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Transcript
CHEIKH ANTA DIOP
The Pharoah of Knowledge
http://afgen.com/cheikh.html
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.
Cheikh Anta Diop Diop, Cairo 1974 in one of his very appearances in the
International Colloquium about Ancient Egypt populating and deciphering
of Meroitic writing. It 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).
Cheikh Anta Diop in his last lecture in Paris before his definitive back in
Senegal in 1960.In 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 intellectualls 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, young student in Paris 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, 1952, 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 analyse 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.
FOROYAA
(Freedom)
February, 1997
ISSN: 0796-0573
A Brief Biography of Cheikh Anta Diop .
Cheikh Anta Diop with his children. July 1983 in Brazzaville."In practice it
is possible to determine directly the skin colour and hence the ethnic
affiliations of the ancient Egyptians by microscopic analysis in the
laboratory; I doubt if the sagacity of the researchers who have studied the
question has overlooked the possibility."
--Cheikh Anta Diop
Cheikh Anta Diop, a modern champion of African identity, was born in
Diourbel, Senegal on December 29, 1923. At the age of twenty-three, he
journeyed to Paris, France to continue advanced studies in physics. Within a
very short time, however, he was drawn deeper and deeper into studies
relating to the African origins of humanity and civilization. Becoming more
and more active in the African student movements then demanding the
independence of French colonial possessions, he became convinced that
only by reexamining and restoring Africa's distorted, maligned and obscured
place in world history could the physical and psychological shackles of
colonialism be lifted from our Motherland and from African people
dispersed globally. His initial doctoral dissertation submitted at the
University of Paris, Sorbonne in 1951, based on the premise that Egypt of
the pharaohs was an African civilization--was rejected. Regardless, this
dissertation was published by Presence Africaine under the title Nations
Negres et Culture in 1955 and won him international acclaim. Two
additional attempts to have his doctorate granted were turned back until
1960 when he entered his defense session with an array of sociologists,
anthropologists and historians and successfully carried his argument. After
nearly a decade of titanic and herculean effort, Diop had finally won his
Docteur es Lettres! In that same year, 1960, were published two of his other
works--the Cultural Unity of Black Africa and Precolonial Black Africa.
Cheikh Anta Diop (with the placard) and his wife Louise Marie (in the
right), demonstrating in Paris for African politicians' release 50s During his
student days, Cheikh Anta Diop was an avid political activist. From 1950 to
1953 he was the Secretary-General of the Rassemblement Democratique
Africain (RDA) and helped establish the first Pan-African Student Congress
in Paris in 1951. He also participated in the First World Congress of Black
Writers and Artists held in Paris in 1956 and the second such Congress held
in Rome in 1959. Upon returning to Senegal in 1960, Dr. Diop continued his
research and established a radiocarbon laboratory in Dakar. In 1966, the
First World Black Festival of Arts and Culture held in Dakar, Senegal
honored Dr. Diop and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois as the scholars who exerted the
greatest influence on African thought in twentieth century. In 1974, a
milestone occurred in the English-speaking world when the African Origin
of Civilization: Myth or Reality was finally published. It was also in 1974
that Diop and Theophile Obenga collectively and soundly reaffirmed the
African origin of pharaonic Egyptian civilization at a UNESCO sponsored
symposium in Cairo, Egypt. In 1981, Diop's last major work, Civilization or
Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology was published.
Dr. Diop was the Director of Radiocarbon Laboratory at the Fundamental
Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) at the University of Dakar. He sat on
numerous international scientific committees and achieved recognition as
one of the leading historians, Egyptologists, linguists and anthropologists in
the world. He traveled widely, lectured incessantly and was cited and quoted
voluminously. He was regarded by many as the modern `pharaoh' of African
studies. Cheikh Anta Diop died quietly in sleep in Dakar, Senegal on
February 7, 1986.
Here are some of the major works of Cheikh Anta Diop translated into
English.
There are however other important works that are published in journals such
as dosage test. A technique developed by Diop to determine the melanin
content of the egyptian mummies. The irony of this new technique was later
adopted by the U.S. forensic department to determine the racial identity of
badly burnt accident victims. Yet to date they have never acknowledged the
author of this test!
The African Origin of Civilization, Myth Or Reality
The African Origin of Civilization, Myth Or Reality.
The book presents Dr. Diop's main thesis that historical, archaeological and
anthropological evidence supports the theory that the civilization of ancient
Egypt, the first that history records, was actually Negroid in origin.
Lawrence Hill Books
ISBN 1-55652-072-7
Precolonial Black Africa
Precolonial Black Africa.
In the book, Diop compares the political and social systems of Europe and
black Africa from antiquity to the formation of modern states.
Lawrence Hill Books ISBN 1-55652-0088-3
Black Africa, The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State
Black Africa, The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State.
In the book, the late Cheikh Anta Diop presents a dynamic and convincing
arguement for the creation of a unified black African state and there is an
interview by Carlos Moore on Diop's vision of Africa's emergence as a
major world power.
African World Press ISBN 0--86543-058-6
Civilization or Barbarism - An authentic Anthropology
Civilization or Barbarism - An authentic Anthropology
This last work of Cheikh Anta Diop is a summation and expansion of his
two previous volumes -Precolonial Black Africa (1987) and The African
Origin of Civilization (1974) - offers a refined statement of his life's work, to
prove the primacy of African culture by proving that ancient Egypt was a
black society, first in many cultural achievements later claimed by the
following Indo-Aryan cultures.
ISBN: 1556520484
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated Pub.
downloaded: 9/6/05
Source: http://home3.inet.tele.dk/mcamara/index.html
Cheikh Anta Diop and Two Cradle Analysis:
Conceptualizing Enslavement within
Afrikan and European Cultural Thought and Practice
Karanja Keita Carroll
Cheikh Anta Diop (1989) proposed a mode of macro-historical
analysis, which is commonly referred to as the Two-Cradle Theory. The
Two-Cradle Theory will be employed to analyze the conceptions of ‘slavery’
within European and Afrikan cultural thought and practice.
This
comparative analysis will examine ancient civilizations, which in turn
should exemplify a broader view and explanation for the subconscious
manifestations of more recent institutions of ‘slavery’. I suggest that the
foundation for the enslavement of Native Americans and subsequently
Afrikans in the ‘New World’ can be found within the particular
conceptualization of slavery that originally manifested in European cultural
thought and practice. Just as 18th and 19th century forms of ‘slavery’ or
servitude in Afrika can be linked to Afrikan cultural thought and practice, or
in many cases to Islamic cultural thought and practice.
Elucidating the foundation and discplinary basis
of Black Studies via the works of Cheikh Anta Diop
By Karanja Keita Carroll
Most discussions of Cheikh Anta Diop limit him to his discussion of
Ancient Egypt as a classical Afrikan civilization. Even scholars within
Black Studies begin and end with the scientific evidence that Diop provided
on the race and culture of the Ancient Egyptians. This limited use, analysis
and application of the works of Diop stagnates our understanding of his
contributions to Black Studies and knowledge production, in general. As
Black Studies continues to create and recreate new interpretations of
knowledge and the Africana experience, we must reevaluate the role of
mentioned and unmentioned contributors to our discipline. Therefore, in our
attempt to further establish the basis of Black Studies, as a culturally specific
discipline, I would argue that we look at the works of Diop for a solid
disciplinary foundation. This paper attempts to analyze the methodology
and philosophy of Diop, in order to further substantiate the disciplinary basis
of Black Studies.
Foundations for Black Studies:
Reevaluating Cheikh Anta Diop's Two Cradle Thesis
By Karanja Keita Carroll
Most discussions of Cheikh Anta Diop limit him to his discussion of
Ancient Egypt as a classical Afrikan civilization. Even scholars within
Black Studies begin and end with the scientific evidence that Diop provided
on the race and culture of the Ancient Egyptians. This limited use, analysis
and application of the works of Diop stagnates our understanding of his
contributions to Black Studies and knowledge production, in general. Most
relevant to the discipline of Black Studies is Diop's use and manipulation of
culture as a tool of liberation. In fact, in an interview with Carlos Moore,
Diop stated, "There is no doubt that culture will be used as a weapon in this
struggle, this is indispensable. That is why it is important that this weapon
be at all times adapted to the struggle for national liberation" (1991, p. 114).
This speaks to the power which Diop As Black Studies continues to create
and recreate new interpretations of knowledge and the Africana experience,
we must reevaluate the role of mentioned and unmentioned contributors to
our discipline. Therefore, in our attempt to further establish the basis of
Black Studies, as a culturally specific discipline, I would argue that we look
at the works of Diop for a solid disciplinary foundation. This paper attempts
to analyze the methodology and philosophy of Diop, in order to further
substantiate the disciplinary basis of Black Studies.
Cheikh Anta Diop, Cultural Identity and the future of Black Studies
By Karanja Keita Carroll
Most discussions of Cheikh Anta Diop limit him to his discussion of
Ancient Egypt as a classical Afrikan civilization. Even scholars within
Black Studies begin and end with the scientific evidence that Diop provided
on the race and culture of the Ancient Egyptians. This limited use, analysis
and application of the works of Diop stagnates our understanding of his
contributions to Black Studies and knowledge production, in general. As
Black Studies continues to create and recreate new interpretations of
knowledge and the Africana experience, we must reevaluate the role of
mentioned and unmentioned contributors to our discipline. This paper uses
Diop's model of Cultural Identity to show how certain curricula and course
offerings fit within this construct. Ultimately, this paper will show the
relationship between self-knowledge, cultural knowledge, cultural identity
and Black Studies.
Cheikh Anta Diop and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel:
A comparative analysis of their philosophies of history and the role of
Afrika
By Karanja Keita Carroll
Introduction
Afrika, the birthplace of humanity and the continent with the longest
earth’s history continues to fascinate researchers and advance analysis, from
the works of the African Studies Association to the developmental initiatives
of the International Monetary Fund. While it would be logical for Afrikans
to be the most influential in steering the course of Afrikan Studies, sadly to
say, this is not the case. For sometime, it has been steered by the thoughts
and philosophies of people of non-Afrikan ancestry. The most influential
and problematic of these non-Afrikan thinkers was George Wilhelm
Friedrich Hegel who lived from 1770 – 1831. Hegel’s impact on Afrikan
Studies began and possibly continued a new course of Afrikan history that
was anti-Afrikan and quite disparaging to people of Afrikan descent.
Hegel’s arguments and ideas about the role of Afrika in world history were
influential in validating the enslavement of Afrikans, Western Christian
indoctrinization, colonialism, neo-colonialism and the present debacle over
globalism. Similar Hegelian motivated arguments continue to destroy
interpersonal relationships between Afrikans and non-Afrikans the world
over.
Hegel’s impact on Afrikan history is found throughout colleges and
universities, who continue to use Hegel as a model on Afrikan history.
Other colleges and universities, continue to hire professors and create
initiates based upon Hegelian historical assumptions. None of these
professors, departments, centers and/or institutes view Afrikan history from
the cultural perspective of Afrikans, but rather impose non-Afrikan
standards as a universal human norm.
While Hegel has been influential in steering the direction of Afrikan
historiography, the work of Cheikh Anta Diop has begun to place Afrikan
history within its own cultural, philosophical and continental context. Thus,
one can argue, that Diop’s work has begun to place Afrikan history within
its correct cultural context. While Diop’s original arguments and ideas were
initially produced in French, it was with the English translation of his major
works that scholars across the Afrikan diaspora began to know and
understand a logical, but yet practically unused approach to Afrikan
historiography. This approach to Afrikan history was centered upon the
cultural connections between the numerous Afrikan cultures.
It is between Hegel and Diop that the warring ideals of Afrikan
historiography have begun and continue to be fought throughout Afrikan
Studies today. Many say that much of what is written today regarding
Afrikan Studies, and particularly Afrikan history, is only a footnote to
Hegel. In this intellectual climate the reassessment and usage of the works
of scholars such as Diop is necessary.
With the rise of Black Nationalism, Black Studies and other critical
intellectual movements throughout the Afrikan diaspora many have begun to
challenge and question many Eurocentric assumptions. In relation to Hegel,
Keita (1974) an Afrikan philosopher, in an article entitled “Two
Philosophies of African History: Hegel and Diop”, sketches a basic outline
comparing both Hegel’s and Diop’s philosophy of history. Other scholars
such as Kuykendall (1993) have analyzed the works of Hegel and have been
very critical of Hegel’s discussion of Afrikan history and culture.
Recently, with the usage of Afrocentricity as a tool of analysis
(Asante, 1990) a contemporary comparison, which uses this framework is
necessary. Afrocentric analysis argues that the researcher use Afrikan
culture and history as one’s tool of analysis when interpreting and judging
Afrikan phenomenon (Asante, 1990, pp. 5-6). This logical form of analysis
is somewhat missing, or misplaced, throughout the works of both Keita and
Kuykendall. While both researchers contribute to a basic understanding of
the relationship between Hegel and Diop, it is their lack of usage of the
Afrocentric paradigm which requires an extension of this comparative
analysis (Mazama, 2001).
This work attempts to reinterpret the dialogue regarding Afrikan
historiography, from both Hegel and Diop, in light of the Afrocentric
perspective. This analysis attempts to look at the philosophies of history
proposed by both Hegel and Diop using the Afrocentric paradigm. An
overall synopsis of Hegel’s philosophy of history and the place of Afrika
within world history will be our starting point. Secondly, Diop’s philosophy
of history will be analyzed along the same lines. Comparative aspects of
Hegel’s and Diop’s philosophies of history will be analyzed, critiqued and
further built upon.
Cheikh Anta Diop and Pan-Africanism:
Creating Bonds of Unity, Always in Familiar Waters
By Karanja Keita Carroll
“First thing when you wake up,
say mama God knows I love you.
Before you pick up your tea cup,
remember to talk to the Father too,
thanking him for everything
and give I-s for the rising.
On yours knees while we pray, each break of day
and chase the devil away.
If we wanna save the world,
we gotta save the children.
Set an example for the children to follow,
make a better tomorrow…”
Luciano – "Save the World" on A New Day (2001)
In a separatist understanding of Pan-Africanism one often limits PanAfricanism to a political, ideological and/or abstract concept. This act is
quite detrimental to the fact that Pan-Africanism is a way of life, a mode of
reasoning and a necessary tool for African world liberation. By stepping
away from the normal discussion of Pan-Africanism as a political
mechanism, this present discussion attempts to locate elements of PanAfrican symbols, ethics, values and morality. This will be looked at in light
of Cheikh Anta Diop’s discussion on African matriarchy. By using Diop’s
argument to create a framework and criteria for African matriarchy, three
African world cultures are analyzed. These cultures consist of the Caribbean
country and city realities of Lindsay Barrett’s (1974) Songs of Mumu, the
African American Gullah culture of Julie Dash’s (1991) Daughter’s of the
Dust; and a fairly recent ethnographic analysis of the Oru of Oguta Lake by
Sabine Jell-Bahlsen (1997). These three cultures exemplify at some level,
the connections that we are able to create around the idea of Pan-Africanism
symbolism, ethics, values and moral systems. Before analyzing these works
we must first understand the author’s framework and basic assumptions. As
initially stated, this will begin with Cheikh Anta Diop’s thesis found in
many of his works but specifically outlined in The Cultural Unity of Black
Africa: The Domains of Matriarchy and Patriarchy in Classical Antiquity
(1989).
Works Cited
Diop's Contribution to Pan-Africanism and Pan-Africanist Ideology: An
Introduction
By Karanja Keita Carroll
Amongst many scholars Cheikh Anta Diop’s Pan-Africanist approach
to scholarship is often neglected. This is evident by the lack of attention that
is given to Diop’s work from those who consider themselves Diopian. One
example of this can be found in Ivan Van Sertima’s Great African Thinkers,
Vol. 1: Cheikh Anta Diop (1986). In this volume the only article that directly
focuses on The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, Diop’s primary Pan-
Africanist text, does not give any serious analysis to Diop’s reasoning for
African matriarchy, one basis for African unity. Nor is African matriarchy
the focus of any of the other essays. Neither does this text give an analysis
of Diop’s conceptualization of cultural identity. These two areas of Diop’s
scholarship (African matriarchy and cultural identity) are pervasive
throughout all of his works and are Pan-African in nature. The closest this
volume comes to touching upon Diop’s approach to Pan-Africanism is an
interview conducted by Carlos Moore for Afriscope magazine. Because
Diopian scholars limit their analysis only to Diop’s contribution to Ancient
African Civilizations and the exact science, they have done a disservice to
Diop and have overlooked his contributions to African world history. I
would argue that understanding Diop means that one must use a holistic
approach when studying his work. If we are to accept Diop, we must accept
all of him, including all his arguments, faults and contradictions.
In studying Cheikh Anta Diop’s contributions, we must first
understand how people know of Diop, and then use this as a segue into an
analysis of his contributions to Pan-African scholarship. Many people know
Diop because he was able to provide empirical evidence to show that the
Ancient Egyptians were Black Africans. His most widely known argument is
that, Ancient Egypt was a Black African civilization. Diop went even further
and argued that Egypt is to Africa, what Greece is to Europe. In this he
meant Africans should be able to use Egypt as a cultural, social and
scholarly foundation much as Europe has been able to use Greece for the
same liberating reasons. In Diop’s own words he states,
For us, the return to Egypt in all domains is a necessary condition for
reconciling African civilization with history, in order to be able to
construct a body of modern human sciences, in order to renovate
African culture. Far from being a reveling in the past, a look toward
Egypt of antiquity is the best way to conceive and build our cultural
future. In reconceived and renewed African culture, Egypt will play
the same role that Greco-Latin antiquity plays in Western culture.
(1991, p. 3)
Most scholars who focus on Diop limit their analysis to this aspect of his
work. However, Diop was a multitalented and multitrained scholar, whose
education was not only in history and Egyptology, but also in linguistics,
anthropology, classics, archeology, prehistory and philosophy, among other
areas. Diop’s interdisciplinary training allowed him to create numerous
theoretical arguments with empirical evidence to support his position.
The most disregarded of these arguments, can be found in The
Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Matriarchy and Patriarchy
in Classical Antiquity (1989), Precolonial Black Africa (1987), Black Africa
(1987), and Towards the African Renaissance (1996). The primary focus of
this paper will be a holistic analysis of the relevance of Diop’s
conceptualization of African matriarchy, cultural identity and their relevance
to African cultural unity.
In order to begin a discussion on Diop’s contribution to Pan-African
scholarship, one must first understand what is Pan-Africanism. John Henrik
Clarke, explains Pan-African by stating, “’Pan’ means all. Pan-African
means all African people. It refers to the oneness of all people of African
descent and it infers African world unity” (1991, pp. 98-99). According to
Dr. Clarke we are looking to see in Diop’s scholarship at what level is he
able or does he attempt to unify African people. P. Olisanwuche Esedebe
refers to Pan-Africanism as “a political and cultural phenomenon that
regards Africa, Africans and African descendants abroad as a unit. It seeks
to regenerate and unify Africa and promote a feeling of oneness among
people of the African world. It glorifies the African past and inculcates
pride in African values” (1994, p. 5). From Esedebe we will be looking to
see at what level can Diop’s contributions see Africa, Africans and diasporic
Africans as a unit. Does he attempts regenerates and unifies African people?
Finally, at what level does he glorify the African past and African values? I
would argue that Diop has approached Clarke’s Pan-African and Esedebe’s
Pan-Africanism in the most historically accurate fashion.
There are two intended objectives of this paper. The first is to see
how Diop was able to use matriarchy as a tool to create African cultural
unity.
This will be done through an analysis of some of Diop’s most
neglected texts, but also some of his more popular work.
The second
objective is to see how Diop was able to use his conceptualization of cultural
identity, to create a second basis for African cultural unity.
Among the different schools of Pan-Africanism, I would argue that
Diop is a culturalist. Diop knew the importance of culture and understood
its usefulness in creating African unity. In an interview when speaking
about culture and its role in African liberation, Diop states,
It is indispensable to spell out in what context we are discussing
culture… To my mind, the notion of culture is tied to the emergence
of a multinational state embracing almost the entire continent. This
means that the cultural question can only be fully appreciated the day
we will succeed through struggle and victory over colonialism
achieving national independence at the continental level. There is no
doubt that culture will be used as a weapon in this struggle, this is
indispensable. That is why it is important that this weapon be at all
times adapted to the struggle for national independence, for culture
shall, essentially, be in the service of the struggle for national
liberation. (1991, p. 114)
It is from this fundamental tenet that we begin to evaluate Diop’s
contribution to Pan-African scholarship.
Culture, Cultural Identity, and Cheikh Anta Diop
By Karanja Keita Carroll
The eminent multi-trained scholar, Cheikh Anta Diop holds a central
place in the scholastic endeavors of African-centered scholarship.
The
majority of scholars who use the arguments and research produced by Diop
focus only on his arguments regarding the race and culture of the Ancient
Egyptians. Because of the centrality of Egypt to Afrocentric scholarship
these scholars limit their usage only to this element of Diop’s work. In
doing this we often neglect the most important arguments put forth by Diop,
those regarding culture and cultural unity.
On Diop’s second attempt at his dissertation, which would be rejected
much like the first attempt, he produced the arguments and evidence that
would culminate in The Cultural Unity of Africa:
Matriarchy and Patriarchy in Classical Antiquity.
The Domains of
This text was first
published in French by Presènce Africaine in 1963, under the title: The
Cultural Unity of Negro Africa. Two more publications in English would
soon follow and this allowed for the accessibility of these very important
ideas.
This paper attempts to access the arguments of Cheikh Anta Diop in
The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, particularly those which are in reference
to what he terms the Southern Cradle. By analyzing Diop’s arguments and
evidence the author attempts to strengthen his original argument.
The sole foundation which Diop placed his arguments on, was the role
and function of matriarchy in African culture. According to Diop the role of
matriarchy separates African cultures from all other cultures, especially
those of Europe which are characterized by patriarchy. By using matriarchy,
Diop was able to create a mode of analysis based upon the characteristics
which matriarchy creates. These including gender equality, an optimistic
worldview, etc.
The first objective of this paper is to attempt to access the arguments
given by Diop in his explanation of the Southern Cradle/Africa. Secondly
this paper attempts to understand Diop’s use of the concept, culture. In
Diop’s Civilization or Barbarism, Diop creates a criteria for cultural identity,
which can be applied to African people in their process of self-liberation.
The author will look at all the elements of Diop’s understanding of cultural
identity and all the ends of which it could bring. The final results of this
paper should allow an understanding of the usage of the concepts: culture
and cultural unity, in the scholastic endeavors of Cheikh Anta Diop.
____________________
Diop, Cheikh Anta. (1989). The cultural unity of Black Africa: The
domains of matriarchy & patriarchy in classical antiquity. London:
Karnak House.
Cheikh Anta Diop's Cultural Unity Thesis, Culture and an African
Worldview:
Understanding the Connections
By Karanja Keita Carroll
In our affirmation of an African Worldview it is of great importance
that we understand the foundation upon which this worldview stands. One
way of approaching this subject is through an analysis of Cheikh Anta
Diop’s (1989) Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Matriarchy
and Patriarchy within Classical Antiquity.
Inherent within Diop’s argument is the relationship between the
concepts of culture and worldview. By defining these concepts we come
closer to understanding their relationship to Diop’s thesis.
Culture can
neatly be defined as the way of life of a people. Worldview can agreeably
be defined as the particular belief systems and assumptions of a people.
Diop used a comparative historical approach to ground his argument.
This present investigation looks only at the Southern cradle (Africa), for our
appreciation of an African Worldview.
Diop’s central argument is based upon the relationship between
human beings and their environment. From this point, he analyzes how
people
react
towards
their
environmental
surroundings
and
behaviors/beliefs that manifest because of these surroundings.
the
The
environment of the Southern cradle (Africa) can be characterized as having
warmth, sunlight, flowing bodies of water, abundant vegetation, etc. These
environmental conditions in turn create agricultural subsistence, motherfocused societies, a balance between male and female social functioning,
burial of the dead as a form of ancestor worship, among other
characteristics. These characteristics and the behaviors they produce create
a worldview that is based upon balance, unity, harmony, interdependence
and an all-encompassing optimistic spirituality.
The final outcome of this paper should allow one to see the
inextricable relationship between African culture, an African Worldview and
the arguments Diop proposes in the Cultural Unity of Black Africa. In
summation, Diop’s cultural unity thesis is the basis for the construction of
the particular culture of a people. This culture in turn perpetuates and
determines a particular worldview.
____________________
Diop, Cheikh Anta. (1989). The cultural unity of Black Africa: The
domains of matriarchy & patriarchy in classical antiquity. London:
Karnak House.
_____
Diop, C. A. (1989). The cultural unity of Black Africa: The domains of
matriarchy & patriarchy in classical antiquity.
London: Karnak
House.
_____. (1991). Civilization or barbarism: An authentic anthropology.
New York: Lawrence Hill Books.
_____. (1996). Towards the African renaissance, essays in culture &
development: 1946-1960. London: Karnak House.
Works Cited
Amadiume, I. (1987). African matriarchal foundations: the case of
Igbo societies. London: Karnak House.
Amadiume, I. (1997). Reinventing Africa: Matriarchy, religion &
culture. New York: Zed Books.
Ani, M. (1994). Yurugu: An African-centere critique of European
cultural thought and behavior. Trenton: Africa World Press.
Diop, C. A. (1974). The African origin of civilization: myth or
reality. Brooklyn: Lawrence Hill Books.
Diop, C. A. (1987). Black Africa: the economic and cultural basis
for a federated state. Brooklyn: Lawrence Hill Books.
Diop, C.A. (1987). Precolonial Black Africa. New York:
Lawrence Hill Books.
Diop, C. A. (1989). The cultural unity of black Africa: the domains
of matriarchy and patriarchy in classical antiquity. London: Karnak House.
Diop, C.A. (1991). Civilization or barbarism: an authentic
anthropology. Brooklyn: Lawrence Hill Books.
Obenga, T. (1998). African philosophy in world history. Princeton:
Sungai Books.
Works to be Cited
Aristotle’s Politics. H. G. Apostle & L. P. Gerson, Trans. (1986).
Grinnell: The Peripatetic Press.
Bierbrier, M. L. (1999). A historical dictionary of Ancient Egypt.
Baltimore: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Brewer, D. J. & Teeter, E. (1999) Egypt and the Egyptians. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Cobb, T. (1858). An Historical Sketch of Slavery, from the Earliest
Periods. Philadelphia: T. & J. W. Johnson & Co.
Diop, C. A. (1989). The cultural unity of Black Africa: The domains of
matriarchy & patriarchy in classical antiquity. London: Karnak House.
_____. (1991). Civilization or barbarism: An authentic anthropology. New
York: Lawrence Hill Books.
Loprieno, A. (1997). Slaves. In S. Donadoni (Ed.), The Egyptians (pp.
185-219). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Finley, M. I., ed. (1960). Slavery in Classical Antiquity: Views and
Controversies. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd.
Fustel De Coulanges, N. D. (1956). The Ancient City: A Study of the
Religion, Laws and Institutions of Greece and Rome. Garden City:
Doubleday Anchor Books.
Garnsey, P. (1999). Ideas of slavery from Aristotle to Augustine.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
General history of Africa II: Ancient civilizations of Africa. G. Moktar (Ed.)
Paris: UNESCO.
Isichei, E. (1997). A History of African Societies to 1870. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
James, T. G. H. (1984). Pharoah’s People: Scenes from life in Imperial
Egypt. London: The Bodley Head.
Mcmunn, G. (1974). Slavery Through The Ages. Totowa: Rowman and
Littlefield.
Plato The Republic. R. W. Sterling & W. C. Scott, Trans. (1985). New
York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Watterson, B. (1997). The Egyptians. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.
Zeitlin, I. M. (1993). Plato’s Vision: The Classical Origins of Social and
Political Thought. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Writings
Currently, I am completing my dissertation in African American Studies,
tentatively titled “Theory and Theory Production in Africana Studies:
Cheikh
Anta Diop’s Two Cradle Theory as a Metatheory ...

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astro.temple.edu/~karanja/writings.htm
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Cached page
CHEIKH ANTA DIOP
... is seen to be, in perspective of Cheikh Anta Diop , the cradle of ... evidence
supports the theory that the ... This last work of Cheikh Anta Diop is a
summation and expansion of his two previous volumes - ...
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afgen.com/cheikh.html
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Cached page
The Invention of Africa" and Intellectual Neocolonialism
... divides the African thinkers into two ... Aimé Caesar, Leopold Senghor
and Cheikh Anta Diop ... angles he apparently exudes the Diop project,
which seeks "to give Africa the moral benefit the cradle of ...
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Cached page
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