Meet Cheikh Anta Diop: one of the greatest African scholars of our times

Dear Afrooptimists,

Our communal space has enriched itself with a new section: “Inventions Africaines”, or African Inventions.

The motivation behind this new section is the oft-stated (outwardly or understated) notion that Africans have not created anything of importance, and have not contributed to humanity in any major way, a notion drummed into the heads of young african pupils all across the continent, who are taught instead the wondrous discoveries of the Newtonian Age and the inventions that enabled the Western Industrial Revolution.

To run counter to these assertions, it is time to place Africa’s inventors in their proper context , and shed due light on them!!

What a better start than with Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, the first scholar to have proven that Ancient Egyptians were indeed “Blacks” … Join me in celebrating the scholarship and legacy of this great African scholar, scientist and afro-optimist..

Please comment and suggest all the other African inventors who belong in this section!!

Thanks, afroooptimist

Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (1922-1986)

5PhDs in Physics, African history, Egyptology, linguistics and anthropology; armed himself to set the historical record straight; world-renowned Egyptologist; tireless militant of African cultural revival and integration…

“Race … is a geographic concept”- Cheikh Anta Diop

“L’homme blanc est sorti de l’homme noir après adaptation a un climat froid…. La race est donc un concept geographique”

“L’humanite en sortant de l’Afrique et en s’adaptant aux differents climats de la terre a donne naissance aux races… Si le premier homme n’etait jamais sorti de l’Afrique, il n’y aurait pas de differentiation de race, et l’humanite serait homogene et noire”

“No race is superior to another… they all originate from Africa, and have the same intellectual abilities”

“Africa can and will only advance through African integration, which can be realized through the Federal United States of Africa” – Cheikh Anta Diop (writing in the 1950s!)


Professor Cheikh Anta Diop (December 29 1922 – February 7 1986) was a Senegalese a thinker, anthropologist, and scholar who is most renowned for scientifically proving that ancient Egyptians were Black, at a time when this was not accepted by mainstream academia, as well as his original research on pre-colonial Africa. He was a tireless a militant of Africa’s integration and renaissance.

Among his published work are “Nations nègres et culture“, 1954 (Black Nations and Culture) and “L’Afrique noire précoloniale“, 1960 (Precolonial Black Africa), both published at the edition Présence africaine. He later published “L’unité culturelle de l’Afrique noire” (The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity), then “Les fondements culturels, techniques et industriels d’un futur Etat fédéral d’Afrique noire” (ca: The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State).

On the occasion of the 24th anniversary of his death, we celebrate this great man’s scholarship, ideas and legacy to Africa and humanity.

A Brief Biography of Cheikh Anta Diop

Cheikh Anta Diop with his  children. July 1983 in Brazzaville.“In practice it is possible to determine directly the skin colour and hence the ethnic affiliations of the ancient Egyptians by microscopic analysis in the laboratory; I doubt if the sagacity of the researchers who have studied the question has overlooked the possibility.”
–Cheikh Anta Diop

Cheikh Anta Diop, a modern champion of African identity, was born in Diourbel, Senegal on December 29, 1923. At the age of twenty-three, he journeyed to Paris, France to continue advanced studies in physics. Within a very short time, however, he was drawn deeper and deeper into studies relating to the African origins of humanity and civilization. Becoming more and more active in the African student movements then demanding the independence of French colonial possessions, he became convinced that only by reexamining and restoring Africa’s distorted, maligned and obscured place in world history could the physical and psychological shackles of colonialism be lifted from our Motherland and from African people dispersed globally. His initial doctoral dissertation submitted at the University of Paris, Sorbonne in 1951, based on the premise that Egypt of the pharaohs was an African civilization–was rejected. Regardless, this dissertation was published by Presence Africaine under the title Nations Negres et Culture in 1955 and won him international acclaim. Two additional attempts to have his doctorate granted were turned back until 1960 when he entered his defense session with an array of sociologists, anthropologists and historians and successfully carried his argument. After nearly a decade of titanic and herculean effort, Diop had finally won his Docteur es Lettres! In that same year, 1960, were published two of his other works–the Cultural Unity of Black Africa and and Precolonial Black Africa.

Cheikh Anta Diop (with the placard)  and his wife Louise Marie (in the right), demonstrating in Paris for  African politicians' release 50sDuring his student days, Cheikh Anta Diop was an avid political activist. From 1950 to 1953 he was the Secretary-General of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (RDA) and helped establish the first Pan-African Student Congress in Paris in 1951. He also participated in the First World Congress of Black Writers and Artists held in Paris in 1956 and the second such Congress held in Rome in 1959. Upon returning to Senegal in 1960, Dr. Diop continued his research and established a radiocarbon laboratory in Dakar. In 1966, the First World Black Festival of Arts and Culture held in Dakar, Senegal honored Dr. Diop and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois as the scholars who exerted the greatest influence on African thought in twentieth century. In 1974, a milestone occurred in the English-speaking world when the African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality was finally published. It was also in 1974 that Diop and Theophile Obenga collectively and soundly reaffirmed the African origin of pharaonic Egyptian civilization at a UNESCO sponsored symposium in Cairo, Egypt. In 1981, Diop’s last major work, Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology was published.

Dr. Diop was the Director of Radiocarbon Laboratory at the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) at the University of Dakar. He sat on numerous international scientific committees and achieved recognition as one of the leading historians, Egyptologists, linguists and anthropologists in the world. He traveled widely, lectured incessantly and was cited and quoted voluminously. He was regarded by many as the modern `pharoah’ of African studies. Cheikh Anta Diop died quietly in sleep in Dakar, Senegal on February 7, 1986.

Full biography of Professor Cheikh Anta Diop at:

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“One of the worlds greatest scientists. Let’s Get Scientific, to all those who doubt that the original Egyptians and the original man was indeed Black. Listen to one of the world’s greatest Scientist. He put Racist European Scientist to shame. CHEIKH ANTA DIOP, The Pharoah of Knowledge Cheikh Anta Diop was born in Diourbel, Senegal. At the age of 23, he went to Paris in 1946 to become a physicist. He remained there 15 years, studying physics under Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Marie Curie’s son-in-law, and ultimately translating parts of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity into his native Wolof. In the 1940s, the study of African history was dominated by (racist) Europeans who considered Africans ‘people without a past’. Diop recieved 5 PHd’s in Physics, African history, Egyptology, linguistics, anthropology,,and he also was well versed in Sociology and Economics, as he armed himself for the task of setting the historical record straight. Research In 1951, Diop submitted his first Ph.D. thesis at the University of Paris where he argued that ancient Egypt had in fact been a Black African culture. After 1960, Diop went back to Senegal and continued writing. A radiocarbon laboratory was established with the University of Dakar (which was later named Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar after his death), and Diop was made its head. He had said, “In practice it is possible to determine directly the skin color and, hence, the ethnic affiliations of the ancient Egyptians by microscopic analysis in the laboratory; I doubt if the sagacity of the researchers who have studied the question has overlooked the possibility.” One of his important works published in journals is the dosage test—a technique developed by Diop to determine the melanin content of the Egyptian mummies. This technique was later adopted by the U.S. forensic department to determine the racial identity of badly burnt accident victims. In 1974, Cheikh Anta Diop participated in a UNESCO symposium in Cairo, where he presented his theories to other specialists in Egyptology. He also wrote the chapter about the origins of the Egyptians in the UNESCO General History of Africa”

~ by afrooptimism on February 7, 2010.

8 Responses to “Meet Cheikh Anta Diop: one of the greatest African scholars of our times”

  1. I am quite sure that the ancient egyptians were black and that africans are the builders of the world as it is right now

  2. cheikh anta diop has opened my eyes in a trouble world, for giving to me the right information and knowledge i need to go throughout this very rocky world.
    from the time i do know that the ancient egyptians were black and that the origin of civilization is africa i can only ponp up my pride with reasons

  3. He deserves to be among top historians for his work that there is no race all other races come from the black race.
    If we did not get out Africa the human kind would be to date black entirely it is too nice and emotional for i do feel and i do understand that god gives to the black african a heavenly position and place into his kingdom where there is no end;

    glory to the master of the universe and builder of everything.

  4. keep up good

  5. Thank you for your tribute on this great man. I, too, am doing a Diop tribute. I’m a strong believer in documenting my work. You mentioned that Diop earned 5 PhDs. Can you share with me where he earned his degrees? Thanks.


  6. I thank Mr. Diop for hjs research..and for reassuring black people that we are special and have a rich and divine beginning and destiny. However, I also feel that if civilization started with the black race, that we definitely have a major cause what the world has become, and have a responsibility to change it for the better.

  7. G wizs, I am reading Henry Clarke’s Essay on him.

  8. These concepts are laid out in Diop’s “Towards the African Renaissance: Essays in Culture and Development, 1946-1960,”[51] and “The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity,”,[52][53] These concepts can be summarized as follows:
    Southern Cradle-Egyptian Model:
    1. Abundance of vital resources.
    2. Sedentary-agricultural.
    3. Gentle, idealistic, peaceful nature with a spirit of justice.
    4. Matriarchal family.
    5. Emancipation of women in domestic life.
    6. Territorial state.
    7. Xenophilia.
    8. Cosmopolitanism.
    9. Social collectivism.
    10. Material solidarity – alleviating moral or material misery
    11. Idea of peace, justice, goodness and optimism.
    12. Literature emphasizes novel tales, fables and comedy.
    Northern Cradle-Greek Model:
    1. Bareness of resources.
    2. Nomadic-hunting (piracy)
    3. Ferocious, warlike nature with spirit of survival.
    4. Patriarchal family.
    5. Debasement/enslavement of women.
    6. City state (fort)
    7. Xenophobia.
    8. Parochialism.
    9. Individualism.
    10. Moral solitude.
    11. Disgust for existence, pessimism.
    12. Literature favors tragedy.
    Zones of Confluence: Meeting or mingling area for the two cradles above

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