diop of the fundamental
postulates of the European Africanist discourse. Thus we read: "This
false attribution of values of Egypt qualified as white to a Greece equally
white reveals a deep contradiction which is not the least proof of the black
origin of Egyptian civilization" (Nations Negres et Culture, page 40, Vol II, Presence Africaine, 3 em edition).

that fragment Cheikh Anta Diop links up the well being with the
"umbilical cord" which links "black" ancient Egypt to the
rest of the continent. similarly, the insoluble contradiction which made that
pharaonic Egypt, the mother of civilizations, does not the least objectively
belong to a continent judged to be savage, primitive and barbarous, finally
finds a rational solution.

In that regard, to measure the same time the revolutionary character of Cheikh Anta Diop's thesis and
the extent of the mystification of colonial histography, let us listen to
Frederich Hegel, its most qualified and profound representative: "She
(Africa) is no part of the historic world, she neither shows movement nor
development........., that is to say, from the north originates the Asiatic
and European worlds. Cartage was in that regard an important and transient
element. But it belongs to Asia a Phoenician colony. Egypt would be examined
through the passage of the human mind from the east to the west, but it does
not depend on the African mind." (La raison dans L'Histoirem, p 269,
collection 10-18).

Through this odious falsification of history, which Karl Max qualifies a idealist, a road was
made which led to the myth of anti historicity of the African continent;
which continent is seen to be, in perspective of Cheikh Anta Diop, the cradle
of all civilizations.

It is against such allegations, qualified rightly, by the first historian of African renaissance
Cheikh Anta Diop, as "fascist" and "racist" (in the sense
that they implied the incapacity of Africans to create viable political
institutions), that his major work "Nations Negres et Culture",
reacted. It can be deplored that his prodigious erudition, his epic style,
his liberating breath had not inspired all the African intellectuals of that
epoch. Worst still, African history as it is taught today in our schools does
not take the Negroid dimension of ancient Egypt.

But an important question arises: in what measure do the works of Cheikh Anta Diop allow to respond to
the challenges of the future? For Theophile Obenga, a disciple and a
companion of the author, "with Cheikh Anta Diop, history is not defined
as the study of the past of human kind, but as the construction of the future in the name of life."

Cheikh Anta Diop was not only an intellectual, he also had a past as a man of action who did not hesitate to
embrace political militantism when he judged it necessary. It was in that
regard that he published scathing and brilliant articles in "La voix
d'Afrique", a journal of students of the RDA (Rassemblement Democratique
Africain). One of his articles appeared in February, 1932, and already he had
put (at an epoch where most African parliamentarians opted for a policy of
compromise - not to say betrayal) on the agenda the question of independence
and the federation of the ex-colonies.

One sees it, the political doctrine of Cheikh Anta Diop, consigned to "the economic and cultural
foundations", having as a philosopher's stone the notion of unity under
its federal or confederal; form. A certain number of factors converged to
render indispensable a political unity: the imperatives of economic
independence, industrial development, the inconstances of political entities
issuing from colonialism, and the cultural unity of Black Africa.

These theses, to say the truth, are neither new nor original. One remembers the iterinary of Kwame
Nkrumah, almost all of whose works and, in particular the famous book
entitled "Africa Must Unite", offer a brilliant illustration.
Nevertheless, in the light of the political experiences of African states
since 1960, one realizes that as regards the economic, political and cultural
necessities of unity in order to formulate an ideology of development and
liberation, they are notoriously insufficient. Such a move can only end up in
a voluntarist and idealist practice which substitutes the categorical
imperative of unity for contradictions and objective movements of African
societies - the pseudoSenegambia Confederation is a patent example of it.
Here resides one of the major contradictions which undermines the work.

In effect, no infallible mathematical law has yet demonstrated that because the ancient past of a
people was brilliant, so its future must, with the fatality of bronze law
equally be. Undoubtedly, it has to be underscored (and deplored) that in his
persistence, by the way quite judicious, to defend the thesis of "Black
Egypt", the author did not analyze the concrete social realities of the
African peoples in a satisfactory way; far from being homogeneous, far from
constituting the only and same group of democratic and colonized, (who were
disunited by interests fundamentally antagonistic, which explain the present
impasses having names such as Rwanda-Burundi, Nigeria an so on and so forth.
Only these contradictions explain the relatively inefficient character of an
action which, at the RDA, as at the level of the Senegalese block of masses
(which later became RND - National Democratic Assembly), only realized
ephemeral successes. It is now the lot of today's African generation and that
of tomorrow to tap the energy emanating from the monumental heritage that
Cheikh Anta Diop has bequeathed to us, to propel Africa into the first row of
the international community in order to remake it as a continent of
inventions and liberty. This is the challenge that the pharoah of knowledge
(the ancestor of our future) has bequeathed as heritage to the African youth.


ISSN: 0796-0573
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PostSubject: Re: Cheikh Anta Diop, The Pharoah of Knowledge   Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:08 am

Just hearing about this guy. I am researching him for now to know more. Thanks for sharing Q-AKA.
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