Guest lecturer says Africa has a long, forgotten history

Sara Welch

Rashidi says Africa’s roots are all over globe

World renown scholar Runoko Rashidi takes the audience on a visual trip through Africa last night at Oscar Ritchie Hall. Rashidi has been studying India and the Far East. Rechel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Runoko Rashidi told a crowd in Oscar Ritchie Hall last night that there is only one race – the human race – and it originated in Africa.

Rashidi, a lecturer and historian, has visited 94 countries and lectured in 55 of them. He has traveled the world and in his words “experienced firsthand the presence of the African culture.”

Young black children are taught to be anti-African, Rashidi said.

“If I talk to an Italian-American about their heritage, they’re proud of where they came from,” he said. “You ask a black person, they might take a swing at you.”

Africa is a continent composed of 54 countries and approximately 12 million square miles of land. Everyone descends from Africa, Rashidi said, whether a person is of black, white, red or brown color.

“It’s not that people don’t know they come from Africa. That’s correctable,” he said. “It’s that people don’t want to know.”

“Africa is the birthplace of humanity; who isn’t African?”

Rashidi said he had discovered African roots in almost every culture he had visited.

“I was told there were no black people in Turkey, but I found them and eventually found that there were more than 3 million people of African descent in Turkey,” Rashidi said.

The Sumerians of ancient Iraq called themselves the black-headed people, he said. India has more black people than any other country in the world. Also, Egypt used to be called “Kmt,” which means “the black city,” but he said the country is not really thought of as a part of African culture or history.

“Last time I was there, Egypt was in Africa and it is in Africa. It hasn’t relocated,” said Rashidi, who has visited Egypt 16 times.

Rashidi said people only remember the dark parts of African history, such as when the African people were chained, shackled, beaten and taken to dungeons. People tend to forget the rest, such as the many achievements.

For example, Imhotep was the world’s first-known scientist. He was an Egyptian and a black African man, Rashidi said. He is also the first known architect and is responsible for the step pyramid. The innovation of the step pyramid led to the true pyramids, which were constructed by African people – not slaves, Rashidi said.

“These are African achievements,” he said.

The Egyptians were black, Rashidi said, and to them, black was a sacred color.

“Just keep Egypt within the African context, and you’ll be all right,” he said.

The stone Olmec heads in Mexico look as though they were made by a culture of African descent, but many scholars deny there is any correlation, he said.

Rashidi also said dark-skinned people are made to feel self conscious and out of place. For example, he said black Australians are especially ashamed to admit they came from Africa.

“They will tell you Africans came from Australia,” Rashidi said.

Strong people emphasize their history all the time, not just for a month, he said. Rashidi said African people should be proud and remember their history.

“We’ve been shattered, fragmented, but not destroyed,” he said.

Most of African history hasn’t been written, Rashidi said.

He said to study history, but that we are also capable of making history.

“How did African history move from pyramids to the projects?” Rashidi asked.

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reporter Sara Welch at [email protected].