There is a substantial body of evidence in support of the position that the civilization of Sumer was the product of Black migrations from Africa's Nile Valley.
Accounts from ancient writers such as Herodotus and from more recent writers such as Robert Morning Sky and Robert Temple point to the fact that the Sumerians called themselves the “black-headed” while the Egyptians have also been known to call themselves the “black-footed”. I then argue that there were in fact large populations of black peoples in Ancient Egypt as well as in Sumer. These included ancestors of the Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa, who have cultural artifacts, historical accounts as well as language particulars that give us modern people fascinating clues into these two ancient cultures.
We should point out that the world as we know it today has a very different demographic configuration than what existed in antiquity. This is obvious, but the “why” of it, especially as pertains to migrations and displacements of peoples and cultures over centuries and millennia may not be so obvious. The historical evidence points to the fact that there were significant populations of black people in what is today known as the Middle and Near East, spreading from the Euphrates region, to Egypt and across to south Asia in places like India. Of course, there were also a few non-black people in this region as well, which I shall touch on. The importance of this article is to point out the role black people played in the high cultures of Sumer and Akkad (and no small roles those were), which has scarcely been acknowledged in the mainstream understanding of contributions to world civilization. I am convinced that among the stalwarts in academia, among the published works, there are those who are well aware of these historical facts. Some of these facts have been acknowledge. Yet the narrative that exists in the public mind about who contributed in successful ways to civilization is woefully inadequate or purposefully hidden when it comes to knowledge about black cultures and black civilizations.
I will give you an example. When reading about world history according to Euro-centrists we find that the most important civilizations of antiquity in their influence on the current age in terms of literature were the Minoan and Greek cultures, and maybe the Indus Valley civilization of India and the Han Civilization of China. Not to mention about Mesopotamia and even about Ancient Kemet after the Greek Invasion of Egypt. The Greek narrative is still so strong in the minds of the public (of course, credit should be given where credit is due), but I think there has been such a downplay or outright disregard for cultures existing much longer than any of the ones I have just mentioned and where they have been mentioned, very little credit or recognition has been given to black people who played roles in this culture. Isn’t that interesting? So we come to the conclusion that in the end, black people must tell their own stories if the narrative is ever going to reflect truth and not political agendas. Sometimes this topic closes minds immediately.
AkanBa, author of Revelation: The Movement of the Akan People from Kanaan to Ghana, a magnificent work of research, is a researcher who has provided the world with some deep research into ancient times. Drawing painstakingly on research, AkanBa tells us that:
“After the western religious and scientific researchers failed to perform their duties right, trying to blind other people, finding ways to deny the AkAn and GuAn people from their origin as founders of Chaldear (Babylon), Aramaic Kingdoms, Edom, Kanaan, Israel, Carthage, Carthage Nova, RaSena (Etrusker), Kapua, KreTa, Kibi, BilMa, GaNa and SonGhaye; we the AkAn and GuAn folk of today have taken up our tools and have gone beyond our ancient GaNa and SonGhaye Empires until we could break down that untouchable Bible into pieces.”
AkanBa is not joking here. This is quite a serious statement. In his introduction, AkanBa points out that Malcom X had also reached a similar conclusion. In his book Afro-American History, Malcolm X points out that there were high civilizations of black nations in Sumer, in India (Dravidian), in Egypt and Nubia, and in Carthage, long before the more recent civilizations of Ghana and Songhai empires that everyone is told about these days. In particular, Malcom X wrote that:
“if you go and read some of the ancient manuscripts or even read between the lines of some of the current writers, you will find that the Sumerian civilization was a very dark-skinned civilization, and it existed prior even to the existence of the Babylonian empire, right in the same area where you find Iraq and the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers there. It was a black-skinned people who lived there, who had a high state of culture way back then.”
Of course, Malcom X was right, Anyway, following on from where Malcom X left off, AkanBa meticulously showed how black people in general and the Akan people in particular must have had ancestors who were in those places that Malcom X mentioned (that is, Egypt, Mesopotamia, North Africa and surrounding regions). He draws on appropriate Biblical and secular sources to tell a fascinating story of migrations of black peoples to the African continent from Mesopotamia and neighbouring regions. This is a story that needs to be told, if for no other reason than that cultural and historical accounts indicate that it is true. So, let us start exploring this story about the presence of black people in the Middle and Near East in ancient times. To begin, we shall delve into the Christian Bible as a starting point to build off of, and then follow that up with actual historical records from Sumerian and Akkadian times.
References from the Christian Bible
In the Christian Bible, we find in Genesis chapter 10 a breakdown of the nations created by the “Sons of Noah”. Of these sons, the Christian Bible holds that the children of Ham are among those that formed black nations. In the Christian Bible, specifically Genesis 10:7, we are told that the sons of Ham are Kush, Egypt/Kemet, Put/Punt (i.e. Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, along with Ethiopia/Eritrea) and Canaan/Kanaan. We are further informed in Genesis 10:8 that Kush was the father of Nimrod, who was the forebearer of Babylon, Uruk, Akkad, and Assyria.
Okay, so the Christian Bible seems to be saying similar things to Malcolm X, or maybe it is the other way around. Some people out there might think, “Oh yeah, Malcolm X?” Well, he was a black nationalist, right? Of course, he’s going to say things like Ancient Sumer and Akkad had strong black influence! Or others may be thinking, “Is the Christian Bible really a credible source?” So, what if European researchers said the same thing almost 100 years before Malcolm X? What would we make of that? Would we also say that these researchers were being black nationalist? The truth is the truth, right?
True to form, there were European researchers that conducted investigations into antiquity. One such European researcher was Francois Lenormant, who lived between 1837 and 1883. Lenormant was an Assyriologist and archaeologist who was among the foremost Assyriologists in France during his time. Over the past years, I have studied Francois Lenormant’s work, titled Chaldean Magic, which I believe was first written in 1874 in French and later translated into English. In this book, Lenormant discusses the religion and spirituality of cultures such as the Assyrian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Canaanite, Egyptian, Sumerian and other ancient cultures. This is what Francois Lenormant wrote about the Kushites in chapter 26 of his book (Chapter XXVI — The Origin of the Chaldaio-Babylonian Cosmogonies):
“To the Greeks the name Cephenes was synonymous with Ethiopians. The opinion which has been preserved by Hellanicus counts them as one of the two elements of the race inhabiting the countries watered by the lower course, of the Euphrates and Tigris, the famous Ethiopians or Kushites of Babylon, whose existence is proved by so many passages of classical antiquity and the sacred writings. The Bible connects with these Kushites the name of Nimrod, which is used both as the name of a hero, and the name of a place, like all those contained in the same chapter of Genesis. The other element of the nation in the dualism of the Chaldees and Cephenes consisted of the Chaldees, who are described by Diodorus Siculus in a very correct passage about their discipline and their ideas as “ the most ancient of the Babylonians.” Hellanicus said in the same way, following the example of Stephen of Byzantium that “ before the king Cepheus,” that is to say, before the Cephenes, “there were some Chaldees who extended beyond Babylon as far as Choche,” as far as the place where Seleucia afterwards stood.” (1877, pp.337–338)
As we can see, Lenormant is also asserting that the Ethiopians or Kushites were the ones that were in Babylon. Not only that. Did you catch in the quote above that the “Ethiopians” also ruled in Babylon? Or, did you miss that? It is in the quotation above, “before the king Cepheus,” that is to say, before the Cephenes”. Lenormant mentions the Bible, which is a Christian sacred text, but he also mentions “passages of classical antiquity”. We will examine some of those shortly. At any rate, if you are familiar with ancient accounts of black people, you will know that the term “Ethiopian” was used liberally in antiquity by the Greeks to refer to black people. Herodotus was a good example of that. Going back to Lenormant’s quote above, it does not mean that there were only black people in those times in Babylon and in Chaldea. Certainly not. There were others as well. There were different Semitic peoples. Accounts indicate that there were also Altaic-Uralic people, those that have in the past been called Turanian. That there were black people there, however, is clear. It also seems that the black civilization was originally pre-eminent. The black civilization taught the Semitic people. The Semitic people later took over the region. I am not making this up! That is what Lenormant and others like Drusilla Dunjee Houston have taught us. In the section that follows this one, I shall also introduce Peter and Tara Hogan, two contemporary white Australian researchers, who have also made the same claim. So, why is this not widely known? Rather, it is so common to hear that black people contributed little or nothing to civilization. Oh, how incorrect that is. It is a perspective born of ignorance, how very unfortunate! Allow me to quickly put things into perspective before we continue.
Usually, when asked which black civilizations were prominent in times past, people who know something about past African civilizations tend to mention the Ghana, Mali or Songhai empires. Or they might mention more recent kingdoms and empires such as Ashanti, Dahomey, Kano, Monumutapa, or Zulu etc. These are all very recent — within the last 1000 years. If you are really lucky, you might also get people throwing in the Kingdom of Axum (i.e. the Ethiopians), and if you are incredibly lucky, they might add Nubia or even Egypt/Kemet. Well, wait a minute! There’s much more! Nubia alone spanned a period of over 3,000 years of continuous culture from the time of its height, during the kingdom of Kerma (around 2500BC) until the Meroitic period slowly declined (around 500AD). Now, I bring up Nubia because that one was undisputedly black for most if not all of its period of sustained culture. 3000 years, at least. Never mind that Kemet/Egypt also had long, thousands of years of history of black influence, albeit there is still some contest among scholars when it comes to Egypt. No contest with Nubia. Okay, what about Sumer? Sumer was even earlier. We’re talking close to 5000BC. If you again take the span of the period of Sumer and Akkad when they were run by black people, before invasions by Semitic people who were also close by in the region (same thing — invasions and takeover — happened in Kemet and Nubia at a later time), then we can imagine Sumer and Akkad under black rule from about 5,000BC to about 2,000BC. After that, the centers of black rule and influence shift to the African continent, primarily to Kemet/Egypt and to Nubia. Here for another 2,000 years more or less, until around the time of Christ. So, all in all, that is 5,000 years (Sumer/Akkad + Egypt/Nubia). There are also certain accounts that state that the ancient Ghana empire was already on the go at about 500AD, which would mean that around the time Nubia falls from influence, black civilization shifted further west, into West Africa, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa — Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Hausa, Mossi, Monumutapa, Yoruba, Zulu, and all the rest. Get my drift? High black civilization only kept shifting locale, it never completely vanished!
One could argue that there was no longer a single region that was the main center of black culture after Kemet and Nubia. One could argue that the culture fragmented and spread all across the African continent. But the argument I am making here is that there has been at least 7,000 years of continuous high black civilization, more or less. By high black civilization, I mean large nation-states, kingdoms and empires. That much should be acknowledged. It is perhaps even longer than 7000 years, if we consider that people lived before the deluge. In fact, I learned from a high ranking initiate of ancient African lore, a man of the Gurma/Gurmanche people of West Africa, that black civilization on this planet is tens of thousands of years old, going back into antediluvian times. Even if we do not venture that far back, we can safely know, and prove, that there has been continuous black civilization for at least close to 7,000 years (Sumer/Akkad → Egypt/Nubia/Ethiopia → African Kingdoms and Empires in the last 1000 years). That’s a lot of time to miss out on acknowledgement, people! This is something I think blacks and anyone else interested in knowing true accounts of history and culture of the peoples of this planet needs to pay attention to. This knowledge is unfortunately not very well known.