Monday, February 3, 2014

Black History Month 'Cheikh Anta Diop'

There have been many great thinkers in the African universe of scholastic thought in both past and present periods, to name a few like Stokley Carmichael and Malcolm X.  Yet as I look back to my earlier studies one man who stands out in profound radical thinking during his day was Cheikh Anta Diop. Born in Thieytou,l,  Diourbel Region, French Senegal. Diop was born to an aristocratic Muslim Wolof family in Senegal where he was educated in a traditional Islamic school. Diop's family was part of the Mouride brotherhood, the only independent Muslim group in Africa according to Diop. He obtained a bachelor's degree in Senegal before moving to Paris for graduate studies, where he ended his scholastic education. In 1946, at the age of 23, Diop went to Paris to study and initially enrolled to study higher mathematics. but in the end enrolled to study philosophy in the Faculty of Arts of the Sorbonne. Which after he gained his first degree (licence) in philosophy in 1948. He then enrolled in the Faculty of Sciences, receiving two diplomas in chemistry in 1950. It was in 1949 that Diop registered a proposed title for a Doctor of Letters thesis, "The Cultural Future of African thought" under the direction of Professor Gaston Bachelard.  In 1951 he registered a second thesis title "Who were the pre-dynastic Egyptians" under Professor Marcel Griaule. He completed his thesis on pre-dynastic Egypt in 1954 but could not find a jury of examiners for it: he later published many of his ideas as the book "Nations nègres et culture". In 1956 he re-registered a new proposed thesis for Doctor of Letters with the title "The areas of matriarchy and patriarchy in ancient times." From 1956, he taught physics and chemistry in two Paris lycees as an assistant master, before moving to the College de France. In 1957 he registered his new thesis title "Comparative study of political and social systems of Europe and Africa, from Antiquity to the formation of modern states." The new topics did not relate to ancient Egypt, but were concerned with the forms of organisation of African and European societies and how they evolved. He obtained his doctorate in 1960. A most controversial historian Diop rattled academia during his day particularly in the area of Egyptian studies on the indigenious population of Egypt as he put it in his thesis was populated by black people. A political activist! Diop from his early days in Paris was active in the Rassemblement Democratique Africaine (RDA), an African nationalist organisation led byFelix Houphouet-Boigny. He was general secretary of the RDA students in Paris from 1950 to 1953.

African Origins Of Civilization.....
Cheikh Anta Diop University.......


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