Chancellor Williams, The Destruction of Black Civilization. (Chicago: Third World Press, 1987) 384 Pages.
A book Review By Ozodi Osuji
Professor Chancellor Williams (1898-1992) taught history at Howard University, Washington DC. USA. In this book he was a man on a mission, not just a scholar who in a detached and dispassionate manner delineated a phenomenon without injecting his opinion into what he described. Such unsympathetic and impersonal scholarship would not do for Dr. Williams; he was a man who felt wronged and was out to correct that wrong and was not about to not let his feelings known by the reader.
Essentially, Dr. Williams felt that black folk, Africans must have contributed something to human civilization and was out to prove that thesis. Africans couldn’t have been the only race that did not make contributions to the march of civilization as white scholars tended to make out.
So, how is it that if one looked at standard American and European text books on human civilization little or nothing is said about the contribution of Africans? This is amazing and Dr. Williams set out to rectify the situation.
Dr. Williams' thesis is that Africans had ginormous civilizations but that Semitic and Caucasian folks destroyed them. How did it come to be that other folks destroyed black civilizations? How is it that black folks are always victims of other people’s depredations and predatory behaviors? Let us see.
Generally, textbooks on Western civilization begin with narration and description of what supposedly happened in ancient Sumer (today’s Iraq). These books tell us about how the Sumerians began organized agriculture, domesticated wheat and such animals as the horse and donkey, initiated urban living by building cities, and invented writing and the wheel. The Sumerians, apparently, initiated human civilization 6000 years ago.
But who were the Sumerians that initiated human civilization? European written textbooks tend to be silent on this subject. Having told us how Sumerians initiated civilization they quickly move on to tell us how white Semitic and Caucasian folk from the Caucasus (present Russia) migrated to Sumer. Initially, these white immigrants were nomads and settled around the outskirts of Sumerian cities (such as Ur) and later intermingled and intermarried with the Sumerians.
We are told about how Jews, Persians Assyrians, Hittites, Akkadians and Arabs came into Sumeria and got civilized by the Sumerians and later displaced the Sumerians and went on to build such great civilizations as Babylon and the Persian empire.
Okay, but who were the ancient Sumerians? What did they look like? How did they describe themselves? It happens that they called themselves black people and they had wooly black hair just as Africans do.
So that is why they were written out of history, eh, because they were Africans? Africans could not have been the first to initiate human civilization, it has to be the Caucasian Persians and Jews and Arabs? Is this what is going on?
Dr. Williams was unequivocal in his affirmative response. The white race just could not handle that the earliest known human civilization was an African civilization. To admit that reality, apparently, would deal a death blow to the carefully nurtured mirage that human civilization is of Caucasian origin.
The implied subtext in Western books on history is that Africans are inferior folk and left alone could not initiate civilization; they are unintelligent folk who need supposed intelligent white folk to lead them; the great white masters must lead their benighted black servants.
Dr. Williams did not waste much time talking about ancient Sumerians. He apparently wanted to get on with his primary focus, proving that ancient Egyptian civilization was a black civilization. He gave us information on how ancient Egyptians were Africans.
I must say that his historiography is bad and unconvincing. His writing style is not the usual writing style of historians that carefully describe events and give sequential progression of how events unfolded.
Instead, Dr. Williams makes an assertion without really proving it to his readers’ satisfaction. No big deal. Egypt is in Africa and, as such, must have been occupied by Africans. However, the real question is: who is an African?
Contemporary science tells us that all human beings originated from Africa. We are told that about fifty thousand years ago man as we currently know him to be began migration from Africa to other areas of the world. They began their migration from what is now called East Africa and went up north, settled in the Nile Valley, then crossed into Asia and in time multiplied and filled Europe, Asia and later crossed the Bering land link into Alaska and from there to all of the Americas. Simply stated, human beings evolved in Africa and moved out of Africa.
Therefore, the thesis that ancient Egyptians were Africans is so obvious that it needs no argument. However, what is in contention is what kind of Africans, black Africans or white Africans (strictly speaking white folks are Africans; there is only one human species, Africans).
Dr. Williams building on shreds of historical artifacts he picked up from here and there said that the earliest Egyptian civilization was black African in origin. Okay. Let us move on.
He then told us how white folks having settled in the Fertile Crescent and displaced the black Sumerians trekked into the Nile valley and did what they did in Sumeria there, too. Ancient white folks (Semitic and Caucasian) gradually migrated to North Africa. As in Sumeria initially they were nomads and settled in the fringes of Memphis and Thebes (Egypt’s major cities). Later, they intermarried with black Egyptians and in time became the dominant population.
(Actually, those that became dominant are the mullato children of black and white folks; to the present Egyptians are predominantly mullatoes; just as Latin America is predominantly mullatoes, mix of blacks, whites and Indians; and despite North Americans’ fight of inevitable reality the North American population is destined to be mixed black, white, Asian, the new man; Europe will become a mixture of black, white and Asian; finally, Africans in Africa will become a mixture of all the races of mankind, for all of them are Africans; we return to where we began.)
What began as an African civilization ended up a white civilization, Dr. Williams said. Black folks were pushed southwards into what we now call Northern Sudan (Nubia). White folks appropriated North Africa.
We know as a matter of historical record that around 332 BC the Greek warrior king, Alexander the great, conquered Egypt and much of the known old world (Middle East, all the way to India). Thus, Egypt passed into Greek hands.
The word Egypt is of Greek Origin (Aigyptos) as well as the word Ethiopia (burnt faces, black folks).
For our present purpose, the salient point is that Egyptian civilization that was initiated by black folk was taken over by white folk. Let us move on.
In 610 AD an Arab camel driver (Semitic white) began hallucinating and claimed that he heard the voice of the angel Gabriel tell him that he should found a new religion called Islam (total submission to the will of Allah, God and his prophet, Mohammad). Mohammad synthesized Judaism, Christianity and Arab folk beliefs into a new philosophy.
Islam is a syncretistic religion; it is not original to Arabs or Jews or Christians but a mixture of all three. Armed with this new theology Arabs went on a move to conquer the known world of their time. They took over all of the Arabian Peninsula, and swept into Asia, their original home land (they apparently came from where white folks in general came from, from what is now Russia). Arab Muslims went all the way to India, and even got to China.
Around 639 AD Arabs swept into Egypt and displaced the Greek and African Christians living there. They took over Egypt and moved on West and got to Morocco and thereafter crossed the strait of Gibraltar (an Arab word) and swept into Spain in 711 AD and reached Southern France and were bent on conquering all Europe.
The Germans, Franks, eventually stopped Arabs in 733 in Southern France, at the famous battle of Poitiers. Arabs in the meantime established and consolidated their stay in Spain. They were in Spain from 711 to 1492 AD, a cool eight hundred years of Arab rule of parts of Western Europeans.
Ferdinand and Isabella finally got rid of the Mahomets from Spain. In the meantime, Turks who had embraced Islam took over much of Eastern Europe; they took Constantinople in 1453 and renamed it Istanbul. The Muslims actually got as far as the gates of Vienna, Austria before the Germans, again, stopped them from Islamizing Europe.
Islam began as an aggressive religion (Mohammad had fled from Mecca to Medina and while there organized a militia and began the first Jihad, used force to return and conquer Mecca and convert the people to Islam) and remains an aggressive religion. Islam is bent on taking over the entire world.
The Religion of peace uses the sword to convert folks to its theology that says that there is only one God and that his will is only understood by one man, an Arab, and that all people must listen to that Arab man, that is, obey an Arab man, and turn to that man’s home town, Mecca, while praying to that Arab God. This is religious imperialism at its purest! All hail Arab design to rule the world masquerading as religion!
For our present purposes, Arabs took over Egypt and Arabicized it, gave it their language and Muslim religion. They took over all of North Africa that was black and Arabicized it.
How do we know that North Africa was black? The word Africa means black people’s land; the Latin’s, Romans word for black is afir and since they saw afir, black people living in their province of what is now called Africa they called it Africa.
Let me emphasize this point: black folks were living in North Africa before Arabs took North Africa. Arabs in North Africa are not different from the Dutch chasing Africans away and stealing South Africa, or the Europeans chasing Indians into reservations and stealing all of North and South America.
Africans must recover North Africa from Arabs, just as they must recover South Africa from white folks. Arabs have no business being in North Africa (unless they become Africans).
Arabs called black people al Sud; the word Sudan is Arabic for black people’s land.
The above are historical facts and Dr. William built his thesis around these historical facts. He tells us that North Africa and its ancient civilizations such as Egypt were African civilizations and that Caucasians (Aryan and Semitic) came into the black world and pushed Africans away. Africans moved south. They moved into what is now called the Sahara Desert.
Dr. Williams gave interesting narration of what the desert looked like five thousand years ago when Africans fleeing from white folks began fleeing into what are now sand dunes. Other Africans moved south along the Nile River until they reached further south. Africans who were the founders of the great Egyptian civilization were chased out by white folks from their own world and migrated to interior Africa.
And wherever they went in Africa the white man kept chasing them. Arabs kept chasing Africans into the Sahara desert (the Moroccan Arabs, Almoravides, destroyed the African Empire known as Ghana).
Dr. Williams implied that Africans chased out of Egypt started the empire of Ghana in prehistoric times before it reached its apogee around 900 AD. Ghana fell in the eleventh century.
As Dr. Williams sees it, the successor empires such as Mali, Songhai, Mossi and Hausa states were all destroyed as a result of the Arab-Muslim connection. I must say that the historiography here is suspicious but let us move on; much of the book is speculative and lack documented data to support its claims.
Dr. Williams noted that as Africans fled from Egypt southwards those white folks and or mullatoes who were sympathetic with them joined them. Apparently, this way many white folks came to live in interior Africa and mixed with Africans.
This idea is intriguing for one has always wondered why some members of one’s family appear Caucasian. Dr. Williams explained this phenomenon whereby an African couple would produce a white looking child by saying that Caucasian genes are flowing in such Africans because they are the progeny of Caucasians who moved into Africa with Africans as they fled southwards. This way, Igbos, my people, moved from the Sahara Desert to where they currently are and among them are folks who could pass for mullatoes.
For our present purposes, the idea is that Africans were chased away from their North African civilization; a black civilization was destroyed and white folks appropriated it.
As black folks moved into interior Africa they lost their élan, their sense of civilization and in Dr. Williams’s words some of them became savages. A people who once built the world’s greatest civilization became the people that we now know as Africans, a people as undeveloped as savages are. These degraded savages sold their people as slaves to Arabs and Europeans.
(One of the things that has flabbergasted me all my life is that the average African does not feel shame, guilt and remorse that his people sold the Africans in North America and Arabia. All my life I have felt ashamed that my ancestors did such a dreadful thing and have sought little ways to make amends for that crime against humanity committed by my ancestors. I do not want to hear excuses why our folks did it; I do not want to hear Africans blame white folks for selling their siblings; in my view, one should prefer death to selling ones people into slavery. And what did Africans get for selling their people? They were given pieces of useless glasses, alcohol and such rubbish. Europe used Africans suffering to amass wealth and build magnificent buildings in Europe; Africans left no beautiful architectural structures from the wealth they putatively got from selling their people; what fools!)
History tells us how Africans captured their people, marched them across the Sahara desert and sold them to Arabs. They did this from about 700 AD to the middle of the twentieth century (some of them are probably still doing so as we write...in Southern Sudan black Arabs from Northern Sudan, Janjaweed, until today go horse-back riding into African villages, burn them down and kill the adult men, capture the women (to be used as sex slaves for Arabs up north) and capture the children and take them to Northern Sudan and socialize them to become slaves.
In the mid-1400s the Portuguese rounded the coast of West Africa and later on the Spanish discovered America (1492) and Portugal discovered Brazil in 1500. Thereafter, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade began. Africans would roam their villages, capturing their people and selling them to Europeans.
In my neck of the woods, Alaigbo, a particularly vicious African group called Aros and their Abam mercenaries, 1500-1900, roamed entire Igbo land capturing Igbos and selling them to Africans living at the Atlantic coast, Efik and Ijaw, who thereafter sold them to Europeans and onwards march to be used as slaves in America. (Until Aro and Abam people are punished for selling our people into slavery my soul will not rest. Aro and Abam keep smiling, I want to wipe that smile off your idiot face; I want you severely punished, even killed. Africans must be punished for selling their people. Until they receive negative consequences for their behaviors they will continue making the same mistakes as they current make by not working for their people and instead steal from them. One is not buying their childish tendency to blame white people for the evil they did in selling their people.)
Africans were used to cut down the forests of North and South America and used to build the new civilization of the Americas. Africans built the Americas so that white folks may live in luxury.
The wealth acquired in the Americas, from black labor, went to build Europe, to transform a people who until recently were living in caves into a world class civilization. Today, the average African quakes before white folks. The average African has, more or less, accepted his alleged inferiority Vis a Vis white folks.
White folk, Dr. Williams tells us, were primitive folks that Africans received and civilized in the original black civilizations of North Africa and today Africans see the savages of Europe as their betters. What travesty.
Dr. Williams’s thesis is that Africans had great civilizations and that white folks appropriated those great African civilizations. White folks took what black folks began and ran with it.
In our contemporary world there is no doubt as to who is up and who is down. Clearly, white folks are up and black folks are down. We do not need to debate the obvious.
We know who is who in the world of science and technology. Africans are so unrepresented in science and technology that they might as well not exist!
This is unbelievable and how it came to be is a story that needs to be told. Dr. Williams believes that he has told that story.
However, his story is unsatisfactory to me. I ask: why is it the case that whenever and wherever white and black folk meet white folks displace black folks?
Consider India. The original people of India are black folk, Dravidians (they look like Somalis, black). Aryans from Persia (Iran) migrated into India and displaced the Dravidians and appropriated their old civilizations including their great cities such as Mohenjo-Daro. The Caucasians proceeded to reduce the blacks into slave status (called Sudra, untouchables etc.).
So, why is it that white folk are always displacing and enslaving black folks? This is really a question that must be answered for until it is answered black folks would always remain second class to white folks.
Dr. Williams suggests that the cause of black subordination to white folks may lie in the fact that Africans are a gentle and religious people whereas white folks are aggressive and lacking in spirituality. Bobby Wright, an African-American psychologist advances the hypothesis that white folks are psychopaths and sociopaths by nature. As he sees it, living in caves during the ice ages transformed the Africans who moved up north into predatory animals without social conscience (as well as changed their skin color to white from lack of melanin due to lack of sun light).
Clearly, many white folks are sociopaths in behavior but I doubt that they are so by genetic makeup. My observation of white folks instructs me that they are mostly narcissistic in personality organization; they tend to believe that they are special and superior to other people and as a special people ought to be served by those they believe are inferior to them; they tend to justify using those they believe are inferior to them in earning a living. In my experience, white folks would not hesitate for a minute in using you to make a living and discard you when you are no longer useful to them and feel no guilt or remorse from doing so.
Dr. Wright believes that the main reason why white folks dominate the world is because they are sociopaths and amoral. Apparently, white folks do not mind chasing folk’s way and stealing their lands, as they did in the Americas and Australia (in Tasmania they actually killed all the native black folk and took over their land). Are white people born criminals? I do not know; the jury is still out on that question.
Let us not waste too much time speculating on who white folks are. I am interested in who Africans are. So, how come Africans are always stiffed by white folks?
What is it about Africans that other folks are always dominating them? They are a spiritual people? And white folks are not a spiritual people?
This is unsatisfactory explanation after all Africans were capturing and selling their people to Arabs and white folks and did so for over 1200 years; a spiritual people would hardly sell their people.
Today, if you allowed Nigerians, as I know them to be, not as they pretend to be, they would continue capturing their people and selling them to Arabs and Europeans. The leaders of Nigeria are nothing but common criminals; they steal all the wealth of the country and could care less for the people’s welfare. As I see them, Nigerians are not a spiritual people, they are criminals that need to be packed off to prisons and punished.
I do not accept Dr. Williams’s positive view of Africans; he is not talking about the Africans I know. The Africans that I know are contemptible and despicable people; I want to flog all of them for their past and present criminal behaviors.
So what is it that makes Africans amenable to other folk’s domination? I have speculated on that question elsewhere. This is a book review of sorts and is not meant to explicate my own thesis. Suffice it to say that I tend to see Africans as morally bankrupt and benighted. I tend to see Africans as savages. My life’s goal is to find a way to civilize these savages.
This does not mean that I exalt white folks. White history speaks for itself. White folks, as I noted earlier, are narcissists and will use you in a jiffy and dump you as piece of scrap iron. Thus, when dealing with white folk one is best advised that one is dealing with a potential amoral exploiter and try to checkmate him.
One should never be sentimental in dealing with white folks. If they could they would take over all of Africa and drive Africans into the Atlantic and or Indian Ocean and do it with their phony religions blessings (Christianity and Islam approved slavery).
I am saying that Dr. Williams has not explained why Africans are at the bottom of everything in our extant world. Perhaps, he could not do so and it is left to other observers to do so.
What Dr. Williams accomplished in his book is posit a thesis that Egypt was an African civilization before white folks took it over. I accept that thesis for it is obvious.
That been said no one has explained to my satisfaction why Africans are shiftless. In North America what do black folks do but murder themselves in their dark ghettos. In Africa what do the thieves pretending to govern the damn place do but steal from their people and not care for their people’s welfare. Something is the matter with the black man.
Dr. Williams ended his book by positing a plan on how to start black wide organizations to uplift the race. Good for him; there is nothing wrong with being an idealist and dream. Whether the dream would be realized in the world of reality is a different matter. In the black world as I see it folks are so confused, especially by America’s gospel of individualism that I doubt that black folks can work together to accomplish any worthwhile goal.
I recommend this book for all Africans to read. It is interesting. I must, however, warn the African not to fall into the trap of always blaming white folk for all that is wrong with Africans. Too many African so-called scholars have already done that (see Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa). We now need Africans to tell Africans that they are in charge of their lives and for them to take control over their lives regardless of what white folks did or did not do to destroy black folks past civilizations.
I accept that ancient Egypt was initiated by black folk and then taken over and added to by white folks. That reality notwithstanding, black folk cannot rest on their past achievement while Africa has gone to the devil in a hand basket and in North America what we see are African kids killing Africans instead of directing their aggression to those sticking it to them, the man and you know who I am talking about.
It is true that we live in a system where everything is connected to everything and everything affects every thing; what other individuals do affect us and what we do affect them; there is no such thing as an isolated individual. We affect each other, for good or bad, yet I personally do not like to stress the fact that other people affect me.
Of course, I know that other people affect me. Yet, I would like to believe that I have internal locus of control and is in charge of my life. This, of course, in the final analysis is an illusion for other people do affect me. If you like you could kill me at any time and I could kill you at any time. Our lives are in each other’s hand.
The individual lives because other people permit him to live (Ohanaka, Ohaqwe, Ohaegbulam, Igbos say). That truth notwithstanding I do not like victim psychology.
Too many black folks see themselves as victims of white folks, Europeans and Arabs. Of course, we are their victims; still, I do not like to see myself that way.
I would like to have the delusion that I am in charge of my life. I like that delusion; I want other black folks to have similar delusion.
If white universities mess with you tell them to go to hell, as I did, and go do your own thing, may be start your own university.
Do me a favor, will you; quit talking about what white folks did to impoverish you, such talk make me sick to my stomach.
Dr. Williams’ book made me sick to my stomach for it presented the same dreadful theology of how white people are responsible for everything wrong with black folks. Empirically he is correct in his assessment yet I do not want to hear that gospel any more.
I want to hear that black folks are in charge of their world, that black folks can build and defend civilizations with guns and guts. I do not want to hear about so-called black spirituality any more. Organize blacks into mighty states with mighty militaries.
I am talking about a Unified Africa Federation that can fight off predatory folk be they white or yellow people. Life on earth is a struggle for survival and the strong survive and the weak die. It is time black folk became strong and quit being weak victims other people are always screwing. I am sick and tired of being screwed by white and Arab folks.