What follows is my response to a Somali friend who asked me about various aspects of the colonial distortion of African History with focus on the Horn Region, the historical background of the ethnic and culture divide between Semitic Abyssinia and Cushitic Ethiopia, and the ensuing benefits for the colonial powers France, England and America. The unprecedented affair of historical name usurpation by Abyssinia (‘Ethiopia’ is the historical name of Sudan – not of Abyssinia) brings into the picture Sudan, Africa’s greatest land and possible anti-colonial locomotive, which was continually, systematically and efficiently targeted by the colonial powers with the evil theories of Pan-Arabism and Islamism.
Answer to a Somali friend about Colonial Distortion of African History
Thank you for your questions and apologies for my late response!
I don’t know to what exactly you are referring by mentioning the “Amhara distortion of Ethiopia’s and Horn of Africa region’s History”. This sentence is not clear and perhaps you misunderstood parts of an article of mine.
The Amhara and Tigray Abyssinians did not “distort” any region’s or country’s History. They simply had their own version of world view, their own eschatology, their historical tradition, which was a forgery of course, and their expansionist plans. That’s one point.
A totally different point is the Western falsification of the World History, which started in parts of Western Europe as early as 1500, and after being tyrannically and deceitfully imposed there, it was ‘exported’ worldwide by means of colonization, modernization and globalization.
These two issues were two initially unrelated developments that one needs to first study per se (independently); only at a later stage the two developments converged. The point of conversion was surely the period from the middle of the 19th c. to the middle of the 20th c. when the Amhara and Tigray Abyssinian rulers adjusted their visions and world views to the Western historical forgery and established a link with the Western plans for globalization, however managing to keep their tyranny far and almost cut off (if possible intact) from the rest of the world, because they did not agree with various elements of the Westernization process. By this, I mean that the world-known situation of underdevelopment that still characterizes Abyssinia (Fake Ethiopia) today was a very conscious decision of the Abyssinian rulers (be they monarchical, Third World communist or pseudo-republican) of the country over the past 70-140 years.
I. Abyssinia re-baptized as ‘Ethiopia’: a French colonial concept and decision
However, it was not an Abyssinian decision to re-baptize the country as “Ethiopia”; this was a Western plan that Haile Selassie only followed and implemented locally. Your question reminds me of the telephone call of an Australia-based Oromo friend of mine back in April 2007.
This long telephone call resulted in an article that I then published under the title “Ethiopia: a Panacea for Tyrants, a Stiletto in Colonial Hands” (27th April 2007) in AfroArticles, Buzzle and American Chronicle; that article was extensively republished at the time, but I think that by now it is not anymore available online. So, I promise you now that I will do my best to re-upload it within the next few days.
In that article, I expanded on this issue; it was my former professor of Egyptology in Paris (from 1978 until 1981), Jean Leclant (1920-2011 / read his curriculum in brief here: https://journals.openedition.org/lettre-cdf/2729?lang=en), who convinced his personal friend Haile Selassie to officially rename “Abyssinia” as “Ethiopia”.
When events of such importance take place, one has to automatically understand that they don’t reflect the innovative ideas of a young Egyptologist (who was also fluent in Ge’ez), but constituted deep colonial state machinations and evil conspiracies.
It may sound strange to you, but the real reason of re-baptizing Abyssinia with the historical name that describes Sudan (something that was well-known to Leclant) has more to do with Sudan itself, and less with Abyssinia.
Basically, it has to do with the general and vast falsehood that colonial diplomats, Orientalist academics, and statesmen diffuse and impose worldwide as “World History”; it is only a small piece in an entire mosaic.
When Leclant was assigned the task (following earlier diplomatic contacts between the French ambassador and Haile Selassie) to set up the Service of Antiquities in Abyssinia (: Fake Ethiopia), another French scholar, Jean Vercoutter (1911-2000, so 9 years older than Leclant) was tasked (following earlier agreements between the French and the English diplomats at Khartoum) to establish the Service of Antiquities in Sudan (when that country became independent).
II. Sudan, the only true Ethiopia: the ultimate target of the criminal colonial Orientalists in the middle 1950s
What the French colonials (who are the main standard bearers of the worldwide colonial historiography and of all the ensuing fallacies and distortions) wanted to achieve was this: they wanted to disconnect Sudan from
– its own past and 5000-year old heritage,
– its diverse and multifaceted historical tradition,
– its true national name,
– its African cultural identity, and – above all –
– the enormous perspectives that the historical reality de facto offers to Sudan at the academic, educational, intellectual, cultural, political, regional and international levels.
In other words, they wanted to prevent Africa’s largest country from rising to political, economic, academic, intellectual and geostrategic supremacy, which would be very easy, following a proper nation-building effort, which would involve a genuine, historical name for the country and a real, clear linguistic-cultural identity.
Sudan is the only country that has historical right to the name of Ethiopia. And Leclant knew this very well because his thesis concerned the historical period of the 8th and the 7th c. BCE, when first Upper (: Southern) Egypt and then Lower (: Northern) Egypt were under Cushitic / Ethiopian, i.e. Sudanese control. This development occurred because the Egyptian priesthood of Amun at Thebes (Luxor) wanted to use the Napata (today’s Karima)-based Kings of Cush (Kas in Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics) in its clash with the Heliopolitan priesthood of Ra, which was based in the area of today’s Cairo and supported by Berber princes of the African North-Northwest (spanning across the area of today’s NW Egypt, Libya and the African Atlas).
The Egyptian Hieroglyphic term ‘Kas’ (also used among the Cushites of Ancient Sudan – Ethiopia for their own land, country and kingdom) was translated as Mat Kusi in Assyrian-Babylonian and as Cush in Ancient Hebrew; it was the equivalent of the Ancient Greek term ‘Ethiopia’, and we know this not only because there are Ancient Greek historical references to the state immediately south of Egypt as ‘Ethiopia’, but also because in the Septuagint Ancient Greek translation (3rd c. BCE) of the Hebrew Bible the terms ‘Cush’ and ‘Ethiopia’ are used in Ancient Greek interchangeably.
Jebel Barkal (the holy mountain of Amun of Napata, venerated by the Ancient Cushites-Ethiopians of Sudan and by the Ancient Hamites of Kemet-Egypt) at the outskirts of Napata (today’s Karima) and the pyramids of the Cushitic Qore (: Kings) of the 8th-5th c. BCE (first two pictures); El Kurru pyramids near Karima (third picture); Nuri pyramids on the other bank of the Nile, opposite Karima and near Marawi (fourth picture)
At this point, it is important to add that first, the territory of Ancient Cush with either Napata or Meroe as capital never encompassed lands of Abyssinia, and second, there was never a significant state located in the area of Abyssinia before Axum; and Axum rose to power only in the 4th c. CE.
Now, you may ask me what would be the result of a right nation building process carried out in Sudan in the late 1950s and the 1960s. This would be astonishing, but few people can now comprehend what great developments for the entire African continent the evil colonial fallacy of the French managed to avert.
Meroe and its pyramids represent a later phase of Ancient Sudanese, i.e. Ethiopian – Cushitic Civilization (4th c. BCE – 4th c. CE), which is totally unrelated to Abyssinia (today’s Fake Ethiopia)
III. What would happen if Sudan did not fall victim of Pan-Arabism, Nasserism and Islamism?
First, the Sudan would not be plunged in the Arab Nationalist (or Pan-Arabic) fallacy that absorbed all the resources of the victimized countries, which accepted this colonial Orientalist distortion and, after losing their true national identities, were plunged into disastrous wars, civil strives, severe oppression, genocides (like Darfur), and choleric processes of linguistic Arabization and pseudo-religious Islamization.
There is not even one drop of Arab blood in any Sudanese citizen’s veins. The country accepted Islam at a later age and without any sort of invasion. This is also true for Upper Egypt; Sohag, Qena, Luxor and Aswan do not have an Islamic past that exceeds 1100 years. Iberia and North India, Central Asia and Sicily were under Islamic rule, Constantinople was attacked by Islamic armies, but Luxor and Aswan were calm and pious Christian cities of the Kingdom of Nobatia that had capital at Faras, near Abu Simbel.
The fallacious Arab identity of a genuinely non-Arab country like Sudan alienated the quasi-totality of the African nations gathered within the colonial structure under a fake name and a monstrous identity. All these ancient and noble African nations did not need to either learn the fabricated, fake modern pseudo-language that is called ‘Modern Arabic’ or to become Muslim.
There were already enough Muslims in the Sudan, from the Furis (of Darfur) to the Nubians to the Beja to the Berta; modern Sudan’s most illustrious anti-colonial exploits and heroic battles were undertaken by Muslims. First Sudan and the noble leader of Muhammad Ahmad the Mahdi stood against the Anglo-French colonial cholera and died fighting to avert Africa’s colonization. Quranic Arabic was their religious language and it was wonderful like that. These Muslims did not have major clashes with the non-Muslims of various adjacent regions. Only within the abnormal and inhuman frame of the vicious, Satanic colonial rule, all African nations were oppressed and all Africans started fighting against one another.
Axum, the capital of Ancient Abyssinia during pre-Christian and Christian (4th – 7th c. CE); Abyssinians spoke and wrote Ge’ez, which remains until today the religious language of the Modern Abyssinians, i.e. the Amhara and Tigray. Abyssinians are Yemenites who crossed the Red Sea and settled in Africa as late as the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BCE. The famous stelae of Axum testify to Axum’s pre-Christian civilization and date back to the first centuries of the Christian Era.
IV. What a true nation-building would mean for Sudan, rightfully named ‘Ethiopia’
With Ethiopia as national name, Sudan would give all its citizens the true portion of historical heritage and antiquity that belongs to them and they would all find elements of their culture, spirituality, faith and world view in the Ancient Cushitic and Meroitic past. Learning that Napata (today’s Karima) was already a holy place for the Ancient Egyptians, all Modern Sudanese would grasp an idea of the greatness of their land and of the splendor of the past that belongs to them – and not to the colonial gangsters who appear under the evil masks of Orientalists, archaeologists, epigraphists, Africanists, linguists, ethnographers, philologists and historians, only to
– minimize the African past,
– conceal its cataclysmic impact on the formation of civilization on European soil, and
– subordinate it to the racist fallacy of Hellenism, Greco-Roman civilization, and Euro-barbarianism.
With Ethiopia as national name, all Modern Sudanese would become proud of their civilization and of its radiation. In striking contrast with the colonially corrupt, idiotic and worthless Modern Egyptians, who have been stupidly selling their own antiquities for 222 years, Modern Sudanese would undertake the research of their past, the exploration of their antiquities, the decipherment of their ancient writing systems, and the reassessment of their diachronic role in World History at a national, sovereign level, finding the true, non-colonial partners for these purposes.
Second, because of the absence of the above, a true nation-building effort would take place and, as a consequence, today’s Sudanese would be all fully conscious of
a- their Cushitic – Ethiopian historical and cultural heritage
b- their Ancient History, as it is recorded in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and in Meroitic hieroglyphic and cursive writing systems
c- their ethnic, national, cultural, historical and spiritual interconnection with the Oromos and the other subjugated Cushitic nations of Abyssinia
d- their Christian Nobatian, Makurian and Alodian History, as it is recorded in Coptic, Old Nubian and Makurian writing systems
e- their Islamic African History that is totally unrelated to Arab presence
f- their pro-eminent role across the trade routes of the Antiquity and the Islamic Ages, when the Historical Ethiopia (i.e. Sudan) linked
– Egypt with Sahara and the Western African world,
– the Mediterranean world with the Horn of Africa region, and
– almost all the African Muslims with the three cities of Islamic Pilgrimage, namely Mecca, Madina and Al Quds ash Sherif (Jerusalem).
V. Regional and international consequences of a true nation-building in Sudan, rightfully named ‘Ethiopia’
Third, because of the above, Sudan would
a- help dissolve the criminal colonial state of Abyssinia, by incorporating Oromia into Sudan-Ethiopia and by making Afaan Oromo the official language of the new, magnificent African super-state
b- help form numerous independent nations on parts of Sudan’s soil, namely among the Bejas in the East, in Darfur, in Kordofan, and in the South – when the Westerners were not there to fuel rebellion against Pan-Arabist Khartoum that they (: the Western colonials) fabricated in the first place
c- help establish numerous independent nations on parts of the criminal colonial state of Abyssinia, namely Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Hadiya, Kaffa, Kambata, Shekacho, Wolayita, Agaw, Nuer, Anuak, Berta, etc. whereby every nation would have their own language as official
d- help dissolve the filthy colonial fabrication of Djibouti, a pseudo-state created by the criminal, murderous gangsters of France, and in the process help Afar nation pull together all parts of their nation and Isa tribe merge with the other Somalis
e- strike an alliance with the Eastern Cushitic nation of Somalia in order to impose a genuine, anti-colonial, African Order across Africa, which would bring forth the dissolution of fake colonial states whereby many different historical nations are oppressed by the filthy nation or tribe that had previously been the lackeys of their colonial masters, like the Kikuyu in Kenya
f- launch an African educational, academic system in total refutation of the Western Orientalism, Hellenism, ‘Greco-Roman Civilization’ and fake Africanism, and in total rejection of the racist, Eurocentric version of World History,
– by highlighting the superiority of Ancient African civilizations (Egyptian, Cushitic-Meroitic, Carthaginian-Berber) over Ancient Greece and Rome,
– by establishing the correct links between the Ancient African civilizations and the Ancient Oriental civilizations (Sumerian, Assyrian-Babylonian, Hurrian, Hittite-Anatolian, Canaanite-Phoenician, and Iranian),
– by meticulously examining and widely publicizing the multifaceted, overwhelming African cultural, religious, spiritual, artistic, literary and linguistic impact on Ancient and Medieval Europe
Black Egyptian high priests were initiating White Romans into the mysteries of the Ancient Egyptian divine concept of Isis (Aset in Egyptian Hieroglyphics); hundreds of temples of Isis (Iseum – Isea in Latin) have been excavated across Europe but this evidence of absolute African Egyptian impact on European civilization remains hidden to Europeans and others – in order not to function as a rejection of the still prevalent, racist pseudo-historical model of ‘Hellenism’ and Greco-Roman civilization’. Iseum Campense, Rome
g- promote a system of cultural, academic, educational and intellectual interconnection among all African nations, imposing
– the immediate obliteration of the colonial languages, English and French, across the continent,
– the prohibition of these two languages from the primary, secondary and tertiary education of all African states, and
– their replacement by a system of all-African multilingualism, involving the major African languages,
h- destroy all fake pseudo-states that the colonial powers, France, England and America, produced over the past 222 years on African soil, notably Fake Egypt, Fake Morocco, etc. and help generate genuinely African nations instead.
What I am saying with the aforementioned brief diagram is that a non-Arab, non-colonial, genuinely African Sudan, named Ethiopia, in the middle 1950s should act as if having fully understood, assessed and capitalized on the historical conclusions of scholars like Martin Bernal (author of the venerated “Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization”, in three volumes: 1987, 1991, 2006) and Edward Said (author of the highly respected “Orientalism”, 1978). This aphorism of mine may sound as preposterous because these great opuses were published more than 20 or 30 years after Sudan proclaimed its independence.
However, all the constituent elements, the textual and archaeological evidence, which led the aforementioned scholars to their groundbreaking publications, were there already in 1956. As a matter of fact, all that an African scholar needed to do was
– study the historical sources and the archaeological material record
– identify the discrepancies between historical sources and colonial bibliography
– list a vast number of topics commonly shared among colonial scholars but hidden from the Western and worldwide public (readership)
– analyze the reasons of the unrepresentative selection of historical sources for educational – intellectual – cultural purposes, as carried out by colonial scholars
– examine the above through the question ‘qui bono’ and accurately specify the colonial intentions, and
– conclude about a) the racist, criminal, and inhuman motives of the colonial pseudo-academia and b) the ensuing benefit for the colonial powers and their false historical version.
VI. Anti-colonial struggle means total rejection of the colonial fallacy still diffused worldwide as ‘Word History’
A non-colonial, non-Arab Sudan, officially named Ethiopia, would of course demolish fundamental colonial myths and highlight concealed facts that constitute basic elements of today’s Western version of World History. The topic is as vast as an entire encyclopedia, but I will herewith offer few examples pertaining to Africa and the surrounding seas.
a- there is no such country as “Egypt” and there is no such thing as “Egyptian Civilization”. The country’s real historical name is Kemet, which means the ‘Black Land’ or ‘the Land of Black People’, and this is due to the fact that the Ancient Egyptians were both, dark brown and black. So, there was Kemetic or Kemetian Civilization. Today, a liberated, non-colonial country at the northeastern corner of the Black Continent must be called Kemet – not Egypt – at the international level. Egyptian politicians and statesmen accepting to name their country ‘Egypt’ at the international level are born slaves and constitute a most disreputable clique alien to the great history of that land.
Kemet written in hieroglyphic characters
b- the name ‘Egypt’, used by Egyptians, constitutes a colonial relic of the filthiest and most racist contents. The word originates from the Ancient Greek word Aigyptos, which is the Hellenization of the Ancient Egyptian term ‘Hwt Ka Ptah’, i.e. ‘the enclosure of the soul of Ptah’; Ptah was a marginal deity in Ancient Egypt, and the Ancient Egyptians would never accept to name their country after that deity of the polytheistic priesthood of Memphis. This is the first point against the use of the term. The second point is related to the fact that European and North American colonials view the use of this term as resulting from their cultural, political, academic and intellectual supremacy over colonized (since 1798) Modern ‘Egypt’.
c- Modern Egypt cannot be called “Egypt” at the international level for one extra, totally different, reason; the use of this name, which is totally alien and unknown to today’s average Egyptians, consists in an unprecedented colonial denigration and vulgar deprecation of the modern nation, which uses the name Masr to denote their identity. Assyrian-Babylonian of origin (Musur and Mat Masri, lit. ‘land of Egypt’), this name was diffused among Aramaeans and Hebrews, before being adopted among Arabs.
And notice the difference, if you please: the authorities of Myanmar managed to impose at the international level respect for their country’s name, which is the aforementioned, officially accepted, name and not the filthy, colonial parody of Burma that the English colonials used since the early colonial days. But the idiotic, colonial, Pan-Arabist rulers of Kemet / Masr from Nasser to Mubarak to Morsi never raised such a subject in an effort to always remain disgustingly servile and docile enough to please their colonial masters – the Satanic gangsters of France, England and America.
d- there is no such expanse of sea as “the Indian Ocean”; this is a fake term introduced by the English, Dutch, Portuguese and French colonials as late as the 16th c. In the Antiquity, the most commonly used term was “Red Sea” (in Ancient Greek: ‘Erythra Thalassa’); during the Roman and Arsacid / Sassanid times, this term denoted the seas that we call today ‘Persian Gulf’, ‘Red Sea’ and ‘Indian Ocean’. When Agatharchides writes in the 2nd c. BCE his treatise on the Red Sea (Geographi Graeci Minores), in the part of his work in which he describes the natural phenomenon due to which the sea was called ‘red’, he narrates an event happening in today’s coast of Hadhramaut or Mahra in SE Yemen.
e- if one wants to name the entire Afro-Asiatic expanse of sea after the national name of the first seafarers and navigators who, after studying the meteorological conditions, the winds and the oceanographic data of that sea, sailed across the ocean from the Horn of Africa region to today’s coast of Malabar, then one has to call the sea “Yemenite Ocean”. First, the Qataban Yemenites, with capital at Timna, established safe navigation from the Gulf of Aden to the Malabar coast where they established commercial relations with the local Dravidian (not Indian, not Indo-European) kingdoms as early as the middle of the first millennium BCE.
Qataban Yemenite thalassocracy across the Yemenite Ocean lasted many centuries and was matched with an early colonization of the East African coast where the Qatabanis intermingled with the local Ancient Somalis of the coast of Azania (from the Horn of Africa down to today’s Daressalaam in Tanzania). Qatabani supremacy was terminated when the Himyarite Yemenites and the Sabaean Yemenites made an alliance to vanquish Qataban and accumulate in their palaces the mythical treasures that used to be garnered at Timna. This happened ca. 115 BCE.
Maps of Ancient Yemenite kingdoms and the monuments of Marib, capital of the Sabaean (Sheba) Kingdom. There is no link between the Biblical – Quranic Queen of Sheba, an exclusively Yemenite Queen, and the Makeda forgery of Kebra Negast. The Queen of Sheba was totally unrelated to Africa.
The Himyar – Sheba alliance was not as experienced as the Qatabanis seafarers; their heavy taxes were a problem for the last Ptolemies who were easy partners. After Octavian invaded Kemet (Egypt) and annexed the land of the Nile to the Roman Empire (30 BCE), the Romans proved to be difficult partners and in the year 25 BCE, Aelius Gallus, prefect of Egypt, undertook a maritime expedition against Yemen, which also involved several land expeditions. At the end, after many collateral damages, the Romans managed to destroy the main Yemenite port of call at Aden and thus force the Yemenites to cooperate with Rome and reduce the customs.
Yemenite thalassocracy across the Yemenite Ocean continued, evidently coordinated with the Roman imperial establishments at Egypt and Leuke Kome (NW coast of today’s Saudi Arabia), and it is well documented in historical texts like the Periplus of the Red (Erythraean) Sea, which was written by an Alexandrian Egyptian captain and merchant who traveled across the coastal regions from Suez to China at the times of the Roman Emperor Nero (so in the middle of the 1st c. CE). The same text describes the continuation of the Himyar-Sabaean colonization of Azania and prevalence across the seas. There have truly been found Roman coins in different archaeological sites across the Malabar coast where the kingdoms of Damirica, Nelkyndis, Cerobothra (Chera) and Pandya were located according to the Periplus of the Red (Erythraean) Sea.
But Yemenite traders and sailors used these coins while sailing across the Yemenite Ocean; and these kingdoms were all Dravidian – not Indian. And the Dravidians never demonstrated navigational skills, which is one more reason for which we cannot call this sea ‘Indian Ocean’, pretty much like we cannot call ‘India’ the cemetery of South Asiatic nations that the English colonials prepared for more than 100 years during their calamitous colonial presence there. ‘India’ is only the land around the Indus River, and this concerns only a minor part of the state which is nowadays fallaciously called with this name.