African Beginnings Africa Was the Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

This can be traced to the conservative view that Blacks have in fact no real history in comparison to the richness and significance of European history. "As astonishing as it seems most of the prestigious academics and universities in Europe and America have ridiculed the idea that blacks have any substantive history."

This derogatory view has its roots as well in the colonial attitude that tended to see all Black people as inferior in status and 'ignorant' in order to justify the intrusion and invasion of their lands and territories.

In other words, the justification for conquest and what was in reality the theft of African land and wealth was provided to a great extent by the ' rewriting' of Biblical texts. Blacks were cast as 'heathen' people who had not achieved the enlightenment that the white group had attained through the Bible and Christianity and therefore Blacks were seen as inferior and subordinate.

This rewriting or interpretation of the Bible excluded Black people, thereby lending theological and moral validity o the colonizing actions of the European and white ethnic groups. This is of course a very simplistic view and does not take into account many complex and interrelated factors. However, at a fundamental level it serves to illustrate the underlying political motivation that many critics assert played a major part in the virtual eradication of the Black Biblical origins and their profoundly important part in the Biblical texts.

As noted, this underlying discrimination and prejudice has a long history, which manifested itself in the colonial biases of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries and in many other areas besides Biblical interpretation. It is also important to note that this biased ideology that followed in the wake of the colonial domination of Africa was strongly opposed to any view or interpretation that would place Blacks in the forefront of Biblical analysis. This can be seen in the fact that in the period between the fourth century and the Enlightenment in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, " Europe recast the entire Bible into a saga of European people" and this hegemony has been accepted as fact by most bodies and institutions in the Western world.

Consequently, many scholars and leaders in Black theology have rejected and fought against various ideological assumptions; such as the "Curse of Ham" or curse of Canaan ( Genesis 9:20-27), which has been used to justify prejudice, bigotry and even enslavement. Briefly, the Curse of Ham refers to the curse by Ham's father, Noah, placed on Ham's son, Canaan. This curse was due to the fact that Ham saw his father naked after a bout of drunkenness.

When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said,

"Cursed be Canaan!

The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers."

(Genesis 9:20-27)

There are many interpretations of this episode of Biblical scripture. Some critics see this as a justification for the conquest of the Canaanites by the Israelites. However, what is more important from the point-of-view of the thesis being discussed is that many commentators are of the view that "The "curse of Ham" had been used by some members of Abrahamic religions to justify racism and the enslavement of people of African ancestry, who were believed to be descendants of Ham."

This is a racist perspective that has been very damaging and was maintained until fairly recently by some theologians and scholars. However, while it has been largely abandoned by even the most conservative theologians the social and theological stigma of this interpretation of scripture still tends to have negative connotations in society.

One could go on to trace this central causative factor of the omission of an Afrocentric approach to the heritage of a colonialist and Eurocentric worldview, which has tended to dominate society during the past two centuries. Eurocentric perspectives in many disciplines were undoubtedly preferred and there was a bias towards what were perceived as 'inferior' African orientations. This can be ascribed to fundamental prejudice that was, and sometimes still is, a hallmark of the colonialist mentality. This view has resulted in criticism that the Bible in particular has been 'recast' and that there have over the decades been continuous efforts to ensure that the Bible 'fits' into the mould of a perception of religion that accords with and exclusively relates to " & #8230;an ancient religious drama of Euro-Asian Hebrews ."

This in essence refers to the central thesis of this dissertation; namely that there has been a biased and prejudicial view of religion that has been expounded by a version of the Bible that favors a mainly Eurocentric and Hebraic worldview. The following quotation from The African Heritage Study Bible sums up this point-of-view.

Somewhere in Western history, a fraudulent view emerged, a view that sought to recast not only Mary but almost all biblical characters in a distinctly European light. Scholarly research has now demonstrated that, unlike typical European culture, the biblical ethos was without color prejudice."

3. The Bible and African Origins

One of the most obvious aspects of Biblical scholarship that provides clear proof and evidence of an African genesis and heritage in the Bible is the analysis of Biblical geography and the part that this geography plays in an understanding of the Biblical texts. An important example in this regard is that of Ethiopia. However, before discussing the Ethiopian context it is firstly important to understand the larger context of the geographical and historical context of the Bible and how this is related to an Afrocentric interpretation.

As many critics have pointed out one cannot adequately understand Biblical history, especially the history of the Old Testament if one does not take into account geographical factors that are intimately linked with cultural as well as ethnic factors. This also applies to the understanding and significance of many of the events and historical factors that we find in the Old Testament events and themes, which cannot be adequately understood apart from the geographical, cultural, and historical situation that existed

As these commentators have pointed out, one has to take into account the original designation and historical context of the name Africa. "First of all, the name "Africa" was given to the Continent by Romans. Africa was also called Kemet, Libya, Ortegia, Corphye, Egypt, Ethiopia and/or Sedan, Olympia, Hesperia, Oceania, and Ta-Merry."

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the ancient name for Africa was "Akebu-Lan," which is translated as 'mother of mankind' or 'Garden of Eden'

and it was this name for Africa that was used by the Moors, Nubians, Numidians, Carthaginians and Ethiopians.

This places ancient Biblical heritage soundly within an African mythical and geographical context

There are many Biblical references that can be cited which place the early events and history of the Bible in an African context. For example, Genesis 10:6-20 describes the descendants of Ham as being located in North Africa, as well as in Central Africa and Asia. In Psalm 105:23 the "Land of Ham" in Egypt is referred to: "Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham." In Genesis we have a reference to Nimrod, the son of Cush, whose name means 'black'. And in Genesis 11, we read that "Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldees, a land whose earliest inhabitants included blacks."

These examples all attest to the African background and heritage of the Bible and the events therein.

Furthermore, these and many other Biblical references that have led a number of commentators to assert that there is a deep and intimate link between early Judaism and Africa. Some commentators have even gone so far as to suggest that "Judaism is the African way of life."

This point-of-view is supported by the following argument.

Judaism was the religion developed in Africa by African people. It was adopted and adapted in a similar fashion to the Yoruba Orisha worship (Vodoun, Santeria, Lacumi, Condomble, etc.) and is still being co-opted and altered by non-Africans today. To speak of an African influence on Judaism is like speaking of an African influence on Orisha Worship.

These views are also supported by other insights and the connections between Africa as a cultural and geographical region and Biblical geography; for example, the belief that in an indigenous sense Egypt was known as Kemet or the 'Land of the Blacks'. This is also linked to the connection between the Mount Rwenzori Range in the east African and Egyptian ancestral origins.

This is also connected to the view that Egyptian civilization had its origins in Ethiopia.

There are numerous references in the Old Testament to Ethiopia. The books of the Old Testament in fact cite Ethiopia more than forty times.

Both Egypt and Ethiopia are referred to many times in the Old Testament and this usage is seen as a common reference to Africa.

Among the reasons given to support the view…

Online Sources Used in Document:


"African Heritage: The Original African Heritage Study Bible," (accessed September 20, 2010).

BibleGateway, Genesis 2:10- 14, (accessed September 20, 2010).

"BLACK HEBREW ISRAELITES,", (accessed September 20, 2010).

Cite This Thesis:

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