Facts on Black History
by Reverend Jacob Afolabi
Black History Month is not the history of the Black race. The history of the Black race is the oldest history in human experience. But as celebrated in the Americas in recent years, Black History focuses on the recollections of historical experiences in the Black Diaspora.
The collective experience of Black people everywhere is a rich mix of distinct cultural, religious, art, science, and a great deal of adaptations of other inputs from all over the world. Though Blacks always remain at approximately 10o/o of World population, Africa with it mysteries and geographical compactness, is always a source of desire for other peoples of the world.
Black history is greater than, and not defined by, the history of Slavery. It is a rich history of great social and economic development, culture and migration, religion and scientific enquiries, as well as technological innovations. You have not come to a new experience until you come to an African experience. This statement may be disputed but cannot be denied.
The Bible speaks approvingly of the contribution of the Black race to the culture of Faith in God. When the ancient Church was denied a presence in Jerusalem, Egypt and Nubia (modern day Sudan) were the first to receive the Disciples of Jesus Christ. There the Church grew for about 600 years, before the advent of Islam.
It is usually forgotten in the turbulence of patriotic passions that the notions of country, nation and state are very fragile and capable of being influenced by time. European history speaks of the contribution of Blacks. The genetic heritage of the Black African bears the original genetic tree of humanity, and is very persistent and penetrates all the races of the world.
The blood of the Black Africans who always lived in Spain (often by themselves, but sometimes with their paler cousins like the Visigoths) through the dawn of pre-history, down to 1500 AD simply refused to be wiped away by denial, silence or historical distortion. African blood remains very dominant and highly visible in southern Spain.
The Black Africans brought the first material culture to Europe evidence of which they left all over Southern Europe. These include artifacts such as gemstone pendants, stone implements, and symbols of communication.
Ancient Mauretania, Morocco, (Northwest Africa) Ghana and Songhai Empires (West Africa), Bornu Empire, in Nigeria, had at different times in history traded heavily with the Mediterranean civilization and actually left discernible genetic footprints on Spain, Rome and Greece, suggesting an influence and impact of no small measure. Actually, the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain was always regarded (since pre-history) as the original border of Africa with Europe.
Contributions of Blacks to World Civilization
The contribution mad by Egyptians toward the development of what we consider modern civilization cannot be overemphasized. Between the periods of 3000 BC and 1100 BC, a long line of kings known as Pharaohs governed Egypt.
Under the Pharaoh were: The ruling of the royal court, (Modern Cabinet of Ministers); Governors of the provinces in which the kingdom was divided, (Sate and Regional administrators); Commanders of the army, etc. (The Military establishment)
Priests and priestesses officiated at religious ceremonies and attended to the needs of their gods, but also served under the Pharaoh. (The Religious and Spiritual Leaders with Pharaoh as the head of the “Church”)
All these existed four thousand years ago, and flowed down to modern day Nations and States.
The Greeks brought Egyptian education and influences to the Western world. One of the Greeks who enunciated the cultural, religious, and philosophical teachings of the Egyptians was Pythagoras. He was one of the men who introduced the teachings of the Egyptians to the Europeans. The knowledge he passed on to his followers were those he obtained from the Egyptians.
The Egyptians developed the concept of the right angle, which is the basis of the Pythagorean theorem. This concept is one of the fundamental teachings of the Egyptian mystery school (what we call “Science” in modern language).
This is reflected in the designs of the ancient Egyptian pyramid and in the design of a structure which cannot be easily toppled by any adverse atmospheric condition. This knowledge was adapted by the ancient Egyptians centuries before the birth of Pythagoras. This concept and others like it, however, were “introduced” to Europe by Pythagoras.
Chika Anta Diop, a Senegalese historian has argued that Pythagorean theory, the concept of Pi, Geometric formulas and the screw and level are only some of the sciences of ancient Egypt and not of Greece as conventional wisdom holds. In his book, “African Origins of Science & Math” Dr. Sadiki gave an impressive compilation of very thoroughly researched papers that documents Africa’s contributions to astronomy, agriculture, architecture, engineering, aeronautics, mathematics, medicine, metallurgy, physics and writing systems. There are detailed records of the early African mathematical practices found almost throughout Africa. A must reading for those interested in the African origins of mathematics.
Slavery, for a while, puts a blanket as a screen to hide the development and achievements of Blacks in historical perspective. Then came Colonialism, which is nothing else but “Slavery at home,” to further hide the social, economic and scientific growth of the Black race.
Apparently, the impression given by some Western scholars that the African continent made little or no contributions to civilization, and that its people are naturally primitive has, unfortunately, become the basis of racial prejudice and negative perception directed against all people of African origin. But the truth is greater than this.
The pride of a people is in their past history. But the hope of a people lies in their future. If there is no future, then the history will come to an end. Of all the world races, the Blacks seem to have a great record of group survival despites all odds.
Black history is an on-going event. It will be recorded from generations to generation. If the Blacks have survived to give birth to all other races, then in their collective psyche, they will continue to nurse, love, and cherish all races so they can prove in the end that they are the Fathers and the Mothers of all the races of the world.
About the writer
Nigerian-born Bishop Jacob Afolabi is Senior Pastor at the Christ Chapel Bible Church in Ottawa. He received the 2017 Black History Ottawa Community Builder award for his many years of community work, including founding the Ottawa Pastors’ forum, contributing inspiring articles in community newspapers and commentary on community radio stations, as well training a new generation of pastors.