Further Comments on ‘Black Pharaohs’. By S. O. Keita


Further comments on ‘Black Pharaohs’ By Dr Shomarka Keita

The error of affirming the consequent must be acknowledged. Dislike has many causes.

It can be argued that familial ties are stronger than all others even in difficult circumstances, and that when there is a conflict between family ties versus group ties that family pre-empts all.  However, there are too many instances in the recent western experience where this is simply not the case. One example is that during the antebellum period in the USA, Euroamerican males routinely sold their children by enslaved [powerless] African and Afro-descendant women into slavery (how about that for a #metoo moment).  (There were exceptions of course.) All of this is rooted in a notion of racism, specifically anti-“black” racism. This is mentioned since the PBS presentation “Black Pharaohs” expressed various interpretations in a “white”-“black” dichotomy that even European crusaders looking for allies in a black Prestor John would not have understood. Of course the televised piece is not the only place this has been done. There are books and magazine articles that speak of the “black” experience in Egypt which is problematic on various levels as stated before.

Details are interesting when one is discussing racism and interpreting the past in terms of it.  It is not clear that those who invented racism as we understand it and then structured human society around it for their benefit fully understand it. Their various descendants participate in the world view generated by racialism (and/or racism) and perhaps maintain it but cannot be blamed for creating it: their bias may be unconcious, not deliberately theorized and operationalized but only by studying each situation can this be known.  Racism in its visceral form as understood in the USA is not amenable to monetary or spiritual negotiation. This will influence how many interpret a situation of conflict.

An idiographic approach to the question of Egyptian shame about being associated with Kushites might be useful.  Let us drill down on something that would have been personal but also public, on the “national” stage.  We note that in her tomb chapel Piankhi’s daughter, Amenirdis, was installed as “God’s Wife” of Amun (an important title) by being adopted by her non-Kushite predecessor, the usual way this was done.  Her name and images are intact and obvious. Only Pharaoh Piankhi’s cartouche has been removed. The 26th dynasty’s king’s daughter was in turn adopted by the last of the Kushite “Gods’ Wives” and thus there was seamless succession in this role.  If there was shame at being associated with or ruled by specific folk with darker skin at the family level—assuming this to be the case— or folk usually associated with darker skin at the group level, then how could this seamless transition have occurred between Kushite and others?  There is no evidence of shame here. There is no hiding this succession. There is no apparent conceptualization that there is taint associated with taking on the Kushite as successor, and then receiving from a Kushite the same honor via adoption—which in theory should be more susceptible to prejudice than having to deal with actual kin.

The damnato memorae was directed at a king over what is more plausibly interpreted as some personal angst than an attitude about a group based on color. Of course there are other possible explanations that have to do with the cultural intricacies and etiquette of those times that we will possibly never know.

The error of affirming the consequent must be acknowledged. Dislike has many causes.

4 thoughts on “Further Comments on ‘Black Pharaohs’. By S. O. Keita”

  1. Last but not least, the Puntites who were regarded by dynastic Egyptians as their “ancestors” were depicted in the tomb of Rekhmire as being darker or the same shade as the Kemites themselves. According to history, the land of Punt was never under Egyptian subjugation, nor did the Egyptians caricaturize her peoples (as Eurocentric “scholars” emphasize to prove a white nationalist pride in the early nation of Ta-Meri). They regarded the Puntites as equals and of inhabiting a mysterious yet rich land. The same goes for the Keftiu people of the European island of Crete. So what is the problem? The Kushites were on the southern fringes of KMT. As were the Libyans and the Asiatics, of whom they despised even more.

  2. Politically hostile nations have fought wars for millenia and none of them magically become opposite races of Black and White upon doing so: North Korea fought South Korea in 1950; N. Vietnam fought S. Vietnam in the 70’s; Japan attacked and attempted to enslave the Chinese during WW II, and Hitler despised the slavic nation of Russia of which he invaded, resulting in millions dead; Spain fought the French; the British the Dutch; and on and on. All of the above would be classified as the same race, and neither become groups of Black and White, eternal enemies where one is passive and the other are intrepid civilizers standing at the pinnacle of humanity. What is the difference here? Worldview, and worldview means faith. Kemet and Kush were the first two and only two nation states on the planet (at one point). And faith in white supremacy whitens the Egyptians even though all evidence suggests the opposite. Should these two nations become minor in the role played from transitioning Man from savage, then their color (as opposed to whiteness) is accepted to a degree, and the role is safely shifted to Mesopotamia.

    1. “Politically hostile nations have fought wars for millenia and none of them magically become opposite races of Black and White upon doing so…”

      Yep, something which seemed to escape both Professors Emily T. Vermeule and Guy Rogers when they wrote their submissions for Black Athena Revisited (1996):

      “Bernal also believes that Egypt was fundamentally African, and therefore black. But he does not say what we are to make of the historical accounts of Egyptian pharaohs campaigning against black neighbours to the south, in the Land of Kush, as when Tuthmosis I of Egypt, around 1510 B.C.E, annihilated a black Kushite army at the Third Cataract and came home with the body of a black Kushite prince hanging upside down from the prow of his ship (Kendall 1982, 8; Breasted 1906,34). Perhaps Bernal thinks of this as African tribal warfare” (p274).

      “Although Egypt lies geographically on the continent of Africa, in anthropological terms the categorical labeling of the civilization of ancient Egypt as “fundamentally African” is misleadingly simplistic. In fact the archaeological evidence of African kingdoms south of Egypt suggests distinctly different cultures that were often in conflict with ancient Egypt” (pp.448-449).

      Going back to Vermeule, it’s a shame that she didn’t read “An X-Ray Atlas of Royal Mummies” (1980), which comments on the observation of prognathism in some of the mummies. Although not exclusive to black populations, prognathism is associated with these groups. Concerning the mummy identified as Thutmose I, the Atlas says:

      “Dental-alveolar prognathism, an inherited trait which is normal for the Nubian people, ancient and modern, may be observed in pharaohs Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Siptah and Merenptah, and most of the queens of the Twenty-first Dynasty (fig.9.10)” (p.332).

      “The cephalometric x-ray of Thutmose I reveals the prominent dental-alveolar prognathism most frequently observed in both modern and ancient Nubians” (p344).

      1. Excellent point.

        Kemet saw the Kushites as political rivals who were an existential threat to their soverignty. They bordered one another and were the first two nations. The political leaders of Kemet enshrined Kushite subjugation in their national constitution, it was their primitive thesis to the threat of a powerful nation of whom they assumed to have the same ambitions as themselves. Any nation would’ve done the same if they were practically isolated in their statehood. There was no black national African union so to speak. It was far too premature. Modern scholars play this up as a racial enmity because it is how they would react. It is a paradox in basically admitting that “we’re racist, and that’s what we do…but we’re not racists”. The west African empires fought the Mossi, and conquered one another in succession Ghana<Mali<Songhay. No one claims that this is a dynamic of white on black political overthrow. Again, the European powers of the Dutch, the French, the Portuguese, the Belgians, the British, nor the Germans (WWII) were opposite race, yet killed each other savagely.

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