Afrocentrists claimed that is was not legitimate for white scholars to attack other cultures or peoples and then to claim that Europe was a model for humanity, because everywhere Europe seemed to be separating itself from rest of humanity (Chinweizu, 1975).Indeed, geographer J.M.Blaut (1999) argued from a position similar to that of the Afrocentrists by claiming that the major European historians were racists.
This new Afrocentric approach led scholars such as Innocent Onyewuenyi (1993), Miriam Monges (1997), Katherine Bankole (1996), and others to advance novel ideas about different cras of African history. Onyewuenyi claimed a legacy that had been left by Cheikh Anta Diop and continued researching the African origin of Greek philosophy in order to demonstrate the antiquity of Nile Valley philosophical concepts. Monges undertook a new look at the civilisation of Kush and established the plinth that would later yield her work on the "shebanization" of knowledge , which is the critical recentering of ancient knowledge on the activities and achievemens of women. Bankole demonstrated that the medical care of the enslaved African in Louisiana was not only brutally crude but also based on a Eurocentric notion of the inferiority of Africans and the superiority of Europeans.
Perhaps the most provocative element in the cultural wars was the Afrocentrists objective of carrying out the work of Cheikh Anta Diop, the late Senegalese historian,Egyptologist and linguist. Diop had contended that the ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids and the Pharaonic civilization were black-skinned Africans.This had upset much of the common lore among whites that the ancient Egyptians were whites and had established the great civilization in North Africa without any African influence. Diop's arguments in The African Origin of Civilisation (1974) were intented to answer all of the questions raised by European scholars about the cultures and civilizations of Africa as well as to show emphatically that the ancient Egypt was the creation of black people.
Thus, Diop took the lead in defending Africa's own agency as a continent of cultural expression apart from European influence. Pharsonic Egypt ,or Kemet, as it was called by the early Africans, was the most monumental civilization of antiquity.The creative productions of the society are more impressive than Greece and Rome combined. This meant, in Diop's conception, that Europe, in its racist attitude, would have to find ways to disinherit Africans of their classical civilization.
He wrote many books, mainly in French, but some of them were published in English, including the majestic work, Civilization or Barbarism. In cach work Diop sought to advance his idea that the African was the mother of human civilization. A devoted researcher, Diop studied liguistics,physics, architecture, history, art, mathematics, and did melanin experiments on mummies, in order to prove his point that the ancient Egpytians were black Africans. In response to Diop, numerous Black Studies scholars took up the call to link the study of African people to the classical African structures of the past to advance a more meaningful interpretation of philosophy, ethics, religion and culture.
Detractors sought to minimize the achievements of science, wheteher biological, archaeological, lingustic, or physical, when such achievements turned up as evidence against the position that Greece learned nothing from Africa. Of course, this could not be supported in the end, because the overwhelming evidence to the contrary silenced everyone except the most foolhardy. Mary Lefkowitz, a classicist, wrote a book called Not Out of Africa (1996) to answer what she deemed the most significant arguments of the Afrocentrists. She singled out Martin Bernal, author of Black Athena (1987), who had created quite a stir with his thesis that ancient Athens owed a lot to the African and Asian civilisations that predated it, and attacked him with a vengeance, believing that he had somehow undermined the dominant position of Greece. Indeed, in the 1950s George G.M.James had written in Stolen Legacy (1956/2002) that there was no Greek philosophy, only stolen African philosophy. Bernal outdistanced both James and Diop in his massive Black Athena project. What was clear in the cultural war discussions was that the hegemonists were outclassed by scholarship. Afrocentric scholars, many of them with knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and the ancient Pharaonic language Mdw Ntr, delved into the works of Plutarch, Herodotus, and Aristotle, among others, to ferret out the distinction between the ancient record and the modern Aryan record. It was necessary for Black Studies scholars, particularly the Afocentrists, to reformulate historical periods based on a new reading of the text. This was done, and it was published in and disseminated through articles in the Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Negro History, vWestern Journal of Black Studies, and Black Scholar.
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ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BLACK STUDIES