I read They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America by Ivan Van Sertima. I wasn’t halfway through this book and I was thoroughly offended, but I finished it just to hear their point of view.
I don’t buy it.
The belief that Africans were in the Americas before the Europeans were makes sense to me. There is plenty of proof of intercontinental contact world wide. Even evolution depends on intercontinental travel, I don’t see why it would just stop once the lands were populated. However, the offense lies in the implication that the indigenous people of the Americas were empty-headed morons just waiting, with open arms, for someone to come and guide them to civilization. As much as Van Sertima states that he is not seeking to imply this, his claims that the advances in agriculture, textiles, architecture, ancient academics and most all things upon which civilization is based upon is thanks to the African guidance. He even correlates the Africans arrival at the same time the Olmec civilization was booming!
One of the points Van Sertima makes, that I found intriguing for a minute was the megalithic Olmec heads. These huge carved heads have thick lips and flat noses and he places these images side by side with pictures of West African people who have similar features. He goes as far as to suggest that these carved images were possibly made to glorify these black leaders who have taught them so much! (argh!) What I found confusing was that although his comparison was of West African features, these black leaders that were supposed to have been canonized by a grateful indigenous population supposedly came from East Africa. The physical features of East African people are very different from those of West Africa, and nothing like the Olmec heads.
And apparently Van Sertima never considered that Mongolian and Polynesian features include thick lips and flat noses, too.
From a Native perspective, this book is the same garbage that the Europeans have been dishing out since they got here. Not once does the author consider the possibility that maybe the indigenous folks from over here went to Africa to school them, instead. I mean, considering the world’s oldest mummy is Chinchorro, from Chile, and the mummification processes are similar- including the removal of the internal organs and the placing of a mask over the face- the thought that this technology came from Egypt to the Americas doesn’t make sense. The oldest known Egyptian mummy was dated around 3500 B.C. while the Chinchorro mummy was dated at 6000 B.C. Do the math!
It is also interesting to note that although the Mayan pyramids are younger than those in Egypt, there have been pyramids found under Japanese waters that date 5000 years (at least) earlier than the oldest Egyptian pyramid, the Saqqara. This makes one wonder about who went where, especially since genetics are now showing that the Native American came from Asia to the American continent- maybe some just continued the journey all the way to Africa and taught them how to make pyramids also. And what of the megalithic Bolivian structures of Pumapunku and Tiahuanaco, that are estimated to be 17,000 years old, yet their design makes the Saqqara look like child’s play! These ruins baffle scientists not only because the blocks used to build it weighed in at over 100 tons a piece; the cuts and fittings between them are so precise that their very creation is a mystery. And the materials the blocks are made of, dolomite, can only be cut by diamond tipped cutting tools!
The fact that there are pyramids all over the world is used by afrocentrists to prove that the technology was introduced by Black people. Yet this “evidence” is also used by those who say that extraterrestrials were the creators of these pyramids, because human beings- particularly ancient, indigenous human beings, could not have figured out how to make these huge structures all on their own. Especially when modern architects say they can’t make them with the tools available at that time themselves!
Just as it’s not cool to say that Africans were not intelligent enough to build the pyramids, it’s not cool to attempt to elevate your ethnic group by disparaging another. There is no need to deny the advances that belong to Black people; I can drive my automatic transmission car, in air conditioning while eating a peanut butter sandwich thanks to the inventions of Black people! But there is also no need to take away from the advances of the Native American Indian people to pad Black history. It’s just as debasing as the Eurocentric view is, and just as sadly desperate.
Give me a break.
9 thoughts on “They came before Columbus… and what?!?”
Good blog. I recommend you also read:
I am in the process of revamping those videos.
There is no evidence that Africans made it to the Americas before 1492. If any crossed it would have been a lost ship that never made it back. Not enough to make a dent in culture, DNA or leave any physical evidence of their presence.
A few corrections:
The Japanese underwater structures are natural underwater formations, not pyramids.
Pumapunku is in Bolivia and is part of the Tihuanaco culture. You are looking at 300 AD for that one. Teotihuacan is in Mexico. It’s pyramid dates to around 100 AD. The earliest pyramids are in Peru, in the Caral region that date to around 3000 BC.
Automatic transmission wasn’t invented by an African American, nor was Air conditioning or Peanut Butter. African Americans have accomplished many things, but those myths are not a part of them.
The first automatic transmission was designed by the Sturtevant brothers of Massachusetts in 1904. Richard Spikes, an African American, invented one of many improved automatic gear shifts in 1932. But the proto-type of the one we use now was invented in 1939 by Earl Thompson with a group of engineers.
Dr. Willis Carrier built the first air conditioner in 1906, Frederick Jones, an African American built an air conditioner for food transport in trucks in 1949.
Peanut Butter existed since the time of the Aztec. It is not any one person’s invention. Commercially produced, it already existed in 1884 in Canada. George Washington Carver did write about many uses of Peanuts and marketed a few peanut products icluding a supposed tuberculosis treatment ointment, a hair dressing and a massage oil. But not Peanut Butter.
Thank you Salsassin for your comments and links. I appreciate your additional information as well as your corrections- some of these were silly on my part, like Tiahuanaco and Teotihuacan.
However, I must say that there were other corrections that I cannot accept as of yet.
With regards to the Yonaguni formations, it looks too much like the man made structures in Peru and it wouldn’t be the first time that we find vestiges of a civilization of thousands of years ago underwater.
As for the inventions of the African Americans, I stand corrected. These were the inventions I had heard growing up.
I saw the Caral video and found it amazing! The city is as expansive as any present day metropolis and as well organized yet it was in existence 2600 years ago!
That makes the pyramids in Caral 5000 BC! As old as the Saqqara!
What I find interesting is that there are pyramids in China thought to be older than these and the Afrocentrists are now looking to see how they can sequester their ancient history and accomplishments as well!
Sad, isn’t it?
Actually the new dates place some of the pyramids in Peru as older than Saqqara. I just got an email from Jonathan Haas confirming:
From: Jonathan Haas
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 9:41 AM
Subject: Re: Question on Huaricanga
Caral and Huaricanga are among 30+ sites in what is called the “Norte Chico” region of Peru, all dating to the 3rd millennium B.C., and all having monumental stone platform mounds. We have over 150 radiocarbon dates from these sites, and 30 of them date between 2600 and 4100 B.C. It is clear that the Peruvian platform mounds are at least as early as the first pyramids of Egypt and some of them are older. I hope this information is helpful to you.
My revamped videos can be seen here:
Wow I can’t believe they way you talk so bad about Dr. sertima it really shows that you never read the book the your talking so badly about because if did you would have know that Dr. van sertima said and I quote that I’m not saying that the africans found america I’m saying that they made contact on more then one time there where trading with the natives because how else did the bananna’s,bean’s,gourd get there they are native plants of the old world africa and Dr. sertima also points out that the natives made the olmec head’s and other things in the likeness of the african and he quote’s “WHY WOULD A GREAT PEOPLE MAKE FIGURES OF GOD’S THAT ARE IN IMAGE’S OF AFRICAN’S IF THEY NEVER MET EACH OTHER.READ:Clarence Weiant……….
wow it doesn’t matter because all life came from africa if you people forgot ad then went east and into asia that is why half of asia speaks and afro-asiatic language not a asiatic-afro so what is that telling you black people are not trying to take any fame from any other race we just would like people to now the true life,people,language,math,art,ect …. to the world we have the stronger gene pool and are the beginning of life so people should give respect as you would for your olders…………. thank you and from adam to eve we are all one from the old world and thats AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good day Tiseti, and thank you for your interest and comments.
It’s pleasing to see when one’s writing strikes such deep emotional cords. These are important discussions to have and I am always open to honest and respectful dialogue; particularly since emotions can run high and an interesting discussion can degenerate into a free for all…
I hope you enjoy the post I recently wrote responding to your comments… (Nanas and Beans and Heads, oh my!)
My registered Cree great-grandmother was hurt when her African American/Native American descendants were denied benefits and acceptance on her reservation. The derision of your blog is just another example of the desire to deny of our linked heritage. Give ME a break.
Hello ninebabydragons. Welcome! And thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on my blog. 🙂
The disenfranchisement of the Indigenous American of mixed blood, by any of their ancestral lines, is a sad and shameful affair. Sad, because it’s a rejection of the very people who have, by their presence alone, enriched the societies that now disown them. And shameful, because it reflects how deeply we, the original Peoples of this hemisphere, have been assimilated into a Westernized, black or white concept of the world. It shows how far we have grown from our roots. It shows that we are in some desperate need for critical thinking, contemplation and active choice-making.
My heart goes out to your Grandmother, to you, to your family and to all our relations that are going through the same thing. This idea of auto-segregation seems to be trending among our relations. I have heard of this in both federally recognized and non recognized Peoples, not only the Cree. Makes me wonder, when did racism become a good idea?
Current sciences show that there is no such thing as “race”. That there is more variation within a so-called race than there is between one “race” and another. Additionally, people have been mixing and matching between geographic areas, cultures and ethnicities since the dawn of time. It’s how the planet was populated. There is even talk that Humans mixed and matched with archaic hominids that no longer exist! Why not? It’s how the planet was populated. Intercontinental travel is not a recent idea, people used to travel and explore before the invention of cars, trains and planes… it’s how the planet was populated. All this started in prehistoric times and has never stopped. The modern thought that all this travel and coupling, mixing and matching only started a couple of years before we realized it was happening, is ridiculous.
Shame your Gramma had to see that. I feel for her.
I also feel that honesty, sincerity, and authentic participation in our lives are the only things that will promote healing, if not resolution, to the conflicts in our lives. Conflicts like the one you mention. Conflicts that in turn reflect in our relationship with and between ourselves, families, organizations, societies and nations. Conflicts that raise passions, passions that blind us to details other than what supports our argument… which is what seems to have happened here.
From your comment, I understand you see my arguments against Afrocentric revised history as a denial of our mixed heritage. This is not the case. My attempts to make this clear seems to have failed, or maybe you chose not to read so far into the article, or maybe you missed it… I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. In the end, nothing in my writings deny mixture: physical or cultural.
My argument is against Afrocentric claims taking full credit for the growth of another ethnic group for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. In this case, we’re talking about Afrocentricity cannibalizing the ethnicity of the indigenous American, but the same could go for a number of ethnicities across Eurasia, just read the literature! It reads like Eurocentric history in blackface! Afrocentrism claims credit for the growth and development of every facet of life in other ethnicities and societies without considering the possibility of independent discovery and invention, as if any mind other than African or black, was too primitive to create, discover and invent. The bulk of their evidence leans heavily on the opinion of African superiority. Many of the interpretations of the physical evidence that Afrocentrics do present, is incomplete and unconvincing, particularly since, in my experience, they tend to ignore conflicting evidence and argue personalities instead.
Using the assumed character or personal qualities of the opposition as evidence against their argument is, first of all, not evidence. And secondly, it’s a logical fallacy, in other words, it makes no sense.
Even now, your comment only judged my blog as “deriding” and separatist, a labeling that makes it easier to discard or ignore my points. Not once do you specify the post(s) you disagree with nor the arguments that actually bothered you. You only mention what’s going on in your family. And while tribal self-segregation may be a good topic to explore, it is not one I have written on. You attacked the messenger and ignored the message, which seems pretty much status quo as described above.
The big picture of human history includes a lot more than just skin color. Racial division is a human construct, not a scientific one. And while archeology was founded by racist people and it’s first findings reflected these ideas, we are at a time where it’s best not to assume these are the beliefs of the people who disagree with us. Sometimes, the door is open for dialogue. But to continue propagandizing a revised history based on a racial agenda is propagating racism, not critical thinking, not good scholarly form, not good relations and definitely not history.
I wish you and yours the very best.