The Origin of the Kamu(Egyptians)

"The basis of the Egyptian
population was negro in the Pre-Dynastic epoch."
by Cheikh Anta Diop
The general acceptance, as a sequel to the work of Professor
[Louis B.]
Leakey, of the hypothesis of mankind's monogenetic and African
origin, makes
it possible to pose the question of the peopling of Egypt and
even of the
world in completely new terms. More than 150,000 years ago,
morphologically identical with the man of today were living in
the region of
the great lakes at the sources of the Nile and nowhere else.
This notion,
and others which it would take too long to recapitulate here,
form the
substance of the last report presented by the late Dr. Leakey
at the Seventh
Pan-African Congress of Pre-History in Addis Ababa in 1971.1 It
means that
the whole human race had its origin, just as the ancients had
guessed, at
the foot of the mountains of the Moon. Against all expectations
and in
defiance of recent hypotheses it was from this place that men
moved out to
people the rest of the world. From this two facts of capital
(a) of necessity the earliest men were ethnically
homogeneous and negroid. Gloger's law, which
would also appear to be applicable to human
beings, lays it down that warm-blooded
animals evolving in a warm humid climate will
secrete a black pigment (eumelanin).2 Hence
if mankind originated in the tropics around
the latitude of the great lakes, he was bound
to have brown pigmentation from the start and
and it was by differentiation in other climates
that the original stock later split into
different races;
(b) there were only two routes available by which
these early men could move out to people
the other continents, namely, the Sahara and
the Nile valley. It is the latter region which
will be discussed here.
>From the Upper Palaeolithic to the dynastic epoch, the whole
of the river's
basin was taken over progressively by these negroid peoples.
Evidence of Physical Anthropology on the Race of the Ancient
It might have been thought that, working on physiological
evidence, the
findings of the anthropologists would dissipate all doubts by
reliable and definitive truths. This is by no means so: the
arbitrary nature
of the criteria used, to go no farther, as well as abolishing
any notion of
a conclusion acceptable without qualification, introduces so
much scientific
hair-splitting that there are times when one wonders whether
the solution of
the problem would not have been nearer if we had not had the
ill luck to
approach it from this angle.
Nevertheless, although the conclusions of these anthropological
studies stop
short of the full truth, they still speak unanimously of the
existence of a
negro race from the most distant ages of prehistory down to the
period. It is not possible in this paper to cite all these
conclusions: they
will be found summarized in Chapter X of Dr. Emile Massoulard's
Histoire et
protohistoire d' Egypt (Institut d'Ethnologix, Paris, 1949). We
shall quote
selected items only.
Miss Fawcett considers that the Negadah
skulls form a sufficiently homogeneous
collection to warrant the assumption of
a Negadah race. In the total height of
the skull, the auricular height, the
length and breadth of the face, nasal
length, cephalic index and facial index
this race would seem to approximate to
the negro; in nasal breadth, height of
orbit, length of palate and nasal index
it would seem closed to the Germanic
peoples; accordingly the Pre-Dynastic
Negadians are likely to have resembled
the negroes in certain of their
characteristics and the white race in
It is worth noting that the nasal indices of Ethiopians and
Dravidians would
seem to approximate them to the Germanic peoples, though both
are black
These measurements, which would leave an open choice between
the two
extremes represented by the negro and the Germanic races, give
an idea of
the elasticity of the criteria employed. A sample follows:
An attempt was made by Thompson and
Randall MacIver to determine more
precisely the importance of the negroid
element in the series of skulls from
El'Amrah, Abydos and Hou. They divided
them into three groups: (1) negroid
skulls (those with a facial index below
54 and a nasal index above 50, i.e.
Short broad face and broad nose);
(2) non-negroid skulls (facial index
above 54 and nasal index below 50, long
narrow face and narrow nose), (3) intermediate
skulls (assignable to one of
the two previous groups on the basis of
either the facial index or on the
evidence of the nasal index, plus
individuals marginal to either group).
The proportion of negroids would seem to
have 24% of men and 19% of women in the
early Pre-Dynastic and 25% and 28%
respectively in the late Pre-Dynastic.
Kieth has disputed the value of the
criterion selected by Thompson and
Randall MacIver to distinguish the
negroid from the non-negroid skulls.
His opinion is that if the same
criteria were applied to the study of
any series of contemporary English
skulls, the sample would be found to
contain approximately 30% of negroid
types. (pp. 420-1)
The converse of Kieth's proposition could also be asserted,
namely, that if
the criterion were applied to the 140 million negroes now alive
in black
Africa a minimum of 100 million negroes would emerge
It may also be remarked that the distinction between negroid,
and intermediary is unclear; the fact is that 'non-negroid'
does not mean of
white race and 'intermediary' still less so.
'Falkenburger reopened the anthropological study of the
Egyptian population
in a recent work in which he discusses 1,787 male skulls
varying in date
from the old, Pre-Dynastic to our own day. He distinguishes
four main
groups' (p. 421). The sorting of the predynastic skulls into
these four
groups gives the following results for the whole predynastic
period: "36%
negroid, 33% Mediterranean, 11% Cro-Magnoid and 20% of
individuals not
falling in any of these groups but approximating either to the
or to the negroid'. The proportion of negroids is definitely
higher than
that suggested by Thomson and Randall MacIver, though Kieth
considers the
latter too high.
'Do Falkenburger's figures reflect the reality? It is not our
task to decide
this. If they are accurate, the Pre-Dynastic population far
representing a pure bred race, as Elliott-Smith has said,
comprised at least
three distinct racial elements - over a third of negroids, a
third of
Mediterraneans, a tenth of Cro-Magnoids and a fifth of
individuals crossbred
- to varying degrees' (p. 422).
The point about all these conclusions is that despite their
the degree to which they converge proves that the basis of the
population was negro in the Pre-Dynastic epoch. Thus they are
incompatible with the theories that the negro element only
infiltrated into
Egypt at a late stage. Far otherwise, the facts prove that it
preponderant from the beginning to the end of Egyptian history,
when we note once more that 'Mediterranean' is not a synonym
for 'white',
Elliott-Smith's 'brown' or Mediterranean race being nearer to
the mark'.
'Elliott Smith classes these Proto-Egyptians as a branch of
what he calls
the brown race".' The term 'brown' in this context refers to
skin colour and
is simply a euphemism for negro.3 it is thus clear that it was
the whole of
the Egyptian population which was negro, barring an
infiltration of white
nomads in the proto-dynastic epoch
In Petrie's study of the Egyptian race we are introduced to a
classification element in great abundance which cannot fail to
surprise the
Petrie . . . published a study of the races
of Egypt in the Pre-Dynastic and Proto-
Dynastic periods working only on portrayals
of them. Apart from the steatopygian race,
he distinguishes six separate types: an
aquiline type representative of a whiteskinned
Libyan race; a 'plaited beard' type
belonging to an invading race coming perhaps
from the shores of the Red Sea, a 'sharp-nosed'
type almost certainly from the Arabian Desert:
a 'tilted-nose' type from Middle Egypt; a
'jutting beard' type from Lower Egypt; and a
'narrow-nose' type from Upper Egypt. Going
on the images, there would thus have been
seven different racial types in Egypt during
the epochs we are considering. In the pages
which follow we shall see that study of the
skeletons seems to provide little authority
for these conclusions. (p.391)
The above mode of classification gives an idea of the arbitrary
nature of
the criteria used to define the Egyptian races. Be that as it
may, it is
clear that anthropology is far from having established the
existence of a
white Egyptian race and would indeed tend rather to suggest the
Nevertheless, in current textbooks the question is suppressed:
in most cases
it is simply and flatly asserted that the Egyptians were white
and the
honest layman is left with the impression that any such
assertion must
necessarily have a prior basis of solid research. But there is
no such
basis, as this chapter has shown. And so generation after
generation has
been misled. Many authorities skate around the difficulty today
by speaking
of red-skinned and black-skinned whites without their sense of
common logic
being in the least upset. 'The Greeks call Africa "Libya", a
misnomer au
initio since Africa contains many other peoples besides the socalled
Libyans, who belong among the whites of the northern or
periphery and hence are many steps removed from the brown (or
red) skinned
whites (Egyptians).'4
In a textbook intended for the middle secondary school we find
the following
sentence: 'A Black is distinguished less by the colour of his
skin (for
there are black-skinned "whites") than by his features: thick
flattened nose . . .'5 It is only through these twistings of
the basic
definitions that it has been possible to bleach the Egyptian
It is worthwhile calling to mind the exaggerations of the
theorists of
anthropo-sociology in the last century and the beginnings of
the present one
whose minute physiognomical analyses discovered racial
stratifications even
in Europe, and particularly in France, when in fact there was
really a
single and by now practically homogeneous people.6 Today
Occidentals who
value their national cohesion are careful to avoid examining
their own
societies on so divisive a hypothesis, but continue
unthinkingly to apply
the old methods to the non-European societies.
Human Images of the Protohistoric Period: Their Anthropological
The study of human images made by Flinders Petrie on another
plane shows
that the ethnic type was black: according to Petrie these
people were the
Anu whose name, known to us since the protohistoric epoch, is
'written' with three pillars on the few inscriptions extant
from the end of
the fourth millennium before our era. The natives of the
country are always
represented with unmistakable chiefly emblems for which one
looks in vain
among the infrequent portrayals of other races, who are all
shown as servile
foreign elements having reached the valley by infiltration (cf.
Tera Neter7
and the Scorpion king whom Petrie groups together; 'The
Scorpion King . . .
belonged to the preceding race of Anu, moreover he worshipped
Min and
As we shall see later Min, like the chief gods of Egypt, was
called by the
tradition of Egypt itself 'the great negro'.
After a glance at the various foreign types of humanity who
disputed the
valley with the indigenous blacks, Petrie describes the latter,
the Anu, in
the following terms: Besides these types, belonging to the
North and East,
there is the aboriginal race of the Anu, or Annu, people
(written with three
pillars) who became a part of the historic inhabitants. The
subject ramifies
too doubtfully if we include all single pillar names, but
looking for the
Annu written, with the three pillars, we find that they
occupied southern
Egypt and Nubia, and the name is also applied in Sinai and
Libya. As to the
southern Egyptians, we have the most essential document, one
portrait of a
chief, Tera Neter, roughly modelled in relief in green glazed
faience, found
in the early temple at Abydos. Preceding his name his address
is given on
this earliest of visiting cards, 'Palace of the Anu in Hemen
city, Tera
Neter'. Hemen was the name of the god of Tuphium, Erment,
opposite to it,
was the palace of Annu of the south, Annu Menti. The next place
in the south
is Aunti (Gefeleyn), and beyond that Aunyt-Seni (Esneh)."
Amelineau lists in geographical order the fortified towns built
along the
length of the Nile valley by the Annu blacks.
[Hieroglyphics] =Ant=(Esneh)
[Hieroglyphics] =An =the southern 'On'
(now Hermonthis)
[Hieroglyphics] =Denderah, the traditional
birthplace of Isis
[Hieroglyphics] = A town also called 'On' in the
name of Tinis
[Hieroglyphics] =The town called the northern
'On', the renowned city of
The common ancestor of the Annu settled along the Nile was Ani
or An, a name
determined by the word [hieroglyphics] (khet) and which, dating
from the
earliest versions of the "Book of the Dead" onwards, is given
to the god
The wife of [hieroglyphics] the god Ani is the goddess Anet
who is also his sister, just as Isis is the sister of Osiris.
The identity of the god An with Osiris has been demonstrated by
Pleyte;10 we
should, indeed recall that is also surnamed by (?) the Anou;
'Osiris Ani'.
The god Anu is represented alternately by the symbol
[hieroglyphics] and the
symbol [hieroglyphics]. Are the Aunak tribes now inhabiting the
upper Nile
related to the ancient Annu? Future research will provide the
answer to this
Petrie thinks it possible to make a distinction between the
people represented by Tera Neter and the Scorpion King (who is
himself a
Pharaoh even at that date as his head-dress shows) and a
dynastic people
worshipping the falcion and probably represented by the
Pharaoh's Narmer,14
Khasekhem, Sanekhei and Zoser.12 By reference to the faces
reproduced in the
figure it is easily perceived that there is no ethnic
difference between the
two lots, and both belong to the black race.
The mural in tomb SD 63 (Sequence Date 63) of Hierakonopolis
shows the
native-born blacks subjugating the foreign intruders into the
valley if we
accept Petrie's interpretation: 'Below is the black ship at
belonging to the black men who are shown as conquering the red
The Gebel-el-Arak knife haft shows similar scenes: 'There are
also combats
of black men overcoming red men.'13 However, the archaeological
value of
this object, which was not found in situ but in the possession
of a
merchant, is less than that of the preceding items.
What the above shows is that the images of men of the
protohistoric and even
of the dynastic period in no way square with the idea of the
Egyptian race
popular with Western anthropologists. Wherever the
autochthonous racial type
is represented with any degree of clearness, it is evidently
Nowhere are the Indo-European and Semitic elements shown even
as ordinary
freeman serving a local chief, but invariably as conquered
foreigners. The
rare portrayals found are always shown with the distinctive
marks of
captivity, hands tied behind the back or strained over the
shoulders.14 A
protodynastic figurine represents an Indo-European prisoner
with a long
plait on his knees, with his hands bound tight to his body. The
characteristics of the object itself show that it was intended
as the foot
of a piece of furniture and represented a conquered race.15
Often the
portrayal is deliberately grotesque as with other protodynastic
showing individuals with their hair plaited in what Petrie
calls pigtails.16
In the tomb of King Ka (first dynasty) at Abydos, Petrie found
a plaque
showing an Indo-European captive in chains with his hands
behind his back.17
Elliott-Smith considers that the individual represented is a
Semite. The
dynastic epoch has also yielded the documents illustrated in
Pls 1.9. and
1.14 showing Indo-European and Semitic prisoners. In contrast,
the typically
negroid features of the pharaohs (Narmer, first dynasty, the
actual founder
of the Pharaonic line; Zoser, third dynasty, by whose time all
technological elements of the Egyptian civilization were
already in
evidence; Cheops, the builder of the Great Pyramid, a Cameroon
Menthuhotep, founder of the eleventh dynasty, very black,19
Sesostris 1;
Queen Ahmosis Nefertari; and Amenhophis I) show that all
classes of Egyptian
society belong to the same black race.
Pls 1.15 and 1.16, showing the Indo-European and Semitic types,
have been
included deliberately to contrast them with the quite
physiognomies of the black pharaohs and to demonstrate clearly
that there is
no trace of either of the first two types in the whole line of
Pharaohs if
we exclude the foreign Libyan and Ptolemaic dynasties.
It is usual to contrast the negresses on the tomb of Horemheb
with the
Egyptian type also shown. This contrast is surely a false one;
it is social
and not ethnic and there is as much difference between an
Senegalese lady from Dakar and those antique African peasant
women with
their horny hands and splay feet as between the latter and an
Egyptian lady
of the cities of antiquity.
There are two variants of the black race: (a) straight-haired,
in Asia by the Dravidians and in Africa by the Nubians and the
Tubbou or
Tedda, all three with jet-black skins; (b) the kinky-haired
blacks of the
Equatorial regions. Both types entered into the composition of
the Egyptian
Melanin Dosage Test
In practice it is possible to determine directly the skin
colour and hence
the ethnic affiliations of the ancient Egyptians by microscopic
analysis in
the laboratory; I doubt if the sagacity of the researchers who
have studied
the question has overlooked the possibility.
Melanin (eumelanin), the chemical body responsible for skin
is, broadly speaking, insoluble and is preserved for millions
of years in
the skins of fossil animals.20 There is thus all the more
reason for it to
be readily recoverable in the skins of Egyptian mummies,
despite a tenacious
legend that the skin of mummies, tainted by the embalming
material, is no
longer susceptible of any analysis.21 Although the epidermis is
the main
site of the melanin, the melanocytes penetrating the derm at
the boundary
between it and the epidermis, even where the latter has mostly
destroyed by the embalming materials, show a melanin level
which is
non-existent in the white-skinned races. The samples I myself
analyzed were
taken in the physical anthropology laboratory of the Mus'ee de
l'Homme in
Paris off the mummies from the Marietta excavations in Egypt.22
The same
method is perfectly suitable for use on the royal mummies of
Thutmoses III,
Seti I and Ramses II in the Cairo Museum, which are in an excel
state of
preservation. For two years past I have been vainly begging the
curator of
the Cairo Museum for similar samples to analyze. No more than a
few square
millimetres of skin would be required to mount a specimen, the
being a few um in thickness and lightened with ethyl benzoate.
They can be
studied by natural light or with ultra-violet lighting which
renders the
melanin grains fluorescent.
Either way let us simply say that the evaluation of melanin
level by
microscopic examination is a laboratory method which enables us
to classify
the ancient Egyptians unquestionably among the black races.
Osteological Measurements
Among the criteria accepted in physical anthropology for
classifying races,
the osteological measurements are perhaps the least misleading
(in contrast
to craniometry) for distinguishing a black man from a white
man. By this
criterion, also, the Egyptians belong among the black races.
This study was
made by the distinguished German savant Lepsius at the end of
the nineteenth
century and his conclusions remain valid; subsequent
methodological progress
in the domain of physical anthropology in no way undermines
what is called
the 'Lepsius canon' which, in round figures, gives the bodily
proportions of
the ideal Egyptian, short-armed and of negroid or negrito
physical type.23
Blood Groups
It is a notable fact that even today Egyptians, particularly in
Upper Egypt,
belong to the same Group B as the populations of western Africa
on the
Atlantic seaboard and not the A2 group characteristic of the
white race
prior to any crossbreeding.24 It would be interesting to study
the extent of
Group A2 distribution in Egyptian mummies, which present-day
techniques make
The Egyptian Race According to the Classical Authors of
To the Greek and Latin writers contemporary with the ancient
Egyptians the
latter's physical classification posed no problems: the
Egyptians were
negroes, thick-lipped, kinky-haired and thin-legged; the
unanimity of the
author's evidence on a physical fact as salient as a people's
race will be
difficult to minimize or pass over. Some of the following
evidence drives
home the point.
(a) Herodotus, 'the father of history', -480(?) to -425. With
regard to the
origins of the Colchians25 he writes:
it is in fact manifest that the Colchidians are
Egyptian by race ... several Egyptians told me
that in their opinion the Colchidians were
descended from soldiers of Sesostris. I had
conjectured as much myself from two pointers,
firstly because they have black skins and
kinky hair (to tell the truth this proves
nothing for other peoples have them too) and
secondly, and more reliably for the reason that
alone among mankind the Egyptians and the
Ethiopians have practiced circumcision since
time immemorial. The Phoenicians and Syrians
of Palestine themselves admit that they learnt
the practice from the Egyptians while the
Syrians in the river Thermodon and Pathenios
region and their neighbors the Macrons say
they learnt it recently from the Colchidians.
These are the only races which practice
circumcision and it is observable that they do
it in the same way as the Egyptians. As
between the Egyptians themselves and the
Ethiopians I could not say which taught the
other the practice for among them it is
quite clearly a custom of great antiquity.
As to the custom having been learnt through
their Egyptian connections, a further strong
proof to my mind is that all those Phoenicians
trading to Greece cease to treat the pudenda
after the Egyptian manner and do not subject
their offspring to circumcision.26
Herodotus reverts several times to the negroid character of the
and each time uses it as a fact of observation to argue more or
less complex
theses. Thus to prove that the Greek oracle at Dondona in
Epirus was of
Egyptian origin, one of his arguments is the following: '. . .
and when they
add that the dove was black they give us to understand that the
woman was
Egyptian.'27 The doves in question - actually there were two
according to
the text - symbolize two Egyptian women who are said to have
BEEN carried
off from the Egyptian Thebes to found the oracles in Greece at
Dodona and in
Libya (Oasis of Jupiter Amon) respectively. Herodotus did not
share the
opinion of Anaxagoras that the melting of the snows on the
mountains of
Ethiopia was the source of the Nile floods.28 He relied on the
fact that it
neither rains or snows in Ethiopia 'and the heat there turns
men black'.29
(b) Aristotle, -389 to -332, scientist, philosopher and tutor
of Alexander
the Great.
In one of his minor works, Aristotle attempts, with unexpected
naivete', to
establish a correlation between the physical and moral natures
of living
beings and leaves us evidence on the Egyptian-Ethiopian race
which confirms
what Herodotus says. According to him, 'Those who are too black
are cowards,
like for instance, the Egyptians and Ethiopians. But those who
excessively white are also cowards as we can see from the
example of women,
the complexion of courage is between the two.'30
(c) Lucian, Greek writer, +125(?) to +190.
The evidence of Lucian is as explicit as that of the two
previous writers.
He introduces two Greeks, Lycinus and Timolaus, who start a
Lycinus (describing a young Egyptian):
'This boy is not merely black; he has
thick lips and his legs are too thin. . .
his hair worn in a plait behind shows
that he is not a freeman.'
Timolaus: 'But that is a sign of really
distinguished birth in Egypt, Lycinus.
All freeborn children plait their hair
until they reach manhood. It is the
exact opposite of the custom of our ancestors
who thought it seemly for old men to
secure their hair with a gold brooch to
keep it in place.'31
(d) Apollodorus, first century before our
era, Greek philosopher.
'Aegyptos conquered the country of the blackfooted
ones and called it Egypt after himself.'32
(e) Aeschylus, -525(?) to -456, tragic poet and
creator of Greek tragedy.
In The Suppliants, Danaos, fleeing with his daughters, the
Danaids, and
pursued by his brother Aegyptos with his sons, the Aegyptiads,
who seek to
wed their cousins by force, climbs a hillock, looks out to sea
and describes
the Aegyptiads at the oars afar off in these terms: 'I can see
the crew with
their black limbs and white tunics.'33
A similar description of the Egyptian type of man recurs a few
lines later
in verse 745.
(f) Achilles Tatius of Alexandria.
He compares the herdsmen of the Delta to the Ethiopians and
explains that
they are blackish, like half-castes.
(g) Strabo, -58 to about +25.
Strabo visited Egypt and almost all the countries of the Roman
empire. He
concurs in the theory that the Egyptians and the Colchoi are of
the same
race but holds that the migrations to Ethiopia and Colchoi had
been from
Egypt only
'Egyptians settled in Ethiopia and in Colchoi.'34 There is no
doubt whatever
as to Strabo's notion of the Egyptian's race for he seeks
elsewhere to
explain why the Egyptians are darker than the Hindus, a
circumstance which
would permit the refutation, if needed, of any attempt at
confusing 'the
Hindu and Egyptian races'.
(h) Diodorus of Sicily, about -63 to +14, Greek historian and
of Caesar Augustus.
According to Diodorus it was probably Ethiopia which colonized
Egypt (in the
Athenian sense of the term, signifying that, with
overpopulation, a
proportion of the people emigrate to new territory).
The Ethiopians say that the Egyptians
`are one of their colonies,35 which was
led into Egypt by Osiris. They claim that
at the beginning of the world Egypt was
simply a sea but that the Nile, carrying
down vast quantities of loam from Ethiopia
in its flood waters, finally filled it in
and made it part of the continent. . . They
add that the Egyptians have received from
them, as from authors and their ancestors,
the greater part of their laws.36
(i) Diogenes Laertius.
He wrote the following about Zeno, founder of the stoic School
(-333 to
-261): 'Zeno son of Mnaseas or Demeas was a native of Citium in
Cyprus, a
Greek city which has taken in some Phoenician colonists.' In
his Lives,
Timotheus of Athens describes Zeno as having a twisted neck.
Apollonius of
Tyre says of him that he was gaunt, very tall and black, hence
the fact
that, according to Chrysippus in the First Book of his
Proverbs, certain
people called him an Egyptian vine-shoot.37
(j) Ammianus Marcellinus, about +33 to +100, Latin historian
and friend of
the Emperor Julian.
With him we reach the sunset of the Roman empire and the end of
antiquity. There are about nine centuries between the birth of
Aeschylus and
Herodotus and the death of Ammianus Marcellinus, nine centuries
during which
the Egyptians, amid a sea of white races, steadily crossbred.
It can be said
without exaggeration that in Egypt one household in ten
included a white
Asiatic or Indo-European slave.39
It is remarkable that, despite its intensity, all this
crossbreeding should
not have succeeded in upsetting the racial constants. Indeed
Marcellinus writes: ". . .the men of Egypt are mostly brown and
black with a
skinny and desiccated look."39 He also confirms the evidence
already cited
about the Colchoi: 'Beyond these lands are the heartlands of
the Camaritae40
and the Phasis with its swifter stream borders the country of
the Colchoi,
an ancient race of Egyptian origin.'41
This cursory review of the evidence of the ancient Graeco-Latin
writers on
the Egyptians' race shows that the extent of agreement between
them is
impressive and is an objective fact difficult to minimize or
conceal, the
two alternatives between which present-day Egyptology
constantly oscillates.
An exception is the evidence of an honest savant. Volney, who
travelled in
Egypt between +1783 and +1785, i.e. at the peak period of negro
slavery, and
made the following observations on the true Egyptian race, the
same which
produced the Pharaohs, namely the Copts:
All of them are puffy-faced, heavy eyed and
thick-lipped, in a word, real mulatto faces.
I was tempted to attribute this to the climate
until, on visiting the Sphinx, the look of it
gave me the clue to the egnima. Beholding
that head characteristically Negro in all
its features, I recalled the well-known passage
of Herodotus which reads: 'For my part I
consider the Colchoi are a colony of the Egyptians
because, like them, they are black skinned
and kinky-haired.' In other words the
ancient Egyptians were true negroes of the same
stock as all the autochthonous peoples of Africa
and from that datum one sees how their race,
after some centuries of mixing with the blood
of Romans and Greeks, must have lost the full
blackness of its original colour but retained
the impress of its original mould. It is even
possible to apply this observation very widely
and posit in principle that physiognomy is a
kind of record usable in many cases for disputing
or elucidating the evidence of history on the
origins of the peoples . . .
After illustrating this proposition citing the case of the
Normans, who 900
years after the conquest of Normandy still look like Danes,
Volney adds:
but reverting to Egypt, its contributions
to history afford many subjects for philosophic
reflection. What a
subject for meditation is
the present-day barbarity and ignorance of the
Copts who were considered, born of the alliance
of the deep genius of the Egyptians and the
brilliance of the Greeks, that this race of
blacks who nowadays are slaves and the objects
of our scorn is the very one to which we owe our
arts, our sciences, and even the use of spoken word;
and finally recollect that it is in the midst of the
claiming to be the greatest friends of liberty and
humanity that
the most barbarous of enslavements
has been sanctioned and the question raised whether
black men have brains of the same quality as those of
white men!42
To this testimony of Volney, Champollion-Figeac, brother of
Champollion the
Younger, was to reply in the following terms: 'The two physical
traits of
black skin and kinky hair are not enough to stamp a race as
negro and
Volney's conclusion as to the negro origin of the ancient
population of
Egypt is glaringly forced and inadmissible.'43
Being black from head to foot and having kinky hair is not
enough to make a
man a negro! This shows us the kind of specious argumentation
to which
Egyptology has had to resort since its birth as a science. Some
maintain that Volney was seeking to shift the discussion to a
plane. But we have only to re-read Volney: he is simply drawing
inferences from crude material facts forcing themselves on his
eyes and his
conscience as proofs.
"The Egyptians had only one term to designate
kmt=the negroes (literally)."
by Cheikh Anta Diop
The Egyptians as They Saw Themselves
It is no waste of time to get the views of those principally
concerned. How
did the ancient Egyptians see themselves? Into which ethnic
category did
they put themselves? What did they call themselves? The
language and
literature left to us by the Egyptians of the Pharaonic epoch
explicit answers to these questions which the scholars cannot
refrain from
minimizing, twisting or 'interpreting.'
The Egyptians had only one term to designate themselves:
[hieroglyphics]=kmt=the negroes (literally).44 This is the
strongest term
existing in the Pharaonic tongue to indicate blackness; it is
written with a hieroglyph representing a length of wood charred
at the end
and not crocodile scales.45 This word is the etymological
origin of the
well-known root Kamit which has proliferated in modern
literature. The biblical root kam is probably derived from it
and it has
therefore been necessary to distort the facts to enable this
root today to
mean 'white' in Egyptological terms whereas, in the Pharaonic
mother tongue
which gave it birth, it meant 'coal black.'
In the Egyptian language, a word of assembly is formed from an
adjective or
a noun by putting it in the feminine singular. 'kmt' from the
[hieroglyphics] =km=black; it therefore means strictly negroes
or at the
very least black men. The term is a collective noun which thus
described the
whole people of Pharaonic Egypt as a black people.
In other words, on the purely grammatical plane, if one wishes
to indicate
negroes in the Pharaonic tongue, one cannot use any other word
than the very
one which the Egyptians used of themselves. Furthermore, the
language offers
us another term, [hieroglyphics] kmtjw=the negroes, the black
(literally)=the Egyptians, as opposed to 'foreigners' which
comes from the
same root km and which the Egyptians also used to describe
themselves as a
people as distinguished from all foreign peoples.46 These are
the only
adjectives of nationality used by the Egyptians to designate
themselves and
both mean 'negro' or 'black' in the Pharonic language. Scholars
hardly ever
mention them or when they do it is to translate them by
euphemisms such as
the 'Egyptians' while remaining completely silent about their
sense.47 They prefer the expression [hieroglyphics] Rmt kmt=the
men of the
country of the black men or the men of the black country.
In Egyptian, words are normally followed by a determinative
which indicates
their exact sense, and for this particuar expression
Egyptologists suggest
that [heiroglyphics] km=black and that the colour qualifies the
determinative which follows it and which signifies 'country'.
they claim, the translation should be 'the black earth' from
the colour of
the loam, or the 'black country', and not 'the country of the
black men' as
we should be inclined to render it today with black Africa and
white Africa
in mind. Perhaps so, but if we apply this rule rigorously to
=kmit, we are forced to 'concede that here the adjective
"black" qualifies
the determinative which signifies the whole people of Egypt
shown by the two
symbols for "man" and "woman" and the three strokes below them
indicate the plural'. Thus, if it is possible to voice a doubt
as regards
the expression [hieroglyphics] =Kme, it is not possible to do
so in the case
of the two adjectives of nationality [hieroglyphics] kmt and
kmtjw unless
one is picking one's arguments completely at random.
It is a remarkable circumstance that the ancient Egyptians
should never have
had the idea of applying these qualificatives to the Nubians
and other
populations of Africa to distinguish them from themselves; any
more than a
Roman at the apogee of the empire could use a 'colour'
adjective to
distinguish himself from the Germani on the other bank of the
Danube, of the
same stock but still in the prehistoric age of development.
In either case both sides were of the same world in terms of
anthropology, and accordingly the distinguishing terms used
related to level
of civilization or moral sense. For the civilized Romans, the
Germans, of
the same stock, were barbarians. The Egyptians used the
[hieroglyphics] =na-has to designate the Nubians; and nahas48
is the name of
a people, with no colour connotation in Egyptian. it is a
mistranslation to render it as negro as is done in almost all
The Divine Epithets
Finally, black or negro is the divine epithet invariably
used for the chief beneficent gods of Egypt, whereas all the
spirits are qualified as desret=red; we also know that to
Africans this form
applies to the white nations; it is practically certain that
this held good
for Egypt too but I want in this chapter to keep to the least
The surnames of the gods are these:
[hieroglyphics] =kmwr=the 'Great Negro' for Osiris49
[hieroglyphics] =km=the black + the name of the god50
[hieroglyphics] =kmt=the black + the name of the goddess51
The km (black) [hieroglyphics] qualificative is applied to
Hathor, Apis,
Min, Thoth, etc52 [hieroglyphics] set kmt=the black
woman=Isis53 On the
other hand 'seth', the sterile desert, is qualified by the term
54 The wild animals which Horus fought to create civilization
are qualified
as desret=red, especially the hippopotamus.55 Similarly the
beings wiped out by Thoth are Des= [hieroglyphics] =desrtjw=thr
red ones;
this term is the grammatical converse of Kmtjw and its
construction follows
the same rule for the formation of 'nisbes'.
Witness of the Bible
The Bible tells us. ' . . .the sons of Ham [were] Cush, and
Mizraim [i.e.
Egypt], and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and
Havilah, and
Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah.56
Generally speaking all Semitic tradition (Jewish and Arab)
classes ancient
Egypt with the countries of the blacks.
The importance of these depositions cannot be ignored, for
these are peoples
(the Jews) which lived side by side with the ancient Egyptians
and sometimes
in symbiosis with them and have nothing to gain by presenting a
false ethnic
picture of them. Nor is the notion of an erroneous
interpretation of the
facts any more tenable.57
Cultural Data
Among the innumerable identical cultural traits recorded in
Egypt and in
present-day black Africa, it is proposed to refer only to
circumcision and
According to the extract from Herodotus quoted earlier,
circumcision is of
African origin. Archaeology has confirmed the judgment of the
Father of
History for Elliott-Smith was able to determine from the
examination of
well-preserved mummies that circumcision was the rule among the
Egyptians as
long ago as the protohistoric era,58 i.e. earlier than -4000.
Egyptian totemism retained its vitality down to the Roman
period59 and
Plutarch also mentions it. The researches of Amelineau6,60
Loret, Moret and
Adolphe Reinach have clearly demonstrated the existence of an
totemic system, in refutation of the champions of the zoolatric
If we reduce the notion of the totem to that
of a fetish, usually representing an animal
of a species with which the tribe believes
it has special ties formally renewed at
fixed intervals, and which is carried into
battle like a standard; if we accept this
minimal but adequate definition of a totem,
it can be said that there was no country
where totemism had a more brilliant reign
than in Egypt and certainly nowhere where
it could be better studied.61
Linguistic Affinity
Walaf,62 a Senegalese language spoken in the extreme west of
Africa on the
Atlantic Ocean, is perhaps as close to ancient Egyptian as
Coptic. An
exhaustive study of this question has recently been carried
out.63 In this
chapter enough is presented to show that the kinship between
Egyptian and the languages of Africa is not hypothetical but a
fact which it is impossible for modern scholarship to thrust
As we shall see, the kinship is genealogical in nature.
Egyptian Coptic
=kef=to grasp, (Saidique dialect)
kef=seize a prey
to take a strip keh=to tame 65
(of something)64
PRESENT                  PRESENT
kef i                                 keh
kef na
kef ek                              keh ek
kef nga
kef et                               keh ere
kef na
kef ef                             kef ef
kef es                             keh es
kef ef na
kef es
kef n                              keh en
kef nanu
kef ton                           keh etetu
kef ngen
kef sen                           keh ey
kef nanu
PAST                             PAST
kef ni                              keh nei
kef (on) na
kef (o) nek                     keh nek
kef (on) nga
kef (o) net                     keh nere
kef (on) na
kef (o) nef                      keh nef
kef (on) ef na
kef (o) nes                     keh nes
kef (on) es
kef (o) nen                    keh nen
kef (on) nanu
kef (o) n ten                  keh netsten
kef (on) ngen
kef (o) n sen67              keh ney68
kef (on) nanu
                  (symbol) =feh=go away feh=rush
We have the following correspondences between the verb
with identity of similarity of meaning: all the Egyptian verb
forms, except for two, are also recorded in Walaf.
                                 feh-ef                         feh
                                 feh-es                        feh
                                 feh-n-ef                     feh
                                feh-n-es                      feh
                                feh-w                         feh
                               feh-wef                       feh
                              feh-w-es                      feh
                               feh-w-a-ef                  feh
                             feh-w-n-es                   feh
                            feh-in-ef                        feh
                           feh-in-es                        fen
                           feh-t-ef                         feh
                           feh-t-es                         feh
                          feh-tyfy                          feh
                          feh-tysy                         feh
                          feh-tw-ef                      mar
                         feh-tw-es                      mar
                        feh-n-tw-ef                      feh
                        feh-a-tw-es                     feha
                        feh-y-ef                           feh
                       feh-y-es                           fey
                                     [symbol] =mer=love
mar=lick (symbol)
                                       mer-ef             mar
                                       mer-es            mar
                                       mer-n-el         mar
                                       mer-n-es         mar
                                       mer-w            mar
                                      mer-w-ef         mar
                                      mer-w-n-f        mar
                                      mer-w-n-es      mar
                                      mer-in-ef          mar
                                      mer-in-es         mar
                                      mer-t-ef           mar
                                      mer-t-es          mar
                                      mer-tw-ef        mar
                                      mer-tw-es       mar
                                      mer-tyfy          mar
                                      mer-t-tysy       mar
                                     mer-y-ef         mar
                                     mer-y-es         mar
                                      mer-n-tw-ef   mar
                                     mer-n-tw-es    mar
Egyptian and Walaf Demonstratives
There are the following phonetic correspondents between
Egyptian and Walaf
[This section was omitted because of the difficulty of
reproducing the
symbols on the Internet]
These phonetic correspondences are not ascriable either to
affinity or to the general laws of the human mind for they are
correspondences on outstanding points extending through an
entire system,
that of the demonstratives in the two languages and that of the
languages. It is through the application of such laws that it
was possible
to demonstrate the existence of the Indo-European linguistic
The comparison could be carried to show that the majority of
the phonemes
remain unchanged between the two languages. The few changes
which are of
great interest are the following:
[This section was omitted because of the difficulty of
reproducing the
symbols on the Internet]
It is still early to talk with precision of the vocalic
accompaniment of the
Egyptian phonemes. But the way is open for the rediscovery of
the vocalics
of ancient Egyptian from comparative studies with the languages
of Africa.
The structure of African royalty, with the king put to death,
either really
or symbolically, after a reign which varied in length but was
in the region
of eight years, recalls the ceremony of the Pharaoh's
regeneration through
the Sed feast. Also reminiscent of Egypt are the circumcision
mentioned earlier and the totemism, cosmogonies, architecture,
instruments, etc., of Africa.71 Egyptian antiquity is to
African culture
what Graceo-Roman antiquity is to Western culture. The building
up of a
corpus of African humanities should be based on this fact.
It will be understood how difficult it is to write such a
chapter in a work
of this kind, where euphemism and compromise are the rule. In
an attempt to
avoid sacrificing scientific truth, therefore, we made a point
of suggesting
three preliminaries to the preparation of this volume, all of
which were
agreed to at the plenary session held in 1971. 72 The first two
led to the
holding of the Cairo Symposium from 28 January to 3 February
1974. 73 In
this connection I should like to refer to certain passages in
the report of
that symposium. Professor Vercoutter, who had been commissioned
by Unesco to
write the introductory report, acknowledged after a thorough
discussion that
the conventional idea that the Egyptian population was equally
between blacks, whites and half-castes could not be upheld..
Vercoutter agreed that no attempt should be made to estimate
which meant nothing, as it was impossible to establish them
without reliable
statistical data'. On the subject of Egyptian culture:
'Professor Vercoutter
remarked that, in his view, Egypt was African in its way of
writing, in its
cullture and in its way of thinking'.
Professor Lecant, for his part, 'recognized the same African
character in
the Egyptian temperament and way of thinking'.
In regard to linguistics, it is stated in the report that 'this
item, in
contrast to those previously discussed, revealed a large
measure of
agreement among the participants. The outline by Professor Diop
and the
report by Professor Obenga were regarded as being very
Similarly, the symposium rejected the idea that Pharaonic
Egyptian was a
Semitic language. 'Turning to wider issues, Professor Sauneron
attention to the interest of the method suggested by Professor
following Professor Diop. Egyptian remained a stable language
for a period
of at least 4500 years. Egypt was situated at the point of
convergence of
outside influences and it was to be expected that borrowing had
been made
from foreign languages, but the Semitic roots numbered only a
few hundred as
compared with a total of several thousand words. The Egyptian
language could
not be isolated from its African context and its origin could
not be fully
explained in terms of Semitic, it was thus quite normal to
expect to find
related languages in Africa'.
The genetic, that is, non-accidental relationship between
Egyptian and the
African languages was recognized: 'Professor Sauneron noted
that the method
which had been used was of considerable interest, since it
could not be
purely fortuitous that there was a similarity between the third
singular suffixed pronouns in Ancient Egyptian and in Wolof, he
hoped that
an attempt would be made to reconstitute a palaeo-African
language, using
present-day languages as a starting point'.
In the general conclusion to the report it was stated that:
'Although the
preparatory working paper sent out by Unesco gave particulars
of what was
desired, not all participants had prepared communications
comparable with
the painstakingly researched contributions of Professors Cheikh
Anta Diop
and Obenga. There was consequently a real lack of balance in
A new page of African historiography was accordingly written in
Cairo. The
symposium recommended that further studies be made on the
concept of race.
Such studies have since been carried out, but they have not
anything new to the historical discussion. They tell us that
biology and genetics recognize the existence of populations
alone, the
concept of race being no longer meaningful. Yet whenever there
is any
question of the transmission of a hereditary taint, the concept
of race in
the most classic sense of the term comes into its own again,
for genetics
tells us that 'sickle-cell anaemia occurs only in negroes'. The
truth is
that all these 'anthropologists' have already in their own
minds drawn the
conclusions deriving from the triumph of the monogenetic theory
of mankind
without venturing to put them into explicit terms, for if
mankind originated
in Africa, it was necessarily negroid becoming white through
mutation and
adaptation at the end of the last glaciation
in Europe in the
Palaeolithic; and is not more understandable why the Grimaldian
first occupied Europe for 10,000 years before Cro-Magnon Manthe
of the white race-appeared (around -2,000).
The idealogical standpoint is also evident in apparently
objective studies.
In history and in social relations, it is the phenotype, that
is, the
individual or the people as that individual or people is
perceived, which is
the dominant factor, as opposed to the genotype. For presentday
genetics, a
Zulu with the 'same' genotype as Vorster is not impossible.
Does this mean
that the history we are witnessing will put the two phenotypes,
that is, the
two individuals, on the same footing in all their national and
activities? Certainly not -- the opposition will remain not
social but
This study makes it necessary to rewrite world history from a
scientific standpoint, taking into account the Negro-African
component which
was for a long time preponderant. It means that it is now
possible to build
up a corpus of Negro-African humanities resting on a sound
historical basis
instead of being suspended in mid-air. Finally, if it is true
that only
truth is revolutionary, it may be added that only rapprochement
about on a basis of truth can endure. The cause of human
progress is not
well served by casting a veil over the fact.
The rediscovery of the true past of the African peoples should
not be a
divisive factor but should contribute to uniting them, each and
all, binding
them together from the north to the south of the continent so
as to enable
them to carry out together a new historical mission for the
greater good of
mankind; and that is in keeping with the ideal of Unesco.
"Footnotes to:
by Cheikh Anta Diop
1. Proceedings of the Seventh Pan-African Congress of Pre-
History and
Quaternary Studies, December 1971
2. M.F.A. Montagu, 1960, p. 390.
3. The study of this race's pigmentation can be carried farther
by the
method described; actually Elliott-Smith often found patches of
skin on the
bodies and the mummification methods which cause skin
deterioration were not
yet in use.
4. D.P. de Pedrals, p.6.
5. Geographie, classe de 5, 1950.
6. In his 'Lutte des races" (1883) L. Gumplovicz asserts that
the diverse
classes making up a people always represent different races, of
which one
has established its domination over the others by conquest. G.
deLapounge in
an article published in 1897 postulated no less than a dozen
laws of anthropo-sociology' of which the following are typical;
his 'law of
distribution of wealth' posits that, in countries of mixed
populations, wealth is greater in inverse proportions to the
cephalic index;
the 'law of urban indices' given prominence by Ammon in
connexion with his
research on Badener conscripts asserted that town dwellers
exhibit greater
dolichocephaly than the people in the adjacent countryside; the
'law of
stratification' was formulated in the following terms: 'the
cephalic index
decreases and the proportion of dolichocephalics rises the
higher the social
class, in each locality'. In his Selections sociales' the same
writer had no
hesitation in asserting that 'the dominant class in the feudal
epoch belongs
almost exclusively to the variety "Homo Europaeus" so that it
is not pure
chance which has kept the poor at the foot of the social ladder
but their
congenital inferiority'.
We thus see that German racism was inventing nothing new, when
Rosenberg asserted that the French Revolution must be deemed a
revolt of the
brachycephalics of the Alpine stock against the
dolichocephalics of the
Nordic race.' (A. Cuvillier, p. 155)
7. W.M.F. Petrie, 1939, Fig. 1.
8. ibid., p. 69.
9. ibid., p. 68.
10. E. Amelineau, 1908, p. 174.
11. Pl. 1.2.
12. Pl. 1.3.
13. W.M.F. Petrie, 1939, p.67.
14. Pl. 1.11.
15. Pl. 1.5.
16. pl. 1.8.
17. Pl. 1.7 I know that 'Indo-European' is usually said to be a
not a race, but I prefer this term to 'Aryan' wherever its use
causes no
18. Pl. 1.2.
19. Pl. 1.13.
20. R.A. Nicolaus, p. 11.
21. T.J. Pettigrew, 1834, pp. 70-71.
22. C.A. Diop, 1977.
23. M.E. Fontant, pp. 44-5 (see reproduction: T).
24. M.F.A. Montagu, p. 337.
25. In the fifth century before our era, at the time when
Herodotus visited
Egypt, a black-skinned people, the Colchians, were still living
in Colchis
on the Armenian shore of the Black Sea, East of the ancient
port of
Trebizond, surrounded by white-skinned nations.
The scholars of antiquity wondered about this people's origins
and Herodotus
in "Euterpe', the second book of his history on Egypt, tries to
prove that
the Colchians were Egyptians, whence the arguments we quote.
Herodotus, on
the strength of commemorative stelae, erected by Sesostris in
countries, asserts that this monarch had got as far as Thrace
and Seythia,
where stelae would seem to have been still standing in his day
(Book II,
26. Herodotus, Book II, 104. As with many peoples in black
Africa, Egyptian
women underwent excision of the clitoris: ef. Strabo,
Geography, Book XVII,
Ch. I.
27. Herodotus, Book II, 57.
28. Seneca, Questions of Nature, Book IV, 17.
29. Herodotus, Book II, 22.
30. Aristotle, Physiognomy, 6.
31. Lucian, Navigations, paras 2-3.
32. Apollodoros, Book II, 'The Family of Inachus', paras 3 and
33. Aeschylus, The Suppliants, vv. 719-20. See also v. 745.
34. Strabo, Geography, Book I, ch. 3, para. 10.
35. My italics.
36. Diodorus, Universal History, Book III. The antiquity of the
civilization is attested by the most ancient and most venerable
writer, Homer, in both the Lliad and the Odessey: 'Jupiter
followed today by
all the gods receives the sacrifices of the Ethiopians' (Iliad,
I, 422).
'Yesterday to visit holy Ethiopia Jupiter betook himself to the
ocean shore'
(lliad, I, 423).
37. Diogenes Laertius, Book VII,i.
38. The Egyptian notables liked to have a Syrian or Cretan
female slave in
their harems.
39. Ammianus Marcellinus, Book XXII, para 16 (23).
40. Pirate gangs who worked from small ships called Camare.
41. Ammianus Marcellinus, Book XXII, para. 8 (24).
42. M.C.F. Volney, Voyages en Syrie et en Egypte, Paris, 1787,
Vol. I, pp.
43. J.J. Champollion-Figeac, 1839, pp. 26-7.
44. This important discovery was made, on the African side, by
Nsougan, who was to compile this part of the present chapter.
For the sense
of the word see Worterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprache, Vol 5,
1971, pp. 122
and 127.
45. ibid., p. 122.
46. ibid., p. 128.
47. R.O. Faulkner, 1962, p. 286.
48. Worterbuch der agyptischen Sprache, p. 128.
49. ibid. p. 124.
50. ibid., p. 125.
51. ibid., p. 123.
52. It should be noted that set-kem=black wife in Walaf.
53. Worterbuch der agyptischen Sprache, p. 492.
54. ibid., p. 493.
55. Desret= blood in Egyptian; deret=blood in Walaf; ibid., p.
56. Genesis, 10:6-7.
57. C.A. Diop, 1955, pp. 33ff.
58. E. Massoulard, 1949, p. 386.
59. Juvenal, Satire XV, vv. 1-14.
60. E. Amelineau, op. cit.
61. A. Recnach, 1913, p. 17.
62 Often spelt Wolof.
63. C.A. diop, 1977.
64. R. Lambert, 1925, p. 129.
65. A. Mallon, pp. 207-34.
66. A. de Buck, 1952.
67. ibid.
68. A. Mallon, pp. 207-34.
69. By extension=love intensely (hence the verb mar-maral)
after the fashion
of a female animal licking the cub which she has just borne.
This sense does
not conflict with the other notion which the determinative may
convey of a
man raising hand to mouth.
70. See below for the explanation of this important law.
71. See C.A. Diop, 1967.
72. See final Report of the First Plenary Session of the
Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a general History of
UNESCO, 30 March-8 April 1974.
73. Symposium of 'The peopling of ancient Egypt and the
deciphering of the Meriotic script'. Cf. Studies and Documents
No. I UNESCO, 1978.

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article The Origin of the Kamu(Egyptians) is published by asar tehuti on day Tuesday, December 28, 2010.Hopefully this article can be useful.Thank you for your visit please leave a comment.already there 0 comment: about the post The Origin of the Kamu(Egyptians)


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