Remembering Cheikh Anta Diop, A Great African Thinker

          Great African Thinker Cheikh Anta Diop @ Google


By Sainey Faye

Born: December 29, 1923 …….Died: February 7, 1986…….On this date he passed away and joined the ancestors.He was one of Africa’s greatest thinkers of the twentieth century.Born in Diourbel, Senegal; Cheikh Anta Diop was a scientist, mathematician, and historian/anthropologist.He was a well known African historian, who authored many books on African and world history, and dispelled the myth of Egypt being non-African.Probably, he more than any other historian on Egypt; defended and provided evidences of Egyptian civilizations Africaness. He authored many books on it, along with Africa’s contributions to world civilization in general.

He challenged the theory of the inferiority of the Black/African race; and championed the restoration of ‘African historical and cultural consciousness’ until his last days.In Senegal, he championed and fought fiercely for democracy and good governance, by working with other progressives in forming two political parties – (1.) NSF in 1961, and (2.) RND in 1976 against President Leopold Senghor, and Abdou Diouf. He was an active political activist in spite of his busy schedule and research at Cite University, where he founded IFAN which was a top scientific research laboratory in Africa.

If Senegal is today being regarded, and seen as a shining example of “Democracy” and good “Good governance’; it’s because of the foundation stones being laid by revolutionary intellectuals and true Pan-Africanists like him. Cheikh Anta, started his political activism from his student days in France, along with many who later became leaders after colonialism.As a scientist, mathematician, anthropologist, Egyptologist, and historian, his focus on African independence and liberation was foremost on his agenda. He challenged the government without fear and was put in jail many times, the last one nearly caused him death; yet he wouldn’t relent – causing the regime to release him.

The condition for his release also became a problem, they offered ministerial posts if only he would shut up; which he refused repeated, and even insisted that he and all political prisoners be released at the same time. The regime capitulated, releasing him and others arrested and/or detained. He worked with Alliances, Fronts, and Movements to make sure that dictatorship is not allowed in Senegal; and even advocated for the African masses to unite and fight undemocratic, and tyrannical rule, everywhere. He believed in the positive role that must be played by the intelligentsia to liberate Africa.

To better make his case for the new African renaissance, he published a book: ‘Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural Basis For A Federated State’. He argues his point on the need for a United and Federated African State, which he sees as one amongst many, that will overcome underdevelopment. And the creation of a continental army, that is able to defend the continent and its people. Above all, he proposes a good and workable plan for developing Africa’s rich and abundant raw materials for industrialization of the continent and benefits to the people.He was like Nkrumah, who advocated for a Unified and strong Africa; without which there would no respect and development for its people.

He even published a newspaper called ‘Siggi’ , which later became ‘Taxaw’ purposely to educate the masses of the political rights and the democratic processes enshrined in their constitution.He was a well known revolutionary Pan-African intellectual, who wrote, spoke, and fought for African Liberation, independence and redemption.Elsewhere in the western hemisphere, his books and writings are being utilized in colleges and universities, in African history and Afrocentric studies.Some even have area studies in disciplines on “Diopian’ philosophy, and are working with (UCAD) University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, Senegal.

Cheikh Anta’s contribution to Senegal’s political, revolutionary, mass consciousness in the democratic process of electoral politics has, made her an envy of her neighbours like Gambia, Guinea Bissau/Conakry, Mali, and many too numerous to list. Here we see how a united front can be formed, by created alliances among groups/parties; who understand the need to submerge differences; and know the differences and roles of a party and a movement.

They understand that a strong political Movement in any non democratic entity – state, country etc. can be dislodged, no matter how entrenched, by a revolutionary united front.One of the strengths of a movement, is that it’s devoid of a monolithic ideology – all it has is an ‘Objective’ and ‘Adversary.’ Simply, put the ‘objective’ is for all to bring democracy, justice, and good governance, and development to the country -that all would agree or aspire too (no problem here).

Next obstacle, is the ‘adversary’ – who is the leader or culprit who must be taken out and/or replaced.The latter must be present for the former to be effective.When both take place amicable, change ensues and parties can emerge, and help solidify the process without necessarily disbanding if they so desire. This, the Senegalese political groups seem to understand, have tested it and continue to see results in their electoral political process.Along with these, comes the unity of purpose and elimination of tribal/ethnic rivalries.The cultural unity of Black Africa must also be understood and nurtured for a meaningful new African Renaissance, and Culture as he and Cabral reminds us; is a weapon in our battle for African liberation and emancipation.

“The general problem confronting African history is this: how to recognize effectively, through meaningful research, all of the fragments of the past into a single ancient epoch, a common origin which will reestablish African continuity. If the ancients were not victims of a mirage, it should be easy enough, the to draw upon another series of arguments and proofs for the union of the history of Ethiopian and Egyptian societies with the rest of Africa. Thus combined, these histories would lead to a properly patterned past in which it would be seen that (ancient) Ghana rose in the interior (West Africa) of the continent at the moment of Egyptian decline, just as the Western European empires were born with the decline of Rome.”

“….the line of ill-intentional Egyptologist, equipped with a ferocious erudition , have commited their well known crime against science, by becoming guilty of a deliberate falsification of the history of humanity.
Supported by the governing powers of all the Western countries , this ideology, based on a moral and intellectual swindle, easily won out over the true scientific current developed by a parallel group of Egyptologist of good will, whose intellectual uprightness and even courage cannot be stressed strongly enough.

The new Egyptological ideology , born at the opportune moment, reinforced the theoretical bases of imperialist ideology. That is why it easily drowned out the voice of science, by throwing the veil of falsification over historical truth. This ideology was spread with the help of considerable publicity and taught the world over, because it alone had the material and financial means for its own propagation.

Thus imperialism, like the prehistoric hunter, first killed the being spiritually and culturally, before trying to eliminate it physically. The negation of the history and intellectual accomplishments of Black Africans was cultural, mental murder,which preceded and paved the way for their genocide here and there in the world.”

― Cheikh Anta Diop ” Civilization or Barbarism”
Sources : – ” Nation Negres et Culture and Anteriorite des Civilizations Negres’ and ‘ The African Origin Of Civilization: Myth Or Reality.’

FEBRUARY IS ALSO KNOWN AS AFRICAN / BLACK HISTORY MONTH ……..See if you or your kids can ace this quiz !!!

  1. According to C.A.Diop, .”no thought, and particularly no philosophy, can develop outside of its historical terrain.”

  2. Several African queens ruled kingdoms and empires, in Nubia, Ethiopia, Angola, and the Congo.But no woman ever ruled Greece or Rome with full authority.

  3. Africa is the cradle of humanity, and civilization; and the first to experience the early rise of human intelligence, according to scientists.

  4. When Egypt was conquered by the Romans in 47 B.C., Caesar altered their calendar by introducing the readjustment every 4 years ( leap year ), and that is the origin of the present -day calendar.

  5. C.A.Diop (Cheikh Anta Diop), notes that in our history; there are two types of stratified societies in Black Africa; one without the idea of castes namely in in South and Central Africa, and the other with castes includes West Africa, namely the ancient kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, Songhai, the upper Nile etc.

6.In the ancient Cayor (Senegal); he notes “the Cayorian royalty, where the woman could not reign in the place of the damel (king), the matriarchal system was subjanet; but only an inside observer could be aware of this. Maternal kingship remained predominant.”

  1. Neo-Colonialism was first introduced into Africa, before Colonialism………True or False ?

  2. The Trans-Saharan slave trade gave birth to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade…….True or False ?

9 “Kemet” is another name for ancient Egypt……..True or False ?

  1. In the West African African country of the Gambia, some ancient raised stones or carved rocks (stone circles) at Kerr Batch and Wassu; are much older than some pyramids of Egypt or Nubia……….True or False

  2. African culture, like any other culture in the world; have a common language, religion, place of origin, shared values, and a sense of bonding.Thus, there is no superior or inferior culture.

  3. In terms of culture, how you define yourself is much more important than how society defines you…….True or False ?

  4. There is little, if any difference at all; between a Pan-African and a Black nationalist…….True or False ?

  5. C.A.Diop maintains that ” Insofar as Egypt is the distant mother of Western cultures and sciences, most of the ideas that we call foreign are oftentimes nothing but mixed up, reversed, modified, elaborated images of the creations of our African ancestors, such as Judaism,Christianity, Islam, dialectics, the theory of being, the exact sciences, arithmetic, geometry, mechanical engineering, astronomy, medicine, literature (novel, poetry, drama), architecture, and the arts.”


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