Why racism against blacks is endemic in the world
Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
How and why did the whole global world come to regard 1 billion African people as racially inferior? Many millions more people of African descent in the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere in Europe and the world generally regard black people or anyone with a dark skin color as inferior. You just need to randomly select any of these countries it is generally always the same. White and lighter skinned people are at the top of the racial hierarchy while the blacks or any people of African descent are at the bottom. At European soccer stadiums African players are routinely targets of racial taunts and monkey noises from some booing soccer crowds. One can just wonder what happens to children of African descent in schools and play grounds in some of these countries. Asking these questions alone may be regarded as the author being needlessly provocative or merely gratuitously seeking people’s attention over what some people may consider a minor issue compared to serious global problems of global inequality, abuses of women and girls, poverty, disease, HIVAIDS, hunger, war, genocide, political repression and wide speard human rights abuses, global warming, terrorism, unemployment, and human trafficking.
Some people may even yawn at this with feelings of boredom and de javu with the reflexive response that these issues belong to the past and have been already solved. They may even roll their eyes defensively and say here we go again: “Europeans enslaved millions of Africans during the Atlantic Slave Trade and European colonized the whole of Africa.” Didn’t America elect President Barack Obama whose father is African? The hated apartheid policy during which 5 million white settlers racially oppressed 40 million Africans in South Africa was eliminated in 1994. Mandela has been out of prison for 23 years and all African countries have been independent from European colonialism during the last 53 years. Exept for isolated incidents by some idiots, racial and ethnic relations are at their best in the modern world.
This author begs not only to disagree but to suggest that most of the source of this deeply embedded racial history in the world may be still hidden in national psyches, buried, and transmitted in Eurocentric history books and other popular media even to this day. Who were initially responsible for this? Europeans of course. But here is the great news, the internet will finally uncover the truth after 400 years and there is nothing the original European perpetrators of this racism toward Africans can do. The global world may finally get rid of the scourge of white racism directed at Africans that has been embedded in world. The best news is that this will be good and truly liberating for everybody of all the 7 billion people in the whole world in the long run.
As the world enjoys unprecedented globalization through a complex network of social media, the question begs revisiting. The urgency of revisiting these provocative questions of the ultimate source of our deeply embedded harsh racial attitudes and hostility toward people of African descent was driven to me recently in a sudden unusual way. This happened on Friday May 10, 2013 from 8:05 to 8:45 hours Eastern Standard American time as I was quietly proctoring a final exam for my college students.
Zambians Africans Founded Ancient Egypt
The journal article that Dr. Chisanga Siame had just published was titled: “Katunkumene and Ancient Egypt in Africa” from the Journal of Black Studies of 20 March, 2013. As I was reading it, I realized that it was providing possible definitive proof for the first time that I, my ancestors, we Zambians and Africans in Southern Africa were the founders of ancient Egypt. The ancient civilization of Egyptian Kingdoms headed by powerful Pharaohs dominated North Africa and the Middle East for almost two thousand years ago from c 3100 to 1090 B.C. E. This was before Assyrians, Persians, the Babylonian Empire, Greeks, and Romans occupied Egypt. This was also before Christ and the Prophet Muhammad.
The Egyptian civilization was the first to create a large empire, establish writing using hieroglyphs, large scale political economy, the bureaucracy and built the sophisticated massive pyramids. Europeans and their scholars for a long time have denied that any Africans were involved in the Egyptian civilization. Instead they have pointed to Greece as the sore and exclusive source of the European civilization that eventually dominated the world. Their argument was that if the black Africans built the Egyptian civilization, where are those same Africans and their descendants to day?
What excited me the most is that Dr. Siame had cracked the secret code which was hiding right under our noses; Zambian clan names and the Bantu indigenous African languages which have left their imprints all over North and West Africa, the Middle East and all over Africa up to Cape town on the Southern tip of the African continent. The secret code might be buried all over rural Zambia in the 72 tribes and their languages and clan names which include Lozi, Tonga, Bemba, Nyanja, Chewa, Kaonde, Luchazi, Tumbuka, Namwanga,Luvale and dozens of Zambian languages. Dr. Siame found out that the Bemba bantu language term uku tunkumana may have descended from the name Tunka Men the name of the ancient kingdom of Sudan suggesting a connection between the Bemba people of Zambia in Southern Africa and ancient Egypt.
Dr. Chisanga Siame also discovered that his clan Namwanga ethnic name of Siame may be traced back to the Kings of ancient Egypt named Pharaoh Siamen who ruled in Egypt from 986-967 B. C. E. As I was reading, I was getting more and more excited. The eureka or moment of epiphany happened to me when I asked about my father’s name Sani. We come from a small village among the Tumbuka people more than two thousand miles south from Egypt in Zambia in Southern Africa. Dr. Siame in a personal communication said that my father’s name Sani, who is now 89 years old, can be traced back to ancient Macedonia (Makidonia) known as Chalkidike (perhaps Salukidike), on the southern coast, was a city called Sani, often spelt Sane. I have to talk to my father to find out how he got his name when he was born in Zambia in the 1920s.
Skepticism and Critical Questions
As skeptical reader you may have one of two reactions. You may smell an internet hoax, pseudo science or you may be rightly asking, “who is this Dr. Siame”? Why haven’t you heard of him and why isn’t he from a well-known department of paleontology, Egyptology, or historical linguistics at a prestigious American or European University? Why isn’t his work published in a prestigious main stream journal. Those who are inclined may even go further and say of course such obscure work can only appear in a peripheral “Black Journal”. After my initial euphoria had toned down, I asked the same skeptical and critical questions as a seasoned academic.
Dr. Chisanga Siame graduated with a political science degree from University of Zambia in 1976. He obtained his Ph. D. in Political Philosophy from Northwestern University. These degrees did not prepare him to do this research. He had to study on his own for many years mastering hieroglyphs, looked at the work of Egyptologists, and especially that he focused deeply on studying philology, and then the morphology, phonology, semantics and syntax of language. All of these may be part of historical linguistics. There is so much information in his short 20 page published article. He had to work tenaciously for many years on his own in isolation to make these discoveries. He could not get any grant for his research.
His article provided for me some tentative answers to so many questions that I could not answer that were in the back of mind over many years. If black Africans are the origins of humans or homo sapiens and founded the great Egyptian civilization, where are their descendant to day? What caused the Europeans and eventually most of the world to regard the Africans with such racial hostility, resentment, contempt, and often hate and oppression? Who and what caused the Africans and their descendants not to be aware of their own true history not from 1600 or 1200 but in antiquity thousands of years before Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed? If all 7 billion people are descendants of the Africans or Bantu people, why doesn’t the world proudly celebrate this fact openly from the South Pacific Islands, Australia, to China, India, Europe, North and South America? Why do Africans not have this knowledge in all their education or school curriculums? The explanation may lie in the unique tragic history between black Africans and Europeans.
Origins of Human and Evolution of Racism
Australopithecus including Lucy lived in Africa about 3.2 million years ago. One to two hundred and fifty thousand years ago, the Homo sapiens (Anatomically Modern Humans) evolved from Africa and scattered in small bands stretching from Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, all the way to South Africa. They migrated to the rest of the world through present day Saudi Arabia. Tens of thousands of years later, the Africans or Bantu people settled and were wide spread in the present day North and West Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, the Mediterranean region in Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Mesopotamia, and the present day Middle East. The Bantu African people could not live further North in deeper Europe because it was still the ice age and uninhabitable. The entire Sahara Desert was plush green with the Savannah sunny climate and the fertile Nile River Valley near perfect for human settlement.
Once the first greatest Egyptian civilization (Anta Diop, 1974:10) fell after ten thousand years, other empires and civilizations dominated, rose and fell in Egypt. The crucial series of historical incidents and events that lead to Africans being the brunt of racism merely hundreds of years later was that first Greece got some of the knowledge from the Egyptians who were black Africans. This was normal among human civilizations through the process of diffusion in both antiquity and contemporary times. When the Europe emerged from the Dark Ages (which was way after the Egyptian Civilization) and rose after the Renaissance in the 1500s and the Enlightenment period in the 17 and 18 centuries, they began to explore the world. The commerce, science and technological innovation that exploded during the Industrial Revolution begged for cheap labor for production of raw materials for Industrial Europe. Europeans started the lucrative and harsh and never before seen large scale commercial or chattel slavery. Europeans may have shipped from Africa anywhere from an estimated 12 million or more Africans to North, South America and the Caribbean plantations that were growing massive amounts of cotton, sugar, and tobacco.
This in itself would not have been as bad. But Europeans developed the racial ideology of African inferiority and eternal primitiveness that sought to totally define all Africans or so called Negroes at that time as the most inferior race. This was hardly true. The campaign still goes on to this day although more subtly. The grandeur and utter magnificence of the Egyptian civilization had to be stripped from Africans and anything that Africans may have achieved or done was denied, buried, or diminished. Through a relentless and total cunning propaganda campaign that started from 1609 when the first slave ship of Africans arrived in Virginia, Africans could not catch a break. Europeans owned the world printing industry and distribution of world knowledge and created the ideology of “the White Man’ Burden” to justify the brutal colonization of Africans. One cannot deny that some of the books, publications, and writings at the time constituted true or legitimate scientific knowledge and reflected genuine, legitimate, valid what Ali Mazrui and Molefi Kente Asante call “European triumphalism” in economic, technological, and scientific advancement.
European Colonization of Africa
When European colonization of Africa started in 1885, the propaganda of vicious and sometimes vitriolic racism against Africans continued influencing the entire world. The major enduring consequences of this are that discussion of any world history today about the Middle East, North Africa, Egypt, and the world excludes black Africans. How can this happen when in fact Africans are the origins of humans? Such terms as “Sub-Saharan Africa” are meant to further both distance and separate the Bantu or black Africans from anything meaningful in human civilization. Most of Europe and the world follow this original European lead now largely unwritten rule or script: even if there might be obvious evidence you do not want to trace history, or yourself or anything significant concerning civilizations to Africa or black Africans. If there is any acknowledgement, it is done grudgingly the way sometimes humans will acknowledge something or someone they are ashamed of or embarrassed about; for example along hidden illegitimate child born out of a family scandal.
What should the reader make out of this? Is this just the words of an angry frustrated writer who wants to tear down or diminish the great achievements of the European civilization? Does the author want to elevate primitive and backward Africans above everyone else including Europeans? What is the point of this article? If there is something that one can get is that it is about time the true history of Bantu Africans in antiquity and the world is unraveled. Among Africans and especially Zambians, Dr. Siame may have provided the spark.
This article may provide explanations as to why if you consider yourself white or lighter skinned may feel directly or indirectly an automatic or the reflexive reaction of discomfort, racial hostility, and sometimes hate toward Africans, African-Americans or anyone with a dark skin. This article suggests you may have directly or indirectly inherited the white superiority complex. It also provides an explanation as to why if you are an African or African-American or anyone with a dark skin may have reflexive feelings of inferiority and may be the constant target of mistrust, suspicion, reflexive and undeserved racial hostility where ever you live. This article suggests that you may have inherited the inferiority complex that was Europeans introduced. Most of the sources of these reactions are embedded in the particular societies and the world that Europe created since the 1600s. This author has often wondered about those disturbing pictures of pure racial hatred and rage directed at the young African American students in Arkansas who for the first time were walking into a once racially segregated school at Little Rock in 1957 in the United States. It may not be because of anything that might have been happening or the black students did at that time but it was because of this difficult history in which Europeans created racism directed at Africans since the 1600s. Most people and especially the pertrators of this racism may not grasp this fact.
The rest of the world just needs to look in their souls, their communities, their countries; the history of Africans is all over the ancient geographical world, languages, the physical and biological constitution among the 7 billion people who both biblically and in human biological evolution may be the descendants of Africans. We all just need to recognize and embrace it. Europeans and their descendants in North America can do that too; embrace the contributions of black Africans in antiquity, in contemporary times, and especially to the Greek Civilization.
Anta Diop, Cheikh., edited and translated by Mercer Cook., The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1974.
Bernal, Martin., Black Anthena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. III, Linguistic Evidence, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 2006.
Bernal, Martin., Black Anthena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Vol. I, The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987.
Lefkowitz, Mary., Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism became an excuse for teaching myth as history, Basic Books, 1996, 19997.
Rodney, Walter., How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Washington, D. C.: Howard University Press, 1974.
Tembo, Mwizenge., "The Challenges of life as a citizen and descendant of Zambia and the global world," Chapter 17, in Mwizenge S. Tembo, Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture: Social Change in the Global World, Xlibris Corporation, 2012, pp. 354-370.