The kinship of Egypt and Africa

Sep 2011
“Now the Ethiopians, as historians relate, were the first of all men… They say also that the Egyptians are colonist sent out by the Ethiopians, Osiris having been the leader of the colony… and add the larger part of the customs of the Egyptians are, they hold, Ethiopian, the colonists still preserving their ancient manners. For instance, the belief that their kings are gods, the very special attention which they pay their burials and many other matters of a similar nature are Ethiopian practices, while the shapes of their statues and the forms of their letters are Ethiopian.” Diodorus of Sicily.

Diodorus drew is account most from the books of Agarharchides of Cnidus and the geographer Artemidoros of Ephesos, as well as from certain other historians whose homes were in Egypt. Diodorus corroborated these written accounts, he says, by conversing with Egyptians priests during his stay in Egypt and by consulting “with not a few ambassadors from Ethiopia… who were then in Egypt.” On the strength of these inquiries, Diodoros confidently concluded that Agatharchides, Artemidoros, and the rest had been “accurate in all they written.”

Many archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics show that may key aspects of Egyptians culture were indeed brought up from the south by migrating African colonists. The Afro-Asiatic language from which the Egyptian language descended almost certainly came from the south. Joseph Greenberg pointed to Ethiopia as the homeland of this ancestral language. Another linguist, Christopher Ehret, concluded that Afro-asiatic speakers lived on a strip of land stretching along the red sea coast all the way from Nubia to northern Somalia. Also, this territory seems to encompass the fabled land of punt, lending support of the theory that punt was the ancestral homeland of some of the Egyptians’ ancestors. Ehret believes that a group of Afro-asiatic speakers left their homeland between 12,000 and 10,000 B.C. and migrated north into Egypt. Archaeologists have confirmed that early settlers from this region brought many of the skills, customs, and beliefs from which Egyptian civilization was built.

In ancient Egypt, the king was not supposed to reign unless he was in good health. Originally, when his strength declined, he was really put to death. Many African societies would put their kings to death when they showed signs of weakness or old age. For example, the king of the varozwe, a Shona people of Zimbabwe was strangled to death as soon as his hair began to gray, his teeth to fall out, his sight to fail, or his sexual potency to dimishish. A 16th century Portuguese traveler named J.Dos Santos recorded a similar customs of the kings of Sofala. He wrote “it was formerly the custom of the king of this land to commit suicide by taking poison when any disaster or natural physical defect fell upon them, such as impotence, infectious disease, the loss of their front teeth, by which they were disfigured, or any other deformity or affliction.”

Most importantly ancient Egyptians are known for their mummies. In fact, African people did mummify their dead, much like the Egyptians. Some would smoke dry their deceased kings, warp their bodies in cloth, and keep them at hand unburied, for years at a time. Often the internal organs would be removed, as in Egyptians mummies. When Sonni Ali, the emperor of Songhai, died in 1492, for example, his sons gutted his body and filled it with honey.
Ancestor worship provides another cultural link between Egypt and the rest of Africa. Most African peoples impute to the souls of dead ancestors a godlike ability to bring good or bad fortune to living. Ancestral spirits, for that reason, are placated with rich offering and elaborate rituals to want thier favor. The souls of dead kings, in particular, are revered for their power and wisdom. In Uganda, kings are believed to continue watching over their people long after death. Special temples are built through which their spirits can be consulted for advice.

Egyptian regilion reveals its African roots in many other respects as well. Greek and roman writers expressed shock at the menagerie of cats, snakes, donkeys, birds, crocodiles, beetles, hippopotami, cattle, and baboons that populated the Egyptian pantheon. Yet, animal god remain, to this day, a characteristics features of many African cults. Like so many other Africans, the Egyptians wore masks and animals’ tails during religious rites and used hand clapping in their festivals. Egyptian boys and girls were subjected to circumcisions, possibly as a rite passages to adulthood. Male and female circumcision remains, to this day, a widespread practice throughout Africa.
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Nov 2010
I always heard paupers are rare in places like Ghana and Benin. Even in large urban areas. Simply because family is expected to care for the poor. Our own mansamusa remarked -rightly - how this reflected the common origin of African civilizations and provided a very interesting quote from Ian Shaw, in many ways pertinent to the subject of divine kingship:
"The concept of imakhu (which can also be translated as ‘being provided for’) was an expression of a remarkable moral dictum that ran through all levels of Egyptian society and that corrected the extreme cases of social inequality: it was the duty of a more influential and richer person to take care of the poor and socially disadvantaged in the same way as the head of a family was responsible for all of its members." - Shaw, Ian (2004-02-19). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Kindle Locations 2131-2134). Oxford University Press, USA. Kindle Edition


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