Tag Archives: african

Truth Behind How Greeks Copied Ancient African Science To Create Astrology | The Breakdown

The new BET web series The Breakdown explores the lesser-known aspects of Black History and culture and presents it from an African viewpoint.

In the first episode of The Breakdown, a recently-launched web series, host Klarity delves into a topic people in the world over consider on a daily basis — the zodiac. But this time around the script is flipped back to the truth.

The Breakdown dives deep into Black History and culture to expose lesser-known facts and presents the uncovered knowledge from an African viewpoint. Darnley Hodge and UPTOWN co-founder Len Burnett created the series for BET Digital, and it streams on the BET YouTube channel. The first episode is now live and more episodes are expected to roll out later this week.

Rather than discussing the characteristics of the individual signs, as the modern zodiac is usually explored, episode one of The Breakdown presents the history of astrology. And guess what, you can just throw away the myth that the Ancient Greeks created astrology. Like so much else, astrology was observed and studied by Ancient Africans who shared their knowledge with the Greeks, who then coopted; adapted; and presented the findings as their own. And we already know how history is written by the winners conquerors and oppressors.

Kemetologists and historians Anthony Browder and Ashra Kwesi discuss how culture, science, technology, and civilization sprung from Ancient Africans in the Nile Valley in The Breakdown. These ancestors valued science and studied the Earth and the heavens, and chronicled their findings and the patterns they observed, according to the experts. Ancient Kemet was the place to be, says Browder in the 10-minute episode. Anyone who wanted scientific knowledge and/or spiritual enlightenment went to Kemet, including Claudius Ptolomy (Ptolemy), whose writings form the basis for modern astrology. Alexander of Macedon also studied in Kemet and eventually conquered the entire civilization for Ancient Greece, renamed it Egypt, and usurped thousands of years of African knowledge, according to The Breakdown. Under Greek control, African astronomical science morphed into the astrology we know today because the Ancient Greeks didn’t understand it, Kwesi explains in the series.

Through The Breakdown, we’re able to reclaim the knowledge of our ancestors from the Nile Valley and elsewhere, even if we’re just learning our legacy today.

The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land

About 60,000 African migrants have arrived in Israel since 2006, fleeing unrest in their home countries. But upon arrival in the ostensibly democratic country, the migrants have faced intense persecution and have been branded as “infiltrators” by right-wing politicians and activists.

The Nation magazine’s YouTube channel features insightful interviews and video on current news and issues.

Israeli Gov’t to Expel Dozens of African Hebrews, Prompting Community to Appeal Decision

The African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem (also known as the Black Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, the Black Hebrew Israelites, or simply the Black Hebrews or Black Israelites) is a spiritual group now mainly based in Dimona, Israel, whose members believe they are descended from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The community now numbers around 5,000. Their immigrant ancestors were African Americans, many from Chicago, Illinois, who migrated to Israel in the late 1960s.

They believe they are Jewish but when they began emigrating to Israel, the religious officials and the state did not consider them Jewish and as a result, they were asked to convert. In 2003, the remainder of the existing community (those who had not received residency permits earlier) were granted official Israeli permanent residency and later were entitled to acquire Israeli citizenship by naturalization, which does not imply any Jewish status. Since 2004, some members of the community (both men and women) have enlisted to the Israel Defense Forces.

The group was founded in Chicago by a former steel worker named Ben Carter (1939–2014, also known as Ben Ammi Ben-Israel). In his early twenties Carter was given the name Ben Ammi by Rabbi Reuben of the Chicago Congregation of Ethiopian Hebrews. Ben Ammi was working in an airline factory when he first discovered the Black Hebrew movement and its philosophy. According to Ben Ammi, in 1966, at the age of 27, he had a vision in which the Archangel Gabriel called him to take his people, African Americans, back to the Holy Land of Israel.

Ammi and his followers draw on a long tradition in black American culture which holds that black Americans are the descendants of the Ancient Israelites (Ammi cites Charles Harrison Mason of Mississippi, William Saunders Crowdy of Virginia, Bishop William Boome of Tennessee, Charles Price Jones of Mississippi, and Elder Saint Samuel of Tennessee as early exponents of black descent from Israelites).

They are also influenced by the teachings of the Jamaican proponent of Black nationalism, Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), and the black civil rights milieu in 1960s America, including figures such as the Black Panthers and Malcolm X. From these they have incorporated elements of black separatism as well as the doctrine which advocates the repatriation of the African Diaspora to its ancestral lands in a “return to Africa”, of which they consider Israel to be a part. To them, Israel is located in Northeast Africa instead of West Asia.

The inspiration to move to Israel was born from several components. One was the hardship black community members faced in America and within American culture, especially in Chicago in the 1960s, at the height of the Civil rights movement. Another component was the community’s will to form a confident and positive African identity, as opposed to the damaging identity the group felt they carried in America. The last component was this spout of religious and spiritual connection to a long-standing culture and history and promised land.

African Diaspora Food and Cultures

African Diaspora may be a new term for many people. We don’t hear it used very often in conversation or writing. African Diaspora is the term commonly used to describe the mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, from the 1500s to the 1800s. This Diaspora took millions of people from Western and Central Africa to different regions throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

These African ancestors landed in regions that featured different local foods and cuisines, as well as other cultural influences, that shaped their unique cooking styles. The overall pattern of a plant-based, colorful diet based on vegetables, fruits, tubers and grains, nuts, healthy oils and seafood (where available) was shared throughout these four regions, but their cultural distinctions have reason to be celebrated. Their tastes can be shared and tried by people everywhere.

Here is a brief description of the four healthy regional diets of African Heritage. See the differences and similarities throughout:

African

Africa is home to leafy greens, root vegetables, mashed tubers and beans, and many different plant crops across its lands. In Central and Western Africa, traditional meals were often based on hearty vegetable soups and stews, full of spices and aromas, poured over boiled and mashed tubers or grains. In Eastern Africa, whole grains and vegetables are the main features of traditional meals, especially cabbage, kale and maize (cornmeal). In the Horn of Africa, where Ethiopia and Somalia are found, traditional meals are based on flat breads like injera (made out of teff, sorghum or whole wheat) and beans blended with spices, like lentils, fava beans and chickpeas. Today, many meals in the Horn are still prepared in halal style meaning that they include no pork, no alcohol, and meat only from animals who have died on their own. Across Africa, couscous, sorghum, millet and rice were enjoyed as the bases of meals, or as porridges and sides. Watermelon and okra are both native to Africa, and many believe that cucumbers are too. Beans were eaten in abundance everywhere, especially black-eyed peas, which were often pounded into a powder for tasty bean pastes seared as fritters.

African American

African American cuisine has been called “food to fall in love with.” Much of early African American cooking was influenced by both French and Spanish cuisines, and intertwined with Southern cooking to co-brand some of its major staples. The majority of traditional African American foods came straight from the garden. Cabbage, okra, tomatoes, peppers, and greens were abundant, including dandelion, mustard, collards, and turnip greens. Pickling vegetables was a popular way to preserve food; pickled beets, radish, cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers were enjoyed—and the list goes on! Louisiana’s Creole cooking has its roots in French, Spanish and Haitian cuisines, with a common base called “The Holy Trinity”: celery, onions and red bell peppers all equally chopped—which is at the heart of Louisiana’s popular Gumbo soup. Traditional Low Country cooking, from South Carolina and Georgia’s coast, features oysters, crabs, shrimp, sweet potatoes, Hoppin’ John, and rice.

Afro-Caribbean

The West Indies and Caribbean Islands bring tropical accents and various seafoods to the African Heritage Diet Pyramid. Approximately 23 million people of African descent live in the Caribbean. Here, we find French, African, and Spanish culinary influences. Surrounded by ocean, traditional African-Caribbean fare included a variety of seafood, like salt fish and conch; tropical fruits, like papaya and guava; rice and peas dishes, typically featuring pigeon peas or red beans. Coconut milk, breadfruit, callaloo, yams, plantains, annatto and pumpkins are all found in the Caribbean islands. In the southern parts of the Caribbean, roti is a popular flatbread, primarily made from whole wheat flour, that can be filled with curried vegetables and shrimp, or bean dishes, as a warm, soft roll-up.

Afro-South American

There are an estimated 100 million people of African descent living in South America, with a large majority in Brazil. The same African Heritage staple-dishes are found here: soups and stews are very popular, as are rice and beans, and tubers like yucca and cassava. Okra, peanuts, squashes and plantains appear on many plates, as do fruits and fruit juices like mangoes and guava. A few favorite ingredients are red snapper, avocado, cilantro, and tapioca. Native American roots are seen in their corn/maize use, and their tamales that combine peas, carrots, potatoes, rice, and various spices as fillings. Moqueca Baiana is a popular traditional dish of Brazil. It is a seafood stew with prominent African roots made using palm oil, coconut milk, shrimp and crab, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro.

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Tracing the Ties that Bind Blacks and Jews in History and Myth

Tudor Parfitt, once described as “a sort of British Indiana Jones,” writes in Black Jews in Africa and the Americas that he first encountered black Jews “in any form” in late 1984, when he’d traveled to the Sudanese border with Ethiopia. He’d been sent to the border’s refugee camps to investigate reports that the Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) there were being mistreated by the Christian Ethiopians, all of whom were fleeing the year’s famine. Though their status as Jews was being contested, Parfitt was present for what he describes as “the first stages of the Israeli attempt to save thousands of these impoverished and desperate people from famine and persecution.”

Not long after, while speaking in South Africa about the Ethiopian Jews, Parfitt met another group of black Jews, this time from the Lemba tribe. The Lembas explained to Parfitt that they were blood relatives of the Ethiopian Jews, and that the Israeli acceptance of the Ethiopians should also legitimize their own Judaism, hitherto difficult to claim. Despite being intrigued by the notion that the people he’d met in the Sudan were now acting as a “proof community” for others, Parfitt found the idea of any connection between the Beta Israel and the Lemba of Soweto doubtful.

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Painful but crucial: Why you’ll see Emmett Till’s casket at the African American museum

Simeon Wright recalls the events surrounding his cousin’s murder and the importance of having the casket on public display

In 1955, Emmett Till—a 14-year-old African-American visiting Mississippi from Chicago—was murdered after whistling at a white woman. His mother insisted that her son be displayed in a glass-topped casket, so the world could see his beaten body. Till’s murder became a rallying point for the civil rights movement, and his family recently donated the casket in which he was buried to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Till’s cousin Simeon Wright, 67, who was with him the night he was kidnapped and murdered, spoke with the magazine’s Abby Callard.

What was Emmett like?
He loved to tell jokes and loved for people to tell him jokes. In school, he might pull the fire alarm just to get out of class. To him that would be funny. We found out that what was dangerous to us was funny to him. He really had no sense of danger.

What happened at the store between Emmett and Carolyn Bryant has been debated, what do you remember happening?
We went to the store that night. My nephew that came down from Chicago with Emmett went into the store first, and Emmett went in the store after him. So Wheeler came out, and Maurice sent me inside the store to be with him to make sure he didn’t say anything out of line. There was about less than a minute that he was in there by himself. During that time I don’t know what he said, but when I was in there, he said nothing to her. He didn’t have time, she was behind the counter, so he didn’t put his arms around her or anything like that. While I was in there he said nothing. But, after we left the store, we both walked out together, she came outside going to her car. As she was going to her car, he did whistle at her. That’s what scared her so bad. The only thing that I saw him do was that he did whistle.

Because he was from Chicago, do you think Emmett’s unfamiliarity with the South during the Jim Crow era contributed to what happened?
It could have been the reason he did it, because he was warned not to do anything like that, how he was supposed to act. I think what he did was trying to impress us. He said, “You guys might be afraid to do something like this, but not me.” Another thing. He really didn’t know the danger. He had no idea how dangerous that was; because when he saw our reaction, he got scared too.

You were in the same bed as Emmett when the two men came for him, right?
Yes, when they came that night, that Sunday morning, he and I were in the same bed. I was the first one to wake up because I heard the noise and the loud talking. The men made me lie back down and ordered Emmett to get up and put his clothes on. During that time, I had no idea what was going on. Pretty soon, my mother came in there pleading with them not to take Emmett. At that point, she offered them money. One of the men, Roy Bryant, he kind of hesitated at the idea but J.W. Milam, he was a mean guy. He was the guy with the gun and the flashlight, he wouldn’t hear of it. He continued to have Emmett put his clothes on. Then, after Emmett was dressed, they marched him out of the house into a truck that was waiting outside. When they got out to the truck, they asked the person inside the truck, “Was this the right boy.” A lady’s voice responded that it was.

You attended the trial. Were you at all surprised that the murderers were acquitted?
I was shocked. I was expecting a verdict of guilty. I’m still shocked. I believe sincerely that if they had convicted those men 54 years ago that Emmett’s story wouldn’t have been in the headlines. We’d have forgotten about it by now.

Your family left Mississippi after the trial, right?
My mother left the same night [he was taken]. She left that house, she didn’t leave Mississippi, she left that house and went to a place called Sumner, where they had the trial. Her brother lived in Sumner, and she stayed there until his body was found. She was on the same train that his body was going back to Chicago. We left, my dad and my two brothers, left the Saturday, the Monday after the verdict. The verdict came in on a Friday, I believe, that Monday we were on a train headed to Chicago.

Why did you leave?
My mother was, she was so scared and there was no way that my dad was going to be able to live there anymore. After the verdict, my dad was so disappointed. He had had enough of Mississippi. He had heard of things like this happening to African Americans, but nothing had ever happened to him like that—firsthand victim of racism, and the Jim Crow system. He said that was enough. He just didn’t want no part of Mississippi anymore.

How did you and the rest of your family feel about Emmett’s mother’s decision to hold the funeral with an open casket?
Well, an open casket is a common thing in African American tradition. But one of the reasons they didn’t want her to open the casket was because of the stench, because of the smell. They designed the casket with the glass over it and what not. She said it herself, she wanted to world to see what those men had done to her son because no one would have believed it if they didn’t the picture or didn’t see the casket. No one would have believed it. And when they saw what happened, this motivated a lot of people that were standing, what we call “on the fence,” against racism. It encouraged them to get in the fight and do something about it. That’s why many say that that was the beginning of the civil rights era. From experience, you can add, what they mean by that is we was always as a people, African Americans, was fighting for our civil rights, but now we had the whole nation behind us. We had whites, we had Jews, Italians, Irishmen jumping in the fight, saying that racism was wrong.

How did the casket become available?
In 2005, we had to exhume Emmett’s body. The State of Mississippi would not reopen the case unless we could prove that the body buried at the cemetery was Emmett’s. State law prohibited us from placing that casket back into the grave, so we had to bury him in a new casket. We set this casket aside to preserve it because the cemetery was planning on making a memorial for Emmett and his mother. They was going to move his mother and have the casket on display. But you see what happened, someone took the money and discarded the casket in the shed.

How did you find out about the casket?
A radio personality called me about six in the morning asking me questions about it. They were on top of what was going on at the cemetery. I told him what was supposed to happen to the casket. He kept asking me questions and I said “Wait a minute, let me go out there and check and see. I don’t know what’s going on. Let me go out to cemetery and get some answers, find out what’s going on out there.” That’s when I saw the casket sitting in the shed deteriorating. The last time my cousin saw the casket it was inside of the building, preserved. We don’t know who moved it out into the shed but I got a chance to see it, it was just horrible the way they had discarded it like that without even notifying us. They could have called the family, but they didn’t.

Why did you decide to donate the casket to the Smithsonian?
Donating it to the Smithsonian was beyond our wildest dreams. We had no idea that it would go that high. We wanted to preserve it, we wanted to donate it to a civil rights museum. Smithsonian, I mean that’s the top of the line. It didn’t even cross our mind that it would go there, but when they expressed interested an in it, we was overjoyed. I mean, people are going to come from all over the world. And they’re going to view this casket, and they’re going to ask questions. “What’s the purpose of it?” And then their mothers or fathers or a curator, whoever is leading them through the museum, they’ll begin to explain to them the story, what happened to Emmett. What he did in Mississippi and how it cost him his life. And how a racist jury knew that these men were guilty, but then they go free. They’ll get a chance to hear the story, then they’ll be able to… perhaps, a lot of these young kids perhaps, they will dedicate their lives to law enforcement or something like that. They will go out and do their best to help the little guys that can’t help themselves. Because in Mississippi, in 1955, we had no one to help us, not even the law enforcement. No one to help us. I hope that this will inspire our younger generation to be helpers to one another.

What feelings do you experience when you see the casket today?
I see something that held the object of a mother’s unconditional love. And then I see a love that was interrupted and shattered by racial hatred without a cause. It brings back memories that some would like to forget, but to forget is to deny life itself. For as you grow older, you are going to find out life is laced with memories. You’re going to talk about the good old days. When you get 50, you’re going to talk about your teenage days. You’re going to listen to music from the teenage days. You don’t have to believe me, just trust me on that. I’m not talking about what I read in a book. I’m talking about what I’ve experienced already. Also, it brings to our memories where we have been and where we are now and where we’re going. People look at this casket and say, “You mean to tell me this happened in America?” And we will have a part of the artifacts from that era to prove to them that things like this went on in America. Just like the Civil War. By histories of the Civil War. Even today, it seems impossible to me that the Civil War took place in America. Here you have white fathers and sons fighting against each other. Mothers and daughters fighting against each other because one felt that slavery was wrong and one felt that it was all right. And they began to kill each over that. That’s hard for me to believe but I see the statues. I see the statues of the solders, the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers, and it just helps us to believe the past. This casket’s going to help millions to understand and believe that racism, the Jim Crow system, was alive and well in America back in 1955.

What is your hope for the casket?
Well, I hope, I know one thing, it’s going to speak louder than pictures, books or films because this casket is the very image of what has been written or displayed on these pictures. I hope it’s going to make people think “If I had been there in 1955, I would have done all I could to help that family.” If it could just evoke just that one thought in someone, it would be enough, because then they would go out and help their fellow man, their community and the church and the school, wherever. We have, you know, I just had a couple of months ago a young man, 14 years of age, committed suicide because of bullies in his school. If it could just evoke that one emotion, that “if I had been there, I would have helped you.” That’s all I want.

In what ways do you feel that Emmett’s story is still relevant today?
You know, it’s amazing that he is still relevant. Like I said at the beginning, the reason is because of the jury’s verdict. If the jury’s verdict had come in guilty, Emmett would have been forgotten about. But [Emmett’s story] shows people that if we allow lawlessness to go on, if we do nothing to punish those who break the law, then it’s going to get worse. It’s going to get worse. And we can look back and say, look what happened to Emmett. He was murdered for no reason, and those in charge did nothing about it. Wherever you have that, whatever city you have that in, it could be in Washington, it could be in New York, where you have murder and crime going on and the people do nothing about it, it’s going to increase and destroy your society.

Wright’s book, Simeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till (Lawrence Hill Books) will be released in January 2010.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/emmett-tills-casket-goes-to-the-smithsonian-144696940/