In 2010 The History Channel released a documentary, “Who Really Discovered America?” It examined claims of a host of reputed pre-1492 arrivals: the Chinese, Welsh, Polynesians, Israelites, Vikings, Irish, Japanese and others. However, neither the name, Ivan Van Sertima, nor his book, They Came Before Columbus, was mentioned even once.
They Came Before Columbus argues that Africans made a number of settlements in the Americas hundreds of years before Columbus set sail. Van Sertima cites a wealth of linguistic, historical and anthropological evidence, not to mention the written accounts and diaries of Columbus and other explorers who mention finding Black people already here when they arrived. The clear visual evidence by itself carries the day. The dozens of 10 to 16 foot high stone heads produced by the Olmec ancient civilization of Mexico, the “Olmec Heads,” have unmistakably African features.
These key findings were ignored, while all sorts of theories, with but the flimsiest evidence, were given considerable air time.
In reaction to this calculated, studied oversight a number of African American individuals raised money to fund a series of videos, “Hidden Colors,” in which prominent African American researchers were interviewed to document a wide array of little known African contributions to science and society down through the ages
The automatic, reflex-like exclusion of any and all serious consideration of African accomplishment is an example of what is called a meme, a “cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.” The reflexive denigration of Africans extends throughout the culture. Take, for example, the popular computer game, Civilization, which first appeared in 1991.
On p. 124 of the player’s manual we see a list titled “Further Reading.” The heading says, “A wide variety of sources were consulted for this game. Among the many books examined, the following were found especially interesting and are recommended for further reading.” There follows a number of historical works, all asserting that Western science and civilization sprang up spontaneously in the Ionian Sea in 650 BCE, except one, Man God and Civilization, by John G. Jackson.
While each of the other works are described in positive often glowing terms, the tagline for Man God and Civilization reads, “An alternative view that proposes not only humans but civilization also arose in Africa; not convincing.” But if the book is “not convincing,” why was it included in a list “recommended for further reading?” Why did the makers of the game, Civilization, go out of their way to cite claims of African accomplishment only to disparage them?
At the same time, however, the cover of the player’s manual, which has the word “CIVILIZATION” emblazoned across the top, is dominated by a picture of the New York skyline with the figure of a pharaoh buried underneath. Thus, giving clear indication that Egypt was, in fact, the fountainhead of civilization.
Blatant disrespect for Science’s roots, its African ancestors, has cast a pall over all the West’s technological accomplishments. Every advance in science is accompanied by retrograde action upon the environment. Recognizing the contributions of the African scientific ancestors would place Science in its proper context enabling it to proceed in purely beneficial fashion.
Arthur Lewin, www.AfricaUnlimited.com