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How Africans Brought Civilization to America
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Sid Shniad
2014-10-20 22:33:09 UTC
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*http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/13/how-africans-brought-civilization-to-america/
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/13/how-africans-brought-civilization-to-america/>CounterPunch
October 13, 2014Before ColumbusHow Africans Brought Civilization to
America*

*Contrary to popular belief, African American history did not start with
slavery in the New World. An overwhelming body of new evidence is emerging
which proves that Africans had frequently sailed across the Atlantic to the
Americas, thousands of years before Columbus and indeed before Christ. by
Garikai Chengu*

On Monday, America’s government offices, businesses, and banks all grind to
a halt in order to commemorate Columbus Day. In schools up and down the
country, little children are taught that a heroic Italian explorer
discovered America, and various events and parades are held to celebrate
the occasion.

It has now become common knowledge amongst academics that Christopher
Columbus clearly did not discover America, not least because is it
impossible to *discover a people* and a continent that was already there
and thriving with culture. One can only wonder how Columbus could have
discovered America when people were watching him from America’s shores?

Contrary to popular belief, African American history did not start with
slavery in the New World. An overwhelming body of new evidence is emerging
which proves that Africans had frequently sailed across the Atlantic to the
Americas, thousands of years before Columbus and indeed before Christ. The
great ancient civilizations of Egypt and West Africa traveled to the
Americas, contributing immensely to early American civilization by
importing the art of pyramid building, political systems and religious
practices as well as mathematics, writing and a sophisticated calendar.

The strongest evidence of African presence in America before Columbus comes
from the pen of Columbus himself. In 1920, a renowned American historian
and linguist, Leo Weiner of Harvard University, in his book, *Africa and
the Discovery of America*
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1617590029/counterpunchmaga>,
explained how Columbus noted in his journal that Native Americans had
confirmed that “black skinned people had come from the south-east in boats,
trading in gold-tipped spears.”

One of the first documented instances of Africans sailing and settling in
the Americas were black Egyptians led by King Ramses III, during the 19th
dynasty in 1292 BC. In fact, in 445 BC, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote
of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs’ great seafaring and navigational skills.
Further concrete evidence, noted by Dr. Imhotep and largely ignored by
Euro-centric archaeologists, includes “Egyptian artifacts found across
North America from the Algonquin writings on the East Coast to the
artifacts and Egyptian place names in the Grand Canyon.”

In 1311 AD, another major wave of African exploration to the New World was
led by King Abubakari II, the ruler of the fourteenth century Mali Empire,
which was larger than the Holy Roman Empire. The king sent out 200 ships of
men, and 200 ships of trade material, crops, animals, cloth and crucially
African knowledge of astronomy, religion and the arts.

African explorers crossing the vast Atlantic waters in primitive boats may
seem unlikely, or perhaps, far fetched to some. Such incredible nautical
achievements are not as daunting as they seem, given that numerous
successful modern attempts have illustrated that without an oar, rudder or
sail ancient African boats, including the “dug-out,” would certainly have
been able to cross the vast ocean in a matter of weeks.

As time allows us to drift further and further away from the “European age
of exploration” and we move beyond an age of racial intellectual prejudice,
historians are beginning to recognize that Africans were skilled navigators
long before Europeans, contrary to popular belief.

Of course, some Western historians continue to refute this fact because,
consciously or unconsciously, they are still hanging on to the 19th-century
notion that seafaring was a European monopoly.

After all, history will tell you that seafaring is the quintessential
European achievement, the single endeavor of which Europeans are awfully
proud. Seafaring allowed Europe to conquer the world. The notion that black
Africans braved the roaring waters of the Atlantic Ocean and beat Europeans
to the New World threatens a historically white sense of ownership over the
seas.

When most people think about ancient Mexico, the first civilizations that
come to mind are the Incas, Aztecs and the Maya. However, during the early
1940′s archeologists uncovered a civilization known as the Olmecs of 1200
BC, which pre-dated any other advanced civilization in the Americas.

The Olmec civilization, which was of African origin and dominated by
Africans, was the first significant *civilization* in Mesoamerica and the
Mother Culture of Mexico.

Olmecs are perhaps best known for the carved colossal heads found in
Central Mexico, that exhibit an unmistakably African Negroid appearance.
Ancient African historian Professor Van Sertima has illustrated how Olmecs
were the first Mesoamerican civilization to use a written language,
sophisticated astronomy, arts and mathematics and they built the first
cities in Mexico, all of which greatly influenced the Mayans and subsequent
civilizations in the Americas. “There is not the slightest doubt that all
later civilizations in [Mexico and Central America], rest ultimately on an
Olmec base,” once remarked Michael Coe, a leading historian on Mexico.

Africans clearly played an intricate role in the Olmec Empire’s rise and
that African influence peaked during the same period that ancient Black
Egyptian culture ascended in Africa.

A clear indicator of pre-Columbus African trans-Atlantic travel is the
recent archeological findings of narcotics native to America in Ancient
Egyptian mummies, which have astounded contemporary historians. German
toxicologist, Svetla Balabanova, reported findings of cocaine and nicotine
in ancient Egyptian mummies. These substances are known to only be derived
from American plants. South American cocaine from Erythroxylon coca and
nicotine from Nicotiana tabacum. Such compounds could only have been
introduced to Ancient Egyptian culture through trade with Americans.

Similarities across early American and African religions also indicate
significant cross-cultural contact. The Mayans, Aztecs and Incas all
worshipped black gods and the surviving portraits of the black deities are
revealing. For instance, ancient portraits of the Quetzalcoatl, a messiah
serpent god, and Ek-ahua, the god of war, are unquestionably Negro with
dark skin and wooly hair. Why would native Americans venerate images so
unmistakably African if they had never seen them before? Numerous wall
paintings in caves in Juxtlahuaca depict the famous ancient Egyptian
“opening of the mouth” and cross libation rituals. All these religious
similarities are too large and occur far too often to be mere coincidences.

Professor Everett Borders notes another very important indication of
African presence, which is the nature of early American pyramids. Pyramid
construction is highly specialized. Ancient Egypt progressed from the
original stepped pyramid of Djosser, to the more sophisticated finished
product at Giza. However, at La Venta in Mexico, the Olmecs made a fully
finished pyramid, with no signs of progressive learning. Olmecian and
Egyptian pyramids were both placed on the same north-south axis and had
strikingly similar construction methods. Tellingly, all of these pyramids
also served the same dual purpose, tomb and temple.

Ancient trans-Atlantic similarities in botany, religion and pyramid
building constitute but a fraction of the signs of African influence in
ancient America. Other indicators include, astronomy, art, writing systems,
flora and fauna.

Historically, the African people have been exceptional explorers and
purveyors of culture across the world. Throughout all of these travels,
African explorers have not had a history of starting devastating wars on
the people they met. The greatest threat towards Africa having a glorious
future is her people’s ignorance of Africa’s glorious past.

Pre-Columbus civilization in the Americas had its foundation built by
Africans and developed by the ingenuity of Native Americans. Sadly,
America, in post-Columbus times, was founded on the genocide of the
indigenous Americans, built on the backs of African slaves and continues to
run on the exploitation of workers at home and abroad.

Clearly, Africans helped “civilize” America well before Europeans
“discovered” America, and well before Europeans claim to have civilized
Africa. The growing body of evidence is now becoming simply too loud to
ignore. It’s about time education policy makers reexamine their school
curriculums to adjust for America’s long pre-Columbus history.

*Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on
***@gmail.com <***@gmail.com>*
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