From the 1970s, there has been a long debate on the racial identity of ancient Egyptians. This debate cannot be dissociated from the racial struggles that define human interaction in today’s globalized world. The need to appropriate a history of greatness has sometimes been the driving force against scientific evidence. The racial controversy about ancient Egypt cannot be better represented as it is in Hollywood. Films such as The Ten Commandments, The Mummy and Exodus: Gods of Egypt have often represented ancient Egyptians as white people. There have been many attempts to suppress or distort the story about the ingenuity of ancient Egypt, attributing the greatness of pyramids to aliens and time travelers. There have also been denials of great black civilizations by imperialist historians who have scoffed at the historical richness of the continent. Hegel had once said, “Africa is no historical part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit.” This is the kind of thinking that attempts to truncate the black vision of ancient Egypt and other black civilizations. Thinkers like Hegel who have derided the history of the continent and its great civilizations have exchanged scholarship for racism on African history. Emmanuel Kulu’s new novel is an affirmation of a black Egyptian heritage, an ode to black greatness.
Rooted in historical evidence, it navigates a narrative of African spiritism, omens and myths. He gave African life to a story about ancient Egypt. This is a brilliant attempt against a white-washed narrative about ancient Egypt that has often persisted in Hollywood. The importance of Emmanuel Kulu’s book is not just about the kind of story it chooses to tell, but about its choice of a different narrative, rooted in historical evidence and its psychological value for blackness. While many scholars consider the name, “Kemet” which means “black land” connected to the rich soil of the Nile, Emmanuel Kulu resolves to stand with the idea that the name Kemet was a description of the people. There are supporting evidence to this resolution. These evidence are in the opinions of ancient historians. Herodotus had compared the Egyptians to Colchians and the Ethiopians because of their woolly hair and black skin. Aeschylus, Strabo and Aristotle have also corroborated Herodotus’s description of ancient Egyptians. However James Henry Breasted, an Egyptologist in 1926 had taken sides with Hegel. Dr Edward Bleiberg of the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archeaology at the Memphis State University in 1987 had even stated that ancient Egyptians were white.
The racial motive behind the denial of Africa’s ancient civilization has persisted in subtle forms. There have been many scientific attempts to find out the racial identity of the people of ancient Egypt. However many researchers believe that there was a racial variance in ancient Egypt. The history of Africa has shown that tribal migration was a way of life on the continent and this could support the idea of a black dominance of ancient Egypt. Emmanuel Kulu’s work reminds one about Black Panther, only that this time, the story is about the Africanness of ancient Egypt. It is a psychological home-coming like Alex Haley’s Roots. The style with which it reads proceeds with a grace like Camara Laye’s The African Child. Emanuel Kulu’s book is an attempt at redemption. The redemption of African history through a fictional perspective. It derives its strength from African spirituality and the colorfulness of an African dream. The book is a celebration of Africanness and it is a good beginning to the dismantling of racially appropriated narratives.