• The Center for African American Genealogical Research, Inc.

The First Peoples

The Frist People in human civilization were people of African descent. W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington wrote about this at the turn of the 20th century but Cheikh Anta Diop actually proved it in the 1950s. It wasn’t until geneticists began examining the DNA of Africans over the past 15-20 years that Diop’s work was validated by Western standards and confirmed what we knew a long time ago: every human being can trace their ancestry back to Africa. You don’t have to be a scientists to figure this out; you just need to pay attention to the details. There are more people with naturally dark hair/eyes than there are people with naturally light hair/ eyes. If the myth about white racial dominance were true, then it seems the visual representations of this would be obvious.

Africans were the first to experience the range of human emotions: love, hate, disappointment, death, sickness, fear. They were the first to become parents and grandparents, siblings, farmers, doctors, teachers, politicians, lawyers, judges, entrepreneurs, scientists, artisans, kings, queens, carpenters, chefs, and historians. They were the first to see the night light of the moon and the constellation of stars and feel the warmth of the sun before any other human group was born. They survived disease, floods, drought and in some places like Kenya, snow.  They invented paint for their artistic works found carved into rocks. They were the first to mine gems for jewelry and some of those precious stones found their way into crowns worn by royals.  They invented pots and pans and cooked their food over fire pits. They made textiles such as bricks, dishes, shirts, dresses, shoes and head coverings. They were the first to build a house. They were the first to hunt, fish, swim, taste, ear and see. They invented smelting and irrigation. They used natural medicinal remedies such as castor oil, aloe, pomegranates, honey garlic, onions, olive oil, fennel, Malachite, basil and turmeric among many, many others, to heal the populations for thousands of years before contact with Europeans. They made caskets, embalmed their dead and buried them below ground. They made musical instruments and sang songs because they possessed languages that were both spoken and written. They worshipped a Higher Power, knowing that their existence was not of their own doing.  They swam in rivers and invented boats that sailed over the oceans. They used their militaristic power to conquer land and expand their kingdoms. Elite men invited other men to join their group to study Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. Grecian civilization’s refers to this as the Seven Liberal Arts and their superheroes Socrates and Plato traveled to Cairo, Egypt to learn from this elite group of African men whom we  now call Masons. They were the first to critically think about life and our human obligations to each other. And there is nothing in the historical records to indicate that the First Peoples ever experienced illiteracy, homelessness, (police) brutality, impoverishment or chattel enslavement.

What is true is that people of African descent were not born into chattel enslavement until coming into contact with Europeans. In the United States, the systems of bondage were enforced by laws that advantaged both whites and American Indians (yes, Indians were enslavers, too!). Enslaved Africans in the U.S. were not allowed to marry, read/write, or worship freely and if they were “free”, they could not live amongst or near enslaved communities (their families) for fear that uprisings would occur en masse and that Europeans and American Indians would have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps without any help from Others.

No, our story is different. It is different than the immigrant’s story because immigrants chose to come to the U.S. in search of opportunities that would improve their lives. It is different from the transmigrant who just passed through on his way to another country. Our story is different from transnationalists who came for a few months 3 or 4 times per year depending upon the amount of work available and then returned home. Our story is different because we were not immigrants, migrants, transmigrants, refugees, asylum seekers or transnationalists. We were brought here at gunpoint, in chains and under duress to become the free labor pool that would build the United States and its social, political, economic and material culture.

All across the continent, they had mastered discoveries in science and medicine, math, art, leadership, diplomacy, politics, governance, religion, agriculture, technology, and so on and the evidence of their influence is deeply immersed into our everyday lives. For example, Hatshepsut Ma'at-ka-Ra was the first female king of Kemet (the original name of “Egypt”). She is famous for many things such as creating the first the Zoo (1500 BC), and for establishing the first international trade deal with the Land of Punt (the original name of “Somalia”). In addition to frankincense, myrrh and spice imports from the Land of Punt, she also experimented with transplanting plants, trees and shrubs to see if they would grow in her region. Her influence on international diplomacy and cultural exchanges was most evident in 1912 when Japan sent the People of the United States their signature Cherry Blossom Trees that millions of people now visit every year in Washington, D.C.Hatshepsut Ma'at-ka-Ra invested enormous amounts of money into revitalizing the Egyptian economy. She began by overseeing the construction of six 90 ft. tall obelisks and restoration of war-damaged statuaries that honored the legacy of her people. In at least 15 cases of theft, ancient Egyptian obelisks can be found in Rome, France, England, Turkey and Central Park, NY (“Cleopatra’s Needle”). When Washington, D.C. was building out its environment, the plan was to pay homage to the ancient civilization by way of erecting 555 ft. obelisk and calling it the National Monument. For Westerners, demagoguing the history of Africans and then monetizing it, is par for the course.

The history of people of African descent did not begin with nor does it end with contact with Westerners. The evidence is hidden in plain view in our language, buildings, foods, textiles, science and technology. How could the First People of the World to speak a language, write a word, become parents, build, discover, heal and grow to suddenly have no history because Europeans emerged thousands of years after the fact is an understudied phenomenon.

It’s not that difficult to figure out: just look around and you will see the invisible presence of Africans in every industrialized nation.

That’s our story…the story of the First Peoples of the World.


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