On May 25 2020, last week, the world was horrified by the death of George Floyd in monstrous conditions.

 He was out buying cigarettes, as he probably did every day. A store clerk suspected him of forgery and called the police.

We know what happens next, George is arrested brutally, while on the images that circulate we see no resistance, the police officer proceeds this heavy-handed arrest, pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck, already on the ground and handcuffed, for 10 long minutes, ignoring his pleas:

 “Please, I can’t breathe.”

These last words of George are anything but trivial. Power is having the right, the permission to do something.

This policeman decided that he had the right to control the air George breathed and that he could take it away from him.

Once the astonishment had passed, one wonders why and how? Things had nonetheless evolved in the right direction?

At the risk of disappointing you/us, the equality we advocate is only a facade.

This racist act is captured by the cameras is perhaps astonishing for some, but for black people, it is part of everyday life. Being black is a constant struggle.

Derek Chauvin’s knee held on George Floyd’s neck is the perfect allegory of the oppression suffered by human beings, who are unlucky enough to be the wrong color.

These scenes, even if they are not filmed, exist and no, they do not just happen in the United States.

What allowed Derek Chauvin not to consider George Floyd as a human being to the point of taking his life without batting an eyelid, with his hands in his pockets, was built over years of dehumanization of the black man.

This process, which relegated the black man to the rank of inferiority by scientific theories, has turned into institutionalized racism to the point of devaluing the value of the black man.

No, that knee has not moved one inch.

This knee we feel it when, in the textbooks taught to children, an important part of black history is hidden, and black people only appear to illustrate the “third world”, and “underdevelopment”. We feel it, when instead of giving all the reasons for the problems that the black continent is experiencing, it is decided to make a clean sweep of slavery, of the colonial past (except to salute its good foundation), of exploitation, to speak only of the aid that Europeans give to poor Africans, forgetting to mention that they are indebted to Africa for having plundered its wealth and culture.

When one conceals the prominent role played by Africa in liberating Europe from Nazism.

When one erroneously says that, the black man has brought nothing to humanity except desolation, wars, and barbarism.

This process implants a superiority complex implanted in the subconscious of these children, which will decline in various ways in adulthood.

 This knee is pressed on the future of children who are not the right color, when they are categorized, predestined for jobs to keep them at the bottom of the ladder, regardless of their intellectual abilities.

We feel this knee in companies, when even if it has the capacities required, a person cannot aspire to certain positions because of the color of his skin. And let’s not talk about the exceptions, because they only confirm the rule.

This knee, we feel it through the clichés conveyed, the hurtful caricatures we have to face, and when our pleas are rejected or considered inadmissible.

This knee is already on our neck at birth, because of our color, we start our life with a heavy load that we have to spend our life alleviating, dismantling.

Imagine starting a race, knowing that the other competitors are just a few meters from the finish line, and that not only do they set the rules but also that your race is blocked by obstacles, by people throwing stones at you. You can easily guess that reaching the finish line is almost impossible. When you have the misfortune to complain about your conditions, you are told that you should be happy to participate in the race since before, this was far from being the case. That’s what being black is all about. It is being caught up in a system, which creates potentials Derek Chauvin, who in the name of their superiority, give themselves every right over the lives or the fate of other human beings.

Reacting to injustice is the duty of all of us; let us not choose to look away; or to be a passive witness.

 It is not only black people who must tackle this injustice, but all those who take part in this race regardless of the color of their skins or religious beliefs must fight alongside them to put an end to it. As Toni Morrison said: “If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have serious problem.”

 As for us, let us educate our children and ourselves, let us make our history our own to contribute at our level to restoring our place in humanity. No one will come to do this on our behalf. It is not a question of identity retrenchment, which can only lead to decline, but rather of establishing a basis to facilitate a re-balancing of the skewed history that is being served up to us in spades and to promote a fair exchange without the dominated and dominant.

You have your privilege; we have our pride. Remove your knee from our past, our present, our future, or else we will do it” by any necessary means” because we have the right to breathe.

Rest in peace George Floyd you have lived a meaningful life.

Negro Nations and Cultures, bible of African history.

cheikh Anta Diop

The book “Negro Nation and Cultures” is the fruit of phenomenal research, carried out by Cheikh Anta Diop, to restore the history of black Africa, which has long been obscured.

At that time, scientific racism, carried by eminent figures, was rooted in Western society, and had attributed to white the Cartesian being par excellence, the father of all civilizations, and defined black as a primitive, emotional being, incapable of the slightest logic.

The ancient Egyptians were black

It is in this torrent of racist certainties that Cheikh Anta Diop, a young man 27 years of age, is going to take the dominant ideology to the task, by asserting that the ancient Egyptians, precursors of civilization and science, were black. He not only asserts it, but he also proves it.

This thesis had the effect of an earthquake, and since it was bothersome, he had to be silenced.

You can’t hide the sun with a finger, as the African proverb says. Even if the Sorbonne University rejected his thesis in 1951, Présence africaine published the book in 1954.

Notwithstanding the evidence that is not lacking in his book, prejudiced scientists will try by all means to bring his work into disrepute.

Deemed too revolutionary, some African intellectuals found it difficult to adhere to the ideas conveyed in the book. Aimé Césaire was one of the few to support it. In ” Discourse Against Colonialism “, he will describe Cheikh Anta Diop’s book as ” the most audacious book a Negro has ever written “.

It was only until the 1974 Unesco colloquium that most of his theses were finally recognized” in its way of writing, its culture and its way of thinking, Egypt was African”, these were the conclusions of this summit.

Evidence of the negritude of ancient Egypt

statue of Montouhotep II Egyptian National Museum, Cairo, Egypt. Photographic Rights held by The The Bridgeman Art Library

The fight was a long one, and yet long before it, the fatherhood of Egyptian civilization had been attributed to the black race.

 In the testimonies of Greek scholars such as Herodotus, Aristotle, who were eyewitnesses, the black skin and frizzy hair of the Egyptians were mentioned.

Aristotle called them “agan malane” to describe their skin, which meant excessively black.

In the 18th century, the Count of Volney, a French historian, faced with overwhelming evidence, drew the same conclusions:

 “The Copts are therefore properly the representatives of the Egyptians, and there is a singular fact that makes this acceptation even more probable. Looking at the faces of many individuals of this race, I found a peculiar character that caught my attention: all of them have a yellowish and smoky skin tone, which is neither Greek nor Arabic; all of them have puffy faces, swollen eyes, crushed noses, big lips; in a word, a real Mulatto figure.  

I was tempted to attribute it to the climate when, having visited the Sphinx, its appearance gave me the key to the riddle. On seeing that head, typically Negro in all its features, I remembered the remarkable passage where Herodotus says, “As for me, I judge the Colchians to be a colony of the Egyptians because, like them, they are black with woolly hair” In other words, the ancient Egyptians were true Negroes of the same type as all native-born Africans.”

One of the other irrefutable proofs of the Negro character of the ancient Egyptians was the color of their gods. Osiris and Thoth, to name but a few were black.

The dark representations of the pharaohs and the hairstyles they wore also support the negritude of ancient Egypt. (See MENTOUHOTEP II and NEFERTARI).

The analogy goes beyond the physical and capillary features.

Ancient Egyptian values such as totemism are still present in Black Africa,

A comparative linguistic study highlights similarity between Egyptian and African languages such as Valaf and Serere (non-exhaustive list).

  In light of these arguments, the conclusion is final: The invention of writing, of science, we owe it to blacks. The Greek culture which inspired the Roman culture draws its sources from Negro Africa. “Pythagoras spent 22 years in Egypt, from 558 to 536 BC. Plato stayed there from 399 to 387 B.C… It was therefore there, at the feet of the Egyptian priests, that they drew the knowledge that made their glory. Pharaonic Egypt which was their teacher for so long is part of the heritage of the Black World. It is itself a daughter of Ethiopia. And “in its way of writing, its culture and its way of thinking, Egypt was African”.

Giving the black man his rightful place in the history of mankind 

The fact that this part of the history of mankind was brushed aside was linked to the need to justify colonization. The barbarian negro was then invented and culture was brought to him.

This propaganda found it difficult to accept that African society was structured and advanced before the arrival of the settlers. That the emancipation of women was not a problem. As African society is matriarchal, women held positions of responsibility long before this was the case in Europe.

The goal that Cheikh Anta Diop had in restoring this truth, was to give back to the forgotten continent its letters of nobility. It was not a question of awakening underlying hints of a superiority complex that could lead to forms of Nazism. […] the civilization he [the Negro] claims to have created could have been created by any other human race – as far as one can speak of a race – which would have been placed in such a favorable and unique cradle” [Cheikh Anta Diop, Negro Nations, and Culture, op. cit. 4th edition, p. 401].

Far from being a racist as his detractors wanted to describe him, Cheikh Anta Diop was a great humanist, who was recognized as such.

His work aimed to combat scientific racism and to prove that intelligence is in no way linked to skin color. He challenged the conception of the dominant race, which can be considered a significant contribution to the history of mankind.

The Legacy of Cheikh Anta Diop

Years laters, How do we contribute to the propagation of the colossal legacy left by Cheikh Anta Diop?

He advocated for a united Africa, gathered together, after having forged a strong identity, which would serve as a solid foundation. Where are with pan-Africanism? With the adaption of our languages to the realities and sciences as he experienced with the Valaf in the book? With the decolonization of mentalities?

It must be said that these subjects remain topical.

It is our duty to contribute to the emergence of our continent, which will first and foremost be cultural.

In the field of education, we must implement textbooks adapted to our realities.

Let us adapt our languages to modern realities. It is not a question of banishing the colonial languages acquired, but of revaluing our own and adapting them to modern science.

It is with feet firmly anchored in its roots, free from alienation, detached from the yoke of the colonial, and from the alienation of the colonized, that Africa will know its true value, and that it will be able to take its place on the world chessboard.

This re-foundation, which should not be done in a belligerent manner, will generate Africans proud of their origins, who will take their destiny into their own hands.