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Ivan Van Sertima’s 1986 book, They Came Before Columbus, claims that Africans made a series of settlements in the Americas hundreds of years before Columbus set sail. The author 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. Nonetheless, They Came Before Columbus has been dismissed out of hand by the academic establishment.

However, one needs no technical expertise to evaluate its claims. The visual evidence by itself carries the day. It is the dozens of 10 – 16 foot high stone heads produced by the ancient Olmec civilization, the “Olmec Heads.” They have unmistakably African features.

In 2010, The History Channel released a documentary, “Who Really Discovered America?” It examined claims of a host of reputed pre-Columbian arrivals: the Chinese, Welsh, Polynesians, Israelites, Vikings, Irish, Japanese and others. However, Ivan Van Sertima’s name, let alone his book or its hypothesis, were not mentioned at all. The Olmec heads were not even shown. This, despite the fact that all sorts of theories, with but the flimsiest evidence, as opposed to, They Came Before Columbus which was decades in the making, 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.” This reflexive denigration of Africans extends throughout this 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 subscribing to the Ionian Enchantment, save one, Man God and Civilization, by John G. Jackson.

Whereas the other works are described in a positive often glowing light, 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 purposely go out of their way to single out claims of African accomplishment only to disparage them?

At the same time, however, the cover of the 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 it, giving the clear impression that Egypt was the fountainhead of Civilization

The society has always embraced the cultural accomplishments of Africa and Africans for thousands of years, but yet stubbornly refuses to give credit where credit is due. It owes a psychic and spiritual debt to the Motherland. Until it is paid it will forever be plagued with a host of problems that come from failing to honor its Scientific Ancestors. . . (Arthur Lewin, www.AfricaUnlimited.com)

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