The Case for Ancient Egypt’s African Heritage

This article was first published by Dr. Okenwa Nwosu after returning from a vacation trip to Egypt in December 2010.

Before examining the contradictions circulating in the modern era and resulting from attempts to prove at any price that the Egyptians were Whites, let us note the comments of Count Constantin de Volney (1757-1820). After being imbued with all the prejudices we have just mentioned concerning the Negro, Volney had gone to Egypt between 1783 and 1785; he reported the Egyptian Race is the very race that had produced the Pharaohs: the Copts (p. 27).

“All have a bloated face, puffed up eyes, flat nose, and thick lips; in a word, the true face of the mulatto. I was tempted to attribute it to the climate, but when I visited the Sphinx, its appearance gave me the key to the riddle. On seeing that head, typically Negro in all its features, I remembered the remarkable passage where Herodotus says: “As for me, I judge the Colchians to be a colony of the Egyptians because, like them, they are black with wooly hair. …” We can see how their blood, mixed for several centuries with that of the Romans and Greeks, must have lost the intensity of its original color while retaining, nonetheless the imprint of its original mold. We can even state as a general principle that the face is a kind of monument able, in many cases, to attest or shed light on historical evidence on the origins of peoples. {End quote}” – Black Egyptians; The Original Settlers of Kemet


The Sphinx at the Giza Plateau was sculpted out of a limestone outcropping in the same location that the Great Pyramid of Giza is built. The Sphinx’s head has the negroid features of the pharaoh who built the monument nearly 5,000 years ago.

The present-day sociocultural, political and demographic disposition of Egypt would make many to see little or no African influence in the founding of this ancient nation that is widely acclaimed to be the cradle of Western civilization. It is not a deliberate misspeak to say “Western civilization” here because that is simply the fact as it exists today. The narrative is straightforward; the Western nations trace the origin of their civilization to Rome and Greece. These two ancient Eurocentric Mediterranean cultures, in turn, concede that Egypt was the source of all the essential tenets of their civilizations. The paper trail is there, up to date, to back up these assertions. Organized religious practice, imperial armies and conquest, the written word, architecture, science, art, literature, agriculture, astronomy etc were millennia-old products that originated from the lower Nile River valley and spread far and wide to all corners of the globe. Egypt today is inhabited by a population group whose anthropomorphic features hardly reflect the African cultures that founded it about 5,000 years ago. In the consciousness of many, today’s Egypt is an Arab nation just like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya etc and thus has little linkage with Black Africa despite its location on the northeastern corner of the continental landmass. Well, it is hard to blame this frame of mind because the physical, cultural and ideological attributes of the average Egyptian of our era do not epitomize Black Africa as we know it today.

The African landmass north of the equator has been subject to cyclical climatic fluctuations as corroborated by multiple sources of evidence. The Sahara, for example, has known periods that were much wetter than what exists today. There are topographical and fossil evidence which show that the very center of today’s Sahara desert used to be full of lush vegetation and plentiful fauna. There are fossilized timber logs, dinosaurs, freshwater snails and a variety of animal and plant life, which could only have thrived in very wet habitats. As recently as 12,000 years ago, the Sahara was bustling with life forms that inhabited its vast tropical rainforests and savanna. Settlement along the otherwise severely waterlogged lower Nile valley became possible due to the relentless desiccation and resultant expansion of the Sahara Desert. The African pastoral cultures who inhabited the vast expanse of the drying Sahara region had no choice but to migrate to the sources of fresh water and food, which, of course, made the Nile Valley the prime destination of choice. Annual flooding and resultant alluvial deposits along the Nile valley for millions of years have nurtured this strip of real estate to become one of the most fertile agricultural lands on earth. Former residents of the Sahara did not only find sufficient freshwater for their herds but also discovered a virgin real estate where all crops grew abundantly with little effort. With food supply in relative abundance, early Black African settlers of the Nile Valley could afford to seek more creative and imaginative ways to channelize the human energy and intellect of the population. This was the genesis of the Egyptian civilization that has blossomed to shape our contemporary world.

Menes (Narmer) was the first pharaoh credited for founding Egypt by uniting the Lower and Upper Kingdoms of the Nile Valley. He thus became a leading figure in the rule of Egypt’s 1st Dynasty. The founders of Egypt built gigantic monuments in honor of their gods and ancestors, who obviously looked very much like the Negroid race whose descendants now inhabit the rest of the African hinterland. Statues of Egyptian pharaohs up till c.1700 BC had strong Negroid attributes since no foreign rule had existed in the Nile Valley by then. There was an interregnum during which the so-called Hyksos, who had their origins in the Near East, ruled Egypt. Pharaoh Ahmose expelled the foreign rulers and reestablished Egyptian rule.

Before the arrival of the Greek imperial conqueror, Alexander the Great, in 332 BC, there were brief episodes of foreign rule in Egypt – from Sumeria, Persia, Libya etc. Still, none of these periods was long enough to significantly affect the demographic and anthropological characteristics of the indigenous population. The Greek rule, which was mostly based out of Alexandria on the Mediterranean seashore, was predicated on the assimilation of the migrant European stock into the indigenous population mix. All the Greeks brought into Egypt was their genetic pool, but the rulers copied everything else from the more culturally sophisticated and technologically advanced subject population. Conquests by Rome, Arab Moslems and Othman Turks from the Asia Minor engendered centuries of physical occupation, which has yielded the racial and cultural potpourri that make up present-day Egypt, particularly in the Nile Delta Region. Based on archeological data as they exist today, Egyptian civilization had peaked way before the arrival of outside cultural groups, which subsequently contributed to producing the local population mix of today’s Lower Nile River Valley.

The Sphinx and Great Pyramids at Giza plateau, the gigantic monuments and ornate temples that dot the banks of River Nile, sophisticated art of writing, papermaking, beer brewing, mummification, metallurgy, astronomical sciences, mathematics, medicine, agriculture etc were all firmly established and practiced for millennia before foreign settlers could make any inroads into Egypt. The fact is that the early Negroid settlers of the lower Nile Valley founded and brought Egypt to the level where it became the envy of the world and the lone superpower of its time. As fate would have it, some other groups are now the ones claiming Egyptian heritage as theirs. At the same time, Black Africans are being persuaded to distance themselves from the legacy of a civilization that sprung from the bowel of our mother continent. The very soil which nurtured and fostered the Egyptian civilization was excavated from deep within the African heartland and deposited by the mighty River Nile on its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile created Egypt and its millennia-old civilization. The Nile headwaters originate from the African Great Lakes, which are situated at the very heart of this mighty continent. Whoever desires to steal the legacy of Egypt might as well also lay claim to ownership of the raging waters of the majestic Nile River. But, as the saying goes, it is an impossible task to carry mother earth on one’s head, no matter how much one tries. He who snatches a child’s favorite toy and dangles it over the victim’s head shall ultimately abandon the taunt when the bully’s muscles fatigue, thereby allowing the child to, once more, retrieve his priced goodies. Stealing an African legacy, emblemized by the ancient Egyptian civilization, is ultimately an unsustainable venture.

De-nosed head of the statue of Pharaoh King Menes (Narmer) who founded the Kingdom of Ancient Egypt in the Nile River Valley 5,999 years ago. His successors built the Great Pyramid at Giza. Statue was de-nosed by those who wished to extirpate the negroid facial features of the man credited to have founded the Egyptian Civilization.

Africans shall arise to retrieve our rightful heritage because, if we don’t, we would have eternally conceded the key essence of our very own humanity to those who have historically regarded and related to us with disdain and contempt.

As would be expected, some might query the wisdom in dissipating quality time and energy over a matter that is several thousands of years old rather than to concentrate on alleviating the suffering of our kindred inhabiting vast territories across the African continent today. Some may go further to doubt the necessity of staking a historical claim to a civilization whose contemporary heirs are preoccupied elsewhere or might even end up exhibiting little or no interest toward the claimants. Other pundits might wonder; of what use shall this claim be even after an African origin for ancient Egyptian civilization is universally acknowledged?

Whoever does not remember where the rain started to beat one, the saying goes, shall likewise not know when the drenching stops. Human societies worldwide have, at one time or the other, found it crucial to look into their past in order to help them to prioritize their future choices better. European Renaissance was taught to many of us in secondary schools even before we learned anything about the history of our own country’s past. The European Renaissance movement was deemed necessary as a veritable tool for reawakening the West out of the doldrums of the so-called Dark Ages, which lasted almost a thousand years after the collapse of the Roman empire. Conjuring the memories of the phenomenal accomplishments of ancient Greeks and Romans in the realms of art, science, architecture, literature, philosophy, politics etc was deployed as a major source of inspiration for engendering a revolutionary attitude to life, starting from the later part of the15th Century AD. The impact of this movement was manifest in an upsurge in the deployment of practical and uplifting ideas that ended up transforming the entire society of the era.

If reaching back into the past was helpful in extricating Europe from the firm grip of the Dark Ages, then orchestrating an African Renaissance in this era, which is predicated on the phenomenal accomplishments of our remote ancestors in the Nile Valley and elsewhere, can also ginger Black Africa to awaken from the current lethargic slumber in which we have been mired for the past several centuries. The psychological trauma of mass enslavement and colonization of our peoples still negatively affects the entire livelihood of Black Africans resident on the mother continent and elsewhere worldwide today to the extent that boggles the mind. Seeking to recapture the spirit which enabled our remote ancestors to pioneer the ancient Egyptian civilization from scratch can surely help to empower the contemporary Africans in ways that shall unlock the latent can-do attributes in all of us within a very short period of time.

It is an act of folly for our generation to consistently fail to appreciate the outstanding contributions made by Black Africa to human civilization since the first homo sapiens evolved in our mother continent. This trait of self-negation was imbued into the consciousness of contemporary Africans by the extensive brainwashing and indoctrination that we have received from the tutelage of non-Africans who have always sought to recreate us in their own image. That Egypt of today looks different from the society initiated by our African ancestors 5,000 years ago in the lower Nile Valley does not, in any way, diminish that nation’s Black African roots. Isn’t it paradoxical that those who have historically looked down on Black Africa and its peoples, on the one hand, are exactly the same folks who are presently leaving no stone unturned in a quest to link the source of their own civilization to Egypt whose foundation was laid by indigenous Africans, on the other?

Repeated waves of external military incursions, through the ages, may have wrested control of the lower Nile River Valley from the grip of our Black African ancestors who first settled there and laid the foundation for the Egyptian civilization that the world has come to appreciate and respect today. Egypt’s African heritage, however, must never be conceded simply because the Nile Delta has come under external influence and control. Most of East and Southern Africa used to be physically occupied by European colonizers, but Black Africans never conceded what has historically been ours. Likewise, we cannot afford to concede that some other groups should claim ownership of our ancestral Black African heritage in the Lower Nile Valley simply because of habituated occupation by outside forces. If we cannot physically regain the real estate established and developed by our ancestors today for obvious reasons, we should, at least, seek to redeem our pride and self-esteem by holding fast to the spectacular accomplishments of our forebears even in the face of determined schemes of those who are unwilling to acknowledge that anything good can originate from Black Africa.


Pharaoh Akhenaten introduced religious reforms that repudiated polytheism and introduced monotheism under the Sun god, Ra. He was the father of the famous boy-king, Tutankhamun, who restored polytheism and the elevated status of Amun’s Temple at Karnak and its order of powerful priests.

The context for this essay is nothing new because great minds like Cheikh Anta Diop of Senegal and others have produced impressive, well-researched literally volumes on the subject matter. The narrative is simple and straightforward. Ancient Egyptian civilization, which West Europeans are boldly claiming today to be the source of their enlightened development and civilized existence, was a bona fide Black African creation. The rest of the African continent did not historically adopt and replicate the ancient Egyptian model beyond the Nile Valley axis, probably because it was considered inappropriate for the geopolitical realities and cultural preferences of those who inhabited the hinterland. Black Africa is not and had never been a monolithic entity. For the African, tolerance for variety is fundamental to the basic ethos of our indigenous value system. It should, therefore, not surprise anyone that the Black African population inhabiting today’s Senegal, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia etc certainly shared a unified cultural history before the desiccation of the Sahara region forced them to resettle wherever they are domiciled today. The anthropomorphic variations which now exist amongst these once-unified groups are caused by local geographical/climatic conditions and extended crossbreeding with autochthonous populations.

It is already indisputable that the first homo sapiens was a Black African and that the entire earth was populated by waves of emigration of modern humans from the African continent. It is also a fact that the technological capacity that enabled human conquest and domination of this planet also originated in Africa. The quantum leap in human civilization, which is embodied by the phenomenal accomplishments of ancient Egypt, was spearheaded by ancestral Black Africans who migrated away from the drying Sahara region to resettle along the lower Nile Valley thousands of years ago. Black Africa has, therefore, historically played a leadership role in all human affairs to the extent that no other racial group can rival. We, as Black Africans, must never lose sight of this fact, irrespective of the derogatory aspersions cast against us as a group as well as the relative decline in the fortunes of inhabitants of the mother continent in recent history. Since there is no doubt, whatsoever, that we are innately endowed with the capacity for attaining greatness, let’s now derive the inspiration for all our future self-redemptive struggles by conjuring the memories of the magnificent accomplishments of our forebears. We can indeed attain greatness again if only we resolve to put our minds to work once more.

If our forebears were as great as historical records portend, then we of the present generation can attain even greater heights because we are already imbued with what it takes to be able to do so.