Africa once ruled ancient Egypt
Comedian Kevin Hart was forced to cancel a planned show in February in Cairo, Egypt, after saying that the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt were Black, according to Middle East Eye, an online newspaper.
Hart said, “We must teach our children the true history of when they were the Kings in Egypt and not just the era of slavery that is cemented by the education in America.”
His show was canceled because of his “Afrocentric views.”
Perhaps many of those shouting and hurtling insults at Hart have never read the February 2008 issue of National Geographic, the cover story of which is titled “Africa Conquered Ancient Egypt: The Black Pharaohs.” The article is written by Robert Draper, a National Geographic writer.
The article is replete with color photographs, artist illustrations, and artwork of ancient sites depicting Africans commanded by King Piye’s army that captured the Nile River in 730 B.C.
Piye, formerly called Piankhi king of Cush, ruled from about 750 to about 719 BCE.
He invaded Egypt from the south and ended the petty kingdoms of the 23rd dynasty in Lower Egypt. According to Egyptian tradition, his brother Shabala founded the 25th dynasty, but Piye laid the foundations.
Piye modeled himself on Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs.
Piye’s army united all of Egypt under the Nubian rule for three-quarters of a century.
Why are we talking about this?
It touches on two issues: the fact of Black Pharaohs and the assertion that Cleopatra was a Black woman.
Netflix recently released a documentary reporting that Cleopatra was a Black woman, unlike Elizabeth Taylor, the forever western cinematic model for Cleopatra. This includes the White women who played Cleopatra before and after Taylor.
It is a hot topic.
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has even issued a long statement stressing that “Queen Cleopatra had light skin and Hellenistic (Greek) features,” and criticizes Netflix for casting Adele James, who has “African features and dark skin,” according to the Ministry.
But this view was challenged by Ebony, a magazine for Black men and Black women.
Ebony magazine published an article in 2002 arguing that Cleopatra was Black.
Black Cleopatra was named in J.A. Rogers’ book, “World’s Great Men of Color, ” published in 1946.
Rogers claims that Cleopatra was seen as Black as far back as the 16th century.
He cites Shakespearean references to her “tawny” skin tone in Antony and Cleopatra, which he says is synonymous with the archaic term “mulatto” for someone of mixed-race parentage.
There is also a line in the play, in which the Egyptian queen seemingly refers to herself as having Black skin. “Think on me, that am with Phoebus’ amorous pinches black and wrinkled deep in time,” Cleopatra says.
Cleopatra was a woman who turned men’s heads.
She spoke as many as a dozen languages and was educated in mathematics, philosophy, oratory, and astronomy, and Egyptian sources later described her as a ruler “who elevated the ranks of scholars and enjoyed their company.”
And she was a killer who murdered her two brothers and sister to secure the throne.
Mary Lefkowitz, Professor Emerita of Classical Studies at Wellesley College maintains Rogers got it wrong.
Lefkowitz discusses the origin of the claim of Cleopatra’s blackness in her 1996 book, Not Out of Africa.
She argues that Rogers wrongly asserts that one of Cleopatra’s unidentified grandmothers was Black due to descriptions of her as a slave.
That leads us to Netflix having issued a documentary that was produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, who narrates and explores the lives of prominent and iconic African queens.
Actually, there were seven queens named Cleopatra.
The best-known and last to rule one was Cleopatra VII. She succeeded her father Ptolemy XII. The one we know most about ruled from 51 BC until her death in 30 BC.
Cleopatra VII ruled alongside her younger brother and husband Ptolemy XIII from 51–47 BC.
Cleopatra’s name was popular among Egyptian women, especially during the late Ptolemaic dynasty.
The ancient world was devoid of racism, according to National Geographic writer Robert Draper, unlike today, which is difficult to imagine.
At the time of Piye’s historical conquest of Egypt, the fact that his skin was dark was irrelevant, the authors wrote.