In this paper we explore the linguistic methods used by Afrocentric linguists to document the relationship between Black African languages and their sister languages in Africa and Asia.
Clyde A. Winters
In this paper the author reviews the authentic historical and linguistic methods traditionally employed by Afrocentrists. We learn that Africalogical research has long been researched by Afrocentric scholars; and that up until the 1930's the history of African civilizations and people was the "preserve" of Afrocentric scholars .
There are two schools of Africalogical research: the African-American school (AAS) of Afrocentric research (Dubois, 1915, 1946) , and the French-speaking African and Afro-Caribbean school (FAACS) of Afrocentricity (Diop, 1974). The AAS was concerned with historical research while the FAACS has made linguistic research their domain of intellectual inquiry. A third school of Afrocentric researchers we will call pluridiscipli-narians led by Anselin (1982,1993) and Winters (1985, 1989,1994) combine both historical and linguistic methods to explain the heritage of African people.
An Afrocentric view of African history is written from the perspective of the Africans themselves. This type of writing on African history is centered on the role of Blacks/ Africans in Africa, and the fact that there was, and is a history of Africa.
The central element in all Afrocentric research is the fact that ancient Kemet (or Egypt) was a Black African civilization. As a result of this theoretical base, most of the arguments made by contemporary Afrocentrists including the :
(1) African origin of Egypt (Delany, 1879); and
(2) African origin of civilizations in Europe and
Asia (Johnson, 1971 pp.388-389; Dubois, 1946 p.122)
were first made over a hundred (100) years ago by members of the AAS Afrocentrist group.
The major spokesman for the Eurocentric view of African history is Dinesh D'Souza (1995). Mr. D'Souza, a non-historian, linguist, etc., has made his mission in life the destruction of Multiculturalism, and Afrocentricism in particular, additions to the curriculum of American schools. D'Souza (1995 p. 360) believes that "...Afrocentrism fundamentally remains a pedagogy an initiation into a new form of black consciousness and also into manhood". Given this Eurocentric view of Africalogy, D'Souza (1995) sets out to prove that slavery was not racist; that segregation was established by paternal whites to protect the former slaves; and especially that "Egypt was a multiracial society" (p. 367) dominated by white skinned Egyptians, and that the only time that Blacks/Africans ruled Egypt, was during the Nubian dynasty (p. 368).
The AFROCENTRIC historical method was developed over a hundred years ago. African-American researchers, including R. B. Lewis, Light and Truth, collected from the Bible and the ancient and modern history, containing the universal history of the Colored and Indian race from creation of the world to the present (Boston 1844); George W. Williams, History of the Negro race in America from 1619 to 1880...and an Historical sketch of Africa (New York 1982) and Rufus L. Perry, The Cushite or descendants of Ham (Springfield, Mass. 1893) used these methods to present a realistic picture of the African past.
As you can see from the above titles most of these early works were based on material found in the Bible. According to the Bible, Blacks are the descendants of Ham who had four sons: Kush, Mizraim (Egypt/Kemet), Phut (Punt) and Canaan. these sons represent founders of the first world civilizations, such as Sumer, Phonecia, Arabia and Hatti. This recognition of the African origin of civilization in Africa and Mesopotamia was soon confirmed by the archaeological discovery of Sumer and Egypt.
The AAS Afrocentrists developed a systematic group of principles for critically examining and presenting the body of source material related to the history of African people. Scholars such as W.E.B. DuBois, J.A. Rogers and Carter G. Woodson honed the AFROCENTRIC historical method to fine a edge. Woodson and DuBois made sure to employ the historical method in their careful research into the African past. And Rogers was a master of many languages which he used to gain insight into the history of African people from the numerous European sources he used to write the multivolume series Sex and Race.
Knowledge about African people, especially the ancient history, has been hard to come by, because much of the "authentic" history of African people has often been published in non-English sources. This has meant that Afrocentric historians recognized the term document to include both written accounts about things said and done in the past, and also archaeological records. This broad interpretation of document has meant that these historians have been concerned with primary documents produced by eyewitnesses (e.g., the classicists of Greece and Rome) and also secondary sources related to archaeological research and the classical literature.
The AAS Afrocentrists have mainly been concerned with the history of African people, in Africa and the world. It was the African American scholars who dominated the field of African historiography from the nineteenth century up into the 1930's (Dubois ,1971 p. 373).
The founders of the Afrocentric schools of research have been careful to use many primary sources. These sources were written by the major classical authors (Johnson 1971) : Homer (DuBois, 1946; Diop 1974), Herodotus (DuBois, 1946 p.121; Diop 1974) and Diodorus Siculus (DuBois 1946, p.122; Diop 1974), and long ago were authenticated and are recognized as credible.
The writings of the classicists have been important in establishing a foundation for the claims of the Afrocentrists because they have temporal proximity to many important events in the history of African people. Moreover, although the documents of the classicists were often biased, they report in clear prose the African role in the rise of civilization and culture in Africa and Asia and give internal credibility to their statements about African people.
The major African American Afrocentrist such as J.A. Rogers, and W.E.B. DuBois have usually been able to read one or more foreign languages. There has been a need for learning a foreign language by members of the AAS because much of the literature dealing with African and Black civilizations has been written in French , Greek and German rather than English. Moreover, familiarity with a foreign language allows the Afrocentrist to check carefully all translations to insure that the documents they use in their research has internal credibility.
Afrocentrists have traditionally been immensely concerned with contemporary archaeological finds related to African people. This emphasis on archaeological research is evident in the work of DuBois (1915,1946), and Woodson (1936,1949).
The major secondary sources used by the early Afrocentrists include the work of Johnston (1910), Frobenius (1913), Boas (1911), Arnold L. von Heeren and Volney. DuBois (1915, p.147)notes that although many of these sources were used "none of these authors write from the point of view of the Negro as a man, or with anything but incidental acknowledgement of the existence or value of history".
The first trained historian-sociologist to examine the African past was Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. In 1915, Dr. DuBois published the little book called The Negro. This book served as inspiration for many later AFROCENTRIC historians. This book, as obvious from the title, was concerned with the African both at home and abroad. The Negro, opened the field of AFROCENTRIC historiography. In this book DuBois collected the most recent materials on African affairs up to 1915, and presented a comprehensive whole, of the different elements of African history.
In 1946, DuBois published The World and Africa. The World and Africa, was an important book in AFROCENTRIC research because in it DuBois outlined a world history on the Black races. In this book DuBois (1946, pp. ix-xi) makes it clear that he admired the work of many of his contemporaries such as J.A. Rogers and Hansberry, authors who had began their quest to discover the African past after reading The Negro.
DuBois (1946) used up-to-date references to prove his thesis that Blacks founded civilization in Kemet (Egypt , pp.98-100), Africa and Arabia (pp.176-194). His discussion of the raise of Kemet and the importance of the Nubians and Thebaid group of upper Kemet in maintaining Egyptian traditions (DuBois 1946, pp. 104-108) is very well written. In addition, many scholars look to Bernal (1987, 1991) as the premier text on the falsification of Black history due to slavery and Eurocentricism, but in The World and Africa, DuBois pointed out clearly the role of European slavery and greed as the main motivating factors for the lack of truth in writing African history (DuBois, 1946 p.80).
As a result of The Negro and The World and Africa, DuBois left a great deal of material that stimulated many Black scholars who read them, to become interested in the history of the African/Black race.
In our opinion an influential pioneer historian and anthropologist researching the African past was Joel A. Rogers. James Spady has observed that Rogers' research encompasses three major areas: (1) the antiquity of Blacks; (2) how, when and why races mix; and (3) inspirational and biographical sources of great Black men and women. Rogers' research has deeply influenced all of my research.
Rogers made it clear that Afrocentrists must (1) visit European museums where many artifacts of Africa which were stolen are now housed; (2) learn to speak and read more than one European language, so ; (3) the scholar should seek primary documents which must be reinterpreted to present the truth to the world. The greatest books written by Rogers include the best selling 100 Amazing Facts about the Negro, which gave the reader over 100 facts about the history of African people; and especially Sex and Race, a three volume series of books which discuss the world history of Blacks from ancient times to our modern age.
Another AAS historian was Drusilla D. Houston of the state of Oklahoma. Houston's major work was the book Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire. In this book she shows that the civilizations of southern Arabia, Greece, India and Persia were founded by Africans from the Nile Valley and beyond. Houston had hoped to write another volume of this book but she died before it was completed.
The fourth most important AAS africalogists after DuBois, Houston and Rogers was Leo Hansberry. Hansberry was born in 1894, and was the first historian to teach African studies at a major University in the world. Dr. Hansberry became interested in African history after reading DuBois'The Negro. this book led Hansberry to decide to learn more about Kush and ancient Ethiopia.
In 1922, Hansberry went to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he taught courses in African history. He never received proper support from the University, but he did influence many African-American and African scholars who studied under him. Professor Hansberry died in Chicago on November 3, 1965.
Carter G. Woodson (1936,1949) following DuBois (1915) legitimized the writing of African history. In his premier books on Africa, Woodson (1936, 1949) illuminated the civilizations of Africa, and the rich cultural heritage of African people. Woodson is also credited with founding the Journal of Negro History, which published numerous articles on African history.
John J. Jackson, was a self-trained anthropologist. He taught at universities on the eastcoast and in the midwest, including the Northeastern Illinois Center for Inner City Studies in Chicago, now called the Kemetic Institute.
Jackson's most popular book is Introduction to African Civilization. In this book Jackson used old and new sources to discuss the role of Blacks in civilizations around the world. In his book he makes it clear that Africa and her people are the founders of world civilization.
Jackson presents striking evidence that Indo-Europeans have played a major role in the destruction of African centers of civilization. He cites for example, the Romans partial destruction of the library of Alexander, and its later total destruction by fanatical Christians in A.D. 389. Prof. Jackson also discussed the Romans burned down the library of Carthage which contained 50,000 volumes in 146 B.C. And in Spain, Europeans destroyed great libraries of the Moors.
By the 1960's Africalogical historical research, formerly the "preserve" of African Americans (DuBois, 1971 p.373), was beginning to be dominated by Europeans. The only AFROCENTRIC historian to come on the scene during this period was Dr. Joseph Ben-Jochannan.
Ben-Jochannan is an historian and cultural-anthropologist. His major works are Black Man on the Nile, African Origin of the Major Western Religions, and Africa: Mother of western civilization. In these books Ben-Jochannan provides the reader with a wealth of information on the African origin of Egypt, and the African influence on many common civilizing elements found in Western societies today.
French Speaking Afrocentrists
Most of the contemporary dynamic historians and anthropolo-gists writing from the AFROCENTRIC perspective and making important original contributions to Africalogical research in Africa and the Caribbean speak French. These scholars were heavily influenced by the work of Diop.
The FAACS Afrocentrists have their roots in Negritude. Aime Cesaire (1956) originated the term Negritude, which is a cultural expression of "Blackness". In a poem written during World War II, Cesaire coined the phrase "African personality". It is the idea of an original and unique personality peculiar to Africans, that manifest the foundation Afrocentrism in the African diaspora where French is spoken.
Leopold Senghor of Senegal became a major proponent of Negritude. Senghor argued that the African emotional quality to life is different from the materialism of Europeans.
Leopold Senghor not only accepted the idea of an "African Personality", he also helped develop the idea of "Africanity". Africanity is a word which relates to the entire African continent's cultural heritage (Fanon, 1967; Loventhal, 1972).
Negritude has usually been described as "passive" by many social critics (Loventhal, 1972 p.283; Fanon, 1967 p.45). But one of the followers of this movement, Chiekh Anta Diop used the idea of "Africanity" to add a historical research component to negritude, that explained and discussed the African origin of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization. Diop (1974, 1981) proved the African origin of Egyptian civilization and made it a major component of negritude.
Diop established an important base of Africalogical research at the University of Senegal. Until Diop died in 1986, he was a major advocate of the continuity of African history from Egypt to the medieval African civilizations. He is one of the founders of the African Historical Science and Philosophy of history first practiced by DuBois and Rogers. Like J.A. Rogers, Diop called for scholars to stop dabbling here and there, and become well trained , pluridisciplinary specialists.
Chiekh Anta Diop has made important contributions to linguistic theory in relation to African historiography. Diop's work illustrates that it is important for scholars to maintain a focus on the historical and linguistic factors which define the "personnalitè culturelle africaine" (Diop 1991, 227).
Language is the sanctum sanctorum of Diop's Afrocentric historical method. The Diopian view of historiography combines the research of linguistics, history and psychology to interpret the cultural unity of African people.
There are three components in the genetic model: 1) common physical type, 2) common cultural patterns and 3) genetically related languages. (Winters 1989a) Diop over the years has brought to bear all three of these components in his illumination of Kemetic civilization (Diop 1974,1977,1978,1991).
Recently, Eurocentric American scholars have alleged to write reviews of Diop's recent book (Diop 1991). Although these reviewers mention the work of Diop in their articles, they never review his work properly, because they lack the ability to understand the many disciplines that Diop has mastered (Lefkowitz 1992; Baines 1991).
In the recovery of information concerning the African past, Diop promotes semantic anthropology, comparative linguistics and the study of Onomastics (Diagne 1981). Onomastics is the science of names (Diagne 1981). Diop has studied legends, placenames and religious cult terms to discover the unity of African civilization. The main thesis of Diop is that typonymy and ethnonymy of Africa point to a common cradle for Paleo-Africans in the Nile Valley (Diop, 1978, 67).
In Precolonial Black Africa, Diop used ethnonyms to chart the migrations of African people in West Africa. And in The African Origin of Civilization, Diop used "analyses acculturaliste" or typological analysis to study the origin and spread of African cultural features from the Nile Valley to West Africa through his examination of toponyms (Diop 1974, 182-183). In the Cultural Unity of Black Africa, Diop discussed the common totems and religious terms many African ethnic groups share (Diop 1978, 124).
This linguistic research has been based on linguistic classification or taxonomy. Linguistic taxonomy is the foundation upon which comparative and historical linguistic methods are based (Ruhlen 1994). Linguistic taxonomy is necessary for the identification of language families. The determination of language families give us the material to reconstruct the proto-language of a people and discover regular sound correspondences( Hock 1988; Crawley 1992; Bynon 1978; Lord 1966; Robins 1974).
Diop is a strong supporter of the comparative linguistic method in the rediscovery of Paleo-African. The reconstruction of Paleo-African involves both reconstruction and recognition of regular sound correspondence. The goal of reconstruction is the discovery of the Proto-language of African people is the recovery of Paleo-African. To reconstruct a Proto-language the linguist must look for patterns of correspondences.
Linguistic resemblances denote a historical relationship. This suggest that resemblances in fundamental vocabulary and culture terms can help one reconstruct the culture of the speakers of genetically related languages.
The rate at which languages change is variable. It appears that linguistic change is culture specific. Consequently, the social organization and political culture of a particular speech community can influence the speed at which languages change.
Based on the history of language change in Europe most linguists believe that the rate of change for all languages is both rapid and constant (Diagne, 1981,p.238). The idea that all languages change rapidly is not valid for all the World's languages.
African languages change much slower than European languages. (Armstrong, 1962) For example, African vocabulary items collected by Arab explorers over a thousand years ago are analogous to contemporary lexical items (Diagne,1981, p.239). In addition there are striking resemblances between the ancient Egyptian language and Coptic, and Pharonic Egyptian and African languages (Diagne, 1981; Diop, 1977; Obenga, 1988, 1992a, 1992b, 1993,).
The political stability of African political institutions has caused languages to change very slowly in Africa (Winters 1994). Pawley and Ross (1993) argue that a sedentary life style may account for the conservative nature of a language Diop, 1987, 1991; Niane, 1984).
The continuity of many African languages may result from the steady state nature of African political systems, and long standing cultural stability since neolithic times (Diop, 1991 ; Winters 1985; Anselin 1992a, 1992b). This cultural stability has affected the speed at which African languages change.
This leads to the hypothesis that linguistic continuity exist in Africa due to the continuity or stability of African socio-political structures and cultural systems. This relative cultural stability has led African languages to change more slowly then European and Asian languages. Diop (1974) observed that:
First the evolution of languages, instead of moving everywhere at the same rate of speed seems linked to other factors; such as , the stability of social organizations or the opposite, social upheavals. Understandably in relatively stable societies man's language has changed less with the passage of time (pp.153-154).
In Nouvelles recherches sur l'egyptien ancien et les langues Negro-Africaine Modernes, Diop wrote that:
The permanence of these forms not only, constitute today a solid base...upon which...[we are to re-]construct diachronic African [languages], but obliges also a radical revision of these ideas, a priori...on the evolution of these languages in general (p.17).
There is considerable evidence which supports the African continuity concept. Dr. Armstrong (1962) noted the linguistic continuity of African languages when he used Glottochronology to test the rate of change in Yoruba. Comparing modern Yoruba words with a list of identical terms collected 130 years ago by Koelle , Dr. Armstrong found little if any internal or external changes in the terms.
Diop's theory of linguistic constancy recognizes the social role language plays in African language change. Language being a variable phenomena has as much to do with a speaker's society as with the language itself (Labov 1965, 1972). Meillet (1926, p. 17) wrote that:
Since language is a social institution it follows that linguistics is a social science, and the only variable element to which one may appeal in order to account for a linguistic change is social change, of which language variations are but the consequences.
Thus social organization can influence the rate of change within languages.
Diop's major linguistic effort has been the classification of Black African and Egyptian languages . Up until 1977 Diop's major area of interest were morphological and phonological similarities between Egyptian and Black African languages. Diop (1977, 77-84) explains many of his sound laws for the Egyptian-Black African connection. These sound laws have been further elaborated by Anselin (1989, 1992, 1993) and Obenga (1988, 1993b).
Diop has noted that the reconstruction of Paleo-African terms can help us make inferences about an ethnic group's culture going backwards in time to an impenetrable past undocumented by written records. This is semantic anthropology, a linguistic approach which seeks to discover aspects of man's culture from his language. Thusly, linguistic resemblances can help the anthropologists make precise inferences about a linguistic group's cultural elements. In Obenga (1988) the Paleo-African terms for cattle, goat, sheep, rams and the monkey were reconstructed.
Diop has contributed much to the extra-African linguistic relationship. He was a major proponent of the Dravidian-African relationship (Diop 1974, 116), and he illustrated the African substratum in Indo-European languages in relationship to cacuminal sounds and terms for social organiza-tion and culture (1974, 115). Diop (1978, 113) also recognized that in relation to Arabic words, after the suppression of the first consonant, there is often an African root. This is not surprising because Edward Blyden found evidence that the Arabic writing system was created by an African from the modern country we call Egypt.
The major student of Diop is Obenga (1974, 1978,1995). Th. Obenga is a linguist and historian. He has done remarkable work in the reconstruction of Paleo-African and a brilliant study of the philosophical views of the Egyptians.
Formerly the major work of Obenga was L'Afrique dans l'Antiquitie . In this book Th. Obenga discussed the African origin of Egypt and the cultural and linguistic unity of Blacks world wide.
Obenga (1978a, 1978b, 1988) has shown the unity of ancient and modern African languages and the close relationship of ancient Egyptian to his own language Mbochi. And in The Peopling od ancient Egypt and the Decipherment of the Meroitic script, Obenga and Diop give a superb discussion of the reality of an African origin of Egyptian civilization.
Obenga (1978b, 1988) concentrate on two areas of linguistic research. Firstly, he has shown striking affinities between Egyptian and Mbochi. Secondly, Obenga (1988, 1993) has been concerned with the reconstruction of Paleo-African and the shared grammatical features of Egyptian and Black African languages.
In 1993, Obenga published Origine commune de l'Egyptien ancien du copte et des langues Negro Africaines modernes. This book provides a detailed discussion of the historical links between African and Egyptian languages. In Obenga (1993) African languages are divided into three Superfamilies the Black African-Egyptian , the Berber and the Khoisan languages.
Obenga maintains that the Egyptian-Black African family is classified into the following subfamilies: Egyptian, Cushitic, Tchadian, Nilo-Saharan and the Niger-Kordofanian families. Most of these subfamilies of Egyptian-Black African were first grouped by Greenberg (1963).
Obenga (1993) in addition to providing a detailed account of the Egyptian-Black African genetic connections also provides keen insight into the so called Afro-Asiatic family of language.
He proves that the Egyptian language is closer to African languages than the non-African languages grouped in the Afro-Asiatic family of languages. Recently, this theme was also taken up by Tounkara (1989), he explained how Diop's theory of an Egyptian-Black African language connection has more linguistic and historical support than the Afro-Asiatic hypothesis.
Gilbert Ngom (1986) has done a fine examination of the correspondence between the Bantu, Duala and the ancient Egyptian language. Ngom (1986) elaborates on the Black African-Egyptian phonology. He also makes it clear that Egyptian is closer to the Black African languages, than the Berber and Semitic languages in syntax, morphology and phonology (Ngom, 1986 pp.48-52). Anselin (1989, 1993) provide an outstanding discussion of the affinity between the Egyptian and Black African verbal systems.
The most interesting research inspired by Diop is in the area of semantic anthropology. Using linguistic data Anselin ( 1989, 1992, 1993) and Pfouma (1987) have compared Black African and Egyptian terms to illuminate the common royal heritage and religion shared by Blacks. Winters (1985a, 1985d, 1989, 1991) also used this method to confirm the unity between the African, the Dravidian, the Elamite and the Sumerian languages.
Dr. Diop has called on Africalogical researchers to become pluridisciplinarians. A pluridisciplinary specialist is a person who is qualified to use more than one discipline, for example history, linguistics and etc., when researching aspects of African history and Africalogy in general. Two major Afrocentric pluridisciplinarians are Alain Anselin (1993) and Clyde Ahmad Winters (1989, 1994).
Anselin is an AFROCENTRIC pluridisciplinarian researcher. Anselin is the Director of Studies at the Laboratory of Research the A.M.E.P., at Fort-de-France Martinique. He has written three important AFROCENTRIC works: La Question Peule, Le Mythe d'Europe, and Samba and numerous articles.
In Samba, Alain Anselin illustrates how the corpus of Egyptian hieroglyphics explains not only the Egyptian civilization, but also the entire world of the Paleo-Africans. In this book following Winters (1985, 1991) he makes it clear that Kemetic civilization originated in the Fertile African Crescent (Anselin, 1992 pp.20-22). And that Black African and Kemetic civilization at its origination was unified from its foundations in the Sahara, up to its contemporary manifestations in the language and culture of Black Africans.
In La Question Peule, Anselin again moves back to his theme of unity for Egyptian, West African and Dravidian languages, political traditions and culture. The unity between Dravidian and African cultures was also examined by Th. Obenga (1973), Anta Diop (1974), Cheikh Tidiane N'Diaye and Winters (1980a, 1985c, 1985d, 1986c, 1991a).
Anselin (1982, p.190) provides a detailed discussion of the " Black Ageans". There is also a fine examination of the affinities between the Agean and Dravidian civilizations (Anselin , 1982 pp.135-149).
Another pluridisiciplinarian Afrocentrist is Clyde Ahmad Winters. He is the only African-American attempting to confirm the theories of Diop in relation to the genetic unity of the Egyptian , Black African , Elamite, Sumerian and Dravidian languages. Winters' is mainly concerned with the unity of ancient old and new world Black civilizations (Winters 1985a,1985d, 1989) and decipherment of ancient Black writing systems used by these Africans (Winters 1985b). This led Winters to learn many foreign languages including French, Tamil , Malinke/Bambara, Chinese , Arabic, Otomi and more.
Winters has used Diop's genetic model in his research which combines anthropological , linguistic and historical methods to confirm that the center for the rise of the originators of the Egyptian and Manding civilizations (1977, 1979b, 1986a, 1986f, 1983), the Magyar or Hungarian civilization (1984a, 1986e); the Dravidian civilization (1980a, 1981d, 1985c, 1985d 1986c, 1986d, 1986e, 1988a, 1989b) and the Sumerian and Elamite civilizations was the Fertile African Crescent of the highland regions of Middle/Saharan Africa (1984, 1985a, 1991, 1994). In addition he has explained how Blacks founded civilization in the Americas (Winters 1977a, 1981d, , 1983b, 1986); and East and Southeast Africa (1979, 1979a, 1980b, 1981a, 1981b, 1981c, 1983c, 1983d, 1986c, 1987b).
An important finding of Winters is that the ancestors of the Dravidian and Manding speaking people appear to have left Africa at the same time around 2600 B.C. (Winters 1985c). And that these people founded civilization in Europe , Elam, India and ancient China (1991a).
Winters' (1988, 1989c,1990, 1991a), like Diop before him has also discussed (1) the African substratum in European languages; (2) explained the conflict between African people and Indo-European speaking people ; and (3) the loss of early African settlements in Europe to the contemporary European people due to natural catastrophes and wars after 1000 B.C. This research provides valuable source material for the elaboration of the African influence on European languages and the languages of East and Central Asia (Winters, 1989b, 1990, 1991b).
During the research of Winters' (1985b) it was discovered that the Proto-Saharan people used a common writing system. Winters (1983) found that he could read the ancient inscriptions left by these people in the Sahara dating to 3000 B.C. A comparison of the Manding language and the Elamite, Sumerian and Dravidian languages confirmed there genetic unity.
The evidence of a genetic relationship between the Manding languages, which was used to decipher the earliest Proto-Saharan writings and other languages spoken by the founders of civilization in India and Mesopotamia, led to the assumption that the writing systems used by these ancient founders of civilization could be deciphered. The confirmation of Diop's theory of linguistic constancy made it possible for to confirm this hypothesis and read the common signs used to write the Harappan script ( Winters, 1982b, 1984b, 1984d, 1984e, 1985b, 1987), the Minoan script and the Olmec script (Winters, 1977a, 1977b, 1979b).
The most important finding of Winters (1984) was the cognate language of Meroitic. Using the evidence presented by the Classical sources that the Kushites ruled empires in Africa and Asia, Winters (1984, 1988, 1989) illustrated that the cognate language of Meroitic, was the Tokharian language spoken by the Kushana people of Central Asia. Using the Kushana/Tokharian language many Meroitic inscriptions have been deciphered (Winters, 1984,1988, 1989, 1995a,1995b).
Another important Afrocentrist is Molefi Asante at Temple University. Asante has been active in the field of Afrocentric studies for over twenty years. He is also founder, at Temple , of the major center of academic Afrocentrism outside of the University of Senegal when Diop was living.
In numerous articles and books Asante ( 1988, 1990, 1987) has laid out the foundations of Africalogical research . Much of Asante's theoretical foundations of Afrocentrism is found in his book Kemet, Afrocentricity, and Knowledge. In this book Asante gives keen insight into the role of Egypt in the creation of an Africalogical humanities. He also shatters many of the long held myths perpetuated by Europeans that Africans failed to invent writing, and strong highly organized nation-states and empires.
But he does not stop here in making a case for Africalogical research. He also explains and discusses European attitudes toward race and ethnicity in the United States.
In addition to arguing persuasively for the establishment of Afrocentrism "as a legitimate response to the human condition" (Asante, 1990, p.5), Asante has written a fine introductory text on Egypt and other ancient African nations that can be used in Upper grades and High School. This text is called Classical Africa. In this timely book Asante explains the rise and fall of many African civilizations from ancient Egypt to the Western Sudani kingdom of Songhay.
In conclusion, africalogical research, is not new, it has been conducted by Afro-Americans for over 150 years. African-American Afrocentrists dominated the field of African-American and African history from the 1870's up to the 1930's(DuBois 1971).
Beginning in the 1940's "established" Euro-American writers became interested in African-American history; and in the 1960's as many African nations became independent other European scholars began to dominate the interpretation and writing of African history. These scholars began to decide on the criterions that make the "proper" research of ancient African history.
By the 1970"s many Afrocentrists in French speaking Africa began to assert themselves, and write highly readable and intelligent prose on the African origin of Egypt and the genetic unity of the Black African and Egyptian languages. This group of researchers were complemented by scholars like Ben Jochannon and C.A. Winters. Today the research efforts of both the FAACS and AAS afrocentrists continue to confirm the great history of African people from a falsificationist perspective.
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Here we review the methods used by Afrocentric linguist to illuminate the connection that exist between languages spoken in Africa and other parts of the world. This material will help you become more capable of writing about the ancient history of African people.
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