20 September 2017

Uganda: Black Africans Were Pivotal in Early Science and Technology

opinion

A few years back, a book titled Heresy in the University edited by Prof Jacques Berlinerblau caused uproar, especially in North America.

The book followed Martin Bernal's Black Athena: The Afro-Asiatic Roots of Classical Civilization in which the author argues that Greeks acquired their civilization from Egypt. In the second and third volumes of the book, Prof Bernal gives archaeological and documentary poof of his assertions. The heresy Berlinerblau refers to is Bernal's contention that Africans civilized Europe.

In this essay, I would like to demonstrate that the basic discoveries and inventions that have fundamentally impacted human culture and civilization were contributed by Africans.

So much appears from Dr Cheikh Anta Diop's book, Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology. Since entire books have been written on the subject, I will concentrate on mathematics, science and technology.

It is a good idea to study Martin Bernal's book because in volume one of Black Athena, he gives the explanation why Eurocentric writers, especially academics, allege that Africans have never discovered or invented anything of use to mankind.

The oldest mathematical statement in written form is found in Africa. This is the Ishango bone found at Ishango village to the west of Rwenzori mountains, straddling the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

It was discovered by Jean de Heinzelin, a Belgian national, in 1960. The bone is currently believed to be more than 20,000 years old.

An analysis by mathematicians, scientists, and archaeologists shows that the three columns on the bone indicate the instrument was used to construct a numeral system or as a counting tool since the markings on the bone are arranged in prime numbers.

One scientist, Alexander Marshack, after examining the bone microscopically, proposed that it might represent a calendar (lunar) based on the movement of the moon.

The ancient Egyptians are on record as having stated that their origin is the Great Lakes region at the foot of the Mountains of the Moon [Ruwenzori]. We do not know whether there is a nexus between this Ishango mathematics and the knowledge systems of the ancient Egyptians apart from the DNA/melanin similarity.

However, by 4236BC, the Egyptians had made a calendar based on 365 days it takes the earth to orbit the sun. This means the black people of Egypt beat Copernicus (14732- 1543 AD) by more than 5,000 years in discovering heliocentricity that is the phenomenon that the earth moves around the sun, and not the other way round. In 2500BC, Pharaoh Nefrikare sent a military expedition to the Rwenzori mountains.

Further and more complicated evidence of knowledge of heliocentricity is found in the comparison between measurements at the base of the great pyramid at Giza, built by Khufu (Cheops in Greek) and the distance traced by planet Venus round the sun. This indicates that the African people knew that all the planets of the solar system orbit the sun.

The classical Greeks who civilized Europe appear on the historical scene very recently, between 650BC and 300BC when the familiar scientists and philosophers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle appear on Europe's intellectual scene after their studies in Egypt.

All these Greek thinkers, apart from Socrates, have been established to have studied under priest sages of Egypt. One of the famous Greek scientists was Hippocrates (460-377BC) of the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors on graduating from medical school hailed as the father of medicine in Eurocentric circles; but he researched from the library of Imhotep's temple in Egypt to study Egyptian medicine.

As Dr Charles Finch shows in his book African Background to Scientific Medicine, the black Egyptians wrote medical textbooks 5000 years ago, and had specialist doctors.

The diseases of each human organ were under the care of a specialist after careful physical diagnosis of patients. It is for these reasons that the father of medicine was Imhotep, the Egyptian, and not Hippocrates, the Greek according to many authorities.

An apt observation in the same field of medicine is the record made by Dr Felkin when he visited Bunyoro in 1879 in connection with a caesarean operation performed by a Munyoro native doctor. This type of surgical operation was known in Buganda and eastern Congo.

The Munyoro doctor saved both the mother and the baby; in Europe then, only the mother could have been saved according to Dr Felkin.

Evidently, Africa was ahead of Europe in that regard as late as 19th century when European powers met at Berlin in 1884-1885 to dismember Africa.

The mathematics, astronomy and science of the black Egyptians is best explained in the technology embodied in the construction of the pyramids.

From the measurements of the great pyramid, one can calculate the value of pie, the distance from the earth to the sun and the circumference of the earth, to mention only three of the wonders of the pyramid technology and mathematics.

These accounts appear incredible precisely because Asian and Europeans invaders had a systematic policy of destroying African civilization as have done many conquerors in history. African history was written and falsified by victors against the vanquished.

The author is a retired judge.

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