Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Carnival is from Afrika

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
February 03, 2005

This response seeks to debunk the totally ahistorical, dysfunctional, ethnocentric and zenophobic notion by Sat Maharaj that "Carnival not from Africa" --- as it appeared in Guardian on 19 January 2005.

At first blush, this writer viewed the article as an insult to his intelligence but after pondering the mind-set of its author, then a response became vital in order to relieve Sat Maharaj and persons of similar elk from their upsidedown interpretation of history as it relates to a particular people--- Afrikan people.

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Maharaj's article exposes the typical Euro-centric contention that nothing came out of Afrika but powerless, defenceless, primitive, backward, uncivilised slaves and that Afrika and Afrikans had to wait in darkness (Dark Continent) until Europeans turned on the light of civilization to them in the 15th century A.D.

Contrary to Sat Maharaj's apparent polygenetic theory of the origin of humankind, the universally accepted monogenetic theory of the origin of humankind asserts that all human beings came from Mother Afrika and not from Father Europe, Asia or India. Mother Afrika is the cradle of civilization and not those geographic entities. Afrika is original; all others are just derivatives.

Afrikans are the world's original peoples with original ideas and the world's original master-thinkers and teachers. Sat Maharaj needs to understand that the Greeks (world's first Europeans) went to ancient Kemet (Egypt) in the B.C. era to be educated, civilized and acculturalised by Afrikan Highpriests/teachers at the Temple of Waset. These Europeans did not go to Rome, Spain, Portugal, England nor India.

Sat Maharaj is dead wrong to suggest that "carnival is not an African festival. Not even a 'Trini thing.'" Such a ludicrous statement leads one to wonder who is really "narrow-minded" and devoid of any clear sense of true historical facts.

One problem with Sat Maharaj's analysis is that it incorrectly assigns any claim or sense to historical existence/civilisation to Afrika/Afrikans only when that Continent came into contact with Europe/Europeans in the A.D. era. This is typical Euro-centric analysis of history or His-Story.

Another problem is that Mr. Maharaj focuses on Afrikan history during slavery in the Diaspora. The fact of the matter is that the European enslavement of Afrikan people only represents .01 per cent of the history of Afrikan people on this planet and it is within this contextual framework that Sat Maharaj posits his ahistorical analysis of the origin of carnival.

Professional/scientific research methodology suggests that if one makes invalid assumptions then, by definition, one's conclusion must be invalid a la Sat Maharaj's analysis.

The most traumatic problem with Sat Maharaj's article is his typical Euro-centric inability and reluctance to assign any sense of originality to Afrika. As such, he pens that carnival "was also a spring festival with roots in ancient Greece and Rome."

Is Sat Maharaj totally ignorant of the historical truism that the Greeks took everything they were taught, everything they stole, etc, from ancient Kemet (Egypt) back to Greece and then spread them throughout the entire world?. These everything include architecture, science, mathematics, democracy, chemistry, medicine, governance, carnival festivities, etc.

Ancient Kemet (Egypt) which is still in Afrika is the original; Greece, Rome, Asia/India, Diaspora/Caribbean/TnT are just the derivatives.

The Greeks under Alexander, the so-called 'Great', occupied ancient Kemet from 332 B.C. to 30 B.C. while the Romans occupied ancient Kemet from 30 B.C. to 642 A.D.Mr. Maharaj needs to understand the totality of Afrikan history before he engages in historical ex tempo.

Truth be told: The legendary founder of Athens, Greece, is an Afrikan-Egyptian named Kekrops;

The fact of the matter is that as a result of European colonialism and enslavement both Afrikans and Indians brought certain cultural/religious elements with them from Afrika and India; ergo, these elements have been incorporated "into all aspects of Trinidad culture." The "massive Hindu-Indian input" has not been ignored as Sat Maharaj erroneously, purposely and callously claims, by design and not by accident. This is typical divisive Euro-centric analysis.

When Mr. Maharaj asserts that "historians agree that carnival did not begin in Africa", what he needs to do is to publish the names and statements of proof of these "historians" for public academic/intellectual verification.. He should not engage in historical ex tempo.

The fact of the matter is that the Afrikan origin of carnival predates Greece, Rome and Roman Catholicism, Asia/India and the modern civilizations of Euro-Spain and Portugal.

Therefore, from an Afro-centric or Afrika-centered perspective, one must posit the true origin of carnival within its proper historical context. This context is the 99.99 per cent of Afrikan history in the B.C. era---- a period when the ancient Afrikans/Kemites were building the Pyramids, celebrating spiritual (not religious) festivals and the Nile River was known as "the world's first cultural highway."

The Nile River is in Mother Afrika not Father Europe (Greece), Rome nor Asia/India.

In fact, when the so-called "Father of History", Herodotus, visited ancient Kemet in 450 B.C., he not only described the Kemites as "blackskinned" and having "wooly hair" but in his book titled The Histories" he also wrote that "it was the Egyptians who originated and taught the Greeks to use ceremonial meetings, processions and processional offerings."

According to Trinidadian-born historian, Grisso, in Book 11, Herodotus described one such ancient Kemetic ceremonies or festivities as follows:
"They come in barges,men and women together, a great number in each boat; on the way, some of the women keep up a continual clatter (music) with castanets (steelpan today) and some of the men play flutes (today's music band instruments), while the rest, both men and women, sing and clap their hands. Whenever they pass a town on the river-bank, they bring the barge close in-shore, some of the women continuing to act or stand up and pull up their skirts ( today's winin activities). When they reach Bubastis (today's competition site) they celebrate the festival with elaborate sacrifices and more wine is consumed than during all the rest of the year (Trinbagonians also consume more alcohol during carnival festivities than during all the rest of the year in this A.D. era)."
Indeed, this live, vivid, first-hand account by the "Father of History" of an ancient Afrikan-Kemetic festivity in the B.C. era is similar to any description of carnival Monday and Tuesday in TnT today. This is prima facie evidence/proof of the Afrikan origin of carnival.

The festival that is celebrated as carnival in TnT today in A.D. originated in Afrika yesterday in B.C.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani Labour College.

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