Thursday, April 8, 2010

Afrocentrism in Relation to Egypt Part 1

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Afrocentricity is inherently contradictory since it embraces the two countries that self-identify the LEAST with Africa: Ethiopia and Egypt- A.H.



When my friend posted the above comment on Facebook and Twitter, it sparked a very big discussion and some controversy. Although I don't completely agree with his assertion, I’ve wanted to write a post on this topic ever since I first arrived in Cairo for Arabic studies. I was going to wait until I’d visited Aswan in upper Egypt, where the Nubian people reside,  but I've received several requests to touch on the subj ect.Thus, this will be part #1 and I will write a follow up on this post after I chat with the Nubians , insha'allah
















From egyptian museum

Before arriving in Cairo, I’d just finished Egyptian-Sudanese authors Kola Boof’s book entitled  Flesh and the Devil and it had left a very big impression on me. The book is a love story that is rooted in blackness and Afro-centricity in a way that I’ve never read before. The characters werent fair and white as snow but charcoal black and sensual. Instead of championing  Egypt, Nubia, Kemet, Ethiopia and other East African civilizations or painting the lighter sons and daughters in the African diaspora alone as beautiful, Boof’s book was firmly grounded in the strength and beauty of pure blackness as found in Sub-Saharan and West Africa.

Having come to Cairo with a knowledge of the poor treatment of the black Sudanese in Egypt and the recent comments of  Egyptian newspaper editor Abdel-Bari Atwan who, on Obama's election, said, "Obama would be referred to as an 'abd' [slave] in some parts of the Arab world", I was not expecting to be “welcomed back” to the “Mother Land”. Although, Egypt is in Africa, the country has gone through several invasions and extensive measures to carve an  Egyptian national identity that paints the people as not African or even Arabs, but solely “Egyptian”.  Thus, the question remains, does it make sense to ground Afro-centrism in a culture that openly rejects all things black?

Afrocentrism began as a rejection of a  Eurocentric and (c)overtly racist, Western perspective of history as taught by the education system in America. Afrocentrism sought to re-instill a sense of historical pride and self-worth  in black children and expound the many contributions of Africans, people who look like us, to world history and development. Challenging the idea that black people were lazy or only useful as a labor force, Afrocentrics  reminded the world that Africa housed the oldest and wealthiest civilizations, largest libraries, ancient languages, greatest thinkers, and some of the most important inventions in the history of humanity. One of my favorite books, The Worlds Greatest Men of Color (I and II), details the many world famous and not-so famous  ideas and thinkers, leaders and stars of African origin. Rejecting the Greeks and Romans as the original great thinkers and inventors of their time, Afrocentrics point to Europe's links to ancient Egypt as the source of the Roman and Greek knowledge and broadly concluded that the ancient Egyptians were black.

In theory, I have no issue with Afrocentrism. All of humanity and civilization originated in Africa and the contribution of African people should never be denigrated. I firmly believe that it is important to instill a sense of self-worth in a black child by teaching them that their history did not begin when Europeans made contact with Africans and eventually denigrated them to slaves. The beginning line in Kola Boof's book illustrates this idea perfectly, "Before the White people created time and sailed on ships to bring it to us- we lived forever". Beginning black history with slavery, reinforces the idea that black people are only relevant and valuable in relation to Europeans and we were nothing before contact with whites. It also subconsciously reinforces the idea that everything noteworthy originated in Europe. I’ve heard many African Americans express a complete ignorance of Africa beyond monkeys, AIDS, and naked, poor people. In reality, they have no more knowledge of Africa or Africans beyond the "historical" descriptions left by 19th century slave-catchers or missionaries that are reprinted in their history books. A people with no sense of where they come from have no idea what they are capable of accomplishing. As Bob Marley said, “ If you know your history then you would know where you're coming from. Then you wouldn't have to ask me who the heck do I think I am"

In practice, my critique of Afrocentrism (and Eurocentrism) lies in the attempts at historical revisionism and its preference to embrace civilizations in Eastern Africa, such as Egypt (Kemet, Nubia) when, in reality, the African Diaspora that Afrocentrism seeks to empower originated from the lands on the other side of the continent in Western Africa.  We should not completely reject Egypt; however, one should seek to separate ancient Egypt from present-day Egypt. 

Muslims invaded Egypt around 639 A.D. Before they arrived, Copts and Byzantines lived in Lower Egypt and the kingdom of Nubia thrived form Southern Egypt to Northern Sudan.  In the Kushite Period,  Nubians ruled as Pharaohs and intermixing continued between the two people for centuries before Eurocentric ideas of beauty were imposed as the standard and Nubians became a subclass.  The ancient Egyptians have been colonized by and inter-bred with (or bred out by) Arabs, Turks, French, Greeks, Romans as well as Africans. Egypt today actively seeks to distance itself from everything black. Although there are black people here and even amongst the lightest skinned Egyptian, one can find ‘negroid’ features and hair, the blackest Egyptian wouldn't refer to himself as "African". Contrary to ideas of a great black civilization, bleaching cream is widely sold at all pharmacies and drug stores. Dark skin is looked down upon to the extent that “dark” (samara) is a used as a slur and images of darker skinned entertainers are lightened in all major media outlets to give them a more Mediterrean complexion. When Nefertiti was discovered to be black by scientists from the Discovery Channel, it caused a public outcry in Egypt!

Consequently, Egypt is actually an interesting paradoxical inversion of what it should be as taught to us by Eurocentrics and Afrocentrics alike. To base a movement for black empowerment on a society that openly rejects people that look like you is counterproductive. What is the point of debating whether or not Nefertiti and Cleopatra where black when we forget that King Ansah of Ghana had the Fante people watched for European ships, and prevented them from coming ashore for years so that they could not capture and enslave the Fante people? Or that Queen Nzingha of Angola fought a successful 30-year war against the slave traders of Portugal until the Portuguese negotiated a peace treaty with her in 1656?  Is that history not relevant to us in the African Diaspora? Why call yourself a Nubian King or Queen  when the Nubians, a people you have no actual blood ties to, are not long dead but remain as an oppressed minority in Egypt constantly being pushed out of their historical land?

For Afrocentrism to achieve it’s goals, it should minimize its focus on ancient Egypt and begin to focus and embrace our direct ancestors in Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, etc.  Equal merit should be placed on the great kingdoms of Timbuktu, the Ashanti, and others in order to dispell myths like "all" Africans sold other Africans into slavery and that blacks were poor and helpless before whites "saved" them. Never should we forget the contributions of Egypt to the world or that of black Africans to Egypt but we should not seek to champion Egypt alone at the expense of letting history forget the rest of Africa. Present day Egypt is not that land of proud Africans that Afrocentrism claim but one that derides all things associated with blackness. It's not necessary to seek to impose blackness on those who don't want it, or never had it, or fight over history's scraps when the truest of Africans have been black and proud before it became a catch-phrase. 

27 comments:

Kola Boof said...

Aside from the surprise of one of my books being mentioned in this article (thank you Frnechie)....I would like to state that this is quite true what the author has written about my father's (Harith Bin Farouk) country, Egypt. I am glad that Black Americans are beginning to stop the "romanticism." I know it's painful for them as they seem desperate to find some "relation" to superior greatness. But I would suggest much more consideration, love & respect for their own actual ancestral Kingdoms in West Africa. Though I was born in Sudan, the physical location of Nubia & Cush, even I have come to greatly admire & love the Kingdoms of West, Central and South Africa. We must all realize that White nations deliberately "leave out" mentioning the great, great achievements and structures of these darker nations simply to accrue White Supremacy. We shouldn't be so blind or dumb as that. enshalla tima usrah

nodebtworldtravel.com said...

Excellent piece.

I'd be curious to read Part II on Ethiopia. I did not know about Ethiopia's disassociation from the rest of the continent before I went there, but now makes sense after talking to a few darker skinned Ethiopians. They seemed to imply that they were 'less than'. Sorry I didn't talk to them more about it.

Frenchie said...

@Kola thanks for taking time to comment on my blog!! Clearly, I loved your book! The process of reclaiming our history will be a long and difficult one. Dont be too hard on AA's. There is so much misinformation out there and so many truths are deliberately hidden that it's not hard to understand why people do not know more about Africa, and themselves.

@NoDebt I'm very happy you liked it! I can't speak on Ethiopia b/c I've never been there. However, My black friends who grew up in DC often said they felt rejected and looked down upon by the Ethiopian immigrants there.

Bruksi said...

For the most part Afrocentric doesn't seek
to identified themselves with the modern
light skinned Egyptians, but to point out
that the founders and foundation of ancient Kemet/Egypt originate south of Kemet/Egypt and were Black Africans

Afrocintrists generally are aware of West African civilization and highlight and teach about them

Also its only a minority of modern Ethiopians
that "dissociate" them selves from the rest of
Africa and Blackness, not the majority.

The Miss Ethiopia 2009, Chuna Okaka is a very dark skin
beauty of the typical southern Sudanese phenotype, and hail from Gambella southern Ethiopia a den of very dark skinned Ethiopians

Every modern Ethiopians that I have met embraced their Blackness and Africaness and
idolize Jamaica for praising and promoting Blackness and Africa.

Sudan is also the original etiopia I might add

Frenchie said...

There is nothing wrong with pointing out the relations between black people and ancient Egypt but making it central to the movement is unproductive since Egypt is far from the ideal. My argument is that the West African civilizations should be a largest focus since it's where the enslaved where stolen from. Also, I'd argue that it is the majority of Egyptians that disassociate with Blackness and Africa. They don't want to be either and are very vocal about it if you ask them.

As I said to NoDebt, I don't have any personal experiences in Ethiopia to speak on. From my experiences with Ethiopians in the US though, I'd be hard pressed to say they "idolize" Jamaica. It's more like they tolerate Rastafians.

Fly Brother said...

Very interesting and informative! I will say that I feel put off by the original quote because Afrocentrism serves to highlight and celebrate African-based cultures regardless of whether or not those cultures accept their place within Africa. I think there's a tendency to conflate Africa and blackness, which gives fuel to those who argue for a cultural separation of the continent based on skin tone; the countries of the Maghreb ARE African. Africa is not monolithic. It possesses the greatest ethnic diversity of any continent on the planet. As I mentioned in a podcast on my blog, Portugal and Finland are both in Europe and both considered European countries, despite geographic distance and phenotypic difference. Aren't Jordan, India, and Japan all Asian countries?

I certainly agree with you that ALL great African civilizations should be hailed and highlighted by our educators and leaders (in fact, the history books in both Colombia and Brazil discuss, if briefly, Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, which is more than what I ever got in school); as an educator and Afrocentrist, I say if it's on or from the great continent, from the Nape to the Cape, it's African. "They" can say whatever the hell "they" want.

And as a former resident of the DMV, I can attest that the whole DC-thiopian thing is no different from what happens with black Americans and West Indians in South Florida (don't even get me started on the buppity Plantation/Sunrise contingent).

Bruksi said...

Yes I understand your valid point.

We must remember that some west African groups
ancestor came from the Nile Valley which includes
Egypt. as to their own traditions of where they
came from.

I wouldn't be surprised that the majority of
modern Egyptian disassociate them selves from
Blackness and Africa, since the majority of them
today at least in Alexandria and Cairo or light
skinned and actually not Black. Believe me I am aware of the anti Black anti African bigotry and
racism of many of the modern none Black north "Africans"

Well, I speak from experience from the Ethiopians that i have met, and even tho a Jamaican I am not a Rastafarian, at least from an outward view.

I have seen many Ethiopians assert and defend
there Blackness and Africanness both on line and off line, with no Rastafarian involvements, in light of those who try to tell them that they are mix with something else.

This is not to say that some Ethiopians doesn't
indeed dissociates themselves from Blackness
and Africa, they are a minority

Bruksi said...

..excused the typo

Bruksi said...

"@NoDebt I'm very happy you liked it! I can't speak on Ethiopia b/c I've never been there. However, My black friends who grew up in DC often said they felt rejected and looked down upon by the Ethiopian immigrants there."

Ethiopians as well as other Africans
are fed with negativity about Black Americans
by white supremacy, who also try to feed
Black Americans negativity about Ethiopians
and other Africans, which can sometimes blur things. The bigoted north African invaders
are another story!

Frenchie said...

@Flybrother I think the comparison of DMV's Ethiopian vs African American and So.Florida's West Indians vs. African Americans is pretty spot on. We all grow up with so much misinformation and stereotypes about the "other" that it turns people who look alike into enemies.

The great thing about being black, African, or part of the African diaspora is that diversity abounds! We come in every shade and live on every continent. I wish we could learn to celebrate ourselves more.

@Bruski I think you also make some valid points. I try to stay away from 'all' or 'none' statements because no group of people ever speaks as a monolith. Even amongst the most homogeneous group, one will find diversity of thoughts and opinions even when there seems to be a general consensus to an outsider. What I do struggle with is whether or not we should "impose" or "assign" Africanness to those who reject it in North Africa. Africa has given the world so much and continues to do so. Is it necessary to insist that those who dont want to be called African have such an honor?

Frenchie said...

@FlyBrother, I don't completely agree with the original quote either but It serves as a way to spark debate and catch the readers attention.

Bruksi said...

@Frenchie Thanks, I agree with what you said.

That said,
I for one isn't about imposing or assigning Africanness on no one, especially
when they are not really African, and in
my view that's not what Afrocentricty is about
either. But if we are talking about the ancient
Kemetians: not only did they know that they were
Africans and called themselves KMt/Blacks,
but they also see their origin's as in Africa
south of them

Bruksi said...

@Fly Brother

I agree, we shouldn't make some modern bigoted color stuck invaders be they in Egypt or anywhere else cause us to abandon the Black African foundation of Kemet/Egypt or any other parts of Africa.

I agree with the idea put fort by
some, that Africa should look to ancient Egypt and Kush as its mother
civilization, the same way all of Europe look to ancient Greece and Rome
as its.

This is not to say to ignore Africa's other great civilizations,
and I agree that, this is not what Afrocentricty do or stand for.

Afrocentricty shed light on African civilizations period

There are some with the misconception that Black Americans shouldn't have
anything to do with ancient Egypt because their ancestor's came from west
Africa, that's a white supremacy doctrine.

Africans travel all over the continent
in ancient times, some west African groups own accounts place their ancestors
origins in the Nile valley, the very origins of the ancient Egyptian themselves
to begin with.

Black American isn't the only ones to point out ancient Egypt Black origins,
some present day Egyptians among others documented the same

Black historians and Afrocentric scholars doesn't only focus on ancient Egypt,
there are many books and websites by Black historians and Afrocentric scholars
that focus on West, Central, and East African civilizations.

Ancient Egypt seem to stand out more because it was the most visible, it was Africa's most advanced ancient civilization
alongside Kush, its what White supremacy and other anti Black bigots try to steal distort and misplace the most

Many of the Black people of Aswan who they called "Nubians" are descendant of the ancient Egyptians

Where Aswan is located was Kemet/Egypt first Nome, that they refer to as Ta Seti upper
Kemet.

Its a Eurocentric ploy to create a "Black Nubia" opposed to a "White ancient Egypt", there was no separate country called Nubia nor any separate people called Nubian at the time of ancient Kemet and Kush. There were two place the ancient Egyptians named Nubt and Nubty, they both were a part of ancient Egypt and were in upper Egypt and means gold.

Kiratiana said...

I'm so glad that I stumbled upon this conversation. I found the twitter post, and blog post extremely enlightening.

I find it interesting that you posted this because I first experience this argument while living in Brazil, Bahia to be exact.

The most traditional way for black people to participate in the Salvador Carnival is through the AFRO-BLOCOS. Historical drumming blocks that were also strongly connected to the Candomble religion.

Among the dozens of Afro-Blocos, there were two that were cited as being the main "black" ones - Olodum and Ile Aiye. Olodum was the Afro-bloco featured in the Michael Jackson Video. Each year each bloco will choose a theme, typically around a person or country.

Olodum (which consisted of typically lighter skinned blacks but really no different than your typical black American) centered their black pride around Egypt and other countries known more being "less black" i.e. Madagascar and etc.

Ile Aiye (Black Brazilians...much darker than Olodum) on the other hand, centered their blackness around West Africa and the countries that typically sent all the slaves to Brazil (Angola, Nigeria). They had started doing this way back in the 60s.

So I find it interesting that in the 60s and 70s (at the height of Afrocentricity in the U.S.) we were focusing on Egypt, while the "Afrocentric" Brazilians were focusing on West Africa.

Matt said...

This seems like a good group to ask, for quite some time I have been wanting to beef up on the history of West Africa. In school the only part of Africa we ever learned about was Egypt and the pyramids. I am well versed in the recent history (Colonialism onward) and current events of West Africa, but am exceedingly shady about what came before that. Does anyone have any recommendations for some good books to check out?

Also, I would wonder what the Afrocentism view would say about the fact that Black Africans have pushed/continue to suppress other ethnic groups in Africa, mainly the Pygmies and the Khoisan. I have heard nothing here mention either of those two ethnic groups contributions to the continent or the world at large. All the talk seems to be about the clash of white/black Africa, is that just because Frenchie's blog post was about Egypt or are these topics just looked over?

Frenchie said...

I would never claim to be an Africa expert, however, I think "black on black" crime and violence is oversimplified. The conflict in Northern Ireland is never viewed through a racial lens of "white on white" violence and neither is the Basque separatist movement in Spain. China's crackdown on Tibetans and other ethnic minorities isn't propelled as an Asian conflict either.

That being said, intra-state and inter/intra-ethnic conflict is an issue in many African countries which Afrocentrism does not address. However, it's debatable whether or not the movement should address these things. On one hand, addressing them would paint a balanced picture of Africa today. On the other hand, each conflict in Africa is so complex that a focus on them could cause the movement to stray from it's original intent of black empowerment.

garry said...

From the ancient period many civilizations in the history had been come up.
cheapticket.co.uk/egypt/cairo.aspx

Anonymous said...

Good brief and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you on your information.

jamiirali said...

although i appreciate egyptian antiquity im glad that west african antiquity should be first understood and highlighted since we are related far closer to the west than east africa.im married to a woman from mali and at first she was confused about afro-centric things that seemed contrary to what the africans themselves felt about themselves. she found it very assuming of afrocentrist whom she felt tried to impose a racial attitude or thought that previously did not exist due to our differences in experience depending on what side of the diaspora one was on. this article was refreshing.

Anonymous said...

I think what must be remembered is the Egypt of today is not the same as the Kemet of 3,000 years ago. As stated, the current people "Egyptians" of the North are NOT the same people who built the pyramids, or founded any of those Dynasties. Those original people of Kemet are the people of the South. I don't understand how a tan arab who arrived in what is now Egypt in the 6th century AD can even almost attempt to associate themselves with that once great civilization. It makes little to no sense what so ever. Those people of the north are of Arab, Turk, French, Roman and Greek stock.

Just look at the paintings left behind by the ancient peoples. They look no different than a Beja, Nubian, or Habashi of today that have varying physical features and tones of skin, yet they are still African BLACK. A black man or woman from Africa doesn't have to be dark skin with the stereotypical African features that most in the west associate. Africans (Black ones) can have straight noses (again look at the varying looks of a Nuba or a Beja etc). So while I do not think African Americans should have a romantic view of Egypt of today, they still should look to ancient Egypt for what our peoples (those peoples of the African continent) have done. These Arabs and whites have attempted to rewrite history and in the most absurd way. Even reading stuff from the likes of Herodotus who clearly said the ancient Egyptian looked like the Habashi (Ethiopian) speaks volumes.

Also, just because Arabs in Egypt reject blackness do not think you can look to sub-Saharan Africa and expect them greet with open arms. I can tell you A Nigerian, Ghanian or Senegali for example will not have the same affinity for a African American as well. But that is ok.

The bottom line is our people have done great things and we should not allow these people to attempt to erase or rewrite history based on falsehoods. For good scholarly work on this subject read "Black Athena" by Dr. Bernal (I think that is the spelling), also look up Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop's book on ancient Egypt.

Never let them make you feel less about yourself. We are great, we have done great things and no amount of lies will erase that. Also look up Ancient Kindgom of Ta-Seti in northern Sudan which is 1,000 or more years OLDER than Egypt and had hieroglyphic writing, pyramids and everything else ancient Egypt had which shows the system of Pharonic kingdoms started in the south and moved its way north. Egypt did not become tan or white until the latter days of the empire when the Hyksos, Greeks and then Romans started t mix into the ruling families.

lastly look up the civilization that was founded IN the Saharan desert (before it was desert) these were black people (they left paintings) and had same dress as ancient Egyptians, have pictures of Anubis (Egyptian deity) and it predates the East African kingdoms by I think 3,000 years if I remember right. They also practiced mummification. The can only lie but for so long.

Anonymous said...

WOW! You are an INCREDIBLY gifted writer-thank you for sharing this piece. I discovered your blog about a month ago and I've been hooked! I will most definitely be keeping up with your new blog as well.

Anonymous said...

Really thoughtful and insightful writting, glad I found your blog and thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Reading through some of the comments, I feel that some are perhaps simplifying things a bit themselves,literally looking at things in black and white. Comments trying to state that modern day Egyptians are 'Arab invaders'. While the Muslims Arabs did invade Egypt many centuries ago it doesnt mean they replaced the native population. Copts inparticular would disagree to being called this label and probably find it rather insulting. Furthermore, I have NEVER heard 'Arabs' claim Ancient Egypt. While its great that diaspora Africans take pride in Ancient Egypt, it is important to allow Egyptians (regardless of colour) to take pride in their own heritage to. As flawed and untrue as Eurocentrics are, is it not rather covertly colonial in itself to on the one hand complain at white Eurocentrics for trying to destroy and claim Ancient Egypt while on the other hand disregarding todays inhabitants as merely being 'invaders' and then trying to claim all their heritage for yourselves. Racism is terrible so we should take affirmative action by trying to help unite Egyptians rather than creating more division. Peace

Anonymous said...

While it makes sense that Africans from other parts of the continent are proud of Egypt and feel their ancestors were responsibile for it, it is a bit below the belt when they decide to dissmiss todays Egyptians as 'invaders'.
They might be mixed, although still Egyptian, but it is false to say theyre 'outsiders'. They are Egyptians. Their self determination is just as important as African Americans. They have more serious issues in their country than debating what colour their ancestors were. Fair enough you have beef with Eurocentrics but leave Egyptians out of it.

hanan said...

To both Anonymouses,

I think both of you (or you might be the same person) are naive to claim that people who live in Egypt are ALL related to the Ancient Egyptians. Egypt has had a LONG history of invasions and immigration all the way down to today. "Egyptian" today is a nationality not a race. Anyone can be born in Egypt. So to say that we have to somehow respect anyone living there as being related to Ancient Egypt is a bit ignorant. And that is why pervious commenters have pointed out that how Arabs and non-blacks identify in relation to Africa is irrelevant to stressing Ancient Egypt's African roots.

As for the Copts, they can be offended about (the truth) of what people say all they want to. They're not the Ancient Egyptians. The Coptic church is a denomination. Anyone can join and all kinds of people have down the centuries. The misconception that Copts are descendants of the Ancient Egyptians came from their liturgical language. The liturgical language was used to translate the hieroglyphics. Most pictures of Copts I've seen look quite European. They are most likely a mixture of Greeks, Christian Lebanese, Jews or other foreigners that accepted Christ. Any notion that they are somehow the Ancient Egyptians is completely absurd. The Ancient Egyptians themselves were staunch paganists and strongly resisted conversions to Christianity.

You have to take with a huge pinch of salt what "Arabs" and others tell you about their supposed ancestry. I have learned that people in the Arab world are VERY confused about who they are and many invent stories about their lineage by making false connections to peoples and civilizations that they admire.

The Black Wizard said...

Hi Frenchie,
First, allow me to thank you for the nice topic.
Due to work, I didn`t have time to read all comments but I like the discussion.
I would recommend to everyone who are interested in the African Civilizations, a very interesting PBS production by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. that can give you a little bit insight on the real African world.
Here is the link http://www.pbs.org/wonders/.

Second; since you are planning a Nubian Issue discussion I would very much like to join,I will be in Cairo on a holiday from the 19th Sep till 25th, I was wondering if you can count me in.
Salam and hope to meet you soon.

Anonymous said...

Hanan,

Firstly thank you for you're intelligent and thoughtful response.
I feel that you havent fully understood my post; I wasnt denying Ancient Egypt as being black and African, I was just highlighting how from the perspective of many modern Egyptians, the comments equating them to being 'invaders' is offensive and disrespectful. Yes, Egypt was invaded throughout history by various outsiders. Todays population may therefore be mixed but they still come from Ancient Egyptian stock and are just as if not more entitled to claim that aspect of their heritege. What gives you the right to tell them what they are and arent?

Egyptians on the whole can be very nationalistic but Copts inparticular would not appreciate being called 'Arab'. There are people (modern Egyptians) who hold dear their ancient heritage.
Copts, like other Egyptians might be mixed, but are still Egyptian. They still cherish this aspect of their heritege. Mixed people shouldnt just be limited to being into only one aspect of their background.


Who are these Arabs that claim Ancient Egypt? Saudis and Gulf Arabs tend to be very into their religion and tribes/clans, not ancient civilisations. Modern Egyptians are generally very nationalistic (about Egypt). Furthermore, you dont seem to realise that being an 'Arab' is a cultrual-linguistic (and religious) thing, not racial. Prior to the pan-Arab movement, Egypt had its own nationalistc movement (also known as Pharaonism). People like Taha Hussein were extremely into their Egyptian heritege and absolutley rejected the 'Arab' label youre giving them. Taha didnt agree with pan-Arabism and was very much wanting Egypt to distance itself from it, stressing "Pharaonism is deeply rooted in the spirits of the Egyptians. It will remain so, and it must continue and become stronger. The Egyptian is Pharaonic before being Arab. Egypt must not be asked to deny its Pharaonism because that would mean: Egypt, destroy your Sphinx and your pyramids, forget who you are and follow us! Do not ask of Egypt more than it can offer. Egypt will never become part of some Arab unity, whether the capital [of this unity] were to be Cairo, Damascus, or Baghdad".

African Americans and other Africans have the legitimate right to claim Ancient Egypt as part of African history and civilisation, that goes without saying. They have the right to highlight the various bonds between them and Ancient Egyptians, be they genetic, cultrual etc but it has to stop at disregarding modern Egyptians, especially this 'invader' card that always get pulled out. Futhermore, if they stopped insulting modern Egyptians and denying them their heritege, they could build important bridges with them instead.

Anonymous said...

Hanan, what is naive is your arrogant assertion in regards to ancient vs modern identiy politics in Egypt. Theres no dispute of the ancients being black and African but that might not of been the main or only determining factor of their identity. There are examples of non-black-African peoples becoming Egyptianized (Moses was one of them). Therefore, it would indicate race was not as much of a factor in determining identity.

Whats a bit ignorant is the slurs some people are making towards modern Egyptians. Arabness is cultural, not racial. As you have stated yourself, Egypt has been invaded countless times throughout history. These events have not happened in a few weeks or months but over hundreds and thousands of years. It is important therefore to realise that things like identity are not fixed. They are ever chaning and evolving.
Just because modern Egyptians don't all identify with Pan-Africanism and/or blackness, it is a little harsh to then relegate them to the status of 'invader'. Im pretty sure SOY Keita has noted that the modern inhabitants are much the same as the ancients. It is generally thought that the Arabs added very little to the Egyptian DNA pool. For them to of made a massive genetic impact, there would of had to of been women taking part in the conquests and/or complete wiping out of the native population. Neither of these are thought to of occured.

"You have to take with a huge pinch of salt what "Arabs" and others tell you about their supposed ancestry. I have learned that people in the Arab world are VERY confused about who they are and many invent stories about their lineage by making false connections to peoples and civilizations that they admire."

This sounds similar to what yourself and others are doing in regards to Egypt. Im not sure how it is ok for African Americans to claim Egypt but not for actual Egyptians.

Hotep

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