IN MEMORY OF DR. CHEIKH ANTA DIOP: THE FOREMOST AFRICAN CULTURAL BRAINPOWER

The 7th February marks the 24th anniversary of the death of world renowned multi-disciplinary scholar and Pan Africanist, Dr Cheikh Anta Diop. Diop was born on December 23, 1923, in Diourbel west of Senegal. His mother tongue is Wolof. He came from a Muslim peasant family and attended Koranic schools. Diourbel was the seat of a strong Muslim sect, the sect of the Mourides, the only Black African sect which succeed in acting independently from the rest of the Muslim world.

One of the scholars who knew him well, James Spady, wrote that Diop’s historical roots and intellectual climate of the area where Diop was born has a long and honourable tradition of griots behind him who served as worthy precursors of any historian. Diop completed his bachelor’s degree in Senegal and then went to the Sorbonne University in Paris in 1946 to do his graduate studies. Diop developed the concept of the cultural unity of African people as early as the mid-1940’s. In November 1948 he wrote an article in the review Le Musee Vivant titled “When do we speak of an African Renaissance?”

CHEIKH ANTA DIOP
Dr. CHeikh Anta Diop (1923-1986)

The 7th February marks the 24th anniversary of the death of world renowned multi-disciplinary scholar and Pan Africanist, Dr Cheikh Anta Diop. Diop was born on December 23, 1923, in Diourbel west of Senegal. His mother tongue is Wolof. He came from a Muslim peasant family and attended Koranic schools. Diourbel was the seat of a strong Muslim sect, the sect of the Mourides, the only Black African sect which succeed in acting independently from the rest of the Muslim world.

One of the scholars who knew him well, James Spady, wrote that Diop’s historical roots and intellectual climate of the area where Diop was born has a long and honourable tradition of griots behind him who served as worthy precursors of any historian. Diop completed his bachelor’s degree in Senegal and then went to the Sorbonne University in Paris in 1946 to do his graduate studies. Diop developed the concept of the cultural unity of African people as early as the mid-1940’s. In November 1948 he wrote an article in the review Le Musee Vivant titled “When do we speak of an African Renaissance?”

He played an important part in organising the first recorded Pan Africanist Student Congress which was held in Paris in 1951. Cheikh Anta created his own philosophy of African life and history on the basis of rigid scientific investigations which were clearly manifested in his startling Nations Negroes et Culture (Black Nations and Culture) published in 1955. For his doctorate, he presented a lengthy and closely argued dissertation on ancient Egyptian history the same year (1955). The title of his thesis was Black Nations and Culture: From Black-Egyptian Antiquity to Cultural Problems of Black Africa Today and Spady says it was arrogantly rejected by the “savants” at the Sorbonne.

Nations Negres et Culture was published by the editorial staff at Presence Africaine in 1955. This was a watershed in African history written from an African perspective. Spady says the book served as a cultural machine-gun blowing away all the falsifiers of African history. In January 1960 Diop appeared again before the jury of examiners at the Sorbonne. He carried with him a room full of Black scholars and students from various disciplines. He defeated the French intelligentsia on their own ground – the Sorbonne and earned his Doctor of Letters degree D.Litt.

He went back to Senegal. Diop was also a Nuclear Scientist. He worked hard to build the Radiocarbon laboratory at IFAN in Dakar. It was established in 1966 for the purpose of low-energy radioactivity research and carbo-14 dating. In 1966 together with WEB Du Bois were honoured as African/Black people who influenced many Africans and people of African origin in the world. His paper when he was still a student, Towards An African Political Ideology reflects an evolved Pan Africanist perspective. It consists of 14 major steps and an extensive explanation for implementation.

He has authored several books like African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality; The Cultural Unity of Africa; The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State in Black Africa; Precolonial Black Africa and Civilisation or Barbarism which I was fortunate to have read them all and reviewed almost all for a Botswana weekly newspaper, Mmegi/The Reporter.

Diop died in his sleep on 7 February 1986. Paying tribute to Diop, Prof Van Sertima said, “His passing is a great blow to us. Yet history teaches us that men like these do not die at the time of their deaths. Often it is that the fall of a great teacher or prophet is the beginning of the rise of his ideas. So let it be with Diop”.

By Sam Ditshego

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8 thoughts on “IN MEMORY OF DR. CHEIKH ANTA DIOP: THE FOREMOST AFRICAN CULTURAL BRAINPOWER

  1. Diop was also an Egyptologist and a Linguist. He invented the melanin dosage test which he used on Egyptian mummies skins to prove that ancient Egytians were Black Africans. In 1974 there was a UNESCO symgosium in Egypt where Diop again defeated in a debate those who were opposed to the fact that ancient Egyptians civilisation was African and that ancient Egyptians were Black Africans and also spoke an African language.

  2. Sbu is correct. Fifteen years after “independence” no single book of Diop has been prescribed even at tertiary. They want to always force-feed students a steady died of this Mandela crap. And you wonder why no university in this country offers Egyptology but went to take manuscripts from Timbuktu, which is a good thing. I think it was grand standing and posturing. I think on the entire continent it is only the University of Cairo which offers Egyptology and universities in Europe and America.

  3. I wanted to mention that the first universities on earth were in Egypt like the University of Ipet Isut later called Luxor by the Arabs because they confused it with a temple. The original inhabitants of Egypt were Black Africans and called their country Kemit or the ‘black land’. When the Arabs came to Egypt all the elements of Egyptian civilisation were already in place. Maths, science, philosophy were taught in an Egyptian language which was African genetically, structurely and otherwise. That’s why we have been saying these subjects can be taught in Setswana, Tshivenda, Shangaan and other indigenous languages. If we can study Egyptogy we can be able to decipher the ancient wisdom of the ancient Egyptians just like Diop and others did. So the study of Egyptology is not done for fun. The reason why Egyptology is not taught is that the universities that have the means to offer it are controlled by whites who don’t want that it must be known that Egypt is cradle of civilisation and a fount of knowledge where Greece was suckled. They will also have to recruit staff from abroad since I don’t think there are Egyptologists in this country. Some members of the ruling party don’t give a hoot about Egyptology, they are engaged in debauchery, licentiousness and personal enrichment and aggrandisement.

  4. I listened to a debate among a PASMA leader, a SASCO leader and a TUT spokesman. The PASMA leader excelled and resembled the leaders whose lives we have been commemorating in this web magazine. One we should have commemorated on 20 January is Amilcar Cabral who fought for the liberation of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. Cabral was assassinated on the 20th January 1973 prior to the declaration of his country’s independence. He was born on the 12 September 1924 and an agronomic engineer. All great African leaders were assassinated or died mysteriously. Yet there is this one who was sustained by the imperialists and apartheid government whom we are supposed to canonise more than the rest and regard as a sacrosanct idol. In his speech after coming out from the prison house at Victor Verster he never acknowledge neither the PAC or BCM. About a hundred POQO cadres, including four from my area, were hanged for their part in the struggle for our liberation. Yet they have not even been celebrated let alone acknowledging their contribution. But we are expected to celebrate the life of one person who described POQO as terrorists in his book. Why should we celebrate a person like that rathe? The truth shall come out one day. NO LIE CAN PERSIST FOREVER.

  5. “… We have to look at our situation politically and socially. So when history is projected as irrelevant, as unprofitable, as a system of dates and events, as a system of rarified causes and effects, it is projected that way, I think because it helps to maintain the political and social status quo and because it serves a politicoeconomic function. People who are ahistorical who have little knowledge of history are people who are more gullible, more easily manipulated and people who can be more easily adapted to the capitalist machine than people who are historically knowledgeable. History can become a basis for self-criticism, a basis for self-understanding and more importantly the basis for understanding the motives and the psychology of others.” Dr Amos N. Wilson The Falsification of the Afrikan Consciousness Eurocentric History, Psychiatry and the Politics of White Supremacy

  6. There were previously reports that soldiers found evidence of Ethiopia and Egypt sharing common interest thousands of years ago, have been trying to trace it on the web with no success, it seems as though that was either confiscated, hidden or held by the Egyptians themselves., ;and not quite sure from which regime these soldiers were , somewhere some copies should be in the hands of some news groups that reported on the war.

  7. like Uncle Sam wish to met him when in Botswana. Mr Baratang. pliz go back to Sekolo sa Bosigo le Goitse. everytime when u are over radio i record

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