Now I am sure that there will be some who will read the title of my 2013 interview, “The African Origin of Ancient Sumerian Civilization: My Q&A with Hermel Hermstein” and say that it is a mistake for me to make a distinction in classification between Africa and an ancient Black civilization located in a region that many call “The Middle East.”
They will argue that the land designations perpetuate a divisive geopolitical construct fomented by white propagandists posing as credible historians of high academic integrity. These historical revisionists that authentic Black scholars have engaged in intellectual combat have tried to divorce Black men and women from their ancient cultural legacy. I have been in perfect solidarity with critical observers who have made this point for years. You will find that I have made this formal acknowledgment in my older writings.
I am intimately aware of the fact that in ancient times, there was no geographical distinction between what we now know as “Africa” and the so-called “ Middle East,” as they were both part of a vast Black empire. Over 2000 years ago the Greek historian and philosopher Strabo informed us that Ethiopia—which was known as Kush—included the body of land that currently occupies the Arabian peninsula. He says this in his book The Geography: Book One, Chapter 2.
A peninsula is a body of land that is surrounded by water on three sides while attached to a larger landmass. The Arabian peninsula is clearly attached to Africa. Although culturally diverse, both Africa and the so-called “Middle East,” were home to Black people who look no different from those walking the streets of Crenshaw, Los Angeles or Flatbush, Brooklyn today.
Nevertheless, it should be duly noted that although the DESIGNATION of “Middle East” is a cultural innovation of imperialist colonizers, the same is the case with the designation of The Motherland as “Africa.” The men and women of ancient Ta Seti, Kemet, Sumer, or even the Nok people of West “Africa” did not refer to themselves as “Africans” based on the historical records handed down to us through the ages.
They appear to have viewed themselves as separate, autonomous NATIONS that engaged one another in trade and shared similar cultural ideas. However, if there was a uniform, continental name that these ancient Blacks used to identify one another, it certainly was not “African,” for that too is a later construct.
It would be of great benefit to the reader if we briefly explored the origin of the name “Africa.” Some who qualify themselves as credible historians have said that the etymological root for the name “Africa” comes from the name Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who defeated Hannibal the Great of Carthage at the end of the second Punic War. This is emphatically INCORRECT.
This error is easily identified by the fact that “Scipio Africanus” was born as Publius Cornelius Scipio. You can confirm this for yourself by consulting Richard A Gabriel’s book Scipio Africanus: Rome’s Greatest General, among other works. I don’t care how confident or how charismatic a man sounds. You should not take his scholarship too seriously unless his work has been reviewed and qualified by his peers. I say this because you will not have a barometer, a reliable standard to go by, if you are a new student who is trying to determine who is actually qualified to speak on subject matter that is of importance to you.
Some people mean well and add value, but are not strong in certain areas of study. Others are losers in real life and just want to be seen and have followers. The thought that you will eventually become well-learned and not rely on them for information is a scary thought that haunts them day and night. It’s one thing for a guy to upload a video to YouTube where he talks loud, sounding arrogant and intentionally disrespectful. However, being well-learned and properly informed doesn’t necessarily entail those qualities. In most cases, it actually defies them.
Read more books, and watch less lectures. Reading structures your mind for critical thinking in ways that even the best lectures cannot. But even books, blogs, and journals are secondary. Go inside of yourself for the big answers while using external tools for assistance. Old family members who are eager to share family history with you are invaluable human resources for those seeking knowledge of SELF. If you still have such people in your life and can reach them, then you are blessed. No one that I have taught follows me. They’re too busy living life, finding their own voice and teaching in their own unique ways based on the new understanding they've acquired.
National identity has importance. Before any group of people can have a national identity that is clear, strong, and vibrant, they must share the same core ideas and values. A large group of people, whether they are a secret society, a street gang, or a nation, are bound together by common core values. The medium in which these values are primarily preserved is through language which serves as a bedrock for culture. The people of France are called “French” based on the language that they speak. The people of China are identified as “Chinese” based on the fact that they speak a mother tongue that reinforces their collective psychology for the preservation of common values. For them, this language is called “Chinese.”
To the brothers and sisters who say that the word “Moor” originally came from white Europeans I ask you what was the language spoken by the ancient people who occupied modern day Burkina Faso and its neighboring regions? You do understand that there were several Moors who Gentrified Europe during the medieval period who were not Moroccan, and were in fact from other parts of what we call West Africa, right? You do know that many of these Moors were not actually Islamic but gave off an Islamic, and in some cases, a Christian veneer for both political and economic reasons, right?
To appreciate what I’m getting at you have to have an internal understanding of culture that is not always transmitted through books, blogs and videos. And no, I’ve NEVER been a follower of Noble Drew Ali or the Moorish Science Temple. However, I have had a strong internal connection with the Moorish legacy of old Europe before I was even reading and writing down my own thoughts. That legacy is a part of me. Fuck all of your half-assed rhetoric. I’ve digressed. Let’s progress together by getting back on topic.
Scipio was only given the nickname “Africanus” after he defeated Hannibal Barca. The name “Africa” is actually based on the the Romanization of the Numidian “Afri” people. They were just one of the clans that the ancient Romans encountered during their sojourns into ancient Numidia, which is not to be confused with ancient Nubia.
The Afri lived in, and around, ancient Carthage. The Romans were so in awe of Hannibal’s military prowess that they named their own general Scipio “Africanus.” For the Romans, the name had become synonymous with the fierce Afri warriors that they took great pride in defeating by the skin of their teeth. In European literature Scipio is referred to as “The Roman Hannibal.” This strongly suggests that his only historical relevance arises out of the fact that he defeated Hannibal the Great to end the second Punic War.
Scipio is only important to the extent that his legacy is linked to Hannibal’s. The ancient Romans were telling the world that their general was so brave and so calculating that he might as well be an Africanus, or what we would now call an “African.” The word “African” is the Anglicized version of the Latinized word “Africanus” which was originally derived from the Afri people who lived in and around Carthage.
Africa was NOT named after a Roman general. It was named after a relatively small native clan who lived in the region of Carthage who called themselves Afri. The decision to identify the entire continent based on the name for these local people was made by European colonizers. No doubt. But that’s different from saying that the name originated with Europeans. If Chinese colonizers decided to rename the entire continent “GHANAlù” tomorrow it doesn’t mean that the name “GHANA” came from them. It means that they merely added their suffix to the indigenous name of a historically localized people and applied that name to an entire continent.
Nevertheless, we need to keep in mind that Carthage (now a part of Tunisia) is just one small region within the vast continent that the world now calls “Africa.” Although I could be wrong, I seriously doubt that the Zulus of 3000 B.C.E. referred to themselves as “Afri” while living at least 4,000 miles South of North Africa where the Afri resided. The Sumerians, who were Black, did not call themselves Afri either. Furthermore, if we look at Iraq on a map, an argument can be made that it is just as much a part of East Africa as it is Western Asia as far as geography goes. Sumer was located in what is today known as Iraq. This leads to other questions about land designation that I, and/or another researcher, may choose to explore at a later time.
In the meantime, please understand that when I make reference to the “African origin” of ancient Sumer I am only using a contemporary term (that term being “African”) that is commonly understood and recognized by even the most casual readers of my 2013 interview. I wholly acknowledge the land now designated as “Africa” to be the ethno-cultural starting point for ancient Sumerian civilization, which thrived thousands of years before Black men and women identified themselves as “African” through any continental consensus.
As far as I am aware, there is no ancient written record or text that proves that Black men and women throughout the continent decided to uniformly identify themselves as “Africans” before the continent was carved up and divided among its European invaders. This is because they all had national identities rooted in culture and reinforced by language. Only these preserved written records—provided that they even exist—will serve as verifiable sources of reference in any assertions to the contrary. Then again, would these records even be written in a mother language that is understood, authenticated, and venerated by all of the nations it pertains to? At the moment, I do not have a definitive answer to this question.
Communication is most effective when we use words and terms that can be easily identified and codified by those who receive our message. We should share information with our audience that will expand its scope of understanding. Still we can only do that after we’ve gotten our audience’s attention by using words and concepts that they are already familiar with. In other words, you must reach people where they are at before you take them where they’re striving to go. With that understanding, I decided to title my offering “The African Origins of Ancient Sumerian Civilization.”
It’s unfortunate that many Black people assume that various words come from Europeans just because they cannot trace the origin of those words back to a stellae from ancient Kemet. Kemet was beautiful. It was amazing. In many ways it was the crystallization of traditional African values. However there are many answers to the question of who you are that cannot be found there. As a result, the search continues: throughout the continent, throughout the globe, throughout the solar system and the universe. You have no beginning or ending. Your soul’s seed occupies a moment that knows no circumference, hence that moment is eternal and so are you.