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Cheikh Anta Diop: The Man Behind The African Origin of Civilization

Cheikh Anta Diop (1923-1986) was an Afrocentric historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician who studied the human race’s origins and pre-colonial African culture from Senegal was affectionately known as the Pharaoh of Knowledge.

For long, the history of mankind had been tilted to suit the malicious machinations of the white people. The story of Africa was neglected, the origins of Africa were grossly distorted. There was also the story that Egypt and modern day Africans descended from the same ancestors. Cheik Anta Diop however, changed these strange perceptions.

Cheikh Anta Diop (1923-1986) was an Afrocentric historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician who studied the human race’s origins and pre-colonial African culture from Senegal. Before Cheikh Anta Diop, the world, and Africans in particular, had been taught that Africa was nothing, and that Egypt and Egyptians were not African, that the great Egyptian civilization which gave so much to the world, could not have come from the dark brown Africans. 

Europeans refused to admit that although in Africa, Egyptians could be Africans i.e. Black, or rather believed that Blacks were so backwards that their ancestors could not have possibly made the great pyramids of Giza or the great sphinx.

Diop was an impressive intellectual. He was extremely exceptional in Egyptology, prehistoric archaeology and linguistics. On top of that, he had two PhDs as a physicist. Diop’s first work translated into English, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, was published in 1974. It gained a much wider audience for his work. He published many other books after that. 

He proved that archaeological and anthropological evidence supported his view that Pharaohs were of Negroid origin. Some scholars draw heavily from Diop’s groundbreaking work, , while others in the Western academic world do not accept all of Diop’s theories. Diop’s work has posed important questions about the cultural bias inherent in scientific research.

Diop showed above all that European archaeologists before and after the decolonization had understated and continued to understate the extent and possibility of Black civilizations.

The Swiss archaeologist Charles Bonnet’s discoveries at the site of Kerma shed some light on the theories of Diop. They show close cultural links between Nubia and Ancient Egypt, though the relationship had been acknowledged for years. This does not necessarily imply a genetic relationship, however.

Mainstream Egyptologists such as F. Yurco note that among peoples outside Egypt, the Nubians were closest ethnically to the Egyptians, shared the same culture in the predynastic period, and used the same pharaonoic political structure. He suggests that the peoples of the Nile Valley were one regionalized population, sharing a number of genetic and cultural traits. Diop argued that there was a shared cultural continuity across African peoples that was more important than the varied development of different ethnic groups shown by differences among languages and cultures over time.

Diop was affectionately known as the Pharaoh of Knowledge and the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) of Dakar was re-named after him. He has been very instrumental through his work in restoring black pride, and disputing long-held thoughts about Africa’s originality.


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