Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Cementing Scholarship with Service: Dr. Ben at the Foothills of the Mountains of the Moon Where the God Hapi Dwells

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Cementing Scholarship with Service: Dr. Ben at the Foothills of the Mountains of the Moon Where the God Hapi Dwells

Article excerpt

Introduction

Dr. Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan's intellectual contemporary, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop in The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, firmly proclaims that "the history of Black Africa will remain suspended in air and cannot be written correctly until African historians dare to connect it with the history of Egypt."1 As a Black public intellectual, Dr. Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan (Dr. Ben) had the courage to write correctly the connection between the history of Black Africa with the history of Egypt. Dr. Ben also expanded this particular connection by correctly writing about the link between the origins of western civilization and religion to the high cultures of the Nile Valley. In opposition to western epistemological dominance in academia and throughout our communities, an expository and analysis of Dr. Ben's scholarship and service will reveal and reinforce how the Nile Valley shape western civilization and religion. Thus, as Dr. Ben connected Black Africa with the history of Egypt and the origins of western civilization and religion to the high cultures of the Nile Valley, it is reasoned that Dr. Ben represented the best of the Black intellectual tradition by cementing his scholarship with service and struggle.

According to Ernest L. Boyer in Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, "to be considered scholarship, service activities must be tied directly to one's special field of knowledge and relate to, and flow directly out of, this professional activity."2 Dr. Ben's special field of knowledge was Egyptology and he connected his scholarship regarding the Nile Valley and Black Africa with the service activities and struggles of the global African community as evident in his community service and study abroad programs. In doing so, Dr. Ben took on the traditional role of the Black intellectual by offering not only a description of a glorious African past, but by also taking bold corrective measures to sharply critique Eurocentric's notions regarding Africa, while simultaneously prescribing solutions to the problems that plague Africans worldwide.

Whether it is at a college or in the global African community, Dr. Ben did not deviate from the juxtaposition between scholarship and struggle. Dr. Ben harnessed his socio-historical analysis of the high cultures of the Nile Valley to transform the socio-political consciousness of the global African community. Therefore, an expository and analysis of Dr. Ben's scholarship and service will uncover the juxtaposition between his research study and the Black struggle. This expository and analytical essay exemplifies the uncontested legacy of Dr. Ben as a premier public intellectual who, like no other, cemented scholarship with service and struggle by advocating an African origin of western civilization/religion and connecting the history of Black Africa with the history of Egypt.

Cementing Scholarship with Service: Dr. Ben as a Public Intellectual

In Intellectuals and Race, Thomas Sowell defines intellectuals as "people in a particular occupation - namely, people whose work begins and ends with ideas."3 Dr. Ben's particular occupation was Egyptology whose work started and concluded with the idea that there is an African origin of western civilization and religion. However, Sowell neglects to include in his definition that intellectuals are not only people whose work beings and ends with only with ideas, but those ideas are transcending - hopefully, into actions. Thus, a black public intellectual can be anyone who identifies with being Black in a public sphere by not only employing critical ideas, thinking, writing, analysis, and research methodologies (scholarship/synthesis) regarding societal ills and realities, but by also heavily engaging in advocacy and activism (service/struggle) as he or she purports policies or solutions to complex economic, political, and cultural problems that plague the global African community. …

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