February 7, 1986 – February 7, 2021: Homage to Cheikh Anta Diop, Pharaoh of knowledge and craftsman of the awakening of the Negro world for eternity

We can never forget Professor Cheikh Anta Diop, born December 29, 1923 in Thiaytou (Diourbel region). Thirty-five years after his death, on February 7, 1986 in Dakar, at the age of 63, the restorer of the historical consciousness of the Negro world remains an icon and an example of determination, courage and self-giving. In his work Cheikh Anta Diop, Volney et le Sphinx, the Congolese Egyptologist, historian and linguist Théophile Obenga explains the originality and novelty of the African historical problematic opened up and developed by the Senegalese scholar: “By refusing the Hegelian schema of reading human history, Cheikh Anta Diop therefore set about developing, for the first time in black Africa, an intelligibility capable of accounting for the evolution of black African peoples, in time and in space. . “
Leading politician and intellectual, the son of Massamba Sassoum and Maguette Diop is the author of several books and articles, among which we can cite Nations nègres et culture (1954), The Cultural Unit of Black Africa (1959 ), Priority of Negro civilizations, myth or historical truth? (1967), The economic and cultural foundations of a Federal State of Black Africa (1974), Civilization ou barbarie (1988). He also hosted a multitude of conferences and participated in meetings bringing together luminaries of world intellectualism, in particular the first Congress of black writers and artists, from September 19 to 22, 1956 in Paris, the World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar in 1966, the Cairo Symposium of 1974, etc.).
Cheikh Anta Diop led a double fight. On the one hand, a political fight against the regime of President Léopold Sédar Senghor, through the creation of political parties such as the Senegalese National Front (Fns), the Senegalese Mass Block (Bms), the National Democratic Rally (Rnd) . On the other, he fought a fierce battle against the supporters of Western ideology who wanted to make Africa a clean slate, a continent without history.
To restore the historical consciousness of Africans, he relied on Pharaonic Egypt, which witnessed the flourishing of one of the most brilliant civilizations of Humanity. He tried and succeeded in making the Negro origin of Pharaonic Egypt into a “scientific operative concept”. What struck and continues to strike is the richness of Professor Diop’s arguments and the solidity of his method.
The Senegalese scientist relied on a large number of proofs to support his theses on the anteriority of Negro civilizations through Egypt. This call for several proofs constitutes what he called “the bundle of facts” or else “the bundle of evidence”. This evidence ranges from the analysis of the works of ancient authors (Ammien Marcellin, Achille Tatius, Strabo, Diodorus of Sicily, Pythagoras of Samos, among others), to laboratory analysis techniques of fossils, through the traditions of the ancients. Egyptians, by representations in temples on monuments, by comparison of languages, political and social systems.
In the work Anteriority of Negro Civilizations: Myth or Historical Truth ?, Cheikh Anta Diop shows the anteriority of Negro-African civilizations through its inhabitants, languages, spiritual culture, political institutions and practices, material culture, archeology and epigraphy. In this work, he responds to all the criticisms that have been made to him since the publication of Nations nègres et culture, in particular those of Raymond Mauny and Louis Vincent Thomas.
He thus gives the reply to his detractors, thanks to his multidimensional training and the scientific arguments enabled him to stand up. It is important to come back to an aspect of his work that has often been explained: the migrations of peoples to Senegal and the former Zaire and the kinship between the peoples of black Africa.
Through the article “Introduction to the study of migration in Central and West Africa. Identification of the Nilotic cradle of the Senegalese people ”(Bulletin de l’Ifan, series B, Tome XXXV, n ° 4, 1973, pp. 769-792), Cheikh Anta Diop showed that the absence of data and sources, even if it constitutes an obstacle, must not prevent historical research from being deployed. Based on this observation, he tried to explain the migrations of populations to Senegal and former Zaire in particular. It also shows the indisputable linguistic and grammatical kinship between peoples. Which proves that their origin is the same. Through the names specific to the ethnic groups of Haut-Nile and those of northern Senegal, Cheikh Anta indicates that to seek the cradle of the Senegalese people, one must look in the direction of the upper valley of the Nile river.
Several arguments can be advanced to show the Nilotic cradle of the Senegalese people: the study of the social structures of the tribes of the Upper Nile (domain of matriarchy as opposed to the patriarchal Indo-European world), comparison of the ancient Egyptian, the Copt and Wolof, comparison of toponyms and ethnonyms to find the similarities between the peoples of the Nile Valley and those of West and Central Africa. This is how he proposes to proceed with an aerial photograph which would make it possible to restore the density of the ancient road network.
The themes addressed by the Professor all militate for the affirmation of the black world and for the federation of peoples: from the Negro origin of man and his migrations to the multifaceted kinship between ancient Egypt and black Africa, in through research on the evolution of societies, through Africa’s contribution to civilization, through the building of a planetary civilization without racism, without genocide, without slavery and by economic, technical and industrial development, scientific, institutional, cultural of Africa.
Here is one example, among many others, of reasons to consider Professor Cheikh Anta Diop as an intellectual who must be immortalized by a return to his in-depth analyzes. Thanks to him, we no longer speak blithely of an “anhistoric and timeless Africa”, we no longer speak of Negroes who “have never been responsible for a single fact of civilization”, we no longer arbitrarily attach Egypt. in the East and in the Mediterranean world geographically, anthropologically, culturally.
By the richness of his work therefore, Cheikh Anta Diop remains one of the greatest intellectuals in Africa. It is in this sense that the World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar in 1966 considered him “the African intellectual who exercised the most fruitful influence on the 20th century”. We must perpetuate this work by listening to the appeal he launched to African youth in the preface to a work by Théophile Obenga cited above: “We must not neglect any area of ​​knowledge,” says Diop. Arm yourself with science to the teeth and go ruthlessly snatch African cultural property. ”
Rest in peace, Pharaoh for all eternity, African pride! Mamadou
Moustapha FALL
Professor. Secretary General of the Senegalese Association of Teachers of History and Geography (Asphg)
[email protected]

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