Series 2: Issue 2
In April/May there was uproar on the social media world about a forthcoming Netflix documentary about Cleopatra. Huge waves of artificial uproar arose with a coterie of falsifications. Egypt in particular and Arabs in general enjoyed a wave of anti-Black hysteria. Perhaps we have not witnessed such hysteria since Ali Aziz, Saladin’s son, tried to flatten the Pyramids.
This is the same Egypt that closed down Kevin Hart’s debut tour, a musician’s tour, for repeating the most basic historical truth that Nubians were once Pharaohs.
Narmer came from the South and united Kemit (Ancient Egypt). Arabs stated that for Egyptians to be reminded of this could cause civil war.
Clearly, it is not the truth that might cause a civil war but the treatment of the African population of Egypt. At a later time, we can review the crimes committed by the ruling elites of Egypt. Cultural genocide was witnessed by the killing of the ancient Egyptian language (Coptic), and ethnic cleansing by removing the majority of the Black African population to restricted parts of Egypt. There are some who allege that Egypt treats its own Black population worse than Israelis treat Palestinians. True or not, what is abundantly clear and indisputable is that the current Egyptian ruling elite does not even want the matter ever discussed. It was Nasser who made great steps towards healing the rift between Arabs and Africans. This rift, the current Egyptian ruling elite, is fanning. As we all now know, the world’s dominant hegemon rules by sowing conflict and dissension everywhere. This weakens governments, alienates them from their populations and makes them dependent on US support. But governments and people have choices. When they make their choices, they will have to face the consequences.
In the US there were many academics who responded to faux outrage by their own slippery interpretations. Blouin and Kennedy create a narrative that actually denudes the history of Kemit of its powerful impact in the guise of being anti-racist. We have here a piece seeking to unmask this operation.
Now that the Netflix documentary has been released the outrage seems a storm in tea cup. What is most noticeable is the extreme conventionality of the interpretation of Cleopatra. The history of the cultural influence of ancient Egypt on Rome is downplayed, except interestingly for revealing the true source of the Julian calendar. Even calling it the Julian calendar reveals issues. The view that Rome was a beacon of democracy whilst Egypt represented the ‘East’ is astonishing. This implied that the Pharaoh was no different than any other King. But firstly , the Egyptian ruling system lasted thousands of years which is not true of other Eastern kings. Secondly, it does not address why Octavian forbade Romans from visiting Egypt. Was Julius Caesar seeking to become a Roman Pharaoh not just a king? Did Octavian seek the same but with considerable more care seeing what happened to his adopted Father? Is it hard to consider that Egypt may have given Rome much more than grain?
There is a hint that this issue was more explosive in the planning stages of the documentary than Cleopatra’s skin tone. It should have been.
Updated 13 May 23