What color were the ancient Egyptians?


Ozodi Osuji

K.B. Davies:

     Thank you for your detailed response to my tongue in cheek comment on your post regarding the color of ancient Jews and Egyptians.

     I personally do not believe that ancient Egyptians were white. I have many Egyptian friends right here in Anchorage, Alaska. When I talk to them, I feel as I do when I talk to Africans from south of the Sahara (when I talk to other races, there is a sense of otherness involved).

     The issue for me is not who the ancient Egyptians were, they were, more or less, like todays Amharic Ethiopians, and, as you observed, mixing with those who came from Asia Minor, todays Turkey, Persians, Greeks and Romans and Arabs transformed them to Mexican looking (Mexicans are mostly a mixture of White Spaniards, Native Indians and Africans, another evidence that contemporary Egyptians had African and non-African roots). 

    Listen, what annoys me is our people’s tendency to wasting too much time trying to prove to the world that Egypt was an African civilization (from Chancellor Williams’ The Destruction of Black Civilization to Cheikh Anta Diop’s obsession with Egypt as a Black civilization, to the writings of Molefi Asante, John Henrik Clarke, and even Ivan Van Sertima etc.).

     I know that the West had accused Africans of not producing great civilizations and religions (see Edward Gibbons, the Decline and Fall of Rome, making that assertion), and Africans felt a need to prove to the world that their people produced great civilizations hence their obsessive-compulsive preoccupations with Egypt.

      Many African Americans conception of where they came from in Africa is Egypt; they go to Egypt rather than to Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Congo, Angola and Namibia etc. where their folks came from.

     In the 1930s, Jamaican Rastafari folks used to say that they came from Ethiopia because they were proud of Emperor Haile Selassie’s defeat of the Italian military. They came from West Africa, not the Horn of Africa.

     Psychologically speaking, the over investment in Egypt is an attempt to say that one’s people were once civilized for they produced the great civilization of ancient Egypt; this presupposes that one feels uncivilized and inferior and in Alfred Adler’s terms is compensating for underlying sense of inferiority with false sense of superiority, as Franz Fanon argued in Black Skin white mask, that Black folks do.

    Ancient Native Americans produced civilizations that built the pyramids of Central America, and the marvelous stone works of Machu Pichu in Peru but that does not make them, in today’s terms, developed, they are the white man’s servants.

     The Chinese are developing fast, and no white man dares enslave them.

     My point is that Africans need to concentrate on developing Africa, as Paul Kagame is doing in Rwanda, so that white men would not enslave them anymore.

     Yelling that they are ancient Egyptians will not improve their economic status, today. That is my point.

      If Nigerians, for example, continue to rule Nigeria as something out of the medieval period and the place is an abuse to the human eyes that see the dreadful slums of my hometown, Lagos, and other Nigerian cities, well, no one is going to respect Nigerians on account of their past glory in producing Egypt.

    Climate affects people’s colors. All human beings initially evolved in East Africa and about 100, 000 years ago migrated to all over the world and the climate of where they now live altered their color but not their genes; all human beings remain the same species because they can breed with one another.

      Those who live in the Mediterranean regions of the world (not too hot and not too cold), although originally from black Africa, tend to be brown in color, like Ethiopians, Somalis and Eritreans. Ancient Egyptians were part of the spectrum of people in the Mediterranean like horn of Africa. Herodotus, in his Histories, hinted on that possibility.

    That been said, I tend to believe that African Americans and Africans obsession with trying to demonstrate that ancient Egyptians were Black is rooted in their sense of inferiority and need to compensate with false sense of superiority (which leads to delusion of grandeur).

     African Americans should go to West Africa and help develop it rather than take pride in the past glory that was ancient Egypt, while in the present are not contributing to the development of their mother land, West Africa.

     As for me, I assume that all the so-called races of humankind are the same and coequal; I have no need to demonstrate that my so-called people built an admirable civilization; all human civilizations are my people’s civilization.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond elaborately to my scant observation on the color of ancient Jews and Egyptians.

Ozodi Osuji

January 16, 2022

Comments are closed.