Book Review



Everybook builds on a major thesis statement throughout its plot. In hiscollection, “TheAfrican origins of civilization: Myth or Reality,”Cheikh Anta Diop suggests that the black people are the cradle forboth humankind and civilization. His thesis is that the Western worldtakes undue credit for civilization, especially regarding the ancientEgypt. Diop deconstructs this concept in the book and corrects thehistory to prove that ancient Egyptians were blacks, and thatAfricans are the fathers of civilization. Diop separates his bookinto different chapters that build his thesis through differentarguments. This book review offers a brief summary of the content ofeach chapter.

Inhis first chapter, Diop builds a case for the origin of Egyptians inorder to define who they are. He proposes that the Egyptians wereclosely linked with the Ethiopians originally. This links theEgyptians to an African background rather than a western one. In thesecond chapter, Diop explores the origins of the Negro myth, whichproposes that the Africans are an incompetent race. Here, he seeks toexpose the flaws in this concept by first highlighting its baselessfoundation.

Diopdevelops his thesis further in the third chapter where he analyseshow scholars of European descent separated Egypt from the rest ofAfrica in the 1800s leading to a modern falsification of Africa’shistory. The scholars manipulated data due to its accessibility andused the opportunity to build their pride at the expense of theAfricans, who were a minor race. According to these scholars,Egyptians originated in the Delta, a conception that Diop disagreeswith in the forth chapter. Diop builds a case against the origin ofEgyptians from the Delta by attacking each piece of evidence in anin-depth analysis. He further disagrees with the concept ofcivilization originating from Mesopotamia, Asia, in the fifthchapter. In his sixth chapter, Diop build a case against the ideathat ancient Egyptians were predominantly white in the era ofcivilization as presented by anthropologists. He regards this idea asa false notion that European scholars use to steal from the Africanhistory unduly. This is because there is no historical evidence fromeither science or anthropology that Egyptians were light-skinned orwhite during the civilization era.

Havingestablished the falsification of history, Diop (1974) sets up anargument for the Negro genesis of Egyptians drawing evidence fromtheir black culture in the seventh chapter. The eighth chapternegates the concepts raised in the seventh chapter by building a caseagainst the Negro genesis of Egyptians. Chapter 9 explores the spreadof the Egyptians to occupy other parts of the Southern region, givingrise to other African groups. Diop (1974) compares the organizationof African groups with that of Egyptians as evidence of Egyptians’African roots in the tenth chapter. Here, the author argues thatancient Egypt comprised of the black race as well as their culture atthe initial years of civilization. However, the race underwent‘whitening’ in later years, and this is the basis of themisconstruction that ancient Egypt was a white race.

Theconcept of cultural diffusion forms the argument of chapter eleven,where Diop connects the Nubian and Ethiopian cultures to the Egyptianone. This connection identifies the several similarities that provethe African nature of ancient Egyptians. According to Diop, the ideaof the ‘Greek Miracle’ originates from a white racist outlookrather than a factual standpoint. In chapter 12, Diop responds to thearguments of the critic Raymond Mauny. He addresses the criticismsraised by Raymond and corrects most of the misconceptions withsupport from historical material and logic. Diop (1974) finishes hisbook on the thirteenth chapter, which restates that humankind owesits history to black people. In this concluding chapter, Diop insiststhat the Africans are the cradle of humanity since the first peopleon earth had their roots in the continent. Moreover, the authormaintains that man stayed black for a long time before the white racesprang up.

Thebook is a credible contribution to the history of Africans, and itoffers several new perspectives regarding black people. I have alwaysknown that the Egyptians have a rich culture and a strong connectionwith the early civilization. However, I learnt through the book thatthere is a controversy regarding the ancestry of the Egyptians. Sincethe country is found in Africa, I assumed that their ancestry wouldbe black and African. Thus, the discourse of the book is enlighteningand it offers a fresh perspective that is applicable in the currentand global events. For instance, the arguments raised in the book cangive scholars a chance to reconstruct the African history. The factsof the debate will help Africans reclaim their stolen glory and theWestern world will reconsider their biased record of history.Acknowledging the role of Africa in the birth of civilization will inturn raise the continental pride of Africans and increase their rateof development. In this case, Africans have another chance ofrewriting their history to correct the misconceptions and replacethem with well-researched facts.

Undeniably,ancient Egypt plays a main role in the history of world civilization.However, there is a never-ending debate regarding the true ancestryof the Egyptians, and this makes it unclear on whether the creditgoes to the Africans or the Western world. Diop presents his ideas ina clear and coherent manner, offering contrasting perspectives toallow for fair comparisons. His work is well researched, and itoffers the views of both critics and proponents, convincing me thatancient Egypt was indeed black. However, some claims are far-fetchedand may need further research to gain the support of most people.

Thebasis of this book review is to gauge the credibility of the conceptsraised therein. It hopes to show how the Western world manipulateshistory bluntly in order to meet their needs. The assessmentsummarizes the authors’ main ideas in relation to the thesisstatement to highlight the flow of ideas as well as their relevance.The review is helpful to history students and all individualsinterested in understanding the true history of the Africans. It isthe aim of the report to highlight the controversy surrounding theancestry of Egyptians from Diop’s perspective. This will offer acomparative study and give material for discussion in the globalforum regarding African pride.

Inbrief, the main thesis of Diop’s work is that the Western worldmisleads people regarding the ancestry of the Egyptians for selfishreasons. Diop (1974) sets the record straight by highlighting reasonswhy this is a false notion. Through this book review, the globalworld will have a chance to reconsider the history of Africans, andthis will offer information for rewriting that history.


Diop,C. A., &amp Diop, C. A. (1974). TheAfrican origin of civilization: myth or reality.New York: L. Hill.