Kemet & Maat : before Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Kemet: The Place of The Blacks As Symbolized In The Medu Netcher (Hieroglyphics) And Related Issues)
Kemet: The Place of The Blacks As Symbolized In The Medu Netcher (Hieroglyphics) And Related issues Legrand H. Clegg II, Editor & Publisher *
Volume II, Edition
As clearly noted in previous issues of the Maat Newsletter, there have been many attacks on African-centered scholarship in the past few years. These not-so-subtle attempts to diffuse the spreading of more accurate information about the history of Africans in the world have ranged from personal attacks to character assassinations on such eminent scholars as Ivan Sertima and Asa G. Hilliard III. The bulk of the media and scholarly venom has been directed toward scholars who insist on placing Ancient Kemet in its proper position as an African Nation.
Even those European scholars who considered an African origin for the civilization of Kemet felt the need to contribute the growth of the ancient language of Kemet to outside influence, specifically Mesopotamia. Consider this quote from Alan Gardiner (Martin Bernal s grandfather), whose Egyptian Grammar book is considered the bible for many European egyptologists: “Unfortunately the origin of the Egyptian Language lies so far back in the uncharted past that only little that is certain can be said about it. Since it is generally agreed that the oldest population of Egypt was of African race, it might be expected that their language should be African too.”(1) Gardiner goes on to say that the affinity between Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic is “equally unmistakable, if indeed not greater” than the African influence.”
The German scholar Adolph Erman wrote in the 19th century that: “The question of the race-origin of the Egyptians has long been a matter of dispute between the ethnologists and philologists, the former maintaining the African theory of descent, the latter the Asiatic. Ethnologists assert that nothing exists in the physical structure of the Egyptian to distinguish him from the native African, and that from the Egyptian to the negro population of tropical Africa, a series of links exists which do not admit of a break.”(2)
He states further: “Therefore, they say, many old customs of the ancient Egyptians are now found amongst the people of the Upper Nile. I will only instance the curious head-rest still used in the east of the Sudan to protect the wig On the other side philologists maintain that the language of the ancient Egyptians has distinct kinship with that of the so-called Semitic nations.”(3)
So it seems that these two well-respected egyptologists, one English, the other German, conceded to a generally accepted view of the ancient population of Kemet as being African. The unsettled question is how an African population could develop a language with such strong “Semitic” language ties? Dr. Theophile Obenga, one of the worlds foremost linguists, has diachronic and synchronic linguistics to solve this problem. Diachronic linguistics is the study of a language and its modifications over a long period of time. Synchronic linguistics is the study of a language at any given moment. By using the interlocking studies of diachronic and synchronic linguistics, together with the comparative method of studying languages, Dr. Obenga has reached these insights: The language of ancient Kemet is not genetically linked to either the Semitic or the Berber languages.
The terms “Hamito-Semitic” or Afro-Asiatic” are products of a scientific hoax. According to Dr. Obenga, ” Hamito-Semitic or Afro-Asiatic reminds us of another famous scientific swindle, but this time in archaeology, the bogus discovery of the alleged remains of prehistoric man, Piltdown Man in 1912.”(4)
There can be shown scientifically the genetic affinities between the language of ancient Kemet and:
Banda (Central African Republic)
Ngbandi (Central African Republic)
Zulu (South Africa)
Baoule (Ivory Coast)
Snufo (Manianka, Mali)
Wolof (Senegal) and many other African languages.
“The numerous morphological, syntactic, phonetic and lexicological concordances that can be clearly established between Pharaonic Egyptian, Coptic, and all modern black African languages are of an historical genetic order “(5)
Those who perpetuate the unscientific approach to Medu Netcher (hieroglyphics) by using such terms as “Hamito-Semitic” or “Afro-Asiatic” wish to place the ancient world of the Jewish people (the Hebrews) and the Pharaonic world of the Nile Valley on an equal footing, although we know that the Hebrews created no significant contribution to the development of civilization in antiquity except in [a] religion for which ancient Egypt is owed a tremendous debt.”(6) This type of reasoning, though logical and well documented, tends to become buried under the endless chatter of scholars and journalists whose only mission, it seems, is to try to discredit African people. Preying in the lack of information concerning the language of Kemet among the general public, a deception has been perpetrated for years by European scholars who have distorted the meaning of the word “Kemet.”
Kemet is what the ancient people of the Nile Valley called what is erroneously known as “Ancient Egypt.” According to European egyptologists Egypt is a Greek word, a corruption of the city name “He ka Ptah” (city of Ptah). The word Egypt was not used until 300 b.c.e., after the conquest of Kemet by Alexander, son of Phillip of Macedonia. In books by European egyptologists, Kemet is translated as “the black land,” in an attempt to state that the people named their country after the soil that resulted from the annual inundation of the Nile River. This is not the translation that the texts themselves show us. Before looking at the correct meaning of the word Kemet, a brief description of the way Medu Netcher operates will be provided.
Medu Netcher is a highly complex language that exists on many levels. It is pictorial (ideograms), symbolic (determinatives), and phonetic (phonograms) at the same time. Any symbol could be pictorial (used to represent itself). Determinatives are generally used at the end of words to help clarify meaning. There are three types of phonograms: (one sign, one sound),
biliterals (one sign, two sounds), and
triliterals (one sign, three sounds).
Monoliterals are also used as phonetic complements. A phonetic complement is used as a reading aid; it may be placed before or after a bi- or triliteral as a visual reminder or reinforcement of the pronunciation of the word shown.
This is the word Kemet . The first symbol, a piece of charred wood (some say a crocodiles spine), is the biliteral “km.” The owl symbolizes the monoliteral “m,” used in this instance as a phonetic complement. The third symbol is a loaf of bread, the monoliteral “t.” The last symbol, a determinative, is very important for our discussion of this word. This symbol depicts an aerial view of a circular walled settlement displaying a network of roads. Here the symbol is drawn in abstract which has been reduced to the two principal axes . These types of cities have been unearthed in excavations in Upper Kemet dating from the oldest epochs of urbanization. Also this symbol has been documented on predynastic palettes.
This symbol is very easily distinguished from the symbol for land, ta, which represents the flat plain of the valley that is often painted black to represent the fertile soil. It invokes the idea of Ancient Kemet, the black flood plain, the gift of the Nile; which is quite different from the concept of Kemet as the civilized Country of the Blacks, which is the literal translation of the word Kemet in Medu Netcher. One concept represents the land given to the Ancient Africans by God, and the other represents the country as a civilized unit developed by the Africans themselves. As shown in Alan Gardiners Egyptian Grammar book, is a naturally occurring symbol, and is a man-made symbol. Therefore it is not possible to correctly state that they mean the same thing; undeveloped land is different than developed land.
When the people wanted to describe themselves, they used the same symbols, Kmt, but they changed the determinative to a seated man and woman, placed in front of the plural sign (three vertical strokes), indicating a collective nominative, referring to “human beings,” “people,” “ethnic groups,” which taken in total can only be translated as “Black People.” Most Europeans translate this word as “Egyptians.” It is obvious that anyone who has studied the language of Kemet and continues to translate these words as “Egypt” or “Egyptian,” is purposely attempting to mislead and misinform. The proper translation of classical African languages is part of the work that must be done in order to “construct a body of modern human sciences, in order to renovate African culture.”
Sir Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, Oxford University Press, 1961, pg. 19.
Adolf Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, Dover Publications, Inc., 1971, pg. 29.
Ibid. pg. 30.
Theophile Obenga, “Genetic Linguistic Connections of Ancient Egypt and the Rest of Africa,” in African Intellectual Heritage: A Book of Sources, ed. by Molefi Kete Asante and Abu S. Abarry, Temple University Press, 1996, pg. 266. See also Theophile Obenga, Ancient Egypt and Black Africa: A Students Handbook for the Study of Ancient Egypt in Philosophy, Linguistics, and Gender Relations, Kamak House, 1992.
Ibid. pg. 281. Ibid. pg. 271. The spiritual system of Kemet laid the foundation for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. See also Who Is This King of Glory?, by Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Kessinger Publishing Co., Christianity Before Christ, John G. Jackson, and The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You To Read, ed. by Tim Leedom.
Cheikh Anta Diop, Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology, Lawrence Hill Books, 1991, pg. 3.
© 1998 CHEIKH ANTA DIOP INSTITUTE OF EGYPTOLOGY AND AFRICAN CIVILIZATIONS
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