African Foundations of World Religions: "It Is to Inner Africa We Must Look in Order to Understand That Which Became Majestic in [Ancient] Egypt" -- Gerald Massey. Welcome to Part 2 of Our Series on Religion. (Religion)

By Biko, Femi | New African, May 2001 | Go to article overview

African Foundations of World Religions: "It Is to Inner Africa We Must Look in Order to Understand That Which Became Majestic in [Ancient] Egypt" -- Gerald Massey. Welcome to Part 2 of Our Series on Religion. (Religion)


Biko, Femi, New African


Common patterns in the basic formulations of faiths worldwide makes it inevitable for scholars to conclude that the various religious systems were derived from earlier sources.

The maxims of conduct, system of ethics, rituals, lore and myths since transmitted to the current world suggests derivations from the collective cultural archives of humanity's first nations.

While it is now universally acknowledged that humanity's physical evolution began in Africa, a certain resistance persists as to whether or not thought began with the first nations, the African societies.

Certainly we can do no more than abandon such contrived frameworks. Nevertheless, investigations into these psychic questions offers fertile grounds for research into this aspect of natural philosophy, which itself informs both the problems of the sociology of knowledge as well as the problem of primeval origins in the evolution of thought itself, its psychological underpinnings and philosophic implications.

Sterile charges of "diffusionism" are insufficient to drown the evidence of culture contact and cultural borrowings. Just as the renowned American Egyptologist, James Breasted recognised Hebrew derivations of Egyptian religious thought as the medium and not the source, the English antiquarian of the 19th century, Gerald Massey had long affirmed that "it is to inner Africa we must look in order to understand that which became majestic in Egypt".

"Inner Africa is the birthplace" where Egypt is simply the transmitter, or in Massey's word, "the mouthpiece". (Note: Egypt throughout this article refers to Ancient Egypt).

To make further sense of these borrowings from Africa's cultural archives, through Egyptian sources, let us briefly consider key theological themes as

they emerged in the genres which we shall here refer to as the pre and post Akhenaton traditions.

For ease of comparison we shall restrict our study of the salient points, focusing on those themes already familiar to the Western audience. We must also state here that religious accounts cannot be treated as cultural history but as pnemo-history, a way of remembering repressed memory as opposed to actual narratives of events. Let us begin our explorations with the doctrines of origin.

Cosmic origins

Having introduced the divine architect in the first verse, the author of Genesis in the Bible had the formless earth given form in the second, when, "the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). Like earth, the heavenly realm was undifferentiated by the waters.

The "alchemy" of creation followed a ritualistic path in which the divine alchemist commanded a firmament "and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament" (Genesis 1:7).

Thus it was that land emerged from the primordial waters, effected by a commanding utterance. "Let the waters be gathered together unto one place and let the dry land appear" (Genesis 1:9). So also did animals emerge from "the waters". "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life and foul..." (Genesis 1:20).

The authors of the Koran were equally emphatic "We made from water every living thing", Sura XXI:30 (Anbiyaa), It says of Allah: "It is he who created man from water", Sura XXV: 54 (Furqan)

The authors of the Biblical and Koranic texts conveniently reworked a cosmogony that had already become universal, the earliest of which was known to be the standard in Yunu (Heliopolis), not least for its employment of the aquatic theme.

Heliopolitan cosmogony derives the creator God Atum from Nu(n), the inert waters of later faiths, as does the Memphite theology. (Nu, water, is a word retained by the Gas of Ghana). The late period narratives of Nebertcher convey similar images as shown below:

"I am he who evolved himself ...no heaven existed and no earth, and no terrestrial animal or reptiles had come into being. …

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African Foundations of World Religions: "It Is to Inner Africa We Must Look in Order to Understand That Which Became Majestic in [Ancient] Egypt" -- Gerald Massey. Welcome to Part 2 of Our Series on Religion. (Religion)
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