One of the techniques of psychological warfare and international propaganda is a standard operation of feeding false stories to the media. It is a widely used technique of Governments to affect public opinion. It was widely used by apartheid South Africa and her supporters to influence opinion against Africans. Outrageous news stories would be carefully fed to the media as ‘breaking news’ . African news media in general and Nigerian news media in particular are regularly played upon and willingly fall for these ruses. Being short of funds to cover international news they accept free newsfeeds uncritically and so become mouthpieces for foreign propaganda. Shortage of funds does not however explain any failure to even fact check by searching the internet, to even bother to give ‘balance’ by seeking alternative views or to give ‘a right of reply’ to anyone seriously criticised by an interviewee. This scale of journalistic breaches of ethics is breathtaking and says something about the quality of management and integrity of AriseTV, not merely those of the hapless journalist. This is a complete disgrace.
Ms Adefemi Akinsanya produced a programme on ancient Egypt discussing the issue of whether ancient Egyptians were Black.
Her sole interviewee was Zahi Hawass whom she lauded with high praise, calling him an ‘award winning world renowned’ scholar. She absurdly refers to his office as ‘full of books on Egypt ..’ as if Hawass did not have access to a large university and museum library regardless of whatever books he kept in his office..
She quotes Zahi Hawass without comment. This is a person whom The Smithsonian reported as ‘in Egypt he was a target of anger among young protesters who helped depose President Hosni Mubarak in February. Hawass had been accused of corruption, shoddy science …..’ The Smithsonian Note 1 (Lawler, 2011).
Hawass makes claims such as ‘you cannot connect the Egyptian civilization with the African at all’. This claim is so far outside the accepted range of scholarship that one can only consider him an outright Arab racist. His view of ‘Negroes’ is an utter racial stereo type. He then makes outrageous misrepresentations about Cheik Anta Diop that are so ridiculous that they are hardly worth repeating. He suggests that Diop based his views on one or two artefacts. He even goes so far as to claim that a UNESCO conference debunked Diop’s views, whereas this conference almost 50 years ago treated Diop with great respect and concluded that without doubt that ancient Egypt was an African civilisation closely related to Nubian populations. At that time not much excavation had been done in Nubia. Since then much has been done and major revisions of generally accepted views have taken place such that scholars now speak of Egyptina-Nubian cultural nexus. Hawass is simply flouting all recent scholarship. Akinsanya makes no reference to these recent scholarly works.
Quite hilariously she visits The Cairo Museum and refers to ‘our tour guide’ as a scholarly reference. She does not name the tour guide nor does she indicate whether the tour guide was an official tour guide or an independent or had any training in Egyptology. Tour guides are often given a short training by Museums or Tourist Offices and scripts to follow. That a journalist should refer to an unnamed tour guide to explain contested historical matters is beyond laughable. Anyone who has visited the Cairo Museum will know how underpaid the tour guides are. This life is not an option for a serious dedicated scholar. The vast majority of visitors will arrive knowing nothing about ancient Egypt making the amount of knowledge required minimal. Hawass had told her that ‘negroes’ have thick lips and broad noses and the ancient Egyptians did not. She stands in front of a statue of Akhenaten with his enormous lips and broad nose and cannot see any contradiction! This is hysterically absurd.
She then stands in front of a statue of a female pharaoh and cannot notice that even today her skin tones are identical. (This is apart from the issue of symbolic coloring and palette limitation.)
When Hawass alleges the similarity of Arabic grammar to Egyptian to mean ethnic continuity he strays into cloud cuckooland. That ‘semitic’ languages form a family is well known but hardly shows that Jews, Arabs and ancient Egyptian were the same. Being Arab Hawass has made a new sensational claim that ancient Egyptian were Arabs. I cannot understand why Hawass does not say the ancient Egyptians were Jews as the grammatical similarities are there as well.
Fundamentally Akinsanya’s programme by not giving space for alternative scholars , by allowing Hawass to bad mouth his critics with no right of reply, by not fact checking any of Hawass’ claims about Diop, failed as basic journalism. Not only does she fail, it is a monstrous disservice to African journalism and falls into the space of almost deliberate anti-African propaganda. Colleagues have suggested that I am taking her far too seriously and that the programme was simply a ruse to get her employer to pay for her holiday in Egypt. Nevertheless those managing Arise TV should be ashamed of themselves.
For anyone wishing to learn about the latest research and updated scholarly views on Egypt-Sudan from the major academic institutions such as Harvard University and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston etc, I list below some publicly available lectures:
Huggins Lectures, Hutchins Centre, Harvard University
- Stuart Smith, ‘Black Pharaohs? Egyptological bias, racism, & Egypt & Nubia as African Civilizations’
- African Historical Firsts: Huggins Lectures by Christopher Ehret
- Ancient Africa: Crops, Commerce, and the Export of Innovation by C Ehret
- The Africanity of Ancient Egypt: Huggins Lectures by Christopher Ehret
Oriental Institute of Chicago University
- Before the Pyramids: the origin of Egyptian civilisation
- CARTA: The Origin of Us — Christopher Ehret: Relationships of Ancient African Languages – Christopher Ehret
MFA – Museum of Fine Art – Boston
- Ancient Nubia: New Ideas, New Discoveries
- 3,000 Years Of Nubian Art Enchants At The MFA
- Ancient Nubia Now: Meroe in the Black Literary Imagination
- Ancient Nubia Now: How Egyptologists Removed Ancient Egypt from Africa – Vanessa Davies
- Ancient Nubia Now: Nubia, Egypt, and the Concept of Race