Blacks are key to world progress, historian asserts


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People of African descent, including Blacks in America, are holding up world progress because they know little about their history and are bombarded with lies about their contributions to the world, according to Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, professor of African Studies at Rutgers University.

Van Sertima, author of "They Came Before Columbus," last week urged more than 150 parents, community activists, students and educators to reject myths about Black inferiority and seek the truth about Africans and African Americans.

"Africans taught Europeans about the Caesarean section. Africans were doing cataract (eye) surgery long before they were doing it in America. The Africans gave us the concept of time and the 24-hour day. The Africans taught us monotheism, belief in one God.

"The Africans are the inventors of math, science, and geography. Almost every European/American invention can be traced back to principles and practices that were developed, first, in Africa," he said.

It is because African Americans do not have this knowledge that they have become oppressed by every other group of people that have come to America, he said.

Europeans and others are so worried about Africans discovering true African history that they prevent it from being taught in public schools, they limit images of Africans to buffoons and clowns, and they squash attempts at Black liberation, Van Sertima said.

"The past is more important than the present," he added, saying African Americans must return to the past to understand why they are in their current condition.

Van Sertima spoke last week at Saint Joseph's University. He was brought to Philadelphia by Nation of Islam leader Minister Rodney Muhammad.

Van Sertima has written several books that seek to unravel the lost history of the African before the invasions of the Europeans, the Arabs, the Greeks, the Romans, and others.

He currently is on tour with a series of books on Egypt, including "Egypt: Child of Africa," which claims that the ancient Egyptians were predominantly African.

Van Sertima, who has lectured at more than 100 universities across the country, is urging Blacks in America to rethink themselves.

He made several points he believes are necessary for Africans and African Americans to understand who they are.

"First, there are two Africans: one before the holocaust and one after the holocaust. Also, there is no holocaust as terrible as our holocaust," he said, while being careful not to slight the Jewish holocaust.

It is important for Blacks to understand that their history does not begin when they were beaten, whipped, and tortured by Europeans, brought to America and made slaves, said Van Sertima.

African history begins long before the birth of Christ, he said, and Africans are the original people, "the creators of civilization as we know it today." The world has advanced to a state of high technology because of the African, he said.

Several myths prevent Blacks from understanding who they are, including the notion that the Black race is inferior, he said.

"Race is a social concept," he said.

"It is documented that the first human to evolve (was) African. All variations of people, including Europeans, Asians, Eskimos, etc. are formerly Africans who mutated because of variations in the World's environment.

"The African went into Europe and became white," he said.

Because of extremely cold temperatures, cloud cover, and lack of vitamin D provided by the sun, the African who went into Europe became what we know now as European, he said.

There are ecological imperatives that play a role in the different variations of the human, he said.

He charged that the superior/inferior race concept among Blacks, whites, Asians, etc. was created by Europeans who wanted to create a climate in which Europeans were seen as the superior race.

"Also, a Jew is not a race," he added. "We must be careful about understanding the Black/Jewish conflict. There are Black and white Jews."

Blacks also have a misconception about God and the African continent, he said.
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"The ancient African gave us the concept of one God, but that one God had a male and a female principle. We're still calling God 'he' when it's he/she. You can't have life without the he/she," he said.

"Africa has more jungle than any other continent in terms of its land space," he said, and said in America, Africa is portrayed as nothing but jungle and the only contributions Africans are credited with is that of music, dance and art.

"The African man is becoming the invisible man in history," he said.

As long as Africans believe they are inferior, they can not contribute to world progress, and without the African, the world can not survive, Van Sertima said.

Until the African claims his true place in the world, humans are in danger of destruction, he added.

"The work of man is far from over," he said.



Reported in The Philadelphia Tribune on May 9, 1995.

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