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Ancient Libyco-Berber Writing

More Information on the Afrocentric World by Dr. Clyde Winters, Ph.D

Welcome to my Afrocentric e-zine. This site is dedicated to bringing you the latest news in Afrocentric studies. We will try to keep you abreast of new findings which indicate the great role of African people in the world.

The Afrocentric Controversy
Clyde Ahmad Winters

The attacks on Afrocentricism by Eurocentrists are unfounded. The scientific research methods support the findings of the Afrocentrists, and not the Eurocentrists.
Controversy surrounds the legitimacy of ancient Afrocentric history. Recently this debate has been mainly between Europeans and include Lefkowitz, D'Souza, and Bernal .
In the recent debate on Afrocentrism Lefkowitz and Bernal have argued about the legitimacy of this method of Africalogical research. D'Souza and Lefkowitz assert that the Afrocentric claims of Africans in ancient Greece and the Egyptian influence over Greece are nothing more than "Afrocentric mythologies of the ancient world" . And, as a result, Lefkowitz claims that the Afrocentrists are not teaching history. Lefkowitz, writes that there were no Egyptians in ancient Greece whereas the archaeological evidence makes it abundantly clear that Egyptians were in Greece hundreds of years before the coming of the Indo-Europeans.
The archaeological evidence discovered over the past century of Blacks as the founders of the Egyptian, Elamite and Sumerian civilizations validates the perennialists Afrocentric view of ancient history (Diop, 1974; DuBois, 1965, 1970; Jackson, 1974; Winters, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1994). This body of knowledge discussed in detail by Afrocentric essentialist supports the proposition that we teach students about the immense role of Blacks in the ancient world based on the Classical and Old Testament narratives. This literature provides us with the basis of the "Ancient Model" of world history discussed expertly by Bernal ( 1987, 1991).

C. Anta Diop is the founder of modern Afrocentricism . Diop (1974,1991) laid the foundations for the Afrocentric idea in education. Diop (1974, 1991) has argued that the genetic model can be used to explain the analogy between ancient African civilizations. There are three components in the genetic model: 1) common physical type, 2) common cultural patterns and 3) genetically related languages (Winters 1989a). Diop over the years has brought to bear all three of these components in his illumination of Kemetic civilization (Diop 1974,1977,1978,1991).

The foundation of Diop's (1974, 1991) view of ancient African history is that Egypt was a Black Civilization. The opposition of many Eurocentric scholars to Afrocentricism results from white hostility to Diop's idea of a Black Egypt, and the view that Egyptians spoke an African ,rather than Afro-Asiatic language.
Many Eurocentrists believe that African-Americans should only write about slavery and leave the writing of ancient history to more "qualified" scholars. Moitt (l989) observed that:
"The limitation has come about of the bias in
historiography. The central problem is that
historians have made plantation slavery and its
effects in the Americas their sole
preoccupation. And they have persuaded their
students to do likewise. The damage this has done
is incalculable. Blacks viewed their history and,
by extension that of Africa in terms of
Moitt (l989) believes that this desire to deny blacks a role in ancient history is the root cause of white opposition to Diop. He wrote that: "All of this raises the question of historical methodology and goes to the heart of the matter of Diop's isolation....To what must we attribute this negation of Diop? The negation goes beyond the artificial division of the African continent at the Sahara desert and hinges on Diop's ideas the most contentious of which is that the ancient Egyptians were Blacks. In this respect, the negation is not of Diop alone, but formation, Bantu migration, Islam and the slave trade are seen as major problems in African history, the debate over Egypt is stifled" (Moitt 1989,p.358).
Recently, Eurocentric American scholars have alleged to write reviews of Diop's recent book (Diop 1991). Although these reviewers mention the work of Diop in their articles, they never review his work properly, because they lack the ability to understand the many disciplines that Diop has mastered (Lefkowitz 1992,1996; Baines 1991).
For example Lefkowitz (1992,1996) , summarizes Diop (1974) but never presents any evidence to dispute the findings of Diop. The most popular "review" of Diop (1991) was done by Baines (1991) review in the New York Times Book Review. In this "review" Baines (1991) claims that "...the evidence and reasoning used to support the arguments are often unsound".
Instead of addressing the evidence Diop (1991) presents of the African role in the rise of civilization that he alleges is "unsound", he is asking the reader to reject Diop's thesis without refutation of specific evidence presented by Diop of the African contributions to Science and Philosophy. Baines (l991) claims that Diop's Civilization or Barbarism, is not a work of originality, he fails to dispute any factual evidence presented by Diop.
Baines (1991) wants the public to accept his general negative comments about Civilization or Barbarism ,based on the fact that he is an Egyptologist. This is not enough, in academia to refute a thesis one must present counter evidence that proves the falseness of a thesis not unsubstantiated rhetoric. We can not accept the negative views of Baines on faith alone.
Extreme Eurocentrists like D'Souza (1995) and Lefkowitz (1992, 1996) have assumed that the Afrocentrists are wrong about the prominent role of African/Black people in ancient times. D'Souza (1995) and Lefkowitz (1996) assert that the Afrocentric claims of Africans in ancient America, Asia, Greece and the Egyptian influence over Greece are nothing more than "Afrocentric mythologies of the ancient world" (Lefkowitz, 1996, 157) . And, as a result, Lefkowitz claims that the Afrocentrists are not teaching history.
The major spokesman for the Eurocentric view of African history is Dinesh D'Souza . Mr. D'Souza, a non-historian, linguist, etc., has made his mission in life the destruction of Multiculturalism, and Afrocentricism in particular, as additions to the curriculum of American schools. D'Souza (1995) believes that "...Afrocentrism fundamentally remains a pedagogy an initiation into a new form of black consciousness and also into manhood" (p.360). Given this Eurocentric view of Africalogy, D'Souza sets out to prove that slavery was not racist; that segregation was established by paternal whites to protect the former slaves; and especially that "Egypt was a multiracial society" dominated by white skinned Egyptians, and that the only time that Blacks /Africans ruled Egypt, was during the Nubian dynasty (p. 367-368) .
D'Souza (1995, 379) has questioned the Afrocentrists confirmation of the worldwide supremacy of African people before 500 B.C. The Afrocentric researchers, on the otherhand, have long ago proven that Kemet (ancient Egypt) (Diop, 1974; DuBois, 1965; Winters, 1994), the first two ancient civilizations of China (Xia and Shang) (Winters, 1983d, 1985c) , the Pelasgian civilization of Europe(DuBois, 1965; Parker, 1917, 1918; Winters, 1983b, 1983c, 1984a, 1985, 1994) and civilizations in ancient America (DuBois, 1965; Rensberger, 1988; van Sertima, 1976; Wiercinski, 1972; Wiener, 1920-1922; Winters, 1977, 1979, 1981/1982, 1984, 1984b) were founded by Black/African people speaking African languages.
Using the ancient model of historical research Bernal (1996), Asante (1996), and Winters (1994) have discussed the classical evidence of an African role in the rise of Greece.
Bernal (1996) on the other hand, argues that some Afrocentrists have "failed" to support some of their claims about the role of African people in ancient history. But overall these Africalogical researchers of the Afrocentric research tradition are presenting a view of history based on the "ancient model" of historical research.
Selected African and African American academics have also attempted to attack Diop (Blakey, 1995; Holl, 1995). Blakey (1995), like Baines (1991) disputes the findings of Diop but he fails to present any specific criticism of Diop's (1974, 1991)abundant archaeological, linguistic and historical findings denoting an African origin of Egypt. As a result, Blakey (1995) says that Afrocentrists "lack anthropological background" but he does not give one example of this "lack of background" in his long essay attacking Afrocentrism.
Holl (1995) an excellent African archaeologist that has made significant discoveries in relation to the ancient empire of Ghana has also recently criticized Diop. Holl (1995) provides a good summary of Diop's methods and research.
Holl (1995) believes that Diop's idea were based on Pan-Africanist movement and had direct roots in the work of Blyden (1887,1890,1905) and DuBois (1965,1970). As a result of Diop's participation in the Pan-Africanist movement, Holl (1995, 198-200) argues that the work of Diop is based on a political agenda.
The main criticism Holl (1995, 207) expresses regarding Diop's work is his identification of Ancient Egypt, Nubia and parts of the Sahara as the original homeland of the people of Senegal. Holl (1995, 207) claims that Diop has failed to support the migration of West Africans from a "Nilotic cradle" in the East, into West Africa.
This criticism is unfounded. There is abundant archaeological and linguistic evidence supporting the Saharan origin of the West Africans. Much of West Africa was heavily forested until the last part of the first millennium B.C. ( McIntosh & McIntosh, 1983; Winters, 1986). The Niger Delta, for example, was uninhabited until after 500 B.C. (McIntosh & McIntosh, 1983, 39-42).
Diop has marshaled linguistic and archaeological data to support an African origin for the people of West Africa. He used toponyms and ethnonyms to prove the migration of West Africans from the Central and Eastern Sudan (Diop, 1981).
Research is the foundation of good science, or knowing in general. There are four methods of 1) Method of tenacity (one holds firmly to the truth, because "they know it" to be true); 2) method of authority (the method of established belief, i.e., the Bible or the "experts" says it, it is so); 3) method of intuition (the method where a proposition agrees with reason, but not necessarily with experience); and 4) the method of science (the method of attaining knowledge which calls for self-correction). To explain Africans in ancient America, I use the scientific method which calls for hypothesis testing, not only supported by experimentation, but also that of alternative plausible hypotheses that, may place doubt on the original hypothesis.
The aim of science is theory construction (F.N. Kirlinger, Foundations of behavior research, (1986) pp.6-10; R. Braithwaite, Scientific explanation, (1955) pp.1-10). A theory is a set of interrelated constructs, propositions and definitions, that provide a systematic understanding of phenomena by outlining relations among a group of variables that explain and predict phenomena.
Scientific inquiry involves issues of theory construction, control and experimentation. Scientific knowledge must rest on testing, rather than mere induction which can be defined as inferences of laws and generalizations, derived from observation. This falsity of logical possibility is evident in the rejection of the African origin of the Olmecs hypothesis. Michael Coe, Bernard de Montellano and others reject outright the possibility that Africans built the Olmec civilization, because they observe Amerindian speakers in areas formerly occupied by the Olmec people. Just because these people may live in the Olmec heartland today, says very little about the inhabitants of this area 3000 years ago. These writers base their theories solely on observation--nonscientific knowledge is not science.
Karl Popper in The Logic of Scientific Discovery, rejects this form of logical validity based solely on inference and conjecture (pp. 33-65). Popper maintains that confirmation in science, is arrived at through falsification.
Therefore to confirm a theory in science one test the theory through rigorous attempts at falsification. In falsification the researcher uses cultural, linguistic, anthropological and historical knowledge to invalidate a proposed theory. If a theory can not be falsified through test of the variables associated with the theory it is confirmed. It can only be disconfirmed when new generalizations associated with the original theory fail to survive attempts at falsification.

In short, science centers on rejection of conjecture and refutations. Many commentators on Afrocentricism maintain that the Olmecs weren't Africans. In support of this conjecture they maintain: 1) Africans first came to America with Columbus; 2) Amerindians live in Meso-America; 3) the Olmec look like the Maya; 4) linguistic groups found in the Olmec heartland have always lived in areas they presently inhabit. These are all logical deduction, but they are mainly nonfalsifiable and therefore unscientific.
In summary , we tested four variables relating to the African origin of the Olmecs : : 1) Africans first came to America with Columbus; 2) Amerindians live in Meso-America; 3) the Olmec look like the Maya; 4) linguistic groups found in the Olmec heartland have always lived in areas they presently inhabit. Granted, we do recognize that Zoquean/Soquean and Maya speakers in Olmecland today. But the linguistic evidence of Swadesh indicate that they were not in this area 3000 years ago when a new linguistic group appears to have entered the area.
Secondly, any comparison of Mayans depicted in Mayan art, and the Olmec people depicted in Olmec art especially the giant heads, indicate that these people did not look alike (see Moreover, just because Africans may have come to America with Columbus, does not prove that they were not here before Columbus. Yet, subscription to these theories is logical, but logical assurance alone, is not good science.

Logically we could say that because Amerindians live in the Olmec heartland today, they may have lived in these areas 3000 years ago. But, the evidence found by Swadesh, an expert on the Mayan languages, of a new linguistic group invading the Olmec heartland 3000 years ago; and the lack of congruence between Olmec and Mayan art completely falsifies the conjectures of the Amerindian origin of the Olmec theorists. The opposite theory, an African origin for the Olmecs, deserves testing.
I have presented here and on my numerous WebPages a theory for the African origin of the Olmec people ( ; and ). Within the various WebPages I have enumerated the following variables: 1) African scripts found during archaeological excavation; 2) the Malinke-Bambara origin of the Mayan term for writing; 3) cognate iconographic representations of African and Olmec personages; 4) the influence of Malinke-Bambara cultural and linguistic features on historic Meso-American populations; and 5) the presence of African skeletal material excavated from Olmec graves in addition to many other variables. The relation between these five variables, or a combination of these variables explains the African origin of the Olmecs.
For example, the linguistic evidence of Swadesh indicates that the Huastec and Mayan speakers were separated around 1200 BC by a new linguistic group. This implies that if my hypothesis that African settlers of Mexico wedged in between this group 3000 years ago, we can predict that linguistic evidence would exist in these languages to support this phenomena among contemporary Meso-American languages.
To test this hypothesis I compared lexical items from the Malinke-Bambara languages, and Mayan , Otomi and Taino languages (see :
This comparison confirmed cognition between these languages, and suggests a former period of bilingualism among speakers of these languages in ancient times.
In other words, in the case of the linguistic variable alone, the proposition of my African origin theory, matches the observed natural phenomena. The predicting power of this theory, confirmed by cognate lexical items in Malinke-Bambara, the Mayan, Otomi and Taino languages, indicates that the theory is confirmed. The ability to reliably predict a linguistic relationship between Malinke-Bambara and MesoAmerican languages, is confirmation of the theory, because the linguistic connections were deducible from prediction.
We controlled this theory by comparing Malinke-Bambara and Meso-American terms. This theory was first identified by Leo Wiener who noted the presence of many Malinke-Bambara terms in the cultural, especially religious lexicon of the Aztec and Maya speakers. Since we have predicted reliably this variable of my African origin of the Olmec theory, this variable must be disconfirmed, to "defeat" my hypothesis. Failure to disconfirm this theorem, implies validity of my prediction.
In this essay I have only discussed the linguistic evidence of an African origin, to demonstrate the difference between science and conjecture. My ability to predict successfully, a linguistic relationship between Malinke-Bambara and MesoAmerican languages, makes it unnecessary to search for a different underlying explanation for the Olmec heads, which look like Africans, because there were Africans who modeled for the heads. Moreover, the fact that the Taino words , were collected when the early Explorers arrived in America, long before any African slaves were deposited on these shores make it clear that any cognition between Taino and Mande terms have to pre-date the coming of Columbus.
This confirmation of variables in the African origin of Olmec theory indicates the systematic controlled , critical and empirical investigation of the question of African origins of the Olmec. This is validation of the Malinke-Bambara theory first proposed by Leo Wiener, in Africa and the Discovery of America, which presumed relations among the Olmec and Black Africans. This also illustrates that the Eurocentrists attacks on Afrocentrism are unfounded.

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June 2000

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