The Intellectual Warfare of Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers and the Battle for Ancient Nubia as a Foundational Paradigm in Africana Studies: Thoughts and Reflections
Levi, Josef Ben, Journal of Pan African Studies
The field of Africana Studies has been under attack since Newsweek published its expose on Afrocentrism in September, 1978 (Adler et al., 1991). It seemed that for the first time European America discovered that African people in the United States had discovered a counter narrative to their meta-narrative that maintained that people of African descent in their neocolonial possession were indeed, inferior. Our particular narrative is seated squarely in the civilizations of the Nile Valley, particularly ancient Kemet (Egypt) and Kush (Nubia). This was a difficult pill for the European intellectual community to swallow. Were the former colonized and ostracized now standing up for themselves and rewriting history, or what European American scholars referred to as revisionists' history? Even worse, were Afrocentrists actually teaching Black people about their connection to the Nile Valley and that the ancient people of Kemet and Kush were their ancestors? Was it possible that an area located in what has been called the North African Middle East and one of the birthplaces of Western society was now really the locus of African culture and civilization?
Europeans have had a monopoly on the construction of historiography relative to Kemet and Kush since the Napoleonic invasions of Egypt in 1798. From that point on there was a conscious and systematic effort to remove Egypt from Africa and consequently Africans from Egypt, replacing them, in the minds of naive observers from afar, with an Arab population that did not arrive until 639 C.E. In Europe's haste to whitewash classical African history through the use of curricular and pedagogical planning, whole generations of African people were deprived of their rightful place in the history of humanity. Arguments made by European writers suggested that we fit firmly into the niceties of the Hegelian notion that we had no history or that we fit into G. Stanley Hall's view that we were part of the "great army of incapables" (Kliebard, 2004), who's attempt to know ourselves was impossible since, as a people, we were savages and childlike with no ethical or moral compass to guide us. Unfortunately, writers with these perspectives were mistaken.
We have a long and storied tradition of African scholars who have fought to keep the importance of our link to Nile Valley civilizations alive. These include such people as Martin Robeson Delany, Antonir Firmin, William Wells Brown, David Walker, Edward Wilmot Blyden, Henry Highland Garnet, George Washington Williams, Drusilla Dunjee Huston, and Hosea Easton, just to mention a few from the 19th century. In more contemporary times we have William Leo Hansberry, John G. Jackson, Willis N. Huggins, Chancellor Williams, John Henrik Clarke, Yosef Ben Jochannan, Ivan Van Sertima, Joel Augustus Rogers, Arthur Schomburg, are still groping in darkness with tools to reCarter G. Woodson, Charles Wesley, W.E.B. DuBois, and J.C. DeGraft-Johnson. These pioneers of what has come to be known as Africana Studies served as forerunners to the contemporary greats such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Theophile Obenga, Molefi Asante, Maulana Karenga, Asa G. Hilliard, and so many more illustrious African-centered scholars along with the one that will be the focus of this work, Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers.
All of the aforementioned are engaging in what Dr. Carruthers referred to as "Intellectual Warfare." This is an ongoing battle to rescue, reclaim, and restore African history, culture, language, spirituality, and ethos to its rightful place within the scope of African humanity from the clutches of European interlopers who have seized our glorious heritage and claimed it as their own. The field of Africana Studies serves as the only paradigm that meets the needs of African people. Whether we want to call it African-Centered Studies, Afrocentric Studies, or Africana Studies, the most important part of these nomenclatures is that we start with Africa as our center and that the focus of Africana Studies has its location in the Nile Valley, where the first cultural highway served as the womb for so much of African culture. …