Rhythmic Patterns in African Personality:
African people throughout the world have a
world view which is conceived as a universal oneness.
There is an interconnection of all things that compose the Universe.
Pierre Erny1 (1973) has
observed that " The African cosmos is like a spider web: its least element cannot be touched without
making the whole vibrate. Everything is connected, interdependent."' This interconnectedness is conceived as a kind of "vitalism"
or life force which pervades all of nature: rocks, trees, lower animals, the heavens, the earth, the rivers, and particularly
man, who is a vessel for this oneness which permeates and infuses all that is.
An African conception of personality
must then begin with such an elemental notion of the person.
One cannot begin to speak of humans without first speaking
of this force that defines our continuity with all things within the world. The Dogon people of Mali refer to this force as
Nyama, which flows in our veins with our blood and connects all of our actions and all of our circumstances with the functioning
of things in general. The Bambara (Mali and Ivory Coast) call it the dya which serves to unify all things in nature. The Akan
of Ghana refer to it as a person's Okra - their life force; it is a small bit of the supreme force that lives in every person's
body (it is by definition what gives one life and returns to the supreme force when one dies). In the United States, this
notion of a universal force is most closely rendered by the American Blacks' notion of "soul." Despite the small variations
in the conceptualization of this force, such a notion serves as the basic substratum for beginning to understand the African
Relationships between men and within men are regulated by notions of flow. Flow is rhythm and
a useful way of conceptualizing African people's rendering of the notion of
personality. Definitions of personality in
the West emphasize the uniqueness and the insularity of the individual. Because of the vitalism and rhythm that constitute
the genetic structure and dynamics of life, it is essentially nonsensical to speak of a separate and isolated entity called
the "self." When viewing African people one must understand the self from what Wade Nobles2 (1974) has described as the ontogenetic
concept of self (i.e., "self as an interdependent entity shared with all members of the tribe.") Rhythm then becomes a key
concept in understanding the function of the person from the African perspective. The concept of vibration, movement, or flow
unifies all people and all things. Therefore, the point of emphasis for an African Psychologist would be the relationship
and the interconnection between people rather than focusing on the separateness, uniqueness or individuality of people.
From the perspective of the individual, the life process is regulated by their submission to the rules of life.
The person maintains their internal rhythm by the observance of certain basic ideas of self-respect and respect of others.
Proper rituals and relationships that reinforce their connection with the "tribe" (community) renew the recognition of the
universal life force that flows within and through the person as a whole. On a very concrete level this is reflected in the
considerable social orientation of African people. The very idea of isolation or seclusion among African people is synonymous
with madness. The coming together and sharing with each other in a harmonious manner reaffirms the rhythmic flow between self
Dancing is highly symbolic and significant when viewed within this context. The rhythmic nature of
that shatters the illusion of separateness and fuses the listeners into a shared state of being becomes an affirmation of
unity among the people.
Throughout the world, social gatherings among Black people constitute a high priority value.
Dance is a ritual that actively expresses the reunification of the dispersed forces of oneness. The old pejorative that stated
that Blacks have "natural rhythm" and the mockery that has been made of Black Ritual dance is an indication of the misunderstanding
of the true symbolic meaning and significance of rhythm and dance. It is particularly disturbing that dance which has such
a high spiritual significance has been reduced to the level of raw carnal significance, which is the usual view of things
by Western observers who rely upon the empirical as their criteria for understanding the world. (In other words, dance is
viewed as a sublimation of either aggressive and/or sexual impulses from the perspective of the popular Western Freudian view).
an appreciation for the unique perspective of the African person, one is less likely to attribute
ideas and understanding onto a culturally distinct people. For example, when one understands this kind of cultural distinction
and is able to appreciate the precedent of socializing over individual separateness, they would be less likely to offer isolation
as a solution or treatment for people suffering from stress or personality disorder.
It is interesting to note that
mental disorders among European-Americans is treated by an immediate isolation of the person from familiar people and contexts,
whereas in African settings, the entire family is viewed as a participant in restoring health and order. There are interesting
parallels of this notion of coming together as a curative force in all parts of the world there are people of color. During
a time of illness, the traditional treatment of the person usually entailed the congregating of the "tribe's" herbalist, along
with the religious leader, the elders, and the immediate members of the family. Often to the accompaniment of drumming (a
universal metronome of rhythm) and chanting, the treatment was executed by group participation.
Such a congregation often
continued until health had been restored. Forde3 (1970) observes in
describing the Dogon people:
for an individual results especially from the breaking of the rules of
life, prefigures the universal disorder which spreads
by stages from the individual to his close kinsmen, his family, his clan, his people. But the disorder may be arrested
removed at any stage by appropriate rituals.
Even in the United States where the African people are most alienated
from their true nature, one finds vestiges of this same pattern. It is considered a real contribution on the part of family
members, friends, and religious leaders to come and "sit up" with the sick person. The participation in the cure by visitation
and communion is still an important social value among Africans in the United States. One needs to make only a brief visit
to a local hospital and watch the swarms of Black family members and friends who come to surround the ailing victim.
is in contrast with the emphasis on isolating, limiting visitors, and restricting visiting hours found in Western settings
for treatment of the sick.
Education is another area where an understanding of rhythm and communion might correct many
of the errors of educating Black youth that grow out of the imposition of alien concepts of personality onto Black students.
With this idea of socializing and it's significance within the African view of the world, one would be less likely to replace
people by machines in the teaching process. They would also understand the superior of am interactive format in educating
Black people. One can better understand the alienation of a Black student from the classroom which forces dreaded isolation
or dehumanization. The most common complaint about the Black student is the disruption caused by the excessive socializing
which goes on in the classroom. From a perspective of rhythm, one is made aware of the unnaturalness of the classroom
that fosters isolation rather than the eminent value of socializing.
It is interesting to observe how the phenomenon
of participation permeates Black group settings. The common pattern of call-and-response found in all settings from the fields
to the church, from political rallies to religious observance; the rhythm of shared participation becomes the tie that binds
the diversification of function. The leader in his authority makes a call; the listener shares in the call by responding and
supporting the call of the initiator. The rollicking "Amens," "Right ons,"
That's right," which characterize the ongoing
support of the audience soon obscure the distinction
between the speaker and listeners and, again, the motif of oneness
is restored. The key idea of this part of the discussion is that it is meaningless to conceptualize an individual personality
among African people. When such insular notions are used as the basis for intervening into the life processes of Black people,
one condemns their efforts to failure from the outset because such notions are alien to the nature of African people.
The concept of unity or rhythm also explains African kinship patterns. The tribe obtains its group
based upon its common genesis. A man without lineage is a man without citizenship,
without identity, and without allies.
Nearly all tribes have a mythological system that defines their
derivation from one source. This becomes a critical notion
for social organization and social control, as well as reinforcing the notions of rhythmic socializing described above. The
often-described extended family among African people is relevant to this notion of oneness. Among the Dogon, for any individual,
all uterine kin represent femininity and all paternal kin masculinity. "A man calls all women who are uterine kin, whatever
their age, mother (na),- he calls all adult men of his patrilineal kin father (baj) "~ Such kinship patterns serve to reinforce
the notion of interdependence which Is derived from the notion of a single unifying life force which flows through all people
and all things.
Again, there are derivatives of this notion found in Black Americans' families and social patterns.
The extensive number of "distant" relatives who are incorporated into the nuclear family often baffles cultural aliens. The
inclusion of cousins removed by a factor of fourth or fifth into the immediate family fold is not unusual, particularly in
rural settings of the United States. The use of "para-kinship" ties is described by Robert Staples5 (1974), where males and
females who are "unrelated" to one another "go for" or have "play" brothers and sisters who have the same loyalties and responsibilities
as "blood" relations. Such relationships even further extend the far-reaching kinship patterns. Particularly among Black Americans,
the pattern of referring to each other as "brother" or "sister" serves to foster that notion of kinship among all people.
ties and titles serve to reinforce the flow among all members of the group.
'With this perspective,
the Black family is not subject to the considerable criticism it has received
from scholars who have chosen to view the
Black family as an aberration of the model European
family which, like its cosmology, is much more closed and insulated.
White social workers,
psychologists, and educators have found themselves utterly confused when they have attempted to list,
define, or describe Black families utilizing the guidelines that have grown from their own
experiences. Such extended kinship
patterns are as practical as they are spiritually and philosophically significant. Such patterns of kinship serve to establish
an implicit social control and morality that make external coercion unnecessary in observing laws and respect for human relationships.
is particularly interesting to note that as these indigenous kinship patterns begin to erode, there
has been a parallel
increase in disharmonious relationships among Black groups. The extensive
documentation of Black-on-Black crime, especially
in the cities, is the clearest example of the
consequences of the erosion of natural African patterns of family. Particularly
in the cities, contact
with alien people and imitations of their patterns as well as the considerable stress of urban living
have served to erode these natural kinship patterns. Disharmony has resulted from the disruption of flow and interconnectedness
in these alien environments. The housing patterns the absence of
adequate opportunity to form firm kinship ties, the excessive
crowding of urban living all serve to
erode these socially facilitative kinship patterns. One observes as a consequence
a kind of perversion of these natural patterns. The brotherhood of one's age group mutates into delinquent gangs that must
defend their territory as well as their identity in response to excessive congestion, as well as imitative of a modeled life-style
communicated by the alien media.
The loss of spiritual definitions of kinship in lieu of the considerable material
emphasis of the
environment further serves to erode these relationships. The few instances where such kinship
have been re-instituted and utilized as a means of social cooperation and social control have been successful only in those
contexts where there has been a reactivation of the concept of a unifying spiritual force. Certainly, the Nation of Islam
serves as the most dramatic example of the facility of unity within a context of a shared vitalism. It is precisely because
of the activation of this spiritual vitalism that such a spirit of fraternity persists within the Nation while it erodes rapidly
in more superficial contexts, such as the attempt to use political identities as a sufficient cause for unity.
The perpetual alternation or vibration of opposites maintains the energy behind the unifying vitalism,
which reflects a principle of twinness that ideally should direct the proliferation of life. "Nothing in the universe can
be generated without the cooperation of complementary principles or 'twins' whose archetype is the feminine-masculine couple."6
The fundamental law of creation is the principle of twinship. Even at the level of the individual, humans are conceived as
"two souls of opposite sexes, one of which inhabits his body while the other dwells in the sky or water and
links it to them," according to the Dogon.7 "Man and woman are each provided with twin souls, one of each sex."8 The very
cohesion of man with nature, man with himself and man with woman is regulated by the principle of 'twinness and the attraction
of opposites. "Diverse elements are bound to each other by meaningful relationships. They make a closely woven fabric formed
by threads of warp and woof."9
The distinction between male and female is the essence of their union. It is in this
area that the most serious toll of the slavery experience was taken. The traditional distinction of the roles between the
sexes was obscured by the manipulations of the slave master. The persistence of the basic slavery social order which has sustained
tie Black man in a subservient and dependent role while fostering the domination of the woman has prohibited the return to
more natural patterns of role definition. The absence of real masculine prerogatives for the Black man has left his role obscure,
which has, in turn, obscured the role of his complement. In addition, identification with the uni-sexuality of the alien culture
that surrounds us has further obscured the distinction between the sexes. The pejorative quality of sexism has made the contrast
of femininity even more abhorrent to the Black woman. Consequently, the alternation of opposites that should be personified
in male-female relations is disordered. The cohesion that is achieved by the attractive force of opposites is disjoined by
the confusion of roles.
In traditional society, male and female roles are distinct. The separation and interdependence
of the sexes is a basic theme of their social organization and ritual. In some societies there is also a marked segregation
of the sexes with men and women taking their meals separately, dancing in separate groups. On festive occasions they do not
mingle but enjoy themselves in separate groups. The primary necessity to have independence before interdependence among Black
men and women has confounded those relationships in the United States from the outset. Most of the conflicts between the sexes
emanate either from the economic and status pressures of living in a passionately materialistic culture or from the inevitable
jealousies of the dependent and insecure.
Again, we find among the members of the Nation of Islam a return to the cohesive
balance of opposites in the relationships between men and women. Without being relegated to an inferior status (on the contrary,
the Muslim woman becomes the recipient of considerable exaltation), the woman is able to accept a submissive role to the man.
The man must submit to real justice and learn to lead without exploitation as a consequence of the independence that has freed
him from the shackles of dependent oppression. With an appreciation of the implicit opposition of forces within their roles,
they are free to develop individually and collectively in a mutually supportive direction. It is remarkable that submission,
which is a preeminent value among most Black people of the world, has attained such a negative connotation as a result of
its association with slavery and its aftermaths. As a result of the support that the pairs of opposites give each other, there
is an equilibrium that the individual being conserves within oneself. The individual is able to
stabilize the twin souls
within through achievement of the external stabilization in the balanced male female relationship. In traditional societies,
sexual mutilations are seen symbolically as producing within the person a definite dis-equilibrium, dispossessing them of
one part of the self, and compelling them to seek outside in the human community and specially in marriage that which is lacking.
is impossible to speak accurately of Black personality without speaking of Black religion.
Sterling Plump observes:
Black religion I mean those ways in which Black people in Africa and later in America, conceptualized to explain the universe
and man's relationship to it and to subsequently govern man's relationship to man.10
Religion became the rituals for
regulating the rhythms of life, which flow from the force of oneness that permeates all things in the Black man's world. John
Mbiti (1970) says:
traditional religions permeate all the departments of life there is no formal distinction between
the sacred and the secular, between the religious and non-religious, between the spiritual and the material areas of life.
Wherever the African is, there is his religion."
Certainly, the most consistent characteristic of Black people throughout
the world is their fervent
belief and practice in some form of religion. Though the practice comes in many forms, it
seeks to reaffirm the notion of oneness within and between people as well as with the
source of Divine force that flows
through all people. Religion becomes the essential regulator for
the rhythms of life, which are subject to the distortions
of material relativity. Religion is a primary vehicle for re-affirming through shared experience and contacts the communality
between the people. It is the vehicle that unified all of the community into a kinship of oneness.
the avowed Black atheist finds himself caught up in a religious drama if he maintains any form of in-depth contact with Black
people. "A person cannot detach themselves from the religion of their group, for to do so is to be severed from ones roots,
their foundation, their context of security their kinships, and the entire group of those who make one aware of their own
Certainly, the history of Black people throughout the world and in all eras has always occurred within
a religious context. From the building of the pyramids, throughout the rich kingdoms of the
African, King Solomon, all
along the Nile, throughout the Asian world, and into North America, Black people and their offspring have all been involved
in a religious drama.
If consistency, as documented by aeons of Black history, is a source of data about binding universal
laws, then we should look to invariables in that history for definitions of Black normality. From such a perspective it would
seem that the most normal life-style for a Black person is a religious life-style. What is meant by a religious life-style
is one that takes account of the unifying strand between people and throughout nature. It should serve to unify people into
a bond of oneness that confirms the self through participation with others. It should also regulate the rhythm of life and
provide rituals that restore order when disorder occurs. Religion should be a vehicle for the management of interpersonal
harmony and it should provide methods for management and mastery of the material universe.
The suggestion here is
that the spiritual definition of self that characterized the African requires that a conceptualization of the personality
of the African utilize a spiritual cosmology. The material
definition of self that dominates Western psychology from behaviorism
to libido, is inappropriate and inaccurate as definitions of African people. The application of any of these theoretical structures
to the mind of the Black person of necessity presents an incomplete and inaccurate view of this human being with universal
dimensions. The psychology of the Black person can come from no less than a cosmology that takes account of the oneness of
the African mind, the
rhythms of the African spirit, and the restoration of order where there is a disruption of rhythm.
Though this may sound unduly abstract and impractical or too philosophical, it, in fact, corresponds with the existing realities
of the African's world. A survey of the attitudes of the majority of African people anywhere in the world would reveal those
attitudes to reflect a religious conceptualization of their lives and their world. If a function of the psychologist is to
help describe normative reality, there is no behavior that is more normative than Black religion. It is in religion or through
religion that we find the source of leadership, education, counseling, recreation, birth and death for African people. It
would not be far-fetched to assert that Black psychology is Black religion.
has affected the traditionally rhythmic Black personality. This contaminant
emanated from contact and involvement with
the arrhythmic Western personality. Nowhere is this
contamination more evident than in the personality of the "American
Negro" This so-called "Negro" is an American creation having been spawned from the loins of an insidious slavery system. This
slavery system is notorious as the most humanly degrading method of exploitation and abuse in the history of civilized people.
Its notoriety primarily stemmed from its long-term effect on the personalities of its victims. Unlike other people of African
descent around the globe, the former American slave was thoroughly emptied of their traditions and prohibited from participation
in those societal-sustaining systems of shared cultural participation; a disharmony was inculcated into the slave personality.
societies develop and maintain their integrity as a people of shared origins with shared needs on the basis of their shared
cultural experiences and traditions. In being emptied of these traditions, the American Black has been left slightly out of
harmony with themselves and other people of African descent. The sense of oneness and rhythm that predominates in the traditional
African worldview has been almost thoroughly uprooted from the conscious personality of the "Negro." The "Negro" has become
arrhythmic to the extent that they have denied the unconscious prompting of their genetically endowed mentality. They have
succumbed to the sway of the alien mentality, which though consistent with the social, cultural and psychological needs of
the slave master was and is destructive to the needs of the Black people.
African personality was traditionally viewed
as extending into the life space of all life forms,
particularly, that of related creatures. That extended self has since
narrowed itself into fleshly isolation under the ideology of individuality characteristic of Western mentality. Kinship patterns
that radiated outward to encompass all of the identifiable tribe have crumbled under the pressure of exalting a nuclear family
unit. Male/female relationships are fraught with disharmony as they frantically chase the elusive alien models of beauty and
conjugal balance. Religion, which was the nucleus of traditional Black life, has become a superfluous moral annoyance. In
light of this, one can only conclude that the "Negro" has become arrhythmic to the extent that they have alienated themselves
from their traditional personality characteristics. To be restored to "Black" is to grow back into the traditional rhythmic
modes of relating discussed above.
Rhythm is the pulse of the unitary vitalism that flows through
and permeates the African's mind and world. It is manifested in everything from Black movements to Black speech, and, in more
or less subtle forms, in all aspects of Black life. It is simultaneously the essence of the oneness of the
they are and the motivation for unification that characterizes the proverbial search of the African spirit. When disorder
occurs, whether it is manifested physically, mentally, or spiritually, the disruption emanates from a disturbance in the rhythm,
which is the African's gauge of oneness.
Order is restored when we attain a reestablishment of social equilibrium with
our brothers and sisters. The kinship patterns of African people are geared toward maintenance of the same harmonious balance
between the person and their nuclear group. The striving to extend that balance leads to indefinite extensions of the nuclear
group itself. Male and female relationships acquire for the separate partners the same harmonious equilibrium to the extent
that the polar, oppositional forces of maleness and femaleness are complementary in the actualization of the separate roles.
Briefly, happiness in such relationships is directly proportional to the degree to which the man is fully man and the woman
is un-ambivalently woman. Intra-personal and interpersonal harmony is mediated by religion that facilitates the unique qualities
of rhythm and
unity that characterize the motivational striving of the African mind.
The essential point is that
we must reach beyond the materialistic and physical definitions of mind that characterize 'Western psychology and we must
seek to understand the African mind within the context of its distinct characteristics and strivings. The concept of a unifying
force or vitalism that pervades all of nature and particularly finds its highest expression in people along with its manifestation
through rhythms represents the departure of the African psychologist from the personality theorist coming from the perspective
of Western psychology.
1. Erny, Pierre, Childhood and Cosmos: The Social Psychology of the Black
African Child. Ncw
York: New Perspectives, 1973.
2. Nobles, W., Africanity and Black Families, Sausalito, Calif., Black
Scholar, Vol. 5, No. 9. June,
3. Forde, Daryll, African Worlds, New York: Oxford Uni versity Press, 1970
Erny, Pierre, op. cit.
5. Staples, Robert, "Strength an Inspiration: Black Families in the United States," to appear in
Minority Lifestyles, Robert Hahenstein and Charles Mindel (eds.) New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974.
6. Erny, Pierre,
7. Forde, Daryll, op. cit.
8. Erny, Pierre, op. Cit.
10. Plumpp, S., Black Rituals, Chicago:
Third World Press, 1972.
11. Mbiti, J.S., African Religions and Philosophy, Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company.
The Hymn to the Aton:
Accredited to Pharaoh Akhenaton:
daybreak, when thou arisest on the horizon,
When thou shinest as the Aton by day,
Thou drivest away the darkness
givest thy rays.
The Two Lands are in festivity every day,
Awake and standing upon (their) feet,
For thou hast raised
Washing their bodies, taking (their) clothing,
Their arms are (raised) in praise
at thy appearance.
the world, they do their work.
All beasts are content with their pasturage;
Trees and plants are flourishing.
birds which fly from their nests,
Their wings are (stretched) out
in praise to thy Ka.
All beasts spring upon (their)
Whatever flies and alights,
They live when thou hast risen (for) them.
The ships are sailing north and south
For every way is open at thy appearance.
The fish in the river dart before thy face;
Thy rays are in the
midst of the great green sea.
Creator of seed in women,
Thou who makest fluid into man,
Who maintainest the son
in the womb of his mother,
Who soothest him with that which
stills his weeping,
Thou nurse (even) in the womb,
givest breath to sustain all that he has made!
When he descends from the womb to breathe
On the day when he is born,
openest his mouth completely,
Thou suppliest his necessities.
When the chick in the egg
speaks within the shell,
givest him breath within it to maintain him.
When thou hast made him his fulfillment
within the egg, to break it,
comes forth from the egg to speak
at his completed (time);
He walks upon his legs
when he comes forth from it.
manifold it is, what thou hast made!
There are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
didst create the world
according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone;
All men, cattle and wild beasts,
is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.
The countries of Syria and Nubia,
the land of Egypt, Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities:
Everyone has his food, and
his time of life
Their tongues are separate in speech,
And their natures as well.
Their skins are
As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.
Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,
Thou bringest it
forth as thou desirest
To maintain the people (of Egypt)
According as thou madest them from thyself,
The lord of
all of them, wearying (himself)
The lord of every land, rising for them,
the Aton of the day, great of
All distant foreign countries,
thou makest their life (also),
For thou hast set a Nile in heaven,
it may descend for them and make waves
upon the mountains,
Like the great green sea,
To water their fields in their
How effective they are, thy plans,
O lord of eternity!
The Nile in heaven, it is for the foreign peoples
for the beasts of every desert
that go upon (their) feet;
(While the true) Nile comes from the underworld for Egypt.
rays suckle every meadow.
When thou risest, they live, they grow for thee.
Thou makest the seasons in order to rear
that thou hast made,
The winter to cool them,
And the heat that they may taste thee.
Thou hast made the distant sky
order to rise therein,
In order to see all that thou dost make.
Whilst thou wert alone,
Rising in the form as the
Appearing shining, withdrawing or approaching,
Thou madest millions of forms of thyself alone.
town, fields, road, and river--
Every eye beholds thee over against them,
For thou art the Aton of the day
earth . . .
Thou art in my heart,
And is no other that knows thee
Save thy son Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re,
thou hast made him well-versed in thy plans and in they strength.
The world came in to being by thy hand,
as thou hast made them.
When thou hast risen they live,
When thou settest they die.
Thou art lifetime thy own self,
one lives (only) through thee.
Eyes are (fixed) on beauty until thou settest.
All work is laid aside
when thou settest
in the west.
(But) when (thou) risest (again),
[Everything is] made to flourish
for the king, . . .
didst found the earth
And raise them up for thy son,
Who came forth from thy body:
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt,
. . .
Akh-en-Aton, . . . . and the Chief Wife
of the King . . . Nefer-iti,
living and youthful forever and ever.
was the royal advisor to King Zoser during the Third Dynasty of Kemet. Regarded as the world's first recorded multi-genius,
Imhotep was an architect, astronomer, philosopher, poet and physician. As an architect he was responsible for designing the
Step Pyramid and the Saqqara Complex. During his lifetime he was given a host of titles, among them:Chancellor of the King
of Lower Kemet, the First after the King of Upper Kemet, High Priest of Heliopolis and Administrator of the Great Palace.
As a physcian, Imhotep is believed to have been the author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus in which more than 90 anatomical terms
and 48 injuries are described. This is well over 2,200 years before the Western Father of Medicine Hippocrates is born. Some
2,000 years after his death, Imhotep was deified by the inhabitants of Kemet and was known later as Asclepius, God of Medicine,
to the Greeks. His very name, Im-Hotep, translates as the Prince of Peace. As a philosopher and poet, Imhotep's most remembered
phrase is: "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we shall die."(Photo and Information courtesy of Nile Valley Contributions
to Civilization by Anthony Browder)
THE WORLD FIRST KNOWN GENIUS
Imhotep was the royal advisor to King
Zoser during the Third Dynasty of Kemet. Regarded as the world's first recorded multi-genius, Imhotep was an architect, astronomer,
philosopher, poet and physician. As an architect he was responsible for designing the Step Pyramid and the Saqqara Complex.
During his lifetime he was given a host of titles, among them:Chancellor of the King of Lower Kemet, the First after the King
of Upper Kemet, High Priest of Heliopolis and Administrator of the Great Palace. As a physcian, Imhotep is believed to have
been the author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus in which more than 90 anatomical terms and 48 injuries are described. This is well
over 2,200 years before the Western Father of Medicine Hippocrates is born. Some 2,000 years after his death, Imhotep was
deified by the inhabitants of Kemet and was known later as Asclepius, God of Medicine, to the Greeks. His very name, Im-Hotep,
translates as the Prince of Peace. His tomb near Memphis became a sacred place and the site of pilgrimages for those seeking
a cure. As a philosopher and poet, Imhotep's most remembered phrase is: "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we shall die."
There still remain many bronze statuettes, temples and sanatoria bearing his name, as is depicted in the picture of the statue
IMHOTEP "FATHER OF MEDICINE" (2980 B.C.)
Imhotep, called "God of Medicine," "Prince of Peace," and a
"Type of Christ." Imhotep was worshipped as a god and healer from approximately 2850 B.C. to 525 B.C., and as a full deity
from 525 B.C. to 550 A.D. Even kings and queens bowed at his throne. Imhotep lived during the Third Dynasty at the court of
King Zoser. Imhotep was a known scribe, chief lector, priest, architect, astronomer and magician (medicine and magic were
used together.) For 3000 years he was worshipped as a god in Greece and Rome. Early Christians worshippd him as the "Prince
Imhotep was also a poet and philosopher. He urged contentment and preached cheerfulness. His proverbs contained
a "philosophy of life." Imhotep coined the saying "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die."
When the Egyptians
crossed the Mediterranean, becoming the foundation of the Greek culture, Imhotep's teachings were absorbed there. Yet, as
the Greeks were determined to assert that they were the originators of everything, Imhotep was forgotten for thousands of
years and a legendary figure, Hippocrates, who came 2000 years after him became known as the Father of Medicine.
is Imhotep says Sir William Osler, who was the real Father of Medicine. "The first figure of a physician to stand out clearly
from the mists of antiquity." Imhotep diagnosed and treated over 200 diseases, 15 diseases of the abdomen, 11 of the bladder,
10 of the rectum, 29 of the eyes, and 18 of the skin, hair, nails and tongue. Imhotep treated tuberculosis, gallstones, appendicitis,
gout and arthritis. He also performed surgery and practiced some denistry. Imhotep extracted medicine from plants. He also
knew the position and function of the vital organs and circulation of the blood system. The Encyclopedia Britannica says,
"The evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep's reputation was very respected in early
times...His prestige increased with the lapse of centuries and his temples in Greek times were the centers of medical teachings."
James Henry Breasted says of Imhotep:
In priestly wisdom, in magic, in the formulation of wise proverbs; in
medicine and architecture; this remarkable figure of Zoser's reign left so notable a reputation that his name was never forgotten.
He was the patron spirit of the later scribes, to whom they regularly poured out a libation from the water-jug of their writing
outfit before beginning their work. The people sang of his proverbs centuries later, and 2500 years after his death, he had
become a god of medicine in whom Greeks, who call him Imouthes, recognized their own Asklepios. A temple was erected to him
near the Serapeum at Memphis, and at the present day, every museum possesses a bronze statue or two of the apotheosized wise
man, the proverb maker, physician, and architect of Zoser.
Historical Personalities & Issues Compiled & Edited
by Phillip True, Jr.
Imhotep was a genius human that became a true god after his death in about 2600 BC. As chief architect
under king Djoser (third dynasty) he created the first monumental building in history made of hewn stone: the step pyramid
in Sakkara. Few written records come from his own time and his background is not known. (Some say he was the son of Djoser).
He was also the prime minister, chief physician, high priest, philosopher and a poet. He was worshipped for 2500 years as
the god of medicine when the Greeks and the Romans adopted his thoughts and spread it. Considered first child of god Ptah
and goddess Nut he brought to man knowledge of healing and medicine.
He protected science and was seen as man dressed
in a simple way sitting with his studying material. His tomb has not yet been found, but it is likely to be somewhere in Sakkara.
was chief architect to the Third Dynasty King Djoser (2687-2668 BC). He is the first master architect we know by name, and
was in charge of building the original step pyramid at Saqqara. This pyramid also set a precedent by including a collection
of temples, pavilions, corridors, chapels and halls within the enclosure walls.
A commoner by birth, Imhotemp's
intelligence and determination enabled him to rise through the ranks to become one of the king's most trusted advisors. He
eventually held the offices of High Priest of Heliopolis and Lector Priest, making him a very powerful and influential man
whose name is given the great honour of being inscribed on the base of one of the statues of King Djoser.
influence lived on well after his death. In the New Kingdom he was venerated as the patron of scribes, personifying wisdom
and education. In the 'Turin Papyri' from this period he is also described as the son of Ptah, chief god of Memphis, in recognition
of his role as a wise councillor.
As a builder, Imhotep is the first master architects who we know by name. He is not
only credited as the first pyramid architect, who built Djoser's Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara, but he may have had a hand
in the building of Sekhemkhet's unfinished pyramid, and also possibly with the establishment of the Edfu Temple, but that
is not certain. The Step Pyramid remains today one of the most brilliant architecture wonders of the ancient world and is
recognized as the first monumental stone structure.
Imhotep's best known writings were medical text. As a physician,
Imhotep is believed to have been the author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus in which more than 90 anatomical terms and 48 injuries
are described. He may have also founded a school of medicine in Memphis, a part of his cult center possibly known as "Asklepion,
which remained famous for two thousand years. All of this occurred some 2,200 years before the Western Father of Medicine
Hippocrates was born.
Sir William Osler tells us that Imhotep was the:
"..first figure of a physician to stand
out clearly from the mists of antiquity." Imhotep diagnosed and treated over 200 diseases, 15 diseases of the abdomen, 11
of the bladder, 10 of the rectum, 29 of the eyes, and 18 of the skin, hair, nails and tongue. Imhotep treated tuberculosis,
gallstones, appendicitis, gout and arthritis. He also performed surgery and practiced some dentistry. Imhotep extracted medicine
from plants. He also knew the position and function of the vital organs and circulation of the blood system. The Encyclopedia
Britannica says, "The evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep's reputation was very respected
in early times. His prestige increased with the lapse of centuries and his temples in Greek times were the centers of medical
Along with medicine, he was also a patron of architects, knowledge and scribes. James Henry Breasted says
"In priestly wisdom, in magic, in the formulation of wise proverbs; in medicine and architecture; this
remarkable figure of Zoser's reign left so notable a reputation that his name was never forgotten. He was the patron spirit
of the later scribes, to whom they regularly poured out a libation from the water-jug of their writing outfit before beginning
The Legend of Ra and Aset (Isis):
by E. A. Wallis Budge Tr. 1912
THE CHAPTER of the
divine (or, mighty) god, who created himself, who made the heavens and the earth, and the breath of life, and fire, and the
gods, and men, and beasts, and cattle, and reptiles, and the fowl of the air, and the fish, who is the king of men and gods,
[who existeth] in one Form, [to whom] periods of one hundred and twenty years axe as single years, whose names by reason of
their multitude are unknowable, for [even] the gods know them not.
Behold, the goddess Aset (Isis) lived in the form
, of a woman, who had the knowledge of words [of power]. Her heart turned away in disgust from the millions of men, and she
chose for herself the millions of the gods, but esteemed more highly the millions of the spirits. Was it not possible to become
even as was Ra in heaven and upon earth, and to make [herself] mistress of the earth, and a [mighty] goddess-thus she meditated
in her heart-by the knowledge of the Name of the holy god?
Behold, Ra entered [heaven] each day at the head of his
mariners, establishing himself upon the double throne of the two horizons. Now the divine one had become old, he dribbled
at the mouth, and he let his emissions go forth from him upon the earth, and his spittle fell upon the. ground. This Aset
(Isis) kneaded in her hand,' with [some] dust, and she fashioned it in the form of a sacred serpent, and made it to have the
form of a dart, so that none might be able to escape alive from it, and she left it lying upon the road whereon the great
god traveled, according to his desire, about the two lands.
Then the holy god rose up in the tabernacle of the gods
in the great double house (life, strength, health!) among those who were in his train, and [as] he journeyed on his way according
to his daily wont, the holy serpent shot its fang into him, and the living fire was departing from the god's own body, and
the reptile destroyed the dweller among the cedars.
And the mighty god opened his mouth, and the cry of His Majesty
(life, strength, health!) reached unto the heavens, and the company of the gods said, "What is it?" and his gods said, "What
is the matter?" And the god found [no words] wherewith to answer concerning himself. His jaws shook, his lips trembled, and
the poison took possession of all his flesh just as Hapi (i.e., the Nile) taketh possession of the land through which he floweth.
the great god made firm his heart (i.e., took courage) and he cried out to those who were in his following:-" Come ye unto
me, O ye who have come into being from my members,' ye gods who have proceeded from me, for I would make you to know what
hath happened. I have been smitten by some deadly thing, of which my heart hath no knowledge, and which I have neither seen
with my eyes nor made with my hand; and I have no knowledge at all who hath done this to me. I have never before felt any
pain like unto it, and no pain can be worse than this [is]. I am a Prince, the son of a Prince, and the divine emanation which
was produced from a god. I am a Great One, the son of a Great One, and my father hath determined for me my name. I have multitudes
of names, and I have multitudes of forms, and my being existeth in every god. I have been invoked (or, proclaimed?) by Temu
My father and my mother uttered my name, and [they] hid it in my body at my birth so that none of
those who would use against me words of power might succeed in making their enchantments have dominion over Me. I had come
forth from my tabernacle to look upon that which I had made, and was making my way through the two lands which I had made,
when a blow was aimed at me, but I know not of what kind.
Behold, is it fire? Behold, is it water? My heart is full
of burning fire, my limbs axe shivering, and my members have darting pains in them. Let there be brought unto me my children
the gods, who possess words of magic, whose mouths are cunning [in uttering them], and whose powers reach up to heaven."
his children came unto him, and every god was there with his cry of lamentation; and Aset (Isis) came with her words of magic,
and the place of her mouth [was filled with] the breath of life, for the words which she putteth together destroy diseases,
and her words make to live those whose throats are choked (i.e., the dead).
And she said, "What is this, O divine father?
What is it ? Hath a serpent shot his venom into thee? Hath a thing which thou hast fashioned lifted up its head against thee
? Verily it shall be overthrown by beneficent words of power, and I will make it to retreat in the sight of thy rays."
holy god opened his mouth, [saying], I was going along the road and passing through the two lands of my country, for my heart
wished to look upon what I had made, when I was bitten by a serpent which I did not see; behold, is it fire? Behold, is it
water? I am colder than water, I am hotter than fire, all my members sweat, I myself quake, mine eye is unsteady. I cannot
look at the heavens, and water forceth itself on my face as in the time of the Inundation."
And Aset (Isis) said unto
Ra, "O my divine father, tell me thy name, for he who is able to pronounce his name liveth." [And Ra said], "I am the maker
of the heavens and the earth, I have knit together the mountains, and I have created everything which existeth upon them.
I am the maker of the Waters, and I have made Meht-ur to come into being; I have made the Bull of his Mother, and I have made
the joys of love to exist. I am the maker of heaven, and I have made to be hidden the two gods of the horizon, and I have
placed the souls of the gods within them. I am the Being who openeth his eyes and the light cometh; I am the Being who shutteth
his eyes and there is darkness. I am the Being who giveth the command, and the waters of Hapi (the Nile) burst forth, I am
the Being whose name the gods know not. I am the maker of the hours and the creator of the days. I am the opener (i.e., inaugurator)
of the festivals, and the maker of the floods of water. I am the creator of the fire of life whereby the works of the houses
are caused to come into being. I am Kheperi in the morning, and Ra (at the time of his culmination (i.e., noon), and Temu
in the evening."'
Nevertheless the poison was not driven from its course, and the great god felt no better. Then Aset
(Isis) said unto Ra, "Among the things which thou hast said unto me thy name hath not been mentioned. O declare thou it unto
me, and the poison shall come forth; for the person who hath declared his name shall live."
Meanwhile the poison burned
with blazing fire and the heat thereof was stronger than that of a blazing flame. Then. the Majesty of Ra, said, "I will allow
myself to be searched through by Aset (Isis), and my name shall come forth from my body and go into hers."
divine one hid himself from the gods, and the throne in the Boat of Millions of Years was empty. And it came to pass that
when it was the time for the heart to come forth [from the god], she said unto her son Heru (Horus), "The great god shall
bind himself by an oath to give his two eyes." Thus was the great god made to yield up his name, and Aset (Isis), the great
lady of enchantments, said, "Flow on, poison, and come forth from Ra; let the Eye of Heru (Horus) come forth from the god
and shine(?) outside his mouth. I have worked, and I make the poison to fall on the ground, for the venom hath been mastered.
the name hath been taken away from the great god. Let Ra live, and let the poison die; and if the poison live then Ra shall
die. And similarly, a certain man, the son of a certain man, shall live and the poison shall die."
These were the words
which spake Aset (Isis), the great lady, the mistress of the gods, and she had knowledge of Ra in his own name. The above
words shall be said over an image of Temu and an image of Heru-Hekennu, and over an image of Aset (Isis) and an image of Heru
THE FOUNDER OF DYNASTIC KEMET (3200 B.C.):
Narmer or Aha was called Menes by the Greeks.
Regarded as the founder of Dynastic Kemet, he led an army from Upper Kemet in the south to conquer Lower Kemet in the north
around 3200BC. Upon victory Narmer united Upper and Lower Kemet into one nation after which thirty dynasties would follow.
It was at this time that hieroglyphic writing or any type of writing in the world for that matter, made its first appearance,
in the tombs and treasures of the pharaohs. One of Narmer's first tasks was to build a city on his newly conquered lands.
Here he was met with a difficult task as the Delta region was covered by an immense swamp. To remedy this situation, Narmer
drained the swamp by actually diverting the course of the Nile River. Upon this new land he built a city which he named Men-Nefer:The
Good Place. This city served as the capital of Kemet for several centuries. An Arab traveler writing as late as the Middle
Ages reported the city "stretching a day's journey in every direction." The Greeks would rename Men-Nefer "Memphis," a name
that even today honors an African king who lived nearly 5,000 years ago.
Table of Nubian Inventions and When they Were Percieved as Universally Worthwhile:
10 000 BC or Earlier
Petroleum:- petroleum was used by Kemetians(Africans) as bitume and
combustile. Petroleum was found
in the mummies.The extraction and production
of oil required a high knownledge of geology,mathematiques,chimistry...
Writing(hieroglyphics) Mdw Ntr
Maths and Engineering
Paper (made from Papyrus)
Boats (made from Papyrus)
800 BC and Earlier
Calendars: Solar, Lunar, Astrological, ect. (360 days/12 months
Domestication of Animals
Art and Literature, Philosophy and Spiritual Sytems
Mining (Gold, Tin, Copper, Iron and other metals)
Father of Scientific Medecine
Belief in one God
Sytem of Higher Education :Universities (Timbuktu)
2 - 6 AD
Labor and Economics
Kemetic (African) Scholars
Established such principles and concepts as the Mind/Soul/Spirit,
spiritual transformation, life
and death, resurrection and after-life,
Ancestralhood, immortality, creation, universal order, ideas, will, thought,
memory, learning, human development, justice, morality, human
nature, self-consciousness, unconscious or subconscious,
and many others,
long before the Greeks were known to exist in human history
Nanny of the Maroons:
Nanny was born in Africa. She was brought to Jamaica as a slave. She was from the Ashanti tribe. Nanny is known to the
Maroons of today as "Granny Nanny".
The Ashanti tribe was one of the powerful tribes in West Africa. They were well trained
in fighting battles. Their women were greatly respected. Their women also knew about fighting battles.
arrived in Jamaica, rebellion against slavery was going on. Rebel towns (the towns of run-away slaves) were all over the island.
The Maroon villages were the strongest of these rebel town. They were well organized and defended.
It must be remembered
that the first Maroons were those who had run away when the British captured Jamaica and took it from the Spaniards. The other
free Africans escaped under British rule. It was because the Maroons were organized and knew the country, that many run-away
slaves joined them. Soon, both the original Maroons and the run-away slaves were called Maroons.
on the plantations for the woman slave was very cruel. Women were no longer treated with respect. In Africa a woman was held
in high respect, for without her great gift of children the tribe would die out. Now as a slave, the African woman was to
be bred to provide slaves for the white masters. She often suffered from being raped by her master.
Her husband could
be sold to another plantation. She would be lucky if she saw him again. Her children could also be taken away from her.
would not stand for this. Soon after arriving in Jamaica, Nanny and her five brothers escaped from slavery. Her brothers were
Cudjoe, the great Maroon leader, Accompong, Johnny, Cuffy and Quao. This Ashanti family soon became leaders of the Maroons
and of many other free Africans.
Nanny and her brothers decided that a movement should be started to drive away the
British. Cudjoe went to St. James and built a village. This village was called Cudjoe Town. Accompong went to St. Elizabeth.
Accompong in St. Elizabeth is named after him. Nanny and Quao went to Portland to organize the free Africans there. There
were, therefore, two main groups of Maroons. There were those in the west of the island called the Leeward Maroons. Those
in the east were called the Windward Maroons.
By 1720 Nanny had taken full control of the Blue Mountain Rebel
Town. It was renamed Nanny Town. There Nanny, Quao and their people cleared over 600 acres of forest for cultivation. Their
society was organized like the Ashanti society.
From these hills the Maroons would send traders to the city. They would
exchange food for arms and cloth. Nanny’s Maroons would also raid plantations. Then they would burn the estates and
carry off arms, food and slaves whom they set free. These free Africans would increase their numbers at Nanny Town.
Town was well defended against British attack. The town was located on a ridge in the Blue Mountains. Part of the town overlooked
Stony River. There is a 900-foot. precipice somewhere in the area between Stony River and Nanny Town. Along the precipice
there was a narrow track leading to the town.
Guards were put at look-out points. Warriors were called by the blowing
of a horn. This horn was called the Abeng. It was impossible for the British to attack them by surprise.
can be described as a military genius. She led over 800 free Africans for over 50 years. She helped to plan ways for them
to remain free. She and her people lived in mountains where there was very high rainfall. She had a very good knowledge of
herbs. She was both a nurse and a spiritual leader.
Nanny and her soldiers were a ‘thorn in the side’ of the
British. She found many ways of encouraging slaves to escape from the estates. This upset the British very much.
1728 to 1734, Nanny Town was defended against British attack. The Maroons were better than the British at fighting in the
They would dress themselves to look like trees and bushes. In this way they could not be easily seen
by the British soldiers. The Maroons had a few men who would show themselves to the British soldiers. These men would then
run in the direction of their brothers who were dressed like trees. The British soldiers would run at them. Suddenly the Maroons
who were dressed like trees would rise up against them and destroy them. The British soldiers were not as accustomed as the
Maroons were, to the mountains and forest. Many died from ill-health.
had spies all around. Some were even on the slave plantations. In this way she got news of when the British would attack.
Her warriors moved swiftly and quietly.
The Maroons tell us that Nanny kept a cauldron (a large pot) at the foot of Nanny
Town. This huge pot kept boiling. But it had no fire under it. The British soldiers who were attacking would be shocked at
this strange sight. As they peeped over to look into the large pot they became sleepy and fell over into. Then they would
die from want of fresh air.
It was only by the use of cannon guns that the British captured Nanny Town. In 1734 Captain
Stoddard bombed Nanny Town. The British said that all the Maroons were killed. The Maroons of today say that Nanny and some
of her followers escaped. They made a new hideout near the Rio Grande.
We are told by the Maroons that at this time
Nanny’s followers were very discouraged. They were wondering if they should give up. All their cultivations at Nanny
Town were destroyed. They had to start life all over again. It is said that Nanny prayed night and day. She asked for guidance
soon had a vision. She was told never to give up the fight for freedom. She was told in her vision to plant the pumpkin seeds
which she had in her pocket. This she did in the fertile hills of the Blue Mountains. Soon the whole hill was covered with
pumpkins. In time this hideout came to be known as Pumpkin Hill. This hill is located 6 miles from Port Antonio.
a party of Nanny’s Maroons were sent to join those in the west of the island. Three hundred men, women and children
set out on one of the longest marches in Jamaican history.
This march is known as the " great trek." They marched
from Portland to St. James. They marched over the high mountains and wild forests of the Cockpit Country. At the same time
they were being harassed by British soldiers. They eventually reached St. James.
They had wanted to unite with Cudjoe’s
warriors. Cudjoe for some reason refused to unite with Nanny’s Maroons. It is believed that Nanny wanted unity to fight
the British. On the other hand, Cudjoe wanted peace with the British. Nanny’s people had to journey back the long way
they came. They went back to Portland.
The British wanted peace. Almost every settlement they made was burnt down
by the Maroons. The British were very afraid when they heard of the "great trek". They had already lost hundreds of soldiers
and arms. It was costing them too much money and lives to fight the Maroons.
Nanny was one of the chief freedom fighters
who refused to sign a treaty of peace. She believed in total freedom. She inspired her people to follow her. She inspired
them to seek unity for all freedom fighters in Jamaica. In 1737 she took an oath on Pumpkin Hill. She and her people would
continue to fight the British raiding parties to the end.
1739 Cudjoe signed a peace treaty with the British. This treaty gave the Maroons lands and rights as free men. But in return
they promised the British to do three things. They promised not to war against the British. They were to help capture run-away
slaves. Lastly, they were to help the Government put down revolts.
Nanny refused a similar offer. Instead she agreed to
enter into a truce with the British. Nanny did this half-heartedly. She agreed to it mainly because she saw that her people
were tired of war. They wanted peace.
The Maroons of today tell us that Nanny had supernatural powers. We are told that
after the treaty was signed, Nanny decided to show the British soldiers some of her powers. She was said to have walked twenty
paces away. She asked the leader of the British forces to order his men to fire their guns at her. At first he refused. He
thought it was a trick by Nanny to start a new war. He was eventually convinced by Nanny’s people to do as she asked.
Nanny turned her back and bent over. The shots were fired. When the smoke cleared, she went over to the British captain. She
gave him the bullets which she had caught and said; "Take these good friend, there is peace. So now I am free to show that
only one man’s bullet can harm Nanny." As she spoke she pointed heavenwards. This is what we are told by the Maroons.
Nanny bargained for a land grant with the British. After the truce the Windward Maroons split into two groups. One
went closer to Crawford Town with Quao their chief. Nanny and her people were given a land grant of 500 acres at Cottawood.
Cottawood was called "New Nanny" Town. Today the Maroons of Moore Town have kept their history through songs and word of mouth.
Nanny is regarded as a Priestess and Queen Mother by the Maroons.
Nanny died during the 1750’s.She lies buried
at "Bump Grave" in Maroon Town.
and people like her helped to speed up the end of slavery. The slave rebellions that followed were inspired by Nanny and other
freedom fighters. These rebellions made the British Government fear that Jamaica would become another Haiti. This fear of
revolution was a major factor influencing the British to abolish slavery.
Sam Sharpe, before he was hanged said, "I
would rather die on yonder gallows than live in slavery." He was only following the noble footsteps of freedom fighters like
c.1813 - c.1879
- Sierra Leonean
Occupation - Rebel, Mutineer, Slave
Joseph Cinque (ca. 1813-ca.
1879) was a West African who led a slave mutiny on the Cuban Amistad ship in 1839. It led to a celebrated trial in United
States courts, which held that slaves escaping from illegal bondage should be treated as free men.
Joseph Cinque was
born the son of a Mende headman in the village of Mani, in modern Sierra Leone. A rice farmer and trader, he was enslaved
for debt and sold to the notorious Spanish slaver Pedro Blanco, on Lomboko Island at the mouth of the Gallinas River, in April
1839. Cinque was then carried to Havana, where he was resold with 51 others, many of them Mendians, and shipped aboard the
coasting schooner Amistad bound for the Cuban sugar plantations near the port of Guanaja, Puerto Principe.
30 Cinque incited the slaves to revolt at sea, killing the captain and cook and taking prisoner their owners, two merchants
named Ruiz and Montez. Cinque tried to force Montez to pilot the vessel to Africa, but Montez reversed the course repeatedly,
zigzagging up the North American coast. They were captured off Montauk Point, Long Island, by the U.S. Coast Guard vessel
Washington and were brought to New London, where the ship, cargo, and rebellious slaves were claimed for salvage money, while
Ruiz and Montez sought to regain possession of them.
President Van Buren and Secretary of State John Forsyth, sympathetic
to the slaveholders' claims and pressured by the Spanish government, tried to remove the case from the courts and transport
the Africans to Cuba. But the Connecticut courts would not release them, and the plight of Cinque and his companions, jailed
in New Haven, aroused abolitionist forces led by the New York merchant Lewis Tappan.
Cinque's heroic figure and commanding
personality lent itself to the drama, and he was widely lionized as a symbol of the abolitionist cause. The abolitionists
argued that the Africans, illegally enslaved, were justified in revolting to regain freedom and were innocent of any true
crime in killing their captors to achieve freedom. In a dramatic appeal before the Supreme Court in 1841, the 73-year-old
former president John Quincy Adams charged the Federal government with wrongful interference in the courts and obstruction
of justice through partiality for slaveholders and antipathy toward blacks. The Court's decision, given on March 9, 1841,
went for the abolitionists and set the Africans free.
Tappan and his associates then intended to found an African mission,
using Cinque's party as a nucleus. Once in Sierra Leone, however, the not ungrateful but independent-minded Africans clashed
with their mentors and soon deserted the enterprise. Cinque established himself as an independent power and became, according
to rumors, a successful slave trader himself. Years later, in 1879, he was reported to have reappeared, to die and be buried
at the old mission on Sherbro Island.
The fullest account of Cinque is William A. Owens, Slave Mutiny: The
Revolt on the Schooner Amistad (1953), a dramatized account based on research into the documents of the Amistad collection
of the New Haven Historical Society, Supreme Court case records, personal papers, and records of the American Missionary Association.
Cinque and the Amistad mutiny are discussed in the context of the slave trade and the international efforts to suppress it
in John R. Spears, "The Story of the Amistad," in The American Slave Trade: An Account of Its Origin, Growth and Suppression
(1900; reissued 1967 with a new introduction), and in Daniel P. Mannix and Malcolm Cowley, Black Cargoes (1962). Contemporary
accounts and documentation are found in John W. Barber, A History of the Amistad Captives ... with Biographical Sketches ...
also, an Account of the Trials (1840). The key judicial decisions in the Amistad case are contained in Helen Tunnicliff Catterall,
ed., Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro, vol. 4 (1936).
Hannibal of Carthage (247-183 B.C.):
Hannibal is said to be the greatest military leader and
strategist of all time. Hannibal was born in 247 B.C., when Carthage, then the maritime power, was beginning to decline. The
Carthaginians were descendants of the Phoenicians, who were great Black merchants. They traded with India and the people of
the Mediterranean, and the Scilly Isles.
When very young, Hannibal accompanied Hamilclar, his father in a battle with
the Romans. Seventeen years later, he succeeded his father and became supreme commander of the peninsula. Hannibal had 80,000
infantry, 12,000 cavalry, and 40 African war elephants. He conquered major portions of Spain and France, and all of Italy,
except for Rome.
Hannibal marched his army and war elephants through the Alps to surprise and conquer his enemies.
In one battle, the Romans put 80,000 men on the field to defeat Hannibal, led by Scipio. When Scipio attacked with his entire
army, Hannibal had so studied the grounds and arranged his men so that they surrounded the Romans. He then turned his armored
war elephants loose and trampled them. Behind them, he sent his African swordsmen to complete the slaughter.
battle, Rome sent 90,000 men led by Varro and Emilius. With only 50,000 men, knowing he could not win by using his main force,
Hannibal placed the weakest part of his army in the center, contrary to the best military rules. With his veterans and cavalry
on both wings, the Romans struck them in full center as Hannibal had anticipated. When they were sure of victory by overcoming
the center, Hannibal's flank closed in and killed 70,000 men, 80 senators and Emilius.
Hannibal later went on to become
a statesman of Carthage, and later took his own life, rather than surrender to Rome.