Why Didn't They Tell You?

Dr. FRANK MARTINS COMMENTARY ON HISTORICAL, SOCIAL & ECONOMIC ISSUES OF OUR TIME

… the truth about the founding of America?

the truth about the founding of America?

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may notice that my writing about the events and issues coming out of the George Floyd protest is seemingly a deviation from my previous theme of correcting misconceptions or making known some unpublicized facts about the history of Africans and People of African heritage/descent. I will get back to that theme but due to the urgency of the crisis our country is going through, I feel compelled to make further comments on some of the pertinent issues, as I see them. However, there is a common theme in all that I have written and am writing: getting at the truth.

In this blog, I want to return to the founding of the United States of America. There is a persistent attempt to brand the U. S. Constitution as a racist document that excluded Black People along with a constant drum beat that the Declaration of Independence was not intended for Black People. Hence many people of African descent no longer celebrate Independence Day, July 4. The pulling down of statues has now come to include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant (the general who led the Union to victory over the Confederacy), all former Presidents of the United States. Andrew Jackson is now in their crosshairs. The reason they have become pariahs is because they owned slaves, with the exception of Theodore Roosevelt who became president after slavery was over. This is just the beginning because other Founding Fathers owned slaves also (They pulled down a statue of Ulysses S. Grant because somebody gave him one slave). If the statues of the founders of the country have to be torn down, the next logical step is to discredit and tear down the things they created, the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution; that process has already begun. If the whole edifice (the country) is built upon these two documents, it then follows that the whole country must come down so that they can start all over and set up a new system based on their vision of the just society with two of its cornerstones being socialism (Marxism) and atheism. Please understand socialism, Marxism, and atheism go together. There is no pretense at wanting to preserve capitalism and a market economy. Christianity also has to go. That is why the rioters had no compunction in setting fire to and vandalizing St. John’s Episcopal Church, known as the church of presidents. What an exquisite symbolic gesture, attacking a place of worship that slave-owning and reprobate presidents attended! One would have expected a hue and a cry to rise up against such a desecration, but it did not happen because the media controlled the narrative. Indeed, when the President took action to protect the church and the White House, he was attacked.

What we are witnessing is a move to delegitimize the United States of American as a country and as a civilization. Again I want to emphasize that if the people in the Black Lives Matter movement were really concerned about black lives, they would pay more attention to the carnage that is occurring every day in major metropolitan areas of the country, killings that blacks are inflicting upon blacks, and there seems to be no end to it.

Writers often grope for the right words to express an idea, a concept, or a thought. I groped for the right words to express the wrongness of judging and condemning people from the past by our contemporary standards for things that happened 250 years or more ago. Fortunately other writers have given me some appropriate language. There are “inherent constraints of circumstances” (a phrase attributed to Edmund Burke and referenced by Thomas Sowell in his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals1) that circumscribe the actions that can be taken at the time. Arthur Schlesinger called it “self-righteousness in retrospect” when we judge people in the past by our standards of today. We are today condemning the Founding Fathers for not abolishing slavery when the U. S. Constitution was drafted. I have dealt with this issue in a previous blog. In a sense, the founders were faced with a binary choice. They either formed a Constitution and a country with slavery recognized for the time being or try to abolish slavery then and get no Constitution, and the fragile country probably falls apart. The fact that they chose the former does not mean most of them were at peace with the compromise. One indication of this is the provision in the Constitution that the slave trade would be abolished in 1808, 20 years after the Constitution was drafted. If they had been at peace with the compromise, why put such a provision in the Constitution? Since they did not want to enshrine slavery in the Constitution, the word “slavery” does not appear in the original document. I assert this inference (that the framers deliberately did not use the word slavery in the Constitution) on the authority of none other than John Quincy Adams who was there when the Constitution was formed. The assertion that the Constitution defined a Black Person as three-fifths of a person is absurd and seems to reflect an inability to understand plain English. The provision applied to slaves, not all Black People; at least 60,000 Black People were, in fact, free at the time the Constitution was drafted, and they were part of “We the People” who ordained and established the Constitution, in the opinion of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis in a brilliant dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott case. Why do some people want to exclude those 60,000 Black People from “We the People” when the Constitution includes them when it specifies in Article 1, Section 2 that “the whole Number of free Persons” would be counted in determining a state’s representation? It says nothing about race or color.

Around the time of the drafting of the U. S. Constitution, something was happening in America and Great Britain that had not happened before in the whole history of humanity, namely, the questioning of the legitimacy of the institution of slavery. Throughout history, slavery had been a feature of most societies.  It had been more important in some than others and had differed markedly through time and space. In the documentary Liberty and Slavery (2016), one commentator observed that, “Only during the past 250 years was slavery questioned as an institution, over a period of 10,000 years”. This began to happen in America in the latter half of the 18th century (1750-1800). However, it would be almost 150 years later (the first half of the 1900’s) before Africans came around to this way of thinking, i.e., questioning the institution of slavery2.

Though winning independence and adoption of the Constitution did not result in the abolition of slavery, a new dynamic had been created. John Hope Franklin concluded that the War for Independence brought about movements and actions to abolish slavery. Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of black slaves were manumitted (freed) after the war. Petitions for freedom increased because the ideology of the struggle against slavery had broadened. Manumissions and anti-slavery societies became more widespread. The debate over slavery intensified. Also the opposition intensified. Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852 and dealt an enormous blow to the institution of slavery. People were emboldened to engage in actions which pushed the nation closer and closer to war. Various acts of Congress (the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act) sought to address the issue of the spread of slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act said that Kansas and Nebraska would be organized as territories and the territorial governments would decide whether or not the territory would become slave or free.3

Out of the opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act came the Republican Party in 1854. As stated by John Hope Franklin, this new Republican Party was “unalterably anti-slavery in its point of view”4.  In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican President. Lincoln’s anti-slavery position was a matter of record. For southern slave-owners, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The war was on. After achieving success in ridding the country of slavery, this party became the advocate for and protector of the rights of Americans of African Heritage, as laid out in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U. S. Constitution.

While these things were going on in America, slaving and slavery were alive and well in Africa, and the institution was not being questioned. Much has been written about slavery and slaving in Africa. One of the most comprehensive treatments of the subject is the book by Sean Stilwell, Slavery and Slaving in African History. He documents that not only was African slavery widespread throughout the Continent, it was not always mild and benign. Africans were willing participants in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Several African nations such as Dahomey were built on slavery and slaving. Often they initiated wars to capture people who would be sold into slavery. They (the African states and their rulers) were not innocent victims; of course, those who were enslaved were innocent victims.  In his above referenced book on slaving and slavery in Africa, Stilwell puts it his way:

“Until the nineteenth century, Africans generally had the upper hand (with the exception perhaps of the Kingdom of Kongo). Europeans were militarily weak, remained vulnerable to tropical diseases, and were always at risk of having their food supplies cut off by angry Africans. Africans also demanded rent for the small parcels of land that Europeans occupied. Africans were in a commanding position to negotiate good terms of trade for commodities, and the prices of slaves rose accordingly.” (p. 48).

The Africans were the ones who captured the people who were sold into slavery. In other words, the Africans were willing participants in this evil enterprise. The Europeans could have done nothing without the help and consent of the African rulers and big men. The fact that the Africans had the upper hand for such a long time means that they could have kicked the Europeans out at any time during the first few centuries of the slave trade, if they had wanted to. But they did not want to. Why? Quite simply it was a lucrative business for the African leaders as well as for the European slavers. It was greed, the love of money. Africans are like any other humans; they too are capable of being driven by greed. The Bible is true when it states that “For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10, AMP). No race has a monopoly on evil, just as no race has a monopoly on good.

Should we condemn Africans forever and a day for having been willing and enabling participants in the evil enterprise of slaving and slavery? God forbid! We who are Christians are commanded to forgive. Additionally, we should not, and must not, forget the many wonderful contributions to humanity of Africans from the areas of the slave trade. They created well organized and stable societies that were not driven by slavery. The reports of early Europeans visitors to Africa tell of countries teeming with people and well organized down to the minutest detail. They domesticated crops, many of which were exported to Asia and the New World. They were known for their artisanry; they knew how to do things. All African people knew how to smelt iron ore and create wonderful works of iron. The Guinea Coast was initially known as the Grain Coast because of the abundance of grain produced by countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, and Senegal, going back to the middle ages. These were successful societies. The trans-Atlantic and Saharan slave trade was a major, if not the major, factor in the downfall of these civilizations, if for no other reason than the depopulation of areas that previously had teemed with dense populations.  

The bottom line is this. If we are going to condemn America for slavery and slaving, consistency requires that we do the same for Africa. The Africans were knowing accessories to the crime. I suggest that we condemn neither. America paid the price with the Civil War and has repented for the 100 years of discrimination and oppression after the Civil War. We Americans of African descent need to forgive our country, the United States of America. Yes, I said “our country” for America is indeed our country. We are free to pursue happiness. Freedom to worship as we please is a very important part of the freedom we now enjoy. We also must forgive our brothers and sisters on the African Continent and pray that they repent for deeds of the ancestors, who are also our ancestors, so that God may heal the land.

The fight being waged by the Radical Left to destroy our country is not our fight. I believe it is still the case that we Americans of African descent simply want an equal opportunity to be able to partake of the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution, and I believe that we have that. Ben Marquis presciently stated in a 2017 article, “Today it is Confederate generals. Tomorrow it will be slave-owning presidents. How soon after that before they take down the “slave-built” White House, rip up the “slave-owner written” Constitution and Declaration of Independence, or — perhaps not as far-fetched as it may sound — start calling for the detainment or deaths of descendants of slave owners?”5 Three years ago he predicted what is happening today. It has already gone beyond Confederate generals. Do we want all of that which may ensue if the Radical Left has its way?

1. Sowell, Thomas (2005). Black rednecks and white liberals. Encounter Books: New York.

2. Stilwell, Sean (2014). Slavery and Slaving in African history. Cambridge University: New York, p. 178.

3. Franklin, John Hope (1967). From slavery to freedom: A history of Negro Americans, 3rd edition. New York: Alfred A Knopf, pp. 265-67.

4. Franklin, p. 167.

5. Marquis, Ben (2017). “1984” eerily sums up BLM, Antifa, and statue destroyers”. Accessed at http://conservativetribune.com/quote-1984-sums-up-blm-antifa/.

that the present uproar over George Floyd’s Murder is not primarily about race?

that the present uproar over George Floyd’s Murder is not primarily about race?

ONE BAD APPLE DON’T SPOIL THE WHOLE BUNCH

The killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin was one of the most heinous acts of brutality I have ever seen. It seems evident to me that Chauvin’s intent was to kill Floyd; otherwise why would he keep his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes and kept doing so for several minutes after Floyd apparently had ceased breathing. It looked like murder, and it was murder, and the full force of the law should be brought against Chauvin. Understandably we want to see Chauvin pay for his murder of George Floyd. This tragic event has sparked protests throughout the United States and other parts of the world.

When this all started, there was unity in everybody agreeing that this was murder and that it should be dealt with accordingly, and there is still agreement on this. However, the turn that things have taken is now very divisive. Therefore, I implore you, “Let us reason together”. Since the motto of this blog is “and the truth shall make you free”, I must speak the truth as I see it and ask that you hear me out.

The protests started as soon as the George Floyd killing was publicized and have continued more than two weeks later; and the killing of Rayshard Brooks has further fueled the flames of protest. There was some rioting, looting, and burning initially but for the most part, the protestors have been constrained and non-violent. Soon the protests morphed into a movement to abolish and/or defund police departments. The Minneapolis City Council has voted to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department. Protest groups in Seattle have shut down a police precint and taken over a six block area which the protestors named Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) but later changed the name to Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone and have banned police from the zone. Leaders in the City of New York want to cut a billion dollars from the city’s police budget and abolish the anti-crime unit of 600 plainclothes policemen. Los Angeles may cut its Police Department Budget by $150 million. By the time I post this blog, other cities and municipalities undoubtedly will have followed suit, calling for the abolition or defunding of police departments. I am afraid that if these demands are acceded to, even more black people will lose their lives at the hands of other Black People.

Despite CNN’s Don Lemon’s comment that he did not want to hear the saying, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch” again, I am saying it again and will expand upon it. Incidents involving a few policemen have been generalized to all policemen thereby painting them all with the broad brush of racism. When there is a bad apple in the bunch, you take out the bad apple and leave the rest be.  According to data released by the FBI, in 2016 there were 5,237,106 incidents (reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System) involving the public interacting with police1. Just think on that number, more than 5 million interactions. The number of people killed by the police in 2015 was 9872. Assuming an even 5 million interactions in 2015, the 987 killings represented a mere .02% of all police interactions. In 2015, police killed 258 Black People. However, there were 6,000 black homicides2. The 258 killed by the police amount to 4.3% of the total black homicides in 2015. Interestingly, 12% of white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by the police. If the police had not killed any Black People at all in 2015, 96.7% of the homicides would have remained. What is the source of all the other homicides? Blacks killing each other, mostly young black males. It was heart-breaking to see the killing of both George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks. But where I live, the New Orleans area, my heart is broken practically every day, if I watch the local news and read the newspaper. Typically there are multiple killings and shootings reported daily of young black men killing and maiming each other. Rarely do they die at the hands of the police. Over the past weekend, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that 2 people were killed and 10 injured by gunshot wounds in 9 separate incidents in heavily black populated neighborhoods of New Orleans. The two victims who died were a 40-year old man and an unidentified woman. Those injured included two 17-year olds, two 16-year olds, and two 15-year olds. As I am writing this post, a news alert came over my phone saying “Police are investigating a triple shooting in New Orleans East”, a black neighborhood. The situation is even worse in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis. So you see, I cannot respect Black Lives Matter until they show themselves as much, indeed more, concerned about the black-on-black killings as they are with the police killings. How can this organization say that they are concerned with black lives when their focus is on the small number, relative to the total number killed, of blacks killed by the police while being quiet about the massive killing of blacks by blacks? 

Are the police more likely to kill a Black Person than a White Person in the use of lethal force? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Being very perturbed by the Ferguson incident (Michael Brown), a brilliant young black economist from Harvard, Dr. Roland G. Fryer, Jr., decided to look at the numbers on black and white killings by the police. With a team of researchers, he investigated police killings in 10 large cities. One of the major findings of his study was, “… when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.”3 According to Dr. Frye, “It is the most surprising result of my career.”3 Dr. Fryer looked at situations in which an officer might be expected to fire, but doesn’t. For the city of Houston, “Mr. Fryer found that in such situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot if the suspects were black. This estimate was not precise, and firmer conclusions would require more data. But in various models controlling for different factors and using different definitions of tense situations, Mr. Fryer found that blacks were either less likely to be shot or there was no difference between blacks and whites.”3 Dr. Fryer did find that blacks were more likely to be harassed than whites, consisting of such actions as pushing into walls, using handcuffs, drawing weapons, pushing to ground, and using pepper spray or baton, which means that there is a need for some reforms.

A more recent study published in the PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America comes to essentially the same conclusions as the Frye study in concluding that, “We find no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.”4 The authors reiterate the above conclusion by noting “We did not find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime [italics added]”.4 Though counter intuitive, the authors found that, “… Black and Hispanic officers (compared with White officers) were more likely to fatally shoot Black and Hispanic civilians.”4 So if there is a problem with police using lethal force, is it a race issue?  How do you square this with the spate of killings of blacks by the police? With social media and everybody having cell phones, an incident involving a police killing quickly goes viral. This does not happen every day or even every week, but it happens often enough that police killings are kept fresh in the public mind.

The upshot is this: if there is a problem with police lethal use of force, it does not seem to be a racial issue. Furthermore, in the large cities where Black People are concentrated, most of the mayors and police chiefs are black. I invite you to glance over the lists displayed below of current African-American and Hispanic mayors and police chiefs of major American cities.

Major American Cities with African-American or Hispanic Mayors

African-American Mayors

  1. Chicago, IL                            Lori Lightfoot
  2. Buffalo, NY                            Byron Brown
  3. Washington, D.C.                    Muriel Browser
  4. St. Paul, MN                            Melvin Carter
  5. Baltimore, MY                         Bernard Young
  6. San Francisco, CA                   London Breed
  7. Rochester, NY                         Lovely Warren
  8. Atlanta, GA                             Keisha Lance Bottoms
  9. Columbia, SC                          Stephen K Benjamin
  10. Newark, NJ                              Ras Barraka
  11. Houston, TX                            Sylvester Turner
  12. New Orleans, LA                     LaToya Cantrell
  13. Denver, CO                             Michael Hancock
  14. Dallas, TX                               Eric Johnson
  15. Montgomery, AL                     Steven Reed
  16. Birmingham, AL                      Randall Woodfin
  17. Little Rock, AK                         Frank Sutton, Jr.
  18. Waterloo, IA                            Quentin Hart
  19. Baton Rouge, LA                     Sharon Weston Broome
  20. Richmond, VA                        Levar Stoney
  21. Kansas, MO                             Quinton Lucas
  22. Gary, IN                                  Karen Freeman-Wilson
  23. Flint, MI                                   Sheldon Neely
  24. Savannah, GA                         Van R. Johnson
  25. Fayetteville, NC                       Mitch Colvin
  26. Jackson, MS                            Chokwe Antar Lumumba

Hispanic Mayors

  1. Los Angeles                             Eric Garsetti (Jewish Mexican American)
  2. Phoenix, AR                            Kate Gallegos
  3. Tucson, AR                             Regina Romero
  4. Santa Barbara, CA                  Cathy Murillo
  5. San Bernardino, CA                John Valdivia
  6. Miami, FL                                Francis X. Suarez

African-American and Hispanic Police Chiefs

African-American Police Chiefs

  1. Portland, OR                            Chuck Levell
  2. Minneapolis, MN                     Medaria Arradondo
  3. Seattle, WA                              Carmen Best
  4. Chicago, IL                              David Brown
  5. Detroit, MI                               James Craig
  6. San Francisco, CA                   William Scott
  7. Rochester, NY                         La’Ron D. Singletary
  8. Columbia, SC                          Randy Scott
  9. Durham, NC                            Cerelyn J. Davis
  10. Newark, NJ                              Darnell Henry
  11. New Orleans, LA                     Shaun Ferguson
  12. Boston, MA                             William G. Gross (Commissioner of Boston Police Department)
  13. Phoenix, AZ                            Jeri Williams
  14. Dallas, TX                               Renee Hall
  15. Montgomery, AL                     Ernest N. Fineley, Jr.
  16. Montgomery County, MY        Marcus Jones
  17. Birmingham, AL                      Patrick D. Jones
  18. Mobile, AL                              Lawrence L. Battiste, IV
  19. Lexington, KY                         Lawrence Weathers
  20. Little Rock, AK                        Keith Humphrey
  21. Waterloo, Iowa                        Joel Fitzgerald
  22. Baton Rouge, LA                     Murphy Reed
  23. Jacksonville, FL                       Deloris Patterson Oneal
  24. Baltimore, MY                         Michael S. Harrison
  25. Sacramento, CA                       Daniel Hahn
  26. Philadelphia, PA                      Danielle Outlaw
  27. Cleveland, OH                         Calvin D. Williams
  28. Cincinnati, OH                         Eliot K. Isaac
  29. Plano, TX                                Ed Drain
  30. Gary, IN                                  Richard Ligon
  31. St. Petersburg, FL                   Anthony Holloway
  32. Tulsa, OK                                Wendell Franklin
  33. Flint, MI                                   Tim Johnson
  34. Portsmouth, VA                       Angela Green
  35. Fayetteville, NC                       Genia U. Hawkins
  36. Lansing, MI                             Daryl Green
  37. Savannah, GA                         Roy W. Minter, Jr.
  38. Jackson, MS                            James E. Davis
  39. Ferguson, MO                          Jason Armstrong

Hispanic Police Chiefs

  1. Houston, TX                            Art Arcevedo
  2. Riverside, CA                          Larry Gonzalez           
  3. Miami, FL                                Jorge Colina
  4. Orlando, FL                             Orlando Rolon

The above lists are not necessarily exhaustive. Furthermore, some of the large cities which are not run by blacks today have been in the recent past. Nonetheless this much should be clear: many, if not most, of the places where there have been high profile killing of blacks by the police are run by Blacks or Hispanics. Furthermore, more police chiefs than mayors are Black or Hispanic. Policing is done at the local level for the most part. Therefore, if there have been wrongful killings of Black People by the police, do not these black leaders bear some of the responsibility? Furthermore, some of the killings involve black police officers.

If the vast majority of police officers are performing their duties efficiently and within the confines of the law, why is there a call for the wholesale dismantling and/or de-funding of police departments? Furthermore, it has not been demonstrated that all, or even a majority, of instances where police used fatal force against black individuals did so illegally or that their use of force was in the words of Attorney General Eric Holder, “objectively unreasonable”, based on applicable federal criminal civil rights law. The highly publicized cases are all different. The use of deadly force that resulted in the death of Michael Brown is very different from the use of deadly force that resulted in the death of George Floyd. The death of Michael Brown has become the cause celebre of the movement against wrongful shooting of black people by the police which launched Black Lives Matter onto the national scene. Yet his death was judged not to have been the result of a wrongful shooting. After a thorough investigation of the Michael Brown shooting of August 9, 2014, the Department of Justice, then headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, issued a report on March 4, 2015 which concluded,

“Based on this investigation, the Department has concluded that Darren Wilson’s [the police officer involved in the shooting] actions do not constitute prosecutable violations under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242, which prohibits uses of deadly force that are “objectively unreasonable,” as defined by the United States Supreme Court. The evidence, when viewed as a whole, does not support the conclusion that Wilson’s uses of deadly force were “objectively unreasonable” under the Supreme Court’s definition. Accordingly, under the governing federal law and relevant standards set forth in the USAM, it is not appropriate to present this matter to a federal grand jury for indictment, and it should therefore be closed without prosecution.”5

On the matter of “hands up, don’t shoot”, the report concluded,

“There is no witness who has stated that Brown had his hands up in surrender whose statement is otherwise consistent with the physical evidence.”6

“The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said “don’t shoot” as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any eyewitness who stated that Brown said “don’t shoot.”7

According to the DOJ report, Michael Brown was advancing toward Wilson in a tackle run, charging with his fists balled up, when Wilson shot him. Several witnesses “… stated that they would have felt threatened by Brown and would have responded in the same way Wilson did.”8

The final conclusion was, “For the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed.”9 If you have an iota of political savvy, you know that if there had been any improper use of force by Wilson, Eric Holder would have recommended prosecution of Darren Wilson.

This is a serious matter. Based on a false narrative (Hands up, don’t shoot), Black Lives Matter invigorated its anti-police movement while chanting slogans such as “Pigs in a blanket, fry’em like bacon”10. NFL players came out of locker rooms with their hands up as a kind of protest against what they thought happened in the Michael Brown shooting. It might have also triggered a spike in police shootings and encouraged NFL players to take a knee while the National Anthem is being played. Society was damaged and divided by the pushing of this false narrative.

Steve Harvey chimed in on the protests and said that “infiltrators” had hijacked the legitimate protest against the unjust killing of George Floyd. I believe he is on to something. In his comments, it was not clear to me who he thought the hijackers were. However, I have some thoughts that may throw some light on who the hijackers may be, looking at it historically and ideologically. Groups have come in to take advantage of the protest to advance their own agendas that have little or nothing to do with grievances over the killing of George Floyd. This same sort of thing happened in Ferguson, Missouri after the Michael Brown incident. Police departments have reported that many, and sometimes most, of the violent protestors arrested came from out of town; that was the case for Minneapolis and other cities. Some of them were paid to protest. It seems that their ultimate objective is to tear down the whole institution of law enforcement as it exists. This way of viewing the matter dovetails with the concept of “systemic racism”.

The concept of systemic racism sees racism as something that permeates all our institutions, from the founding of the country to practically all present day institutions. As one writer on systemic racism puts it, “As a theory, it is premised on the research-supported claim that the United States was founded as a racist society, that racism is thus embedded in all social institutions, structures, and social relations within our society. Rooted in a racist foundation, systemic racism today is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color.”11 Everything falls within the scope of this all-pervasive umbrella: the Declaration of Independence, the U. S. Constitution, the economic system (many see capitalism is the root of all our evils), religious institutions, educational institutions, governmental institutions (legislature, courts, and law enforcements), and any and everything that can be considered an institutional arrangement. With such a broad and sweeping concept of racism, nothing is sacrosanct. The implication is clear: the whole society is rotten, i.e., racist, to the core. Therefore, the only solution that will work is to tear it all down. A simple, direct expression of this conclusion is expressed by a protestor, Syrita Steib-Martin, Executive Director of Operation Restoration, in front of City Hall in New Orleans who said, “We can no longer fix systems that were not built on inclusivity – we must abolish them all”.12 Radical groups are using this concept to justify the tearing down of one institution after another. In the concept of “systemic racism”, they have a justification for pushing their transformational revolution to completion. The Constitution is not something to be respected but something that should be gotten rid of since it defines black people as three-fifths of a person (an untruth that I dealt with in my first blog). Ironically, the non-racist nature of American society is attested to by the fact that to bring down an individual or institution, all one has to do is to bring the charge of racism against that person or institution. Just the charge is often enough to discredit and/or destroy the person in the eyes of the public. Would this be possible if America is the racist society that so many allege it to be?  

Starting about 100 years ago, the Communist Party in the United States, controlled by the Kremlin out of Russia, unsuccessfully tried to use Black People13 to advance its agenda of world domination under socialism, specifically Marxist-Leninist socialism. Given the oppression suffered by African-Americans a hundred years ago, it seemed that recruiting Black People to their cause would be an easy sell, especially since the white communists showed an interest in Black People when most other whites did not seem much interested in the welfare of blacks. In their view, communism was the ready-made solution to the problems of an oppressed people like African-Americans of the early 20th century. Though they came to the assistance of blacks on numerous occasions, they ran into some walls in trying to get blacks to embrace their ideology. One was black allegiance to ideals of America as enshrined in its Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution; Black People wanted to be able to fully partake of the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the rights of the U. S. Constitution, especially the rights guaranteed us by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments which were put there especially for Americans of African descent, though some of these rights are basic for everyone. Secondly the vast majority of Black Americans were, and still are, Christians; the atheism of communism did not set will with them. And thirdly, Americans of African heritage did not like the idea of getting directions from Russia where their interests were subordinated to those of the USSR. In short, Black Americans did not buy into communism, with the exception of some intellectuals, W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Roberson being among them.

Many of the people who have infiltrated the George Floyd protest movement are the latter day descendants of the Communist Party USA, still using its strategy of “boring from within”14 to get control. Just as they infiltrated civil rights and black protest movements throughout the 20th century, they have infiltrated the George Floyd protest movement for the purpose of advancing their own agenda of socialist transformation. Around 1900, W.E.B. DuBois said that the problem of the 20th century was the color line. I submit that the problem of the 21st century is the struggle between socialism and free enterprise (capitalism) and the direction that the present protest has taken is more a reflection of that struggle than the struggle over racial injustice. That struggle is evident within the Democratic Party; some believe that the socialists have won.

I do not want to convey the impression that I think all is well in America. There are racists in America. Race prejudiced exists, but that does not make America a racist country. There are some police reforms that need to be instituted to address the reality of police harassment and inappropriate use of physical force. The President and the Congress are now addressing some of these issues. However, I would be remiss to not point out that we Americans of African heritage have to bring something to the table. We have to work more diligently to get our people, especially young people, to start respecting the lives and property of each other. Our behaviors have to change. There is too much crime committed by us in our communities. All of us, including elders like myself, are to blame. We have let our children down by not providing them with the right role models, primarily through the way we live our lives. We males have to raise our children (with their mothers). The best way to do that is to marry the one who has our children and to stay with her. The Bible has given us the blueprint. We just need to heed it. We need to stop some of the talk about what the “white man” is doing to us and begin to live as overcoming Christians, if you are a Christian, which most of us are. We have to stop seeing ourselves as victims. Do you believe that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you? Does not the Bible say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, KJV). Proverbs 23:7 tells us as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he”. If you think that you are oppressed, you will be oppressed. You will not believe that through Christ, you are more than an overcomer and you will crumble when tribulations come your way, even though Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, KJV). If He has overcome the world, you too have overcome the world.

Epilogue

There are many Black Men and Women on police forces throughout the nation, especially in metropolitan areas where many of the high profile shootings have occurred. Do not think that black police officers are immune to the impact of the anti-police rhetoric. A tragic case involving a young African-American Baton Rouge police officer which happened after police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. The young man was tragically killed in an anti-cop ambush. He talked about the emotional impact of the anti-police movement on him before he was killed. The following account was published in the Washington Times in July of 2016:

“A week before he was killed in Sunday’s anti-cop ambush, Baton Rouge Officer Montrell Jackson lamented in a Facebook post the distrust and hatred he had received, even by people close to him.

In a post accompanied by his holding his newborn son, Officer Jackson described himself as “tired physically and emotionally” but swore he’d not give in. “This city MUST and WILL get better. I’m working in these streets, so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you,” he wrote in a July 8 post that went viral Sunday evening. In the post, he even takes to task “family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments.”

“I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat,” he wrote. Officer Jackson, writing a few days after the on-camera shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, said that the distrust wasn’t simply to his uniform, but to his civilian life as a black man.

“I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. When people you know begin to question your integrity your realize they don’t know you at all.” He wrote.

He concluded the post with divine exhortations and optimism.

“Finally I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart,” Officer Jackson wrote.

The 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department was 32.”

The Featured Image of this post is Officer Jackson and his infant son.

Don’t the lives of black police officers matter?

References and Notes

  1. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation (December 11, 2017). FBI releases 2016 NIBRS crime statistics in report and CDE
  2. Mac Donald, Heather (2016). The danger of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Imprimis, April 2016, Vol. 45, No. 4.
  3. Bui, Quoctrung and Amanda Cox (JULY 11, 2016). Surprising new evidence shows bias in police use of force but not in shootings, New York Times.
  4. Johnson, David J., Trevor Tress, Nicole Burkel, Carley Taylor, and Joseph Cesario (August 6, 2019). Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Accessed at: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/32/15877.full (6/9/2020)
  5. Department of Justice (2015). Department of Justice report regarding the criminal investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, p.5.
  6. DOJ, p.83.
  7. DOJ, Footnote, p. 83.
  8. DOJ, p. 82.
  9. DOJ, p. 86.
  10. CBS News/AP (August 31, 2015). “Pigs in a blanket” chant at Minnesota fair riles police. Accessed at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pigs-in-a-blanket-chant-at-minnesota-fair-riles-police/
  11. Cole, Nicki Lisa, Ph.D. “Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/systemic-racism-3026565.
  12. The Times – Picayune New Orleans Advocate (June 12, 2020).
  13. Record, Wilson (1951). The Negro and the Communist Party. Atheneum: New York.

– Record states the following “The failure of the Stalinists to capture the allegiance of colored America can be explained by the Party’s umbilical attachment to the Kremlin, which inevitably relegate the question of Negro rights to a position of secondary importance. But behind this failure also lies the Communists’ inability to see the black citizen for what he is. In his embracement of the ideal of equality, the Negro has shown that he is an American in the most fundamental sense, for the egalitarian aspiration stem

about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I – Writing

about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I – Writing.

The parent writing system of the very letters you are reading right now comes from Africa, from the Hieroglyphic writing of Ancient Egypt. Scholars of ancient history invariably assert that writing developed in Mesopotamia (Sumeria) and Egypt at about the same time, between 3,000 and 3,300 BC, but a bit earlier in Mesopotamia than in Egypt. I believe that it was first developed in Egypt because by 3,300 BC, the hieroglyphic writing system was fully developed. Whether writing developed earlier in Mesopotamia than in Egypt is not important for the purpose at hand. The fact is that our writing is not traceable to cuneiform writing of Mesopotamia but to Egyptian hieroglyphs. This Hieroglyphic writing was either developed in Ancient Egypt itself or in Cush (Ethiopia) to the South, both of which were African civilizations.

The featured image at the top of this post shows some connections (partial list) between Egyptian hieroglyphs and various writing systems of Asia and the Greek alphabet; the last column labeled Other shows the equivalent Greek letters.1 The Roman or Latin alphabet is derived from the Greek alphabet; the Romans letters A, B, and G are equivalent to the Greek letters alpha, beta, gamma (Α, B, Γ; lower case: α, β, γ).

The Greek alphabet is traceable back to the Phoenician (Canaanite) alphabet, and the Phoenician alphabet is traceable back to Egyptian hieroglyphs.2 Phoenician, or Canaanite, writing was the first alphabetic writing; generally vowels were not written in Egyptian hieroglyphic writing nor in the Phoenician alphabetic writing, with a few exceptions. The Greek alphabet was the first writing system with vowels, an important innovation attributable to the Greeks. There were twenty-four (24) characters which constituted an Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet; however, Egyptian writing was only partially alphabetic. By the time of the New Kingdom, Egypt maintained very close ties with Phoenicia which was integrated into the Egyptian Empire. The Phoenicians were the merchant marines of Egypt since Egypt remained an insular (inland) country until the late period.

There is evidence that the earliest form of Canaanite alphabetic writing was developed in Egypt, in Sinai, the land bridge connecting Africa and Asia (See map below); Sinai then, and still is today, was a part of Egypt. A 2018 article in THE TIMES OF ISRAEL reported that “…the first inscriptions of the written Semitic alphabet, often called Proto-Canaanite, are found at this Sinai quarry site [Serabit el-Khadim].”3 These inscriptions are thought to date back to around 1,450 BC., more than 1,500 years after Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was fully developed. If all this is so, then the first alphabetic writing, as well as the first writing system, was also developed in Egypt.

It appears that most of the writing systems of Europe and Western Asia (Hebrew, Aramaic, South Arabian Script, and Moabite are some examples) were derived from either Greek or Canaanite writing, with Egyptian hieroglyphs being the mother of all. Practically all of the European writing systems use Roman letters which a traceable to Greek letters which come from Canaanite characters which finally are derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. Latin (Roman), Cyrillic, and Runic writing systems were derived primarily from Greek writing.

Interestingly the authors of a book on Egyptian hieroglyphs commented that, “One of the phenomena of Egyptian history is that the writing does not seem to have developed slowly, as is the case of other cultures. One moment it did not exist; then suddenly, indeed almost overnight the writing appeared fully developed.”4 This enigma is attributable to the fact that historians want to synchronize Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization or want to put Mesopotamia before Egypt. Therefore, Egyptian civilization had to start around 3,200 BC, which gives no time to explain the development of writing. The other problem is that most Egyptologists have refused to look South to Ethiopia (Cush) as the origin of Egyptian writing, the place where Ancient Greeks and Egyptians say their civilization started. Interestingly Cheikh Anta Diop tells us that the plant and animal hieroglyphs are found in Cush more than Egypt.

Africa’s gift of writing to the Western World5 is enough to earn the gratitude of the world. The brilliance of the Greeks could not have been passed on to us without the writing system that they inherited from the Phoenicians. Undoubtedly the invention and/or adaption of writing systems facilitated the development of science and every other aspect of civilization.

In other posts, I will talk about Africa’s other gifts to the world through Egypt. I will also talk about the enormous contributions of West Africa and other parts of Sub-Sahara Africa.

1. Proto-Sinaitic script, Wikipedia. Accessed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Sinaitic_script

2. “The Latin alphabet evolved from the visually similar Etruscan alphabet, which evolved from the Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet, which was itself descended from the Phoenician alphabet, which in turn derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics.” (Latin alphabet, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_alphabet)

3. AMANDA BORSCHEL-DAN (May 22, 2018). First written record of Semitic alphabet, from 15th century BCE, found in Egypt. THE TIMES OF ISRAEL. Accessed at https://www.time First written record of Semitic alphabet, from 15th century BCE, found in Egypt sofisrael.com/first-written-record-of-semitic-alphabet-from-15th-century-bce-found-in-egypt/#:~:text=Newly%20deciphered%20Egyptian%20symbols%20on,University%20of%20British%20Columbia%20Egyptologist.

4. Scott, Joseph and Lenore Scott (1968). Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Everyone. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

5. I have not attempted to make a connection between Egyptian writing and Chinese writing. However, we know that Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was developed hundreds of years, perhaps as much as a thousand, before the writing system of the Chinese was developed, whether in China or adjoining countries.

Source: https://www.britannica.com/place/Sinai-Peninsula

… about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I

… about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I

At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty

from a people tall and smooth-skinned,
    from a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
    whose land is divided by rivers—

the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.

(Isaiah 18: 7, NIV)

Many different people at different times have made significant contributions to the world, contributions that have benefited all of humanity or large numbers of people throughout the world. In other words, no one people have a monopoly on the giving of gifts to humanity. We regularly give credit to the Greeks and Romans for their many contributions to Western civilization, to the Chinese for the invention of gunpowder, to the Arabs for the invention of Algebra, and to Chinese, Mesopotamians, South Asians, and Meso-Americans for crop domestication. It is right to give credit where credit is due. When Africa’s contributions are brought up, the claims are too often dismissed as the ravings or romanticizing of an afrocentrist. Labelling someone as Afrocentric is a favorite way of dismissing what they are saying. If you want to call me centric in some way, call me “Truthcentric.”

Putting the above quotation in context, it is part of three chapters in Isaiah (Chapters 18, 19, and 20) where the Prophet Isaiah is delivering prophesies to Ethiopia (Cush) and Egypt in future times. Interestingly prophesies dealing with Egypt and Cush are bunched together, sort of as one unit; Chapter 18 deals with Ethiopia, Chapter 19 with Egypt, and Chapter 20 with both Ethiopia and Egypt. Ethiopia and Egypt are regularly associated in the Old Testament. The last verse from Chapter 18, quoted above,   speaks a good outcome for Ethiopia during the end times because the Ethiopians (the Black People) will submit to God by bringing gifts to Zion. The description of their land as one that rivers divide sounds like an area that is way south of Khartoum in what is now South Sudan, a country crisscrossed by rivers; you can confirm this by looking at the map below of South Sudan. Furthermore it is the home of the Dinka, Nuba, and Nuer people, some of the tallest and blackest people in the world; the Dinka are, indeed, the tallest people in the world with an average height of almost 6 feet. They are probably the descendants of the tall, black, and beautiful people that the Greeks talked so much about, those blameless Ethiopians.

Africa’s gifts to the world must begin with Ancient Egypt. I implore you not to close your mind but to hear me out and let the truth make you free. Geographically Egypt is located in Northeast Africa but is now, and rightly so, considered to be part of the Middle East or Near East. Egypt is connected to Asia via Sinai which is the small part of Egypt that is located in Asia. Thus, we have departments of Near Eastern studies that lump modern Egypt and Ancient Egypt in with Western Asia as some sort of cultural/historical unit.  The identification of modern Egypt with North Africa and Western Asia is justified today, especially since Arabs and Islam came in and took over Egypt in the middle of the seventh century of our era. But if we go back to the beginning of Egyptian history, it is a totally different story.

If I am to claim Ancient Egypt’s contributions as Africa’s contributions, I need to demonstrate that Egypt was not only a part of Africa geographically but was also African historically, culturally, and racially (genetically and otherwise). This is a connection that most Egyptologists, classicists, historians, anthropologists assiduously avoid. Indeed, from its beginning and throughout her period of greatness, Egypt was not only geographically African but was African racially (genetically and otherwise), culturally, and linguistically. The Ancient Egyptian mind was an African, not Asian, mind. We can speak of an African mind because of the cultural unity of Black Africans so often alluded to by such writers as Cheikh Anta Diop, Basil Davidson, John Hope Franklin, Chancellor Williams, Colin M. Turnbull, E. A. Wallis Budge1, and many others who also affirm that the Ancient Egyptian mind was an African mind.  

It is important to understand the great antiquity of Ancient Egyptian civilization. Almost everyone associates the beginning of Egyptian civilization with the unification of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt into a very large kingdom or empire between 3,000 BC and 3,200 BC.  Surely this was not the beginning. As the eminent Egyptologist Sir Flanders Petrie put it, “To suppose that the civilization that we find under Menes started full-blown at that age, or to suppose that the dynastic conquerors of Egypt had no rulers before their acquisition of the whole country, is necessarily absurd [italics added].… the way must have been prepared by a long series of predecessors conquering and consolidating their power. That such a course of organization occupied three or four centuries is highly probable”2. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Egyptian history goes back 6,000 years to 4,000 BC when the Egyptians already had a calendar.3

When E. A. Wallis Budge set out on a quest to discover the source of the fundamental beliefs of the indigenous Religion of Ancient Egypt, his quest led him to Black Africa, after he could not find any connections in Asia. He goes on to say, “… I became convinced that a satisfactory explanation of the ancient Egyptian Religion could only be obtained from the Religions of the Sudan, more especially those of the peoples who lived in the isolated districts in the south and west of that region [Egypt], where European influence was limited, and where native beliefs and religious ceremonials still possessed life and meaning.”4 Sudan in the above passage does not refer to the country called Sudan but to Sub-Sahara Africa.

Basil Davidson commented that “Dynastic Egypt was not born in a void; it emerged from a Neolithic womb, and this womb was African.” He further observed that the ordinary Egyptians had their own ideas about life and the cosmos and that “… the provenance of these ideas, or of most of them, was undoubtedly more African than Asian. “God’s Land “with all its great ancestral spirits lay, for dynastic Egypt, neither in the east nor in the north, but far to the south and the west. There is nothing to show that the earliest forms of ram and sun worship or of other cults mad famous along the Nile did not take their rise in this obscure “God’s Land” of “upper Africa,” where, as we can clearly see today, they have flourished since”.5 In other words, Egypt was colonized by people from the southwest of Egypt, people who came from Inner Africa. Take note that Budge locates the people who expressed most clearly Ancient Egyptian religious ideas in the same areas that the Egyptian “considered “God’s Land”, that is, the land of the ancestors.

Thus it is only natural that the Ancient Egyptians looked to Inner Africa, not to Asia and certainly not to Europe, for direction and help. When order broke down as happened during the three Intermediate Periods, each time salvation came from the South. The kings who unified the country after the disintegration were rulers from the South.6  The prophecy of Neferty said that a son of a woman of Ta-Seti (an Ethiopian, a Cushite) would rout the Asiatics and unite the country after the chaos of the Second Intermediate Period. This was realized when Ahmose, son of a Cushite woman, pushed out the Hyskos and inaugurated the magnificent 18th Dynasty which lasted 200 years. In the Third Intermediate Period, we have the Theban priests and military leaders in Egypt appealing to the Cushite king at Napata for help in repulsing the Libyan princes who were trying to take over at Thebes. Thus, began the wonderful 25th Dynasty which lasted 100 years; their great contributions are generally either denigrated or simply ignored. Finally during the reign of the Libyan Pharaoh Psammetichus when Egyptian soldiers were being mistreated, two hundred thousand (200,000) of them deserted and placed themselves into the service of the king of Ethiopia (Cush).

Writers often assert that Ancient Egyptian is a Semitic language. The Congolese renaissance scholar and man of letters, Dr. Theophile Obenga compared the Ancient Egyptian basic words for kinship (mother, father, etc.) with the counterparts in Semitic languages and African Bantu languages. There was no similarity to Semitic languages (Arabic and Hebrew) but strong similarities with the kinship words in Bantu languages; in some instances, they were identical.7 Alessandra Nibbi noted that the Egyptians had no word for sea until it was introduced by the Semitic Hyskos during the Second Intermediate Period.8 They had no word for sea because they had developed as an inland country.

In a previous blog, I cited studies that showed Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs had the same bone structure as Black American males as demonstrated by the fact that equations developed for the purpose of estimating the living stature of American males of African descent could be satisfactorily used to estimate the living height of Egyptian Pharaohs in the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. The equations developed for estimating the living height of white males simply did not work because those Egyptian Pharaohs were not white.

The DNA findings are stunning. An organization called DNA Tribes analyzed the DNA of nine (9) Egyptian royals from the New Kingdom, seven from the 18th Dynasty (King Tut, King Amenhotep III, Queen Tiye, mother and father of Queen Tiye, Akhenaten, and mother of King Tut) and two from the 20th Dynasty (Pharaoh Rameses III and an unknown royal). The analysis was based on 8 STR markers for each individual. Their methodology involved computing a Match Likelihood Index (MLI) for each individual for several regions. This MLI score identified the likelihood of that the individual’s STR profile appearing in that region compared to the rest of the world. For example, King Tut’s MLI score for Southern Africa was 1,519. That meant that King Tut’s DNA was fifteen hundred times more like to be found in Southern Africa than anywhere else in the world. His MLI of 1,328 for the African Great Lakes region meant that his DNA was 1,328 time more likely to be found in the Great Lakes Region than anywhere else in the world. The next highest score was 314 for West Africa. After Tropical West Africa, there was a precipitous drop in the scores, in most cases. For all other six individuals, the top scores registered were for Southern Africa, African Great Lakes Region, and Tropical West Africa.9  The other regions included were Horn of Africa, African Sahel, Levantine (countries of Western Asia which includes Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria), Aegean, Arabia, Northwest Europe, Mediterranean, North Africa, and Mesopotamia (probably Iraq and Iran). The upshot is that the places to look for the DNA of the Ancient Egyptian royalty are Southern Africa, the African Great Lakes Region, and Tropical West Africa. The findings for Rameses III are similar with the Great Lakes Region registering the highest score. For both Rameses III and the unknown royal, there is a significant score for the Horn of Africa.10 On a personal note, 23andme, a DNA testing company, indicated that Rameses III and I share a common ancient ancestor; we are in the same Sub-Saharan haplogroup, E1b1a, male chromosome.

What we have here is history, DNA analysis, contemporary observations, and osteological evidence all pointing in the same direction, namely, Ancient Egyptian origins are to the south and west. It has been pointed out that Egyptians buried their dead with the head pointing south and the face pointing west. The stature estimating equations are based on the bone structure of West Africans given that the vast majority of Black Americans are mostly of West African origin. However, a significant percentage of their DNA does come from Central Africa and the Congo. The earliest signs of Egyptian civilization seem to be at Nabta Playa, located 500 southwest of Cairo. The Nabta Playa stone circles go back over 9,000 years and constitute an amazing astronomical calendar.11 Evidently “God’s Land”, the sacred area of the ancestors, was to the far south and west, as pointed out by Basil Davidson. Interestingly Budge observed that the Africans who lived to the south and west of Egypt were the ones who had the clearest conceptions of Egyptians concepts.

What are some of the other factors that unified Ancient Egypt with the Black Africa? Briefly, they are:

  • Circumcision is a practice that is practically universal among Africans south of the Sahara. Herodotus stated that all the people of Asia, and perhaps part of Europe, who practiced circumcision learned it from the Egyptians. He was not sure if it had started in Egypt first since it was also an ancient practice in Ethiopia. According to African cosmogony, each person is born being somewhat androgynous, like Amon who has the essence of both male and female since everything comes from Him, showing indications of both genders with the foreskin of the male and the clitoris of the female. The purpose of circumcision and excision is to take away something that is female from the male, the foreskin of the penis, and something that is male from the female, the clitoris, thereby fortifying their dominant character so that the person will have an interest in procreation. Thus both circumcision and excision have a cosmological basis. My explanation of why Africans practice excision does not mean that I endorse the practice.
  • Matrilineal descent is an African custom that was practiced by Ancient Egyptians. Matrilineal descent means that inheritance is through the female. It is universal throughout Black Africa before European and Asian influences changed it among some people. Therefore, a man’s sons do not inherit from him but his sister’s sons do. If you are a king, your son does not inherit the throne but your sister’s son. Egyptologists Sir Flanders Petrie observed that during the Old Kingdom, none of the early kings appear to be sons of their predecessors. This makes sense if the maternal nephew, not the son, inherited the throne. The Egyptians and Ethiopians hit upon a way to allow the son to inherit by marrying a sister. Therefore, the king’s son is also his sister’s son and can inherit. This is how we can understand the well-known practice of brother-sister marriage among Egyptian royalty. Scholars have observed that the legitimacy of the Pharaoh’s authority came for his marrying a princess, for all periods of Ancient Egyptian history.
  •  Divine kingship is an Ancient Egyptian practice that was universal among African peoples. Descriptions of the courts of Medieval West Africans kings are throwbacks to the courts of the Pharaohs.
  • E. Wallis Budge conclusively demonstrates that a belief in the resurrection and everlasting life (immortality) are beliefs shared by Ancient Egyptians and Black Africans. These are bedrock beliefs of both. Budge states that, “… if we examine the Religions of modern African peoples, we find the beliefs underlying them are almost identical with those described above [Ancient Egyptian beliefs]. As they are not derived from the Egyptians, it follows that they are the natural product of the religious mind of the natives of certain parts of Africa, which is the same in all periods. The evidence of the older travelers … proves that almost every African people with whom they came in contact possessed a name for God Almighty, in whose existence and power they firmly believed. Their attitude toward God was, and is, exactly that of the Ancient Egyptians.”12

The above allusions are some, but not all of the commonalities we find between modern day Africans and Ancient Egyptians.

The main takeaway is this: Ancient Egyptian civilization was a genuine African civilization. As such, we are justified in viewing its contributions to humanity as part of Africa’s gifts to the world. In several blogs to follow, I will talk about Egypt’s specific gifts to the world. Also I will share with you gifts to the world from other parts of Africa, especially West Africa which has given much.

References and Notes

1. The following are some of the works of the authors mentioned: Cheikh Anta Diop, African origin of civilization: myth or reality, and Cultural unity of black Africa; Turnbull, Colin M. (1977). Man in Africa; Basil Davidson: Africa in history, The African genius, African civilization revisited, African kingdoms, and Lost cities of Africa; John Hope Franklin, From slavery to freedom; Chancellor Williams, Destruction of Black Civilization; and E. A. Wallis Budge. Osiris and the Egyptian resurrection.  

2. Petrie, W. M. Flanders (1991). A history of Egypt, Part I. London, England: Histories & Mysteries of Man Ltd., p. 49.

3. (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, p. 91.

4. Budge, E. A. Wallis (1911). Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection. London: Philip Lee Warner; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, p. xvii. Accessed at http://www.archive.org/details/osirisegyptianre01budg

5. Davidson, Basil (1970). The lost cities of Africa, revised edition. Boston/Toronto: Little, Brown, and Company. p. 63.

6. Budge, p. 136.

7. UNESCO Symposium. The peopling of Egypt and the deciphering of the Meroitic script. Cairo, 28 Januaary-3 February 1974.

8. Nibbi, Alessandra (1975). The sea peoples and Egypt. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press.

9. Martin, Lucas. Last of the Amarna Pharaohs: King Tut and his relatives. DNA Tribes Digest, January         1, 2012.

10. Martin, Lucas. Ramesses III and African ancestry in the 20th Dynasty of New Kingdom Egypt. DNA Tribes Digest. February 1, 2013.

11. The Human Origin Project (2019). The Ancient Astronomy of the Nabta Playa Egyptian Stone Circle, accessed at https://medium.com/@humanoriginproject/the-ancient-astronomy-of-the-nabta-playa-egyptian-stone-circle-c8ecb2800223

12. Budge, p. xxv.

Observe all the rivers crisscrossing South Sudan.
This picture fits the description of the home of the tall, smooth skinned Ethiopians.
Great Lakes Region (purple): Area where you are most likely to find the DNA of King Tut and his family. The second most likely area is below this area (Southern Afruca)
Tropical West Africa: Third most likely area to find the DNA of King Tut & his family and Ramesses III

about the cost of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 shutdown?

about the cost of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 shutdown?

In this post, I put on my economist’s hat and seeing as I do have a Ph. D. in economics, it is fitting that I should weigh in on this issue. It is important to understand that every action taken, every public policy implemented generates both costs and benefits, in the short-run and in the long-run. Often the costs are unanticipated and/or unintended. Whether or not an action is taken, or how much of it is done, must be decided by weighing the costs and benefits of a contemplated action or public policy change. As a general rule, we can say that if the benefits of a proposed action overwhelmingly exceed the costs, then the action should be undertaken. On the other hand, if the costs overwhelmingly exceed the benefits, then it should not be undertaken.

Initially the focus was almost exclusively on the benefits (reducing infections and deaths) from implementing a shutdown of the economy. If implementing these restrictions only conferred benefits on society at no cost, then the decision would have been easy. But that is not the case. There are enormous costs as well as benefits associated with the governmental restrictions imposed in an attempt to diminish the spread of COVID-19. The first thing that comes to mind is the loss in output and concomitant incomes. Policymakers (the U. S. Congress and the President) anticipated these losses by approving legislation giving households stimulus payments, liberalizing unemployment compensation, making available loans and subsidies to businesses as well as implementing other changes to try to soften the impact of the shutdown of the economy. Both individuals and small businesses, as well as large businesses, suffered great economic losses that began to be felt immediately.

Because so many businesses had to shut down, unemployment skyrocketed as the unemployment rate went from 3.5% (effectively full-employment) in February to 4.4% in March and 14.7% in April. May’s unemployment will certainly be even higher. Almost twenty-four and a half million people lost their jobs in a mere two months. There was a corresponding loss in business income as so many businesses completely or partly shut down. This loss of employment and personal and business income is inflicting  serious emotional and psychological harm on people.

In addition to the income losses, there were negative unintended consequences. Hoarding became a problem, even before the production of goods and services began to be impacted, as people began buying up large amounts of water, toilet tissue, paper towels, and disinfectants.

Recall as part of the shutdown, hospitals began focusing almost exclusively on COVID-19 patients. Most hospitals and doctors were only seeing non-COVID emergency cases. The health of many people was delayed or foregone, and some died as a result.

Three researchers, Dr. Scott W. Atlas (physician and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution), Dr. John R. Birge (professor at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business), and Dr. Ralph L Keeney (professor emeritus in business at Duke University and in engineering at the University of Southern California) estimated the income loss and the costs of some of the unintended consequences of the shutdown.1 These estimate should not be taken as exact, but they do give a sense of the order of magnitude of the losses.

  1. Lost economic output and income

We will see the full impact of the shutdown on output (production of goods and services) when the second quarter (April, May, and June) Gross Domestic Product estimates are released in July. At the rate that the economy has been contracting, the researchers have estimated the annual losses to be in the trillions. According to the researchers, “This lost income results in lost lives as the stresses of unemployment and providing basic needs increase the incidence of suicide, alcohol or drug abuse, and stress-induced illnesses. These effects are particularly severe on the lower-income populace, as they are more likely to lose their jobs, and mortality rates are much higher for lower-income individuals.” Taking into account both the personal and business income losses, “With an average estimate of one additional lost life per $17 million income loss, that would translate to 65,000 lives lost in the U.S. for each month because of the economic shutdown.”2 (Italics added).

  • Delayed or foregone health care

Instead of deaths, lost years of life is another term used by the authors to measure loss of life. This seems to be a measure of life loss due to pre-mature death.

Lost years of life because of:

  • Treatment delays for situations other than COVID-19: 8,000 lives per month or about 120 years of remaining life.
  • Missed strokes not treated: 100,000 lost years of life per month.
  • Late cancer diagnosis: 250,000 lost  years of life per each month,
  • Missing living-donor transplants: 5,000 lost years of life per month.

The researchers conclude that COVIS-19 “has been responsible for 800,000 lost years of life so far. Considering only the losses of life from missed health care and unemployment due solely to the lockdown policy, we conservatively estimate that the national lockdown is responsible for at least 700,000 lost years of life every month, or about 1.5 million so far — already far surpassing the COVID-19 total.”3 Of course, we must take into consideration that the number of deaths would have been greater if the lockdown had not been implemented. The benefit would have been the lives saved as a result of the shutdown.

The takeaway is that we have to weigh both the costs and benefits, taking into account the unintended consequences of the shutdown. As Dr. Atlas said, “Policymakers combatting the effects of COVID-19 must recognize and consider the full impact of their decisions.”4  

How does all of this help us in dealing with the situation we are in right now? The question that naturally arises is, are we paying too high a cost to continue with the shutdown as it is? I think many policymakers, including the President, have come to the conclusion that we are. However, the alternative they are presenting us is not to go back to business as usual. We know more about this virus than we did two months ago. Therefore, in opening up, we implement precautions to protect against infections ramping up. There are precautions that businesses can take such as testing employees for the virus, frequently disinfecting the business premises, requiring employees to wear masks, and putting up barriers to the spread of the virus, where possible. Employees have to be tested not just once but at regular intervals. Companies will have to strictly enforce policies that many, if not most, businesses have observe for years, namely, if someone is sick, they have to go home and can only return to work when their doctor releases them.

Businesses directly serving the public must implement sensible protocols.

In short, if sensible precautions are taken, businesses can open up without it leading to big spikes in infections. Clearly we should all observe the precautions necessary to protect each. Since one can be a carrier without any symptoms (35% of those infected do not show any symptoms), we should wear the face mask in public even if we have no symptoms.

I would like to end on an optimistic note. There have been many comparisons made to the Spanish Flu of a 100 years ago. I do not think we have to repeat that scenario. Knowledge is much greater today than it was then; there has been a quantum increase in knowledge over the past 100 years, not just the store of knowledge but how we acquire knowledge. Every day we hear about promising treatments and/or vaccines that may be available sooner than we thought.

It has cost us a lot but we have learned much from this experience.

Next week’s blog will be on why Ancient Egypt is so important to the world.

  1. Atlas, Scott W., John R. Birge, and Ralph L Keeny (2020). The COVID-19 shutdown will cost America millions of years of life, in The Hill (5/20/2020).
  2. Atlas, et al.
  3. Atlas, et al.
  4. Atlas, et al.

about the beauty of Piankhi?

… about the beauty of Piankhi?

My last post dealt with the Cushite (Ethiopian, Nubian) Treasurer of Queen Amanikhatashan who ruled Cush from 62 AD to 85 AD. Piankhi was one of the early kings of the unbroken line of monarchs (kings and queens) who ruled the Kingdom of Cush for 1,200 years, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. He was king of both Ethiopia and Egypt from 747 BC to 716 BC and was the second Pharaoh of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty1. The Featured Image at the top of this blog post is Piankhi’s Victory Stela after defeat of the forces of disunity in Egypt.


At this point I want to try to clarify something that is probably creating some confusion amongst my readers. I have used the terms Ethiopia, Cush (which may be spelled with a C or a K), and Nubia interchangeably. The first thing to understand is that the country of Ethiopia of today is not the Ethiopia of the Bible or the Ethiopia of the Ancient Greeks. The Ethiopia of today used to be known as Abyssinia. Evidently Emperor Haile Selassie changed the name of the country from Abyssinia to Ethiopia during World War II. Modern day Ethiopia might have been on the southeastern fringe of the Ancient Ethiopian Empire.
Ethiopia comes from the Greek work Aithiops, meaning burnt faces which is a description of how blacks would have appeared to the first white Greeks who saw them. If we go back to the time of Homer, the Land of the Blacks (Ethiopia) extended from the western edge of Africa, including North Africa, to southern India, including Egypt and the Asiatic Middle East in between. In the Odyssey, Homer pens the following:
But now Poseidon had gone to visit the Ethiopians worlds away,
Ethiopians off at the farthest limits of mankind,
a people split in two, one part where the Sungod sets
and part where the Sungod rises. There Poseidon went
to receive an offering, bulls and rams by the hundred—
far away at the feast the Sea-lord sat and took his pleasure. (Odyssey 1.21-25)

So we see that at the time that Homer wrote the Odyssey, perhaps around 800 BC, the Blacks not only lived in Africa (“where the sun sets) but also in Asia (“where the sun rises”).
Lady Lugard’s comments on the Greek’s view of the Ethiopians is quite telling:
“The fame of the Ethiopians was widespread in ancient history. Herodotus, Homer, in even in more flattering language describes them as “the most just of men: the favorites of the gods.” The annals of all the great early nations of Asia Minor are full of them. The Mosaic records allude to them frequently; but while they are described as the most powerful, the most just, and the most beautiful of the human race, they are constantly spoken of as black, and there seems to be no other conclusion to be drawn, than that at that remote period of history the leading race of the Western world was the black race.”2 [writer’s italics].
The above views were expressed by many different Greeks over a period several hundred years. Perhaps it was because the Ethiopians were, indeed, powerful people who knew how to humanely exercise their power.
As time passed what was considered the land of the blacks became smaller and smaller until it came to designate the area south of Egypt (Sudan comes from the Arabic Beled-es-Sudan, land of the Blacks). In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Hebrews used the word Cush to refer to the land south of Egypt. The Greek Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) substitutes the word Ethiopia for Cush. Cush had no racial connotation but Ethiopia obviously did. According to David O’Connor, before 1550 BC, the Ancient Egyptians referred to the land to the south as Ta-Nehasyu (or Ta-Neheshi). We also know that they called it Ta-Seti, the Land of the Bow. After 1550 BC, Egyptians often called the country Cush (Kush) from whence came the Hebrew designation. O’Connor asserts that “… during the first millennium BC, Kush was the preferred name for all Nubia in Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, and Hebrew”.3. Somehow, over time the name Nubia came to be associated with Cush, perhaps because of the gold found in the region.
In short, when I speak of Ancient Ethiopia, Cush, or Nubia, I am talking about the civilization centered along the Nile River from the 1st Cataract to at least the 6th Cataract. Historically the area from the 1st to the 2nd Cataract was part of Nubia, but today it is part of Egypt.
I maintain that the Pharaoh Piankhi epitomized the admirable human qualities that the ancients attributed to the Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, borrowing from the title of a book by the pioneering and courageous scholar Drusilla Dunjee Houston. I now proceed to back up my assertion.
Piankhi’s father, Kashta, “was confirmed in power by the priests of Amon [at Thebes], and where he obliged the High Priestess to adopt his daughter as her successor. In thus formalizing the alliance between the monarchy and the Amon cult he was following the practice of a number of earlier pharaohs. There is no suggestion of military activity connected with Kashta’s visit; apparently he journeyed in peace and was acclaimed at Thebes, as he was at Jebel Barkal as the appointed patron of Amon and defender of the faith”.4 This anointing of Kashta took place sometime before 751 BC, the year he died. Therefore, it seems clear that by their actions, the priests of Amon confirmed Kashta as the legitimate Pharaoh of Egypt, and he, therefore, became the founder of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty. This happened at a time when Egypt was being wracked by division and disunity with Libyans from the North taking control of provinces (nomes) in Middle and Lower (northern) Egypt.
With the passing of Kashta, his son Piankhi began to rule from his Cushite capital of Napata around 751 BC. In the 21st year of his reign, Piankhi received pleas for help from princes and military commanders in Egypt. “The military officials at Thebes implored Piankhi to protect the domains of Amon against the intruder”. The intruder referred to here is Tefnakhte, a Libyan prince. Evidently the number of soldiers at Thebes were not enough to deal with the Libyan and Asiatic threat. After daily pleas from the Egyptians at Thebes, Piankhi decided to act. Let us now hear the words of beautiful Piankhi, as written on his Stela6 (a massive slab of dark-gray granite, nearly 6 feet high and 4 feet 7.5 inches wide and about 1 foot 5 inches thick, written in impeccable hieroglyphics):

His first act was to send orders to, “the princes and commanders of the army who were in Egypt … “Hasten into battle line, engage in battle, surround …., capture its people, its cattle, its ships upon the river. Let not the peasants go forth to the field, let not the plowmen plow, beset the frontier of the Hare nome, fight against it daily. “Then they did so.” (Victory Stela)
They were to hold down the fort until reinforcement got there. Piankhi’s instructions of to the solders he sent to Egypt is instructive:
“When ye arrive at Thebes, before Karnak, ye shall enter into the water, ye shall bathe in the river, ye shall dress in [fine linen], unstring the bow, loosen the arrow. Let not the chief boast as a mighty man; there is no strength to the mighty without him, He maketh the weak-armed into the strong-armed, so that multitudes flee from the feeble, and one alone taketh a thousand men. Sprinkle yourselves with the water of his altars, sniff the ground before him. Say ye to him, ‘Give us the way, that we may fight in the shadow of thy sword. (As for) the generation whom thou hast sent out, when its attack occurs, multitudes flee before it.’ “

The king made it clear that they were to be laser focused on the military mission and preparation. His orders bring to mind another Ethiopian king, Memnon, who traveled to Troy from Persia (Iran) to help out his uncle Priam, King of Troy, in their fight against the Greeks. When the Trojan king offered his soldiers alcoholic drinks, Memnon said no and told his soldiers to go to bed so that they could be ready to fight the next day. Piankhi told his soldiers to purify themselves by bathing in the Nile at Thebes and sprinkling themselves with water from the altar in Egypt’s most sacred city, Thebes (which the Egyptians call No-Amon, the dwelling place of Amon, God) and then dressing themselves in fine linen. What a sight this must have been with thousands of black men (they were probably jet black) dressed in white and ready for battle! He reminds them that their strength comes from God when he tells them, “Let not the chief boast as a mighty man; there is no strength to the mighty without him, He maketh the weak-armed into the strong-armed, so that multitudes flee from the feeble, and one alone taketh a thousand men”. This brings to mind what Joshua said in verse 10 of Chapter 23 of the book of Joshua, “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.” (KJV). Like Joshua, Piankhi put his trust in the Lord for victory.
The soldiers did well when they engaged the enemy in battle but they let some of them get away which enraged Piankhi. Upon hearing the report, the King said, “”Have they allowed a remnant of the army of the Northland to remain? allowing him that went forth of them to go forth, to tell of his campaign? not causing their death, in order to destroy the last of them? I swear: as Re loves me! [writer’s italics] I will myself go northward, that I may destroy that which he has done, that I may make him turn back from fighting, forever.” (Victory Stela).
Piankhi fought his way north to Thebes where he completed the Feast of Amon at the Feast of Opet; he was scrupulous in observing tradition and performing sacrifices wherever he went. In terms of his culture and belief system, he was a keeper of the Law. In the above passage, Piankhi expresses the conviction that God loves him when he says, “… as Re loves me”. This same conviction that God loves him is expressed several other times in this stela. One theologian has said that one Sunday school song, Yes Jesus Loves Me, conveys the whole essence of Christianity. The Christian who walks with the Jesus is thoroughly convinced that he is beloved of God, as was Piankhi, and is the apple of his eye. Thus some evangelical churches sing a song called, Keep Me Jesus as the Apple of Thine Eye.
As Piankhi moves north subduing one city or nome after another (Heracleopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Heliopolis are a few of the well-known places), he gives them two options: open up your gates, surrender and live or keep your gates closed and die. If they opened up their gates and surrendered, nobody died; he only expected obedience and tribute, which the princes, chiefs, and kings supplied in abundance: in gold, silver, lapis lazuli, malachite, bronze, many types of costly stone, other things of value, and often horses of the finest breeds. One is struck by the wealth of these cities and small kingdoms. The bounty became gifts for the domain of Amon at Thebes, and some Piankhi took back with him to Napata when the fighting was over.
An example of the ultimatum issued is the following:
“His majesty sailed north to the opening of the canal beside Illahun; he found Per-Sekhemkhperre with its valiant wall raised, and its stronghold closed, filled with every valiant man of the Northland. Then his majesty sent to them, saying: “Ye living in death! Ye living in death! Ye insignificant …. and miserable ones! Ye living in death! If an hour passes without opening to me, behold, ye are of the number of the fallen; and that is [painful] to the king. Close not the gates of your life, to be brought to the block this day. Love not death, nor hate life ……… before the whole land.” (Victory Stela).
Per-Sekhemkhperre surrendered and “The army of his majesty entered into it, without slaying one of all the people”. [writer’s italics] He extended this kind of mercy and forgiveness to all of the cities and nomes that surrendered. Only those places that resisted Piankhi suffered casualties. Tefnakht, the Libyan prince who was Piankhi’s main adversary, fled north as Piankhi advanced but eventually surrendered after he had gone to a temple and essentially hugged the horns of the altar, promising to act right. After hearing his plea, “Then his majesty was satisfied therewith.” He did not keep his promise, but instead, fought against the legitimate government of Egypt for another generation.
This valiant king was capable of going into a rage if rubbed the wrong way. After the surrender of Hermopolis, Piankhi went to inspect the horse stables and went into a rage when,
“he saw that they had suffered hunger, he said: “I swear, as Re loves me, and as my nostrils are rejuvenated with life, it is more grievous in my heart that my horses have suffered hunger, than any evil deed that thou hast done, in the prosecution of thy desire. It has borne witness of thee to me, the fear of thy associates for thee. Didst thou not know that the god’s shadow is over me? and that my fortune never perishes because of him? Would that another had done it to me! I could not but condemn him on account of it. When I was fashioned in the womb, and created in the divine egg the seed of the god was in me. By his ka, I do nothing without him; he it is who commands me to do it.” (Victory Stela).
Cleary he was a lover of horses, but this account again demonstrates his confidence in and dependence on God, more than his dependence on his flesh. He said, “Didst thou not know that the god’s shadow is over me?” In other words, do you really know who I am? I am a child of God who was predestined to be who I am.
At several points, the stela speaks of how the defeated foes came to see the “beauty of his majesty”, hence the title of this blog: Why didn’t they tell you about the beauty of Piankhi?
I believe that Piankhi’s character is consistent with the picture of the Ethiopians painted by the Ancient Greeks.
What I also see in Piankhi and his character are types and shadows of Christ and the New Testament or, perhaps, I should say types and shadows of the Christian walk under the New Covenant that Jesus Christ ushered in. Every place Piankhi went to, he did sacrifices, which the New Covenant did away with. He scrupulously keep the Law, but he never heard the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Eight hundred years later, one of his countrymen (the Cushite eunuch) heard the Gospel and responded to it immediately. Would Pharaoh Piankhi have done the same? He just migh have.
There is a 2014 PBS documentary on Prime Video about the 25th Dynasty called The Rise of the Black Pharaohs. The unstated assumption, or it could be called the inarticulate major premise, of the title of this video and the content of the video is that the Black Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty were exceptions since everyone knows that Egyptians, and the Pharaohs up until the 25th Dynasty, were white. The unarticulated premise is that Pharaohs are white. What I submit to you is that the White Pharaohs were the exception, not the rule. I invite you to view the images of Pharaohs from Egypt’s Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom shown below. If you will allow yourself to accept what your eyes see, you cannot, with a straight face, say that any of those nine individuals are white, European, or Asian.
Finally there is a misconception still being conveyed that the Ethiopians invaded or attacked Egypt. It seems obvious that they come by invitation. Egyptologist Cherubini echoes this point of view in the following passage:
“In any event, it is remarkable that the authority of the king of Ethiopia seemed recognized by Egypt, less as that of an enemy imposing his rule by force, than as a guardianship invited by the prayers of a long-suffering country, afflicted with anarchy within its borders and weakened abroad. In this monarch, Egypt found a representative of its ideas and beliefs, a zealous regenerator of its institutions, a powerful protector of its independence. The reign of Shabaka was in fact viewed as one of the happiest in Egyptian memory. His dynasty, adopted over the land of the Pharaohs, ranks twenty-fifth in the order of succession of national families who have occupied the throne.”7
The passage speaks for itself. Shabaka is Piankhi’s brother who was his immediate successor.
“… and the truth shall make you free”.

Notes and References

  1. William, J. Murnane (1997). “Disunity and foreign rule” in Ancient Egypt, David P. Silverman, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 37.
  2. Flora Shaw – Lady Lugard (1905). A tropical dependency. London: James Nisbet & Co., Limited.
  3. O’Connor, David (1993). Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s rival in Africa. Philadelphia: The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, p. 3.
  4. Adams, William Y. (1977). Nubia: corridor to Africa. Princeton, N. J.: Allen Lane, Princeton University Press, pp. 260-261.
  5. Adams, p. 261.
  6. The text and the graphic of Piankhi’s Sela can be accessed at http://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Victory_Stela_of_Piye.htm)
    This is how the eminent Egyptologist James Henry Breasted described Piankhi’s Victory Stela:
    “…this remarkable literary monument is the clearest and most rational account of a military expedition which has survived from Ancient Egypt. It displays literary skill and an appreciation for dramatic situations which is notable, while the vivacious touches found here and there quite relieve it of the arid tone usual in such hieroglyphic documents. The imagination endues the personages appearing here more easily with life than those of any other similar historical narrative of Egypt; and the humane Piankhi especially, the lover of horses, remains a man far removed from the conventional companion and equal of the gods who inevitably occupies the exalted throne of the Pharaohs in all other such records”, quoted in Adams, p. 262.
  7. Quoted in Cheikh Anta Diop (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, p. 146.
Old Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Hani-3rd Dynasty; Khufu-3rd Dynasty; Niuserre-5th Dynasty

Middle Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Mentuhotep-11th Dynasty; Senusret I-12th Dynasty; Senusret II-12th Dynasty
New Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Ahmose I-18th Dynasty; Tutankhamen-18th Dynasty; Rameses III- 20th Dynasty

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part IV

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals? Part IV: New Testament.

The most prominent Black Person mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible is undoubtedly the Ethiopian eunuch of the Book of Acts. Literally a eunuch is a castrated male; however, sometimes those referred to as eunuchs were not actually castrated. However, certainly some, and perhaps most, were castrated. Monarchs (kings and queens) often found it convenient, and perhaps safe, to have eunuchs as trusted advisors who often were very powerful in their own right.

The account of evangelist Phillips’ encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch goes as follows:

“But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south to the road that runs from Jerusalem down to Gaza.” (This is a desert road). 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch [a man of great authority], a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning, and sitting in his chariot he was reading [the scroll of] the prophet Isaiah.” (Acts 8: 26-28, AMP).

Let us note that this Ethiopian was a man of great authority, a court official in charge of all the treasure of Candace (or Kandake), queen of the Ethiopians. Candace, or Kandake, is a title like Pharaoh. Clearly this Ethiopian was an important and prominent person, from an empire that spanned a huge area from the 1st Cataract to beyond the 6th Cataract of the Nile. To appreciate how important he was, we need to know something about this country that his queen ruled over. We do not know the name of this court official but we do know the name of the queen. She undoubtedly was Queen Amanikhatashan who ruled the Ethiopian Empire from her capital of Meroe from 62 AD to 85 AD. We know her name because we have the names of all the kings and queens who ruled Ethiopia (Cush or Nubia) in an unbroken line over a period of almost 1,200 years, from 806 BC to 320 AD1.

In my blog of April 18, 2020, I made the following observation, “As far back as 5,000 years (3,000 B.C.), they [the Ethiopians] were renowned for their economic and military prowess. The ancient Greeks were of the opinion that Egypt began as a colony of Ethiopians (just like the British colonized America). Isaiah 18:2 describes them as a nation,

“Which sends ambassadors by the sea,
Even in vessels of papyrus on the surface of the waters.
Go, swift messengers, to a nation [of people] tall and smooth (clean shaven),
To a people feared far and wide,
A powerful and oppressive nation
Whose land the rivers divide.” (AMP)

During the reign of Queen Amanikhatashan, Cush (Ethiopia) was still a powerful nation who had fought the Romans to almost a standstill after Rome had been taken over Egypt. The wars with the Romans took place under the reign of an earlier Kandake, Queen Amanishakhete (41 BC-12 BC). Consequently the Nubians signed a peace treaty with the Romans and the two empires established diplomatic relations. The Nubians initially used hieroglyphic writing but by the time of Queen Amanikhatashan, the Nubians had developed their own alphabetic writing which has not yet been deciphered. The featured image at the head of the blog shows Queen Amanikhatashan and the Meroitic alphabetic script of the Ethiopians.

Returning to the scriptural reference, we see that the Ethiopian was on his way back home after a visit to worship in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit told Philip to catch up with the chariot. Interestingly Phillip heard the eunuch was reading a scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading and the Ethiopian’s response was how could he understand if he had no one to explain it to him? The passage he was reading was,

“Like a sheep He was led to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 
“In humiliation His judgment was taken away [justice was denied Him].
Who will describe His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.” (Acts 8: 32-33, AMP)

Verse 35 says, “Then Philip spoke and beginning with this Scripture he preached Jesus to him [explaining that He is the promised Messiah and the source of salvation]. As they rode along, the eunuch exclaimed, “Look! Water! What forbids me from being baptized?” 37 Philip said to him, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I do believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered that the chariot be stopped; and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord [suddenly] took Philip [and carried him] away [to a different place]; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but he went on his way rejoicing. (Act 8: 36-39, AMP).

It is interesting to see how quickly the Ethiopian responded once the gospel was preached to him. In effect he said, there is water; so let’s do this thing right now! He responded the way one is supposed to respond to baptism; he came out of the water rejoicing. Can there be any doubt that he spread the word in Egypt along the way and once he got back home.

His ordering the chariot to stop clearly demonstrates that the eunuch was not driving the chariot. Indeed, there can be no doubt that he had a large armed escort accompanying him. The capital city of Meroe was renowned for being fabulously wealthy and he was the treasurer for the queen who reigned over this wealthy city and the whole Ethiopian empire.

The Roman centurion Cornelius is considered to be the first Gentile converted to Christianity. Recall how the Lord had to prepare Peter and the ones with him for their mission to share the Gospel with Cornelius; in their minds their mission was only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Cornelius’ conversion is related in Chapter 10 of the book of Acts but the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion is related two chapters before that, chapter 8. This Ethiopian evidently was not considered a Gentile. This explains why he had traveled hundreds of miles, coming from the ends of the earth like the Queen of Sheba, to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus it appears that this man was a Jew or a Jewish proselyte.

In the first verse of Acts 13, we are told that, “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen … and Saul.” (NIV). They were gathered for fasting and praying before laying hands on Barnabas and Paul before sending them out. Niger is a Latin word meaning black which in this case is a Latin word spelled with Greek letters, an explanation given by the Amplified translation. In other words, he was known as Simeon the black one. But what is more important is that he was an early church leader at Antioch, a prophet or a teacher, clearly a prominent person.

Simeon was not the only black person who was part of the early church. There were still lots of black folk in Western Asia in the first century AD, and I am sure that many became Christians.

Notes and References

  1. Adams, William Y. (1977). Nubia: corridor to Africa. Princeton, N. J.: Allen Lane, Princeton University Press, pp. 251-252.

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part III

… that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part III.

Since in previous posts we have established that Ham is the Biblical progenitor of Black People, we can logically infer from this that Ham’s descendants (Cushites/Ethiopians, Egyptians, Canaanites, and the people of Put) are black. In the case of the Egyptian Pharaohs, we do not have to depend just on Biblical genealogical inferences but have at our disposal secular information bearing on the racial identity of Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom (2030 B.C-1650 B.C.) and the New Kingdom (1550 B.C.-1050 B.C).

Generally no specific name is given to the Egyptian kings of the Bibles other than Pharaoh which is used more than 250 times. Hophra, Necho, Tirhakah (Tarhaqa), and Shishak are the four Pharaohs that are called by their ames. Tirhakah is referred to as king of Ethiopia (Cush); however, we know that he was both king of Ethiopia and Egypt during the 25th Dynasty and was, therefore, a Pharaoh. Clearly all the Pharaohs were prominent and important persons. Therefore, what I will do is discuss the Pharaohs or their dynasties associated with significant events in the Bible: Abraham’s going to Egypt after leaving his home in Mesopotamia, Joseph and the whole family of Jacob (Israel) moving to Egypt, and the enslavement and exodus of the Hebrews.

By the usual Biblical chronology, Abraham enters Egypt during the First Intermediate Period (from approximately 2170 BC to 2055 BC) when order had broken down after the end of Egypt’s Old Kingdom. Again by the usual Biblical chronology, Joseph would have been sold into slavery in Egypt during the 12th Dynasty. If Jacob and his family moved to Egypt in 1870 BC, it was still during the 12th Dynasty which lasted over 200 years. Joseph was a deliverer, indeed, a type of Christ, and initially life was evidently good for the Hebrews in the land of Goshen. But then the Bible tells us in Exodus “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph” (1:8), and subsequently the Hebrews were enslaved. We cannot say for certain when the enslavement began but it comes to an end in the New Kingdom and by the usual Biblical chronology, it would have been the 18th Dynasty, the first dynasty of the New Kingdom period.

Another reason for believing that enslavement of the Hebrews was in the New Kingdom is the fact that it is only in the New Kingdom that there is any significant, but still marginal, slave population in Pharaonic Egypt, not including the later periods of Asian and European domination. The idea that Hebrew slaves built the pyramids is a fiction and an impossibility. The pyramids were not built with slave labor and were built at least a 1,000 years before the Hebrew enslavement.    

A dynasty is the period during which one family rules the country. A new dynasty begins when a new family comes to power. We will look at the 12th, 18th, and 25th dynasties. The 25th Dynasty was Cushite or Ethiopian with its capital in the Nubian city of Napata; that is why the Bible call Tirhakah king of Ethiopia. Most view it as the only black dynasty or the only time when black Pharaohs ruled. However, that is certainly not true.

In Ancient Egypt, the right to rule was through the female. A Pharaoh’s legitimacy came from marriage to a princess because inheritance was based on matrilineal descent, as was the case in all of Black Africa before the intrusion Asian and European patrilineal systems. Under a matrilineal system, the throne does not pass from the king to the king’s son (father to son) but from king to the king’s sister’s son, to his maternal nephew. The eminent British Egyptologist of the last century, Sir Flinders Petrie, noted that another eminent scholar De Rouge had “remarked that none of the early kings appear to be sons of their predecessors”1. Petrie does not give an explanation but an explanation would have been quite easy if he had simply acknowledged that inheritance was through the female; therefore, the heir would be his sister’s son, not his son. The throne went to his nephew, his sister’s son. Petrie supplies information that indicates the operation of matrilineal descent in Egypt’s 2nd and 3rd dynasties.

Petrie points out that Queen Hapenmaat of the 2nd Dynasty “seems to have been the queen-mother of the IIIrd Dynasty”2. She was called the “king-bearing mother” which points to her “being specially the ancestress of kings. She was adored at the close of the IIIrd dynasty as Amten … Hence it seems that she was probably the heiress of the IInd dynasty, through whom descended the legitimacy of the IIIrd dynasty; similar to the special honoring of Neithetep with a ka of her own, the ancestress of the 1st dynasty, or like Aahmes Nefertari worshipped during the XVIIIth dynasty.”3.

The 18th Dynasty almost certainly came out of Nubia. For more than a century, a large part of northern Egypt had been under the control of Asiatic shepherds, the Hyskos, a Semitic people. A prophecy, the Prophecy of Neferty, dating back to the 12th Dynasty, speaks of Egypt being overrun by Asiatic shepherds with their herds. It also speaks of a deliverer, a king coming from the South:

There is a king who will come from the south
Ameny true of voice is his name.
He is the son of a woman of the Land of the Bow (Italics added),
he is a child of the Heartland of Nekhen.
He will take up the White Crown,
he will raise up the Red Crown,
he will unite the Two Mighty Goddesses,
he will appease the Two Lord Gods,
with what they desire.4

Take note that this king, according to the prophecy, will be the son of a woman of the “Land of the Bow”, from Nubia (Ethiopia), the land of the blacks, par excellence. It was called Ta-Seti, the Land of the Bow, because the Nubians were renowned for their devastating skill in the use of the bow. Nekhen, located south of Thebes and only 70 miles north of the 1st Cataract, is the Ancient Egyptian name for Hierakonpolis, Egypt’s earliest city where the kingship was developed.  Notice that the prophecy speaks of the “son of a woman”, not of a man, who will deliver the country. Evidently this black Sudanese (Ethiopian) woman confers legitimacy on the man who is to be king. Whether this prophecy was composed before the fact or after the fact is not as important as the fact that the deliverers came from Nubia, south of Egypt.

Though spoken in the 12th Dynasty (1939 B.C.-1630 B.C.), this prophecy speaks of events that are to transpire at the beginning of the 18th Dynasty which will coincide with the inauguration of the New Kingdom around 1550 B.C. and will last 500 years. Remember the Pharaoh of the exodus is a New Kingdom king but not the first king. Though he is not one of the good guys, this Pharaoh is clearly a person of importance and influence.

Pharaoh Seqenenra, a Nubian, that is, a black, paved the way for the end of Hyksos domination and the beginning of the dazzling 18th Dynasty. His queen was Aahotep. A son and a daughter of Aahotep were Aahmes (Ahmose) and Nefertari, who would become king and queen of Egypt, married each other, a custom of the Egypto-Nubian royalty. I will explain below the probable reason, not a justification, for these brother-sister marriages. Flinders Petrie comes to the conclusion that Aahmes and Nefertari had different fathers based on the fact that Nefertari was black and Aahmes had an “Egyptian color”. In the words of Petrie,

“Aahmes [Ahmose] is always (except once) shown of the same color as other Egyptians, while Nefertari is almost always colored black … As Nefertari was specially venerated as the ancestress of the dynasty, we must suppose that she was in the unbroken female line of descent, in which the royal succession appears to have been reckoned, and hence her black color is the more likely to have come through her father. The only conclusion … is that the queen Aahhotep had two husbands: the one black (the father of Nefertari), namely, the celebrated Seqenenra … and the other an Egyptian …”5. The featured image of this blog (also shown below) is Queen Ahmose Nefertari in all her glorious blackness. Inserting Ahmose, or Aahmes, before her name serves to distinguish her from other queens named Nefertari.

At another place he asserts, “ … through her descended all the rights of the royal line, and she was adored for many centuries as the great ancestress and foundress … She is styled on contemporary monuments as the “royal daughter, royal sister, great royal wife, royal mother, great ruler (athy), mistress of both lands”6.

Nefertari’s mummy was found but, “Unhappily it was left without examination for over four years, amid the damp of the Nile shores; it was found to be decomposing and was “provisionally interred, without any scientific examination of its characteristics. The racial details would have been of the highest interest, in comparison with the rest of the family. Thus disappeared the most venerable figure of Egyptian history.”7 I leave it to the reader to come to a conclusion as to the reason for this criminal neglect.

Petrie’s creating an Egyptian husband (he gives no name for the alleged husband) for Aahotep to explain the “Egyptian color” of Aahmes seems unnecessary. The images of Aahmes and Nefertari shown below illustrate that there is nothing about their appearance that is inconsistent with their having the same parents. If Aahmes is not black, what color is he? He is certainly not white. His color is merely a shade of black that would not stand out among a group of Americans of African descent. The scene with Aahmes fighting Asiatics (shown below) illustrates the graphic difference between his color and the white color of the Asiatics he is fighting. The difference is striking.

The royalty of the 18th Dynasty remained black to the very end. Compare the facial characteristics of King Tut (shown below), who comes toward the end of the 18th Dynasty, and his Queen with those of the Nubian (Negro) captive. There is no essential difference. On the other hand, contrast Tut’s appearance with that of the Asiatic captive; they are clearly of different races. I would also bring to your attention my blog post demonstrating that the bone structure of the Ancient Egyptian kings of the New Kingdom is the same as that of black males in the United States. And quite interestingly, the DNA testing organization 23andme informed me that the New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramesses III and I “share an ancient paternal-line ancestor who probably lived in north Africa or western Asia.”

We read about Tirhakah (Taharqa) in 2 Kings 19:9 (same account in Isaiah 37:9), king of Egypt and Ethiopia (Cush). He was the next to the last Pharaoh of the 25th Dynasty (760 B.C. – 656 B.C.). These Cushites became rulers of Egypt by invitation. Egyptians leaders and priests at Thebes were upset because Libyan dynasts (rulers of provinces (nomes) in Egypt) were trying to take over in Thebes. They appealed to Piankhi who was at his capital of Napata, located in Nubia near the 4th Cataract of the Nile. After routing the Libyans and securing Thebes, Piankhi returned to Napata and ruled from his Cushite capital. The 25th Dynasty lasted about 100 years. When Taharqa comes onto the scene in 2 Kings, he has allied himself with Judah and has come to fight against the Assyrians who were threatening Judah. Taharqa’s confronting the Assyrians gave Hezekiah time until God confounded them and they returned home defeated. At that point, his empire extended from the southern tip of Cush, at least to the 6th Cataract, to the part of Western Asia called the Levant (Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, etc). Taharqa’s face can be seen on his sphinx shown below.

It appears that the practice of brother-sister marriage comes from the matrilineal descent custom. If the king marries his sister, then his sons can inherit the throne since his son is also his nephew. Furthermore, there are no, or at least fewer, disgruntled cousins to contend with. Alessandra Nibbi notes that Egyptian princes could marry Asian women but Egyptian princesses could not marry Asian men.8 If an Asian man married an Egyptian and had a son, then that son could inherit the throne through his mother. This would be a way for Asian men to get control of the country, through their sons. The son of a foreign woman could not inherit the throne. Around the middle of the seventh century (650 A.D.), the Muslims signed a treaty with the Nubians stipulating that no Arabs and Muslims could settle in the Nubian Sudan. This arrangement held up for about 600 years. An Arab Muslim writer asserted that one of the ways Islam made inroads into Nubia was through Muslim men marrying Christian women9.

Stay tuned for my next blog: prominent blacks in the New Testament.

References and Graphics

  1. Petrie, W. M. Flanders (1991). A history of Egypt, Part I. London, England: Histories & Mysteries of Man Ltd., p. 49.
  2. Petrie, Part I, p. 36.
  3. Petrie, Part I, p. 38.
  4. Retrieved from: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt/literature/nefertytransl.html
  5. Petrie, W. M. Flanders (1991). A history of Egypt, Part II. London, England: Histories & Mysteries of Man Ltd., p. 337.
  6. Petrie, Part II, pp. 40.
  7. Petrie, Part II, pp. 40-41
  8. Nibbi, Alessandra (1975). The sea peoples and Egypt. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press. P. 129.
  9. Adams, William Y. (1984). Nubia: corridor to Africa. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.’
  10. Adams quotes an Armenian author Abu Saleh who asserted that, “It is said to be the custom among the Nubians, when a king dies and leaves a son, and also a nephew, the son of his sister, that the latter reigns after his uncle, instead of the son; but if there is no sister’s son, then the king’s own son succeeds”. Adams goes on to say: “According to Ibn Khaldun, who records the same custom, it was the rule of matrilineal inheritance which led to the wholesale Islamization of Nubia after Christian women began marrying Moslem immigrants … p. 463.
QUEEN NEFETARI: Ancestress and Foundress of 18th Dynasty
Ahmose Nefertari as depicted in tomb TT359
Source: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=queen+ahmose+nefertari+of+ancient+egypt&FORM=HDRSC2
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AAHMES FIGHTING HYSKOS
RACIAL DIFFERENCE IS STRIKING
Left: Nubian Captive, Center: King Tut and Queen, Right: Asiatic Captive
It quite evident that the Nubian (Black/Negro) captive is the same race as Tut and Queen who are obviously not the same race as the white Asiatic
Pharaoh Tirhakah (Taharqa) – King of Egypt and Ethiopia

… that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part II

… that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part II.

Last week’s post dealt with some of the prominent Black People (Ham, Nimrod, Zerah the Ethiopian commander of a million soldiers, Ebed-meleck – rescuer of the Prophet Jeremiah, and a brief sketch of the Cushites/Ethiopians) in the Old Testament. I said I would discuss prominent Black People in the New Testament in the next post. However, before leaving the Old Testament, there are some additional prominent and important individuals I must discuss: several Pharaohs, Moses’ wife, one of Solomon’s wives, and the Queen of Sheba. This post will discuss the wife of Moses, the Shulamite wife of King Solomon, and the Queen of Sheba.

While the Israelites were still in the wilderness, an incident occurred that displeased God; the brother and sister (Aaron and Miriam) of Moses spoke against the wife of Moses, an Ethiopian woman. In Numbers 12: 1-2, we read,

“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.” (NKJV)

Indeed, God heard them and swiftly dealt with this expression of racial/ethnic prejudice by afflicting Miriam with leprosy. A repentant Aaron begged Moses to appeal to God on behalf of Miriam, which he did. The Lord restored Miriam but not until she had been outside the camp for seven days.

Since Miriam, not Aaron, was the one afflicted with leprosy, she evidently was the ringtail leader of this enterprise. We see from this incident that God does not tolerate prejudice or the coming against his anointed. Zipporah, being the wife of Moses, was one with Moses. Therefore, when they came against her, they came against Moses. The Lord pointed out that Moses was not just any prophet but he was so special that He, unlike with other prophets, spoke to him mouth to mouth. He then asks Miriam and Aaron, “Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” (Verse 8).

Exodus 2: 21 tells us that Jethro (the man of wisdom who gave Moses wise counsel), the Midianite, gave Moses Zipporah his daughter in marriage. There are those who say that this black wife was not Zipporah, the Midianite. Midian was a son of Abraham by his second wife Keturah (Genesis 25: 2). The country with his name was located in southwestern Arabia. Therefore, the question may be, how did she become black, if, indeed, this Ethiopian wife was Zipporah? First I would note that there is no account in Scripture that tells of Moses marrying someone other than Zipporah nor an account of the death of Zipporah. Secondly historically we know that before Semites came into Arabia, the country was inhabited by Black People, Ethiopians (Cushites). The present day Arabs arose from race mixture during historical times2; that is what accounts for their darkness.  

Interestingly it is Zipporah who circumcises Moses’ son. What bearing does this have on her race or ethnicity? It is significant because it has been well established that the Ethiopians practiced circumcision since time immemorial. Herodotus (the Greek father of history who visited Egypt almost 2,500 years ago) makes this assertion and posits the possibility that the practice of circumcision was passed from Ethiopians to the Egyptians. He dogmatically asserts that the Jews (the Syrians of Palestine as he calls them) learned the practice from the Egyptians. Here is the point: if Zipporah was Ethiopian, then it would not be strange for her to be acquainted with the practice of circumcision. By the way, circumcision is universal among Black Africans.

Two prominent black women of the Old Testament are associated with King Solomon: the black Shulamite wife of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon from the other side of the world. First we will discuss the Shulamite wife of Solomon.

In the first chapter (verses 5 and 6) of the Song of Solomon or Song of Songs (Canticle of Canticles in some Bibles), Solomon’s Shulamite wife says the following to the daughters of Jerusalem:

I am black, but comely,
Oh ye daughters of Jerusalem,
As the tents of Kedar,
As the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am swarthy,
Because the sun hath scorched me.
My mother’s sons were incensed against me;
They made me keeper of the vineyards;
But mine own vineyard have I not kept. (ASV)

Some say that this Shulamite was a daughter of Pharaoh, presumably because she compares herself to horses in Pharaoh’s chariots. It seems more likely she was from Western Asia from all the allusions to places in the Levant and Arabia, where Black People at this point in history were probably quite common and where, according to the Bible, most of the descendants of Cush (Ethiopia) settled. Whether she came from Africa or Asia, the bottom line is that she was black. Some translations render the first sentence as swarthy or dark. However, Strong’s Concordance gives the translation as black, actually jet black. Her getting sunburnt cannot explain her blackness since by the time she came to be Solomon’s wife I am sure that she was not working in the hot sun. It should be evident that this woman was prominent, and important, since Solomon wrote such a long and amorous song about her. Clearly his deep love for her was more important than the prejudice of the daughters of Jerusalem. I know that this Psalm has spiritual meaning (for example, types and shadows of Christ and the Church) but that discussion is for another day. This affair brings to mind the incident involving Miriam and Aaron who came against Moses’ wife because she was an Ethiopian and when, more recently, in 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refusing to allow the great Diva Marian Anderson to perform in Constitution Hall, solely because she too was an Ethiopian, that is, black. Like Zipporah, she too was vindicated when 75,000 showed up to hear her perform in front of the Washington Memorial on Easter Sunday.

The other black woman connected with Solomon is the Queen of Sheba who visited him to find out if he was as wise as he was reported to be. We can assume she was black because she is a descendant of Cush. The sons of Cush (Ethiopia) were: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, Sabtecha and Nimrod. The sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan (Genesis 10: 7-8). The land she ruled was named after the Biblical ancestor Sheba. A German scholar from the 15th century assumed she was black like Sub-Saharan Africans1.

In 1 Kings 10: 1-3, we read that,

“Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with riddles. So she came to Jerusalem with a very large caravan (entourage), with camels carrying spices, a great quantity of gold, and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about everything that was on her mind [to discover the extent of his wisdom]. Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king which he did not explain to her.” (AMP)

After hearing all he had to say, she exclaimed that the half had not been told. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke very highly of her, in speaking to a group of Pharisees, when he said, “The Queen of the South (Sheba) will stand up [as a witness] at the judgment against this generation, and will condemn it because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon; and now, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12: 42, AMP) In other words, He is telling them “you will not hear me but the Queen of Sheba would have gladly received the Good News I am preaching” [my paraphrasing what Jesus said]. Jesus knew that she had told Solomon, “How blessed (fortunate, happy) are your men! How blessed are these your servants who stand continually before you, hearing your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, He made you king to execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10: 8-9, AMP). That’s how He knew how she would have responded to him.

Sheba gave Solomon lots of gold, spices, and precious stones. He in turn loaded her up with stuff, giving her whatever she wanted. She then went back home. However, the Ethiopians (of today), who claim her, say that was not the whole story and that she had a son for Solomon called Menelik I. All of this is extra-biblical. However, there are those who believe that the Arc of the Covenant is in Ethiopia, and it might have gotten there through this Solomon-Sheba connection.

My next post will concentrate on the Pharaohs associated with important Biblical events.

References and Notes

  1. Depiction of Queen of Sheba by 15th Century German.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_Sheba

2. Cheikh Anta Diop (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, pp. 123-124.

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals?

Part I

that the Black People mentioned by name in the Bible were invariably prominent individuals? Part I.

In a recent History Channel documentary on Pompeii, the expert being interviewed by the commentator pointed out that that the remains of a person who perished in the destruction of Pompeii were those of a black woman. The commentator said something to the effect that he did not know that the Pompeiians had black slaves. The expert quickly corrected him by pointing out that these were not the remains of a slave but of a woman of high position. This is a perfect example of “the inarticulate major premise”, a phrase attributed to U. S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and discussed in Basil Davidson’s The Lost Cities of Africa. The inarticulate major premise here is that blacks have always been a slave race. If blacks show up in ancient times, they necessarily were slaves or at best servile persons of low status. It usually is not articulated but the premise or assumption is always in the background, namely, that blacks were always a slave race.

If we examine the identified Blacks in the Bible, we find just the opposite. Instead of their being of low position, they are invariable individuals of high position, people of influence. The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 is the first place in the Bible where people are identified by race, with the three sons of Noah being the progenitors of three different races, the Black, the Semitic, and the Indo-European. This classification corresponds exactly to the New Kingdom racial classification system of the Ancient Egyptians, found in the Valley of the Kings. Ham is the biblical progenitor of Blacks, Shem the progenitor of the Semitic Peoples, and Japheth the progenitor of the Indo-Europeans. How do we know that Ham has any connection to Black People?

First the word Ham is from the Hebrew Cham which, according to Strong’s Concordance, means “hot (from the tropical habitat)”. The word is the old name for Egypt, Kemit, land of the Black People (not black soil). Therefore, we can trace the genealogy of blacks through the descendants of Ham: Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Phut, and Canaan. Up to this very day, Arabs call Egypt Misr, a variation on Mizraim. When the Greeks translated the Old Testament into Greek, they translated Cush as Ethiopia (land of burnt faces). Over time Ethiopia came to refer to the civilization to the south of Egypt, not the Ethiopia of today which previously had been called Abyssinia. Interestingly at the time of the writing of Genesis 10, there were more descendants of Ham than of either Shem or Japheth. Twenty-eight (28) descendants of Ham are identified by name but and only nineteen (19) and eight (14) respectively of Shem and Japheth. Fifteen verses are devoted to Ham’s descendants while only eight (8) and five (5) respectively to Shem and Japheth. So clearly there are many, many Black People in the Bible.

Well educated speakers of English, who have not been blinded by racial prejudice, understand quite clearly who Ham is. On the first page of his novel, Billy Budd, the American writer Herman Melville made the following observation about a sailor who stood out above the rest:

“In Liverpool, … I saw under the shadow of the great ding street-wall of Prince’s Deck … a common sailor so intensely black that he must  needs have been a native African of the unadulterated blood of Ham…”

Clearly Melville understood that Ham was the Biblical progenitor of Africans, i.e., Black People.

The first prominent black person after Ham is Nimrod, a son of Cush and a grandson of Ham. The Bible describes him as a mighty one in the earth, a might hunter before the Lord, and a builder of cities and kingdoms (Babel, Erech, Accad, Nineveh (the great city), Rehoboth-Ir and Calah). He was the first mighty ruler. Chapter 11 of Genesis tells us that the people of Babel got besides themselves and tried to build a tower to Heaven which caused God to confuse them with many languages and to scatter them. Though verses 1-9 of Chapter 11 do not say that Nimrod led them in the enterprise to build a tower to Heaven, the presumption is that he was the leader.

When King Asa of Judah was feeling safe with walled cities and more than a half million (580,000) soldiers under his command, everything was upset when “There came against Judah Zerah the Ethiopian with a host of a million [that is, too many to be numbered] and 300 chariots …”. (2 Chronicles 14:9. AMP). Asa cried out to God, and “… the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.” (2 Chronicles 14:12). Only divine intervention saved the day for King Asa.

Who were these Ethiopians (Cushites) of old? As far back as 5,000 years (3,000 B.C.), they were renowned for their economic and military prowess. The ancient Greeks were of the opinion that Egypt began as colony of Ethiopians (just like the British colonized America). Isiah 18:2 describes them as a nation,

 “Which sends ambassadors by the sea,
Even in vessels of papyrus on the surface of the waters.
Go, swift messengers, to a nation [of people] tall and smooth (clean shaven),
To a people feared far and wide,
A powerful and oppressive nation
Whose land the rivers divide.” (AMP)

Isaiah concludes his prophesy, after saying that Cush would come under divine judgment, by noting that, “At that time a gift of homage will be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people tall and smooth (clean shaven) … To the place [of worship] of the name of the Lord of hosts, to Mount Zion [in Jerusalem].” (v. 7). Some Bible scholars believe that the gift referred to in this verse is the Arc of the Covenant. Furthermore, in the end they would come to the Lord. Cush remained powerful throughout most of the era of Roman dominance, even after Egypt had fallen to the status of a Roman colony.

When the prophet Jeremiah was cast into a dungeon, it was a black man named Ebed-melech, a palace eunuch, an Ethiopian, who went to the king and pleaded for Jeremiah. Though King Zedekiah had approved what Jeremiah’s enemies had done to him, he reversed himself and told Eded-melech to take thirty (30) men and pull Jeremiah out of the dungeon. (Jeremiah: 38: 9-13). Clearly Ebed-melech had influence with the king. The Babylonians were about to burn Jerusalem down. While the siege was in progress, the Lord told Jeremiah:

   16 “Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am about to bring My words [of judgment] against this city through disaster and not for good; and they will take place before you on that day. 17 But I will [a]protect you [Ebed-melech] on that day,” says the Lord, “and you will not be handed over to the men of whom you are afraid. 18 For I will certainly rescue you; and you will not fall by the sword, but you will have your [own] life as a reward of battle, because you have placed your trust in Me,” says the Lord.’”

Not only did Ebed-Melech find favor with the king, he also found favor with God because of his character and his faith in God. He clearly believed the prophet.

Such was the status of the Black people mentioned in the Bible before the time of Christ, going back more than 3,000 years. My next post will talk about the prominent Black People of the New Testament.