National Geographic’s Misinformation Campaign for Black History Month

When “The Black Pharaohs: Conquerors of Ancient Egypt” appeared on the cover of National Geographic in February 2008, it seemed to mark a significant turning point. This marked the first time that National Geographic had acknowledged the existence of Black Pharaohs in Egypt. I say “apparently” because both the article’s headline and its overall context are extremely deceptive.

The title’s use of “The Black Pharaohs…” suggests that there were also “White Pharaohs” or a “Pharaoh” who was not an Egyptian. Black people made up the majority of ancient Egyptians, or “Pharaohs.” Black NOT as in ALL of them being the physical colour, but of the many colours of people, as experienced here in the United States among African-Americans or the different hues of people in Ethiopia. Different non-Egyptians have taken temporary control of Egypt, but none of them had gained widespread support to be referred to as Pharaoh by the Egyptians. That person was merely a conqueror. Article author admits that non-native Libyan “chiefs” dominated Egypt by dressing up in the style of Pharaohs.

Subtitle 2 explains that these Black Pharaohs (who were Nubians) ruled over Egypt. Conquering people is much more difficult than conquering territories. If the article is to be believed, therefore, these other Blacks were assaulted and subjugated by Nubians (also Blacks), who shared their culture and fashion (Egyptians). Is it completely implausible that Black people will attack and conquer other Black people? Absolutely not. However, if you continue reading, you will find that the author claims that the Priests feared a godless end after the Libyans (who were not Black) took over and reduced devotion to Amun (the Egyptian God). The Egyptian Priests “…looked south and found their answer…” to the question, “Who was in a position to return Egypt to its former state of might and sanctity?” Hold on there a second! According to the subtitle, the Nubian “Black Pharaohs” were the conquerors of ancient Egypt. To restore Egypt to its former splendour and methods, the “Black Pharaohs” were really INVITED to eliminate the REAL INVADERS, the Libyans.

The foregoing concerns only the incorrect title of the article; the story itself errs or misleads by suggesting that only the 25th Dynasty was Black or Nubian whereas, in reality, the 1st through 6th Dynasties, the 12th and 18th, and then the 25th, were all Nubian (Black). In my opinion, the claim that only the 25th Dynasty is Black prevents Eurocentric historians and writers from acknowledging that Africans were responsible for founding one of the most pivotal cradles of Western civilization. The article has a timeline that fails to include the 1st–3rd Dynasties. I do not see why not. To begin with, this is the time period in which the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx were built (or perhaps much earlier).
The article suggests that after the 18th Dynasty, when the Nubians were enslaved (or conquered) by the Egyptians, they became the first “Egyptomanics,” or people who were completely enamoured with Egyptian culture. As part of their conquest, the Egyptians “installed Nubian Chiefs as administrators” and sent the children of influential Nubians to school in Thebes. In the text, it is stated that the “elite Nubians” adopted Egyptian culture, which included worshipping Amun, constructing pyramids, and speaking the Egyptian language. When Egypt’s government began to collapse in the eighth century, the Nubians to the south provided a remedy.

In any case, what is wrong with this picture? Just keep in mind that the Eurocentric view holds that Egyptians are White Caucasians or, at the very least, Indo-Europeans. They, along with the author of this piece, believe that Whites are responsible for the rise of Egypt and its splendour, that Whites then moved south to SUBJECT the Blacks, and that Whites then taught the Blacks to read and write. Even more so than the Whites themselves, the “elite Blacks” were enamoured with and meticulously nurtured White cultural traditions. The Egyptians, sensing its decline, retreated south to rally their Black subjects for a final assault on the encroaching enemy. Later, after the houses were repaired, these African-Americans returned to their communities.

This racial spin may be convincing if it were not for the evidence gathered by both black and white archaeologists, Egyptologists, anthropologists, linguists, and historians. Kemit, or The Land of the Blacks, was what the Egyptians referred to their country as. Researchers from a European perspective have interpreted this as “The Black Land,” a reference to the dark colour of the land. Observe that no other group of people in the world has ever taken their name from the hue of their soil. The Sphinx has a Black person’s head for a body. The first Pharaoh, Menes, had a bust or sculpture of his head that depicts a Black man. African-American traits can be seen in the Egyptian art. Egyptians, like Nubians, were depicted in art as having dark skin to set them apart from other groups, such as the Libyans, Assyrians, etc. Matriarchy (the practise of passing authority from the mother to the daughter) was the norm among Black societies, in contrast to the patriarchy (the practise of passing authority from the father to the son) that is common among Indo-European societies today. Matriarchy pervaded both the Egyptian and Nubian cultures. They were Black, yet there were Pharaohs. They did not conquer Egypt, but rather the entire Nubian/Cushite/Kemite/Ethiopian monarchy, which included modern-day Ethiopia, Arabia, Sudan, and more.

Lastly, there are many academics that are Eurocentric and do not value the work of Black academics and scientists. Since many of them attended the same schools, it is not that the Black scholars are poorly educated, but rather that the conclusions they form about Black History are at odds with their own. Queen Tiye, King Tut’s grandmother, is shown dead at the end of the piece as a final insult or snub. According to the photo’s caption, the object “…is made of wood that has darkened with age…” and the author argues that the dark wood is the reason why so many people mistakenly believe that she has Nubian ancestry. That is the only argument for assuming she is Black. Neither her appearance nor the anthropological and archaeological data suggest that Black people were common among the ancient Egyptians. Listed below are books by both Black and White academics whose work has been widely cited and is therefore considered authoritative:

C. F. Volney’s Ruins of Empires, Cheikh A. Diop’s African Origins of Civilization, Ivan Van Sertima’s Egypt: Child of Africa, and Chancellor Williams’ The Destruction of Black Civilization are just a few of the books that explore the ruins of once-great civilizations. By Drusilla D. Houston, Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, Book Review: Gerald Massey’s “Light of the World: Ancient Egypt” Yosef Ben Jochannon, “The Black Man of the Nile and His Family.” Titles like “Echoes from the Old Darkland” by Charles S. Finch III, “African Philosophy” by “Theophile Obenga,” and “Maat: The Moral Idea in Ancient Egypt” by “Maulana Karenga” are all great examples.