of Runoko Rashidi
Introduction to African Civilizations /
African Presence in Early Asia /
Introduction to the Study of African Classical Civilizations
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Recollections of Ivan Van Sertima—The Early Years
By Runoko Rashidi
30 May 2009
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
I first met Ivan Van Sertima in either late 1980 or 1981. I went to a lecture that he gave in a classroom at UCLA. An evening or so later I attended a reception in his honor at the residence of Legrand H. Clegg II. The lecture was about the African presence in America before Columbus and the reception gave us a chance to have an up close interaction with him.
He was a light skinned Black man of medium build. He wore a jacket and tie. He was clean shaved except for a mustache and wore a short Afro. And he spoke with a distinct British accent. I was honored to be in his presence. He seemed rather detached and aloof but you could tell that he was a great scholar. And he really seemed to appreciate the ladies!
It was around this same time that I quit my job with a mortgage company and started working in the EOPS department at Compton Community College. My job was to organize cultural awareness programs designed to expose the students and the community in Compton to things African. I believe that Ivan was our first speaker. Among the other early speakers that I brought to Compton at that time were political activist Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) and the great cultural historian John G. Jackson.
Another person that I got to know during those early days at Compton College was Charles S. Finch, MD. Jan Carew who, like Ivan, was from Guyana, South America and who was Ivan's major mentor also I invited in as a speaker. Jan even stayed at my apartment. But Ivan became our regular. He was a great orator and had a grand and commanding on stage presence. You know, I think a lot of it had to do with his British manners. Whatever the case, his speaking style and presence were clearly captivating.
Sometime in 1982 I started writing for Ivan. In 1977 his great book They Came Before Columbus was published and in 1979 he began publication of the Journal of African Civilizations. How I began to write for the Journal makes for a good story.
Legrand Clegg and I had driven down to San Diego, California to attend a program highlighted by Ivan and John Henrik Clarke (another wonderful scholar that I was to get to know and develop am excellent personal relationship with).
I remember that Van Sertima, Legrand, myself and a San Diego brother named Chuck Ambers, were parked in front of a liquor store talking about what spirits we were going to buy when Ivan asked no one in particular if anybody knew anybody who might know somebody if they knew anybody who had photographs of the people of ancient Iraq. He wanted to use the photos to illustrate a new issue of the Journal. I had recently begun to study the subject but did not say a word. Legrand Clegg, busy trying to promote me, pointed out immediately that Runoko Rashidi was just the man! Ivan looked at me as if to say, "who, that guy?" He appeared to have no confidence at all at the suggestion and seemed extremely dubious. But Legrand was persistent and Ivan relented. His parting words to me were, "Well just write a few words and send in the photos."
He later told me that the photos were actually terrible but that the article that I wrote was very good and he was impressed with my style. (I wonder what he would say about my photos now?) From that day on I held him in awe and wrote for all the Journals from 1982 to the last one in 1995.
Just about at that time the Journal of African Civilizations ceased to be a journal per se and became a book that was published two or three times a year. The first was Egyptian History Revised and the second one was Black Women in Antiquity. He published my first article in the former and my second (an even bigger essay) was published in the latter. By this time I could see that the respect that he had for me and the confidence that he had in me was beginning to grow immeasurably, for in the Black Women in Antiquity anthology he not only published an article of mine on African goddesses, but I also helped him do some of the editing for the book. He was extremely grateful and at this point we actually began to be something approaching confidants and friends.
You know, with Ivan's transition (I could not write the "d" word) it seems almost like I have lost my bridge to those early years and those scholars that mentored and influenced me at that pivotal stage in my life. Little by little and one by one they are all gone now, or just about gone. First Chancellor Williams and then John G. Jackson passed. Then Charles B. Copher and Edward Vivian Scobie and, especially John Henrik Clarke, joined the Ancestors. Then Ivan got sick and Jacob H. Carruthers died. Shortly after that Nana Ekow Butweiku got sick and died. William Mackey and Baba Donaldson died. And it seems like just yesterday that my friend Asa Hilliard made his transition. Jan Carew is sick and Dr. Ben is in a nursing home in the Bronx. And now Ivan is gone. Kind of takes my breath away and puts a tear in my eye. I am oh so grateful for the fellowship that they provided and the mentoring that they gave. But, still, I miss them very much.
It seems like the end of an era.
In love of Africa,
Runoko Rashidi Okello
posted 1 June 2010
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Dr. Ivan Van Sertima: The Afrikan Presence in Ancient America
Ivan Gladstone Van Sertima (26
January 1935 - 25 May 2009) was a historian, linguist and
at Rutgers University in the United States.
He was noted for his controversial Afrocentric theory
pre-Columbian contact between Africa and the Americas.
Ivan Van Sertima was born
in Guyana, South America. He was educated at the School of
Oriental and African Studies (London University) and the Rutgers
Graduate School and holds degrees in African Studies and
Anthropology. From 1957-1959 he served as a Press and
Broadcasting Officer in the Guyana Information Services. During
the decade of the 1960s he broadcast weekly from Britain to
Africa and the Caribbean. He is a literary critic, a linguist,
an anthropologist and has made a name in all three fields.
As a literary critic, he is the author
Caribbean Writers, a collection of critical essays on the Caribbean
novel. He is also the author of several major literary reviews published in
Denmark, India, Britain and the United States. He was honored for his work
in this field by being asked by the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy
to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature from 1976-1980. He
has also been honored as an historian of world repute by being asked to join
UNESCO's International Commission for Rewriting the Scientific and Cultural
History of Mankind.
As a linguist, he has published essays on the dialect of the Sea Islands off
the Georgia Coast. He is also the compiler of the Swahili Dictionary of
Legal Terms, based on his field work in Tanzania, East Africa, in 1967.
He is the author of
They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America,
which was published by Random House in 1977 and is presently in its
twenty-ninth printing. It was published in French in 1981 and in the same
year, was awarded the Clarence L. Holte Prize, a prize awarded every two
years "for a work of excellence in literature and the humanities relating to
the cultural heritage of Africa and the African diaspora."
He also authored
Early America Revisited, a book that has enriched the study of a
wide range of subjects, from archaeology to anthropology, and has resulted
in profound changes in the reordering of historical priorities and pedagogy.
Professor of African Studies at Rutgers University, Dr. Van Sertima was also
Visiting Professor at Princeton University. He is the Editor of the
Journal of African Civilizations, which he founded in 1979 and has
published several major anthologies which have influenced the development of
multicultural curriculum in the United States. These anthologies include
Blacks in Science: ancient and modern,
Black Women in Antiquity,
Egypt: Child of Africa,
Nile Valley Civilizations (out of print), African Presence in the
Art of the Americas (due 2007),
African Presence in Early Asia (co-edited with Runoko Rashidi),
African Presence in Early Europe,
African Presence in Early America,
Great African Thinkers,
Great Black Leaders: ancient and modern, and
Golden Age of the Moor.
As an acclaimed poet, his work graces the pages of River and the Wall,
1953 and has been published in English and German. As an essayist, his major
pieces were published in Talk That Talk, 1989, Future Directions
for African and African American Content in the School Curriculum, 1986,
Enigma of Values, 1979, and in
Black Life and Culture in the United States, 1971.
Dr. Van Sertima has lectured at more than 100 universities in the United
States and has also lectured in Canada, the Caribbean, South America and
Europe. In 1991 Dr. Van Sertima defended his highly controversial thesis on
the African presence in pre-Columbian America before the Smithsonian. In
1994 they published his address in Race, Discourse and the Origin of the
Americas: A New World View of 1492.
He also appeared before a Congressional Committee on July 7, 1987 to
challenge the Columbus myth. This landmark presentation before Congress was
illuminating and brilliantly presented in the name of all peoples of color
across the world.
* * * *
Attack On Africans Writing Their Own
History Part 1 of 7
Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on
Africans writing and accounting for their own history.
Dr Hilliard is A
teacher, psychologist, and historian.
Part 2 of 7
3 of 7 /
Part 4 of 7
Part 5 of 7 /
Part 6 of 7 /
Part 7 of 7
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* * *
The Price of Civilization
Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.
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Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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