Home     Events     Store     The Center     The Founders     Gallery     News     Contact Us     Join Us

Ancient Egyptian Wisdom ... Daily Practice

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Udjat Recieves Blogged.com's Top Ranking!

I think every blogger in the world is always looking to reach a larger audience. With the amount of time that we spend on each post, we sometimes wonder whether anyone out there in cyberspace is actually reading. When I found Blogged.com, I was excited to submit The Udjat. Blogged is not only a comprehensive directory of blogs in a wide variety of categories, but it also serves as a grand review of blogs. I really hoped that The Udjat would be viewed favorably.


Much to my surprise, The Udjat has recieved the top ranking in the Religion and Spirituality (out of 1,785 sites) and African American (out of 3,701 sites) categories. The Udjat recieved the "excellent" rating and a score of 9.3 out of 10. Are you reading regularly? With all of the areas that the Center for the Restoration of Ma'at is entering, we'll have so much more to offer. You'll be in for an interesting ride! Shem em Hetep (Go forth in peace)!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chris Rock's Good Hair is Masterful ... But

This weekend Nfr-Ka Ma'at and myself took in Chris Rock's documentary, Good Hair. The film was inspired by an awkward conversation between Rock and his eldest daughter Lola. She asked her father, "Daddy, why don't I have good hair?" His comprehensive response is a full-length movie in which he takes an in-depth look at the $9 billion black hair care industry. He is able to skillfully balance the film's humor with the very serious topic of the "ritualistic" straightening of African American hair.

Rock interviews a large number of well-known African American celebrities including Nia Long, Maya Angelou, Salt-n-Pepa, Raven-Symoné, Paul Mooney, Ice-T, and even Reverend Al Sharpton. They describe their own reflections on hair straightening and even some of their tragic accidents. We can always count on legendary comedian Paul Mooney to give us insightful and hilarious analysis of contemporary events. He wears a large afro-wig atop his bald head when he states, "When your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. When your hair is nappy, white people aren't happy."

Rock also focuses on the largest annual Black hair care event in the world, the Bronner Bros.' International Hair Show in Atlanta. The show features hundreds of vendors with thousands of hair care products. The event is also an adequate display of the disturbing fact that Black folks only own or control a small percentage of these businesses. Large white corporations often control much smaller units which produce many Black hair products ... just take a look at the dozens of ads in a monthly issue of Essence magazine. Many who are familiar with the challenges of "under-resourced" communities to obtain the experience, skills, and capital to compete might not be surprised by this reality. However, only people who frequent their local Black hair product supplier would recognized which community has the next largest stake in this business. Asians, mostly Koreans, also own large lucrative interests in Black hair care. Imagine going into a community predominantly occupied by an ethnicity other than your own and opening stores selling products that you don't, and will never, use. The controlling presence of both whites and Asians in the Black hair care market should be embarrassing.

Most Black women who wear straight hair styles probably know that most of the naturally straight hair that is used in extensions and weaves comes from India. Rock takes an extremely rare look at the Indian city where much of the hair comes from. Local hair traders purchase the hair from Hindu temples where worshipers, considering their hair a vanity, tonsure (shave) their heads in devotion to their god. Most of these worshippers are not aware that their hair ends up on the high-end of a million-billion dollar market on the other side of the world. Rock believes that they probably wouldn't care. "You've got to realize, we care about money more than anyone else. You tell them, "Hey, people are spending a lot of money in America for your hair," and they're, "So? I dedicate this hair to the god, so whatever happens, happens."

Rock also speaks with a scientist who demonstrates how sodium hydroxidethe active chemical in hair relaxercan completely dissolve an aluminum soda can. The scientist is completely surprised when Rock explains that many parents apply the corrosive mixture directly to their young children's heads. Clearly this behavior can't simply be a "style" choice. After all, how we explain that a large majority of African American women (and even men) continue to use sodium hydroxide, euphemized "creamy crack", even though everyone has personal stories about how dangerous it is. It has remained a major choice for over 150 years.

Yes, we all have our personal stories ... including me. I remember teasing my younger sister as my mother used a "hot comb" to "press" her hair. I was warned that I shouldn't have been fooling around while my mother was using such a dangerous devise. Unfortunately, my sister thought I was pretty funny too. As she shifted in her chair in order to stop laughing, the section of the hair that my mother was straightening was immediately burned away, leaving the entire lock dangling in my mother's hand. I can still remember the sound of the sizzle and my sister's sobbing. I've always felt guilty about harming my sister, but it didn't stop me from straightening my own hair as a high school freshman. I was an extremely confused 14-year-old who was thrust into a violently-racist environment at Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. On my first day, I was chased to the train by white students shouting "Go home, Nigger!" In the next few weeks, I would be called "nigger" or get serenaded with the Kentucky Fried Chicken jingle song on a daily basis. I even tripped over a watermelon which was rolled down the hallway after me one afternoon. As I asked my parents to "texturize" my hair, I think I was subconsciously rejecting a portion of myself. If you can't beat them, join them. Right?

While I think Chris Rock's Good Hair is a brilliant, must-see-documentary, I have to say that it was still incomplete. Rock doesn't even attempt to delve into the historic motivations of African American men and women who began straightening their hair immediately after the end of their enslavement in the United States. Even though he interviews the great-great granddaughter of Madame C.J. Walker, he doesn't even identify her. Maybe she could have properly described "colorism" during the post-enslavement period. Being "less Black" after slavery could easily mean better housing, a wider choice of romantic partners, access to elite social groups, better chances of college admittance, and so much more. Several historically black colleges were founded by white former slave-owners for their illicit off-spring. These anti-African feelings set deep roots within American culture. Just listen to people in the Black community talk about a new baby's "good hair". I'm sure many of you have heard it. Why isn't the hair that Africans were divinely ordained to receive just fine? The entire subject is still a touchy one in our community.

Ironically, our Ancient Egyptian ancestors felt very different about tightly-curled hair and dark skin. Chief deity Ausar (misnamed Osiris by the Greeks) was known as the "Lord or the Perfect Black" and was often depicted with jet-black skin. One of the first depictions of a male divine character, known as Anhur, was depicted with a Angela Davis-type afro. Kemetic men and women also wore wigs and even added extensions that were always made of tightly-curled hair.

Okay. Did you get that one?! While so many people of African descent today are using a wide variety of often dangerous procedures to remove all traces of African heritage from their hair, ancient Africans actually felt African hair was beautiful. How did we get so far away from loving ourselves? How long will it take us to shed the baggage of our enslavement? I say the first step is being honest with ourselves about the things within our culture which seem normal, but don't benefit us. We can no longer simply say we're just doing what everyone else does. It's time to have some difficult conversations. As long as our minds are in chains, we can never believe that we'll truly be free. What do you think? Please vote in our poll after watching the Good Hair trailer and a demonstration video on using a hot comb included below. Shem em Hetep (Go forth in peace)!

video video




Survey Results


Related Sites:
Official Good Hair Website - http://www.goodhairmovie.net/
Excellent Blog Site on Natural Hair Review - http://khamitkinks.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/the-bad-news-about-good-hair/
Chris Rock Interview on Good Hair (Quote from this source) - http://www.thewrap.com/article/chris-rock-grilled-his-hair-raising-documentary-8367

Friday, October 30, 2009

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art Returns Artifact to Egypt

Officials at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art returned an artifact to the Egyptian government on Thursday. The red granite fragment was on loan to the museum from an unnamed private owner. As museum staff inspected the artifact, which has never been displayed on the premises, they realized that the fragment was the corner of the base of a shrine enclosure meant to contain the statue of a deity. The shrine was dedicated to Amun, the chief deity of Karnak (Ipet-Isut), by Amenemhat I.

Dorothea Arnold, the Chairman of the Museum's Egyptian Art Department recognized the piece, "For a long time, I puzzled about the object to which this fragment belonged. I finally pieced it together when I came across a photograph showing the Naos in Karnak which is missing a corner in an article by Luc Gabolde in the journal Egypt Afrique et Orient ... We decided that, in these circumstances, the appropriate thing to do was to alert the Egyptian authorities and to make arrangements with the owner so that we could return the fragment to Egypt." The MET purchased the granite block, which was acquired last October on the antiquities market, in order to repatriate it.

This was not the first time that the MET returned "ill-gotten" objects to Egypt. 8 years ago the museum returned a 19th dynasty relief displaying the head of a goddess. The item was recognized by a Dutch Egyptologist, who had studied a chapel dedicated to Seti I at Memphis (originally Men-Nefer). Similar to the latest repatriated relief, the Seti I relief was purchased by the museum to facilitate its return.

Most media outlets hailed the relief's return as a victory for Zahi Hawass, the very visible head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. Hawass has lead a public battle to return many of Egypt's most noted artifacts on foreign soil, including the Rosetta Stone (British Museum) and the disputed bust of Queen Nefertiti (Neues Museum in Berlin). After refusing to return a golden burial mask of a noblewoman, Hawass cut ties with the Saint Louis Art Museum. He next lobbied France's Louvre to return 5 painted wall fragments. The Louve relented after Hawass cut ties with the museum by halting their excavations and cancelling a lecture by a former staff member. Hawass has still remained "chilly" to France's Minister of Culture after the return of the items.

Regular readers of The Udjat should know that I am certainly no fan of Zahi Hawass (read one of my posts on the topic here). He has worked diligently to deny the African origins of the Ancient Egyptians. I am also routinely annoyed by his obligatory inclusion in virtually any documentary by the History Channel on Kemet. He very seldom adds anything of value to the discussions. I must give Hawass credit, however, for his dogged commitment to the return of Egypt's ancient artifacts. I regularly ask who "owns" the artifacts and legacy of Kemet. While I don't think that the region's current Arabic inhabitants are this lofty civilization's heir, I do think that the wholesale rape of these historic treasures by foreign nations is a great tragedy. Our current fixation is on a slab of red granite from an important shrine. I'd like to know when we'll begin to discuss the "ownership" of mummies by these same museums. After all, these are actually human bodies; individuals who never thought they would ever be removed from their resting places. How would you feel if the body of a cherished uncle, or ever a grandparent was exhumed for public display. Do you think the Vatican (or any other Christian country) would allow the exhumation of the body of an early Pope? What's the difference? Who speak for Ancient Africans? Currently ... no one.

Okay. I think you've heard enough of my ranting. I'm sure you're probably thinking that without all of these artifacts in a variety of countries around the world, we would know much less about the early civilization that paved our way. That's probably true. However, I think I really want to hear much more honest public discourse about these facts. Public discourse which includes the descendants of these wonderful forbearers. Even though they are now among the most downtrodden inhabitants of the planet. Up you might race, you can accomplish what you will! Shem em Hetep (Go forth in peace)!


Related Articles:
LA Times - http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/10/monster-mash-13.html
NY Times - http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/10/27/world/AP-ML-Egypt-Met.html
MET Press Release (Dorthea Arnold Quotation)- http://www.metmuseum.org/press_room/full_release.asp?prid={768AF8B3-20A5-4EB6-820F-2DECCBC8854D}
Fragment Photo Credit - Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities/Associated Press

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ancient Egyptian Symbols the Basis of Washington, D.C. Design

This weekend I had the privilege of once again taking the Egypt on the Potomac tour of Washington, D.C. With groundbreaking historical research by the Founder of the Institute for Karmic Guidance, Tony Browder; the tour uncovers the esoteric Ancient Egyptian symbols embedded in the very design of our nation's capital.

I know what some of you are thinking. "So what? Some of the buildings in Washington, D.C. are designed with the world's most noted ancient civilization in mind. Everyone loves Ancient Egypt." Actually, Brother Browder's exhaustive research proves that the very design of the city utilizes Kemetic sacred science to attempt to harmoniously channel divine energy for sustenance of this nation. The entire city is a monument to Ancient African symbolism.

Our story begins with the first president, George Washington, announcing the creation of a permanent capital along the banks of the Potomac River on January 24, 1791. The plan called for a perfect diamond/square with straight 10-mile boundaries at 90 degree angles from land ceded from Virginia and Maryland. Washington charged Andrew Ellicott with surveying this "sacred" location with the help of Benjamin Banneker. Banneker's background is quite interesting. A free-born African, he seems to have been descended from the Dogon people of West Africa who are known for their long tradition of tracking the heavens (more on this in a later post). Banneker was a self-taught astronomer of the highest order and perhaps a genius. He was able to accurately predict solar and lunar eclipses which he published in 6-year almanacs. He was also reputed to have borrowed a watch from a traveling merchant and replicated each piece in wood. His working wooden watch was able to chime hourly, and continued to operate efficiently until long after his death.

Banneker and Ellicott collaborated to create a astrologically harmonious plan for the new capital. Banneker slept in a tent while charting solar and lunar movements for approximately 3 months. Ellicott visited him daily to assist with translating these movements into land surveys. These measurements were given to a Frenchman, Major Pierre L'Enfant, to create the actual street plan. However, due to his addiction to alcohol it is likely that L'Enfant was unable to complete his work. The plan was probably completed by Banneker.

Planning the capital city in its entirety prior to construction allowed for sacred masonic (read Ancient Egyptian) principals to be ensconced into the design. For example, 16th street was planned as the corridor which bisected the city into two equal halves and also marked the sun at its highest point in the sky (also known as Aten-Ra). This "corridor of light" also crosses into the most important building in the United States, The White House. Ever wonder why The White House has some many rooms in different primary colors? It is a symbolic "refractor" (prism) for spiritual energy. Ironically, these powerful masons used sacred African aesthetics to edify themselves at the same time they subjugated and enslaved our African ancestors.

This incredible tour includes major stops at the Meridian Hill Park, the Scottish Rite Temple, the House of the Temple (Scottish Rite headquarters), and the Library of Congress. The masonic buildings are included to elucidate some of the fundamental masonic principals which are culled from Ancient African sacred science. You don't want to miss this tour! I've included a short video of my experience below. Be sure to take a look at it. Brother Browder has done the kind of work with which the ancestors must be very pleased. For more information and scheduling, visit http://www.ikg-info.com/.

What's the bottom line? Know thyself, African! This nation's founding fathers signed the greatest monuments to their power with YOUR signature. I wonder what happens when we arise to claim ownership. Shem em Hetep (Go forth in Peace)!

video

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baseball: All-American Sport Created by Ancient Africans?

Sometimes I get teased by my friends when I tell them that baseball is my favorite sport. Oh sure, I enjoy a good Knicks game (I know these are very rare) and I root for both New York football teams, but the Mets have long been my guilty pleasure. My friends say, "How can any self-respecting Black man choose baseball over basketball or even football!" What can I say? No matter the good-natured ribbing, I still love the game. As I sat watching the Yankees fall to the Angels last night, the thought occurred to me, "What if my friends knew that baseball was created by ancient Africans?"

I know. Maybe this is a little bit of hyperbole. The Europeans who played early variants of the game were probably not aware of the game's similarities with one played by the Ancient Egyptians thousands of years earlier. However, it is incredible that our ancient African ancestors enjoyed "baseball" long before the days of billionaire owners and mammoth free agent contracts. There have been very few games in recorded history which used a bat and a ball.

The Ancient Egyptian game was called seker-hemat, which is loosely translated by Ancient Egyptian gaming expert Dr. Peter A. Piccione as "batting the ball". In a seldom referenced bas-relief of Thutmose III at Hatshepsut's mortuary temple, the King is seen holding a curved bat and a softball sized ball in front of the deity Het-Heru (who the Greeks misnamed Hathor). Two preists, who are depicted much smaller than Het-Heru and Thutmose III, stand beneath the King with their hands raised to catch the batted bat. Above the images reads, "'Batting the ball for Hathor, who is foremost in Waset.'' The scene is dated around 1475 BC. Approximately 3,000 years before the earliest western games which are usually considered the forerunners of our modern game. Apparently seker-hemat was played at least a millenia earlier. Inscriptions in pyramids dating 2,400 B.C. reference the game. What do you think? You think A-Rod was thinking about Thutmose III as he re-established himself as a legitamate post-season contender? Okay ... maybe not. I wonder how the rest of the America will respond when the discover the Africans seemed to have played "baseball" thousands of years earlier? Go Figure. Shem em Hetep (Go Forth in Peace)!

Related Articles:
Pharaoh at the Bat. Dr. Peter A, Piccione. College of Charleston Magazine7/1 (Spring/Summer, 2003): 36. http://spinner.cofc.edu/~piccione/pharaoh_at_bat.pdf?referrer=webcluster&


Baseball's Origins Ain't Found Till They're Found. September 12, 2004. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/12/sports/baseball/12origins.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We're Back .... with A Whole Lot More to Offer!

We're back! I haven't posted to The Udjat since August as I've been very, very busy. In late July I was laid off from my job. As you can imagine I was in a panic. How would I pay my mortgage? Could I find a job in this difficult economic climate? I still decided to leave for my annual trip to Egypt just a few days later.

I have to say that while I was prepared for my lectures in Egypt, I was still preoccupied by my employment situation. The 10-hour plane ride was even more tedious than usual. It was only when I stood at the foot of the only monument of the World's Seven Wonders which remains standing that I received divine clarity. As I reached my relatively small brown hand out to touch Khufu's Great Pyramid, I realized how insignificant my problems were. My issues would be resolved ... all things were in divine order.

In the months since our return, I have been looking for full-time work, but also working diligently to advance the mission of the Center for the Restoration of Ma'at. Nfr-Ka Ma'at and I traveled to Chicago's Oriental Institute with Kemetic Yoga master Yiser Ra Hotep to view the Qustul incense burner (read my original post on the burner here). Additionally, we're also preparing to start a league for folks interested in playing the Ancient Egyptian board game known as senet.

I have just completed my training to become a television producer. We are anxiously developing our new television show titled "Kemetic Legacy Today". We've certainly been active. I'm sure that our brief hiatus will actually create more material for the Udjat. Hang in there ... it's gonna be a wild ride! Shem em Hetep (Go Forth in Peace)!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Video Log of our First Day in Egypt!

NOTE (8/11/09): Unfortunately I was unable to post video to blogger from Egypt. I'll be uploading compiled video posts over the course of this week. Let us know what you think! Check back every day for the next week.
I think many of you are aware that Nfr-Ka Ma’at and I have the incredible honor of serving as staff members for the African Genesis Institute. We’ve just completed our first day in Egypt. This is our sixth trip to the site of Africa’s most glorious civilization. The African Genesis Institute is a 2 ½ year rite of passage program for students aged 7 – 14, which culminates in a FREE trip to Egypt for all of the youth and adult mentors who complete the program. This year we have approximately 218 Africans with us. I’m not aware of any other group taking young people to African descent to Africa every year (to find out more click here)! I can think of few other things as important in our lives during the 9 years we’ve been involved with the program. As soon as I'm able to upload video I'll post a video collage of our first day.

Nfr-Ka Ma’at and I are elated, edified, but clearly exhausted. After our 10-hour flight to Cairo, we immediately held a brief orientation and took a dinner cruise on the Nile (Hapi). Today we primarily focused on the cultural flavor of Egypt’s current occupants. Tomorrow we’ll be waking up at 5 AM, grabbing breakfast, holding our first full orientation, and heading to the Giza plateau to train our eyes on the magnificent Great Pyramid of our African ancestor Khufu. We’ll also visit his mysterious Solar Boat Museum, and the complementary pyramids of his son, Khafra, and grandson, Menkaura. We’ll then travel a short distance to one of the world’s most noted statue monuments, Heruemaket; also known as the Sphinx. I’ll continue to post as we travel. Join us as we lead you on a virtual journey through Egypt. Have a question or want to dialogue with our students? Leave a comment. I’ll be sure to respond. Shem em Hetep (Go forth in Peace)!

video

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blogging Live from Egypt: 7/31 - 8/10!

I've been so busy recently. I knew I had difficulty posting ... but today I turned around and noticed I hadn't posted in 3 weeks! 2009 has probably been one of the most difficult years I ever had. Posting on the Udjat has become a much welcomed escape. I've truly missed it.

I hope that my recent work will actually enhance your experience reading The Udjat. I've been working to create a monthly television program on Ancient Egyptian spirituality for my local public access channel, Manhattan Neighborhood Network. I've also been fine-tuning lectures for my annual trip to Egypt. While this is my sixth trip to Egypt with the African Genesis Institute, I'm still very excited. I've been blessed to be able to take large numbers of students to Egypt for the culmination of their 2 1/2 year rite of passage program. The best part for the students and the adult group leaders of African descent is that the trip is free (for more information click here)!

I invite you to take a virtual trip to the motherland with me this year. I'll be blogging live from Egypt from July 31 - August 10. Experience our pilgrimage to the magnificent Great Pyramid of the Giza Plateau, lock gazes with the mysterious Heru-em-Akhet (the Sphinx), and travel to the grand temples of Karnak and Luxor. I'll even post video of my lecture in front of Ramses the Great's incredible monument: Abu Simbel. Feel free to ask questions, request pictures, or even dialouge with other sojourners. I hope you join me. It's gonna be a wild ride! Shem em Hetep (Go forth in Peace)!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Pyramids Built by Aliens

Doesn't everyone deserve a bit of mindless summer action? Sure! After a long day at work last week, I decided to take in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with my two best friends in the whole world. We had a great time. The movie was certainly entertaining. I have to say the great thing about hanging out with guys that have known you virtually your entire life is that you can be yourself. I didn't have to just cheer at explosions and drool at women running in slow motion. I could actually tell them that in the midst of a $200,000,000 special effects orgy, I was having a cerebral experience. I couldn't just enjoy mindless summer action without questioning the premise. I wager most of our readers would probably feel similarly.

What is the vaulted premise of the anxiously awaited Transformers sequel? The movie picks up 2 years after the end of the first film. The heroic Transformers known as the Autobots have been working with Nest, a secret military unit charged with finding and rooting out the remaining Decepticons. The Decepticons have been without their leader since Megatron's "death", however they are being directed by Megatron's mentor, The Fallen, who is one of the original Transformers. We soon learn that the Transformers have actually been on Earth since the beginnings of humanity. The war which raged between the opposing camps of Transformers was precipitated by finding the largest source of energon, the energy source which powers the large robots. During the final battle, The Fallen was defeated by the original 7 Autobot "Prime" models, and the source the Earthly energon is hidden. In the time of the sequel, The Fallen has been restored and is hiding on an asteroid in Earth's orbit. As he guides the Decepticons to finding and restoring Megatron he refuses to return to Earth because only a "Prime can kill" him. He believes that Megatron can kill Optimus Prime allowing his return. Together with Megatron, The Fallen believes that he can find the missing key to a machine which will harvest the energon from the core of the Earth. The energon will allow the Decepticons to rebuild their home planet, Cybertron, but will destroy the Earth. The movie's final battle takes place on a fictional Egyptian Giza Plateau, as the energon harvesting machine is hidden within the core of Khufu's Great Pyramid. I bet you were wondering why I was reviewing Transformers: The Revenge of The Fallen on The Udjat, right!

The plot of the film centers around a familiar concept; the advanced civilization of the Ancient Egyptians was actually established by aliens. However, only time this argument is actually voiced is when the quirky Agent Simmons, played by John Turturro, glances at the pyramids during the final action scene and says, " Yeah those were built by aliens, yeah". Did you notice the design of the face of The Fallen? His face is essentially the Decepticon logo wearing a version of the nemes cloth headdress of Ancient Egypt (see pictures of The Fallen and the mask of Tutankhamun at top). Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is line with a number of other popular depictions, including the entire Stargate franchise, Battlestar Galactica, and Earth: Final Conflict.

Why should we care that these popular depictions posit that aliens were the progenitors of Ancient Egypt? Actually this argument is the most recent volley in the series of insulting arguments against the genius of ancient Africans. To understand this, one must follow the arguments against an African genesis to Ancient Egypt. Initially, Western scholars attempted to argue that Ancient Egyptians were of European origin. This curious argument doesn't really have any factual basis. These unknown Europeans didn't create an advanced civilization in their homeland. Where are Europe's pyramids? They didn't even leave behind a lineage which could be found in contemporary Africa via modern-day genetic studies.

We've actually seen a number of other fallacious arguments concerning the origins of the Ancient Egyptians. They were migrants from the water-logged nation of Atlantis, and even ancestors of the region's current Arabian inhabitants. No matter how different, all of these arguments are based on one racist bias: the world's most downtrodden could not be kin with the engineers of modern civilization. Certainly, Africans couldn't have built an advanced civilization in their own homeland. Now that these arguments have been thoroughly defused, the proponents of a non-African genesis to Ancient Egypt are now attempting to directly influence the populace with the alien genesis argument. After all, is the average person familiar with the work Cheikh Anta Diop, the illustrations of the Book of Gates, or the petroglyphs in the Eastern Egyptian dessert? These popular depictions are quite effective! Especially when these insults are nestled in the midst of a mindless summer action flick. Clearly we need to be vigilant at all times. Our ancestors are being maligned! Shem em Hetep (Go Forth in Peace)!

video

Friday, June 26, 2009

Remember the Time: A Tribute to Michael Jackson (8.29.1958 - 6.25.2009)

On Thursday afternoon Michael Jackson, also known as the "King of Pop", died of a heart attack at the age of 50. Jackson spent nearly his entire life in the public eye; first as a member of the "Jackson 5" band with his brothers, and then as the world's most successful solo pop artist. His 1982 album, Thriller, is still the world's best selling album.

Michael Jackson's personal life has always been characterized by more than his share of turmoil. From his relationship with his abusive father, to his continued use of cosmetic surgery to virtually annihilate his African features, to his legal battles fraught with claims of child molestation; Jackson was often embroiled in heated controversy. However, he undeniably stands as one of the greatest influences of both music and popular culture.

Today The Udjat celebrates the life and accomplishments of Michael Jackson through his ground-breaking 1992 song Remember the Time. Jackson took great risk with the song's accompanying video which was set in Ancient Egypt. Directed by popular African American director John Singleton, the video utilizes its title in "double entendre" fashion. The use of an all-African American cast argues that we should all "remember the time" that Africans were the rulers of one of the world's most preeminent formative civilizations. Certainly this image must have been difficult for so many of the proponents of a non-African origin to Ancient Egypt! Perhaps with a few more popular depictions, we might be able to have a genuine public dialog concerning the ancient role of Africans in the ebbing tide of human civilization. Shem em Hetep (Go Forth in Peace)! Enjoy!

video

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Obama: Ancient Egyptian Glyph "Looks Like Me"

During his recent visit to Egypt, President Barack Obama toured the Pyramids and the Tomb of Qar with Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass. Obama is seeking to repair the United States' relationship with Muslims worldwide after decades of policies bolstering the state of Israel and two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a genuinely unscripted moment in the tomb, Obama astutely noticed the Metu Neter glyph, "hr", which means "face". Most media outlets covered the humorous moment as Obama exclaimed "That looks like me! Look at those ears!" However the outlets have not explored the fact that the Ancient Egyptians chose to represent such a fundamental word with an image of a man with very clear African features.

Just last year when Nfr-Ka Ma'at and I travelled to Egypt, one of our older students noticed the glyph and commented on its appearance. "Why would they make the face so African if they weren't actually reflecting on themselves?" I wonder if Obama would have made his comment if the glyph was clearly a European with protruding ears? Can you imagine what Hawass must have been thinking? You can't tell me he hasn't already pondered this. In response to African American protesters calling for acknowledgement that the Black African heritage of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 2007, Hawass stated "Tutankhamun was not [B]lack, and the portrayal of ancient Egyptian civilisation as black has no element of truth to it." To make his comments even more confusing, Hawass continued, "Egyptians are not Arabs and are not Africans despite the fact that Egypt is in Africa." I'm quite sure Hawass was both surprised and disquieted by Obama's impromptu response to seeing his image ... our image ... etched in stone for all to remember.

Take a look at a picture of the glyph for yourself at the far right. Note the image's broad nose, wide lips and even what seems to be rows of tightly curled locks! Who were the Ancient Egyptians? Why do you continue to ask this question? Our ancestors knew we would have been forced into lands, that we would have been forced not to speak our names. They etched our images in stone for eternity. Shem em Hetep (Go Forth in Peace)!


ARTICLES ON OBAMA'S COMMENTS ON THE KEMETIC GLYPH FOR FACE:

CBS News - http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/06/04/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5062724.shtml

MSNBC - http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/06/04/1953704.aspx


ARTICLE ON HAWASS RESPONDING TO AFRICAN AMERICAN PROTESTERS AT HIS SPEECH ON TUTANKHAMUN:

Independent Online (Quote taken from this article)- http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=31&art_id=nw20070925175335472C333850

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Scientific Research or Sacrilege?: Should Ancient Egypt's Mummies be Studied?

The 2,000-year-old mummy of a child from Ancient Egypt's Greco-Roman period was CT scanned in Sydney, Australia this week. The child, named Heru, is one of 3 mummies "owned" by the University of Sydney's Nicholson Museum for nearly 150 years. Archaeologists and museum authorities were anxious to learn more about the child's past. "I'm amazed to actually discover that it is a seven-year-old male, for 140 years we thought it was a girl!" stated Michael Turner the museum's Senior Curator. All 3 of the mummies were given to the museum by one of its founders, Sir Charles Nicholson. Nicholson probably purchased the mummies during his trip to Egypt in 1856.

The story of the mummies in the Nicholson Museum raises several concerns that will probably not be discussed anywhere other than on The Udjat. Who did Charles Nicholson purchase these mummies from? What gave the seller or the purchaser the authority to engage in this transaction? When we acknowledge that most of Egypt's current inhabitants are probably not directly descended from the Ancient Egyptians, this question becomes even more galling. Many modern-day Egyptians even view the ancient religious practices of our Kemetic ancestors as bizarre or inappropriate. For those of you who have travelled to Egypt and purchased ankhs or shenu (misnamed cartouches), ask yourself how many of the Egyptians you purchased these items from wore them themselves?

While many historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists will hail the use of CT scans as the continuation of the new era of research on Ancient Egypt, I must ask: Is the research on these ancient bodies sacrilege? I know ... many of our readers who are versed on the development of the field of Egyptology will rightfully state that mummies were often used for the most vile, disrespectful purposes. Due to West's "fetishistic" beliefs about Ancient Egyptian mummies, mummies were ground into powders for "medicinal" use, burned as an inexpensive fuel for trains, and even used as fertilizer. Mummy bandages were also used for gift wrapping paper. I am aware that X-rays and CT scans of mummies are exclusively used for research into the lives of people who lived thousands of years ago, but my concerns are unabated.

Let's look at this issue from another perspective. Can we all actually say that we would allow archaeologists to exhume the body of a parent, or a prematurely deceased child? Aren't these mummies someone's relatives? I mean, who speaks for deceased Africans? Especially when most people of African decent today are so maligned and down-trodden that we can't even lay claim to our own communities. Would the United States government allow the government of Ghana the ability to exhume the body of George Washington for research? Would the Vatican permit the historically black higher educational institution, Howard University, to study the body of Pope John Paul II if requested? Of course not! Some of you might think that referring to a Pope is inappropriate. Trust me, I cite this hypothetical example not to offend, but to draw an interesting parallel. Just think, the Nsw-Bitiuw (Pharaohs) who led Ancient Egypt were also their nation's chief religious leader. Would the body of a popular leader from the United States be removed from their tomb to be placed on display? Who speaks for ancient Africans?

I also recognize that the underdevelopment of Africa through enslavement, colonialism, and neo-colonialism have created a situation where African descendants know very little about their ancestors. I am a practitioner of Kemetic spirituality. I know that without some of the intrusive studies on ancient Africans conducted by Europeans and others, I would not have had the knowledge to follow the ways of the ancients. However, when I travel to Egypt each year it feels very awkward to enter tombs in the Valley of the Kings or descend into the tombs of ancient kings through a hole cleaved in the side of a pyramid. These were meant to be vessels sealed into eternity.

Does the study, storage, and "ownership" of these mummies make you uncomfortable? Have I gone off the deep end? Had you ever thought of these issues in this manner? What are your thoughts? Post a comment. Vote in our poll. Until next time, shem em hetep (Go Forth in Peace)!

ARTICLE ON CT SCAN OF THE MUMMY "HERU' IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/17/2600929.htm (The quotation used in this post was taken from this article).




Survey Results

Monday, June 15, 2009

Who Owns Ancient Egypt's Magnificent Artifacts?

This past April 454 ancient artifacts were returned to Egypt from the United Kingdom's Myers Museum. The items included ancient bronze coins and pottery which were probably smuggled from Egypt between 1972 and 1988; after the 1970 banning of the trafficking of antiquities by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

A specific listing of the items were announced by Hussein Al-Afuni, the Director of the Egypt's Red Sea antiquities department; they included 12 bronze coins, 4 scarabs, 94 beaded necklaces, 99 fragments of pottery with colored drawings, and 109 funerary figures. While 5,000 artifacts have been returned to Egypt through the UNESCO program since 2002, the trafficking of Ancient Egyptian artifacts continues to be a major concern. In December of 2008, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned 79 artifacts to the Ma'adi Museum in Cairo. The artifacts were among 370 items which were stolen from the museum in 2002 and ended up on the private antiquities market. With all of the articles that have been returned to Egypt, there are probably tens of thousands of items in museums, on public display, and in private collections.


As a native New Yorker, I think of all the items in our city alone. The collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) are among the best in the world. In fact, a large section of the Temple of Dendur was meticulously dismantled block by block and shipped to The MET to be situated in the middle of an indoor moat in their Sackler Wing. While the temple was legally given to The MET, many other antiquities were presented as gifts during foreign/colonial rule or simply smuggled. Consider that the most ubiquitous architectural monument of Ancient Egyptian art, the tekhen (known by the Greek name obelisk), is actually more prevalent outside of Egypt. While there are 29 known tekhenui (plural of tekhen), 20 of them have been shipped to many major cities around the world including London, New York, and Paris.

The Egyptian government's continuing demand for the return of many Kemetic artifacts leads us to one very important question; "Who owns the magnificent artifacts of Ancient Egypt?" Initially this question might seem rudimentary. Ancient Egyptian artifacts must belong to the people of Egypt ... right? Well what if we focused on the fact that the current government of Egypt is primarily comprised of individuals most would consider "Arabic" who entered the country during the Arab and Turkish invasions. Ethnically, these people are probably quite dissimilar to the indigenous Africans who peopled Kemet (Ancient Egypt) during the time of dynastic Egypt. After the decline of the Ancient Egyptian Empire, it was conquered by the Persians, Greeks, Romans and others.

Some of our readers probably think that linking the current Egyptian regime to foreign invasions is unfair. After all, we must acknowledge that while the majority of Egypt's current occupants are not indigenous to the nation, they are certainly not "colonial" rulers. They live in Egypt and view themselves as Egyptian. I recall having conversations with Egyptian friends during my trips about their ethnicity. In the United States, we would certainly call them "Arabs", but they always state that they are not Arabs, they are Egyptians. Their national identity tends to be very different than other nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Identity politics and self-determination are complex matters. They make this debate even more challenging.

While most would probably agree that most of Egypt's antiquities should probably remain on Egyptian soil, our question is really about the cultural and ethnic legacy of Ancient Egypt. Are these artifacts the birthright of Egypt's current Arab occupants, the much maligned Nubians, other indigenous Africans, the countries who currently own them, Diasporan Africans, or others? Be sure to watch the video of Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, attached to this post. Regular readers of The Udjat are aware that I am certainly not a fan of Hawass, but he does discuss (overtly and subtlety) some of the major issues in this debate. My personal belief is that these cultural prizes are the particular birthright of indigenous Africans and their relatives in the African Diaspora, but that they are also shared by all of humanity. Do you agree? What do you think? Please weigh in and let's get a dialogue going! Shem em Hetep (Go Forth in Peace)!

ARTICLES ON RETURN OF EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES FROM MYERS MUSEUM:

Al-Ahram Weekly - http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/946/eg3.htm

Bloomberg Online - http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=aTp8L4YyrY6I&refer=muse


video







Survey Results - GlowDay.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

Egyptian President Promises Better Treatment of the Nubians

I must say that I am always amazed when media outlets in the United States fail to cover key international news events. Unfortunately this is routinely the case when Africans are involved. Thankfully this item was covered by the Asian news outlet, Taiwan News.

After touring the current home of the Nubians in Aswan province, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak publicly pledged better treatment of them. You may recall approximately 60,000 Nubians were relocated from their villages as a result of Aswan High Dam project during the 1960's. The dam project created the world's largest man-made reservoir, Lake Nasser, and flooded the Nubian villages and 18 ancient temples. Only the magnificent dual temple of the Pharaoh Ramses II, known as Abu Simbel, remains. Under a UNESCO plan, the monuments were moved to a higher elevation on an artificial hill overlooking the lake.

The Nubians were very skeptical of the Egyptian government's promises concerning their relocation. "The government promised us paradise, but we thought we were leaving the Garden of Eden," states outspoken activist and author Haggag Oddoul. In fact, the settlements were a poorly built ramshackle of 30 camps named for each of the flooded villages situated five miles east of the Nile. Within a short period, many of the one-story cinder block houses cracked or collapsed completely from their inferior construction. To make matters worse, the relocated inhabitants were not able to cultivate date fields or fish as they were accustomed. Their cotton and sugar cane crops were poor replacements.

For several years now the Nubians have been slowly returning to their traditional homeland along the Nile. "The settlements are false Nubia," explains Oddoul. "To restore our character and community, we need to be rerooted. We need to return." Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's pledge comes as the Egyptian government is poised to once again remove the Nubians from their homes. Several media outlets have begun to report a large scale agricultural, commercial, and residential development plan along approximately 300,000 acres. The plan even included large swaths of land set aside for foreign developers, but of course ... no allotment of land for the Nubians.

Who are these Africans who today struggle to maintain their cultural identity? The Nubian people were responsible for the world's oldest monarchy (more on this in future posts), the progenitors of the Dynasties of Ancient Egypt, and also stood as one the world's most powerful nations.

The Nubians have also served as humble caretakers of ancient African culture. As the Ancient Egyptian empire sat in tatters besieged by foreign rulers, the Nubian King Piye wrested control of Kemet to form the 25th dynasty. The Nubian Pharaohs of Kemet did not seek to remake the nation in their own image, but rather to re-establish the order of Kemet by returning it to its ancient ways. This approach is best described by Pharaoh Shabaka's restoration of "Memphite Theology" by ordering the re-writing of a decrepit papyrus on what is now called the Shabaka Stone. Today the Nubians still maintain their culture by retaining their own non-Arabic language. Interestingly, they will not teach their language to outsiders.

The current state of the Nubians is an all too appropriate metaphor for the plight of Africans and African Diasporans. Every year I have visit a Nubian village on the island once known as Elephantine. It is virtually difficult to see these humble, spiritual people as a once powerful nation. Their condition is an example of the under-development of Africa at the hands of foreign powers to numerous to name. Africans worldwide should stand behind them as they return to their homeland. I can't help but think of the words of a great African leader, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey; "Up, up you mighty race! You can [once again] accomplish what you will!" Shem em Hetep!

Articles on Current Nubian Return to their Homeland:

Taiwan News - Egypt president pledges improved care for Nubians - http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=973431&lang=eng_news

NY Times - Nubians push for a return to their drowned homeland (quotes taken from this article)- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/world/africa/23iht-letter.2.18890692.html?_r=2

Egypt Then and Now - Development plan along Lake Nasser unfair to Egyptian Nubians - http://allaboutegypt.org/2008/12/development-plan-along-lake-nasser-unfair-to-egyptian-nubians/

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Path to Kemet and Our Daily Kemetic Prayer

My path to the spirituality of Ancient Kemet was certainly a long one. I always had an attraction to Ancient Egypt. I was enthralled by the myths, the "gods", and the architecture. I felt that something in my soul was at home whenever I contemplated the ways of our ancient ancestors.

I was raised a faithful Roman Catholic. I was baptised, received Holy Communion, did Penance, and attended Roman Catholic schools from kindergarten straight through high school. I even felt very at home in my parish church, Sacred Heart. It was and still is a loving supportive community. I think I began to become uncomfortable as I learned more about the history of Christianity and its role in the enslavement of African people. I thought, "How could I be part of an institution which had such a difficult history with Africans?" This period of study and introspection came to a culmination one lonely spring break in Ithaca as a read Christianity Before Christ by John G. Jackson. I couldn't put it down. I remember being completely engaged in it as I read the similarities between Jesus Christ and the deities of dozens of earlier religions. As I approached the end of the book, Ithaca was shrouded by an intense thunderstorm. A flash of lightning crackled through my dorm room window as I turned to the final page ... an application for the American Atheist Society! I thought God was sending me a dramatic message: "This book is forbidden!" I'm sure I must have watched one to many dramatic biblical movies like the Ten Commandments.

After thinking further about Christianity Before Christ, I realized that I wasn't an atheist. I'm still not sure if you can be an African and be an atheist. However, I did have grave concerns about the institution of Christianity. I always had a more ancient calling. I was just beginning to be able to recognize it. I later read Metu Neter, Volume 1 by Ra Un Nefer Amen and began studying with the Ausar Auset Society in Brooklyn. Soon I would be initiated into the Shrine of Ptah under Chief Priest Heru Ankh Ra Semahj Se Ptah (better known as Babaa Heru). It was at the Shrine of Ptah that I found a spiritual home. One of the first things I was taught me is to begin my day with a simple prayer; perhaps the earliest recorded prayer from the Maxims of Khensu-Hetep. We usually call it the Amma Su (Give Yourself). I hope you will also use this prayer to remind yourself of the divine being that you are. Tua to Nfr Ka Maat who scanned the prayer with its original Metu Neter glyphs.

Want to share your story about your path to whatever form of spirituality you practice? Please leave a comment. What were your triumphs and challenges? Does your mother continue to pray for your "immortal soul" like mine? Let's all dialougue with each other. I also try to respond to all of your comments as well. Shem em Hetep!

Give yourself to the one divine;
Keep Yourself daily for the divine;
and do it tomorrow just as you did it today.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Statues of Amenhotep III Discovered

Recently the Egyptian government announced the discovery of two large statues of 18th century Nsw-Biti (Pharoah) Amenhotep III. Amenhotep III ruled Kemet nearly 3,400 years ago—during what could be considered the nation's political, economic, and artistic zenith. The statues are described as a large seated carving in black granite and a image of the king in the form of a sphinx (Heru em Ankhet). Amenhotep III was arguably one of the most important rulers of Ancient Egypt.

As the 9th King of the 18th dynasty, Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye, fathered heretic king Ankhenaten and possibly also the Pharaoh Tutankhamen. Many famous statues Amenhotep III are still in existence including the massive dual statues erroneously known as the Colossi of Memnon and several statues found buried in a ceremonial pit at the Temple of Luxor.

I believe the most notable point in this discovery is the undeniable African heritage of Amenhotep III. The Pharaoh's visage very recognizable due to his pronounced African features and pursed lips. Clearly the creators of the "Arabic-looking" Tutankhamun model wouldn't want us to make this connection: Amenhotep III is either the father or grandfather of the boy king. Zahi Hawass are you out there?

Seems to me Amenhotep III is important for many reasons, both historical and contemporary. Perhaps this archaeological find leaves us with at least one fundamental lesson here: the truth is always beneath just a few layers of sand. I don't know about you, but I'm absolutely excited about what we'll find! Shem em Hetep!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Growing Concern about Disney's Princess and the Frog

A few weeks ago I expressed major concern about Disney's upcoming film, The Princess and the Frog. Many in the African American community were excitedly awaiting the November 25th debut of Disney's first African American princess. Unfortunately I felt that the media giant's history of perpetuating the most pernicious racist stereotypes throughout its lengthy history should have made us very suspicious. Well it seems the folks at Disney have just begun to give us a peek at their hand.


Every storybook princess needs a knight in shining armor ... right? Well it seems that Disney's first African American princess will not have an African American prince! Prince Naveen, a "tan" colored, wavy-haired man from the fictional country of Maldonia, will be turned into a frog when a deal with a "voodoo" priestess goes bad. The Prince will be voiced by Brazilian actor Bruno Campos (pictured right). I know what you're thinking ... there are more people of African descent in Brazil than in any country outside of Africa. That is if we exclude India--right Dr. Rashidi? Let's be clear that Naveen is depicted as a person of color, but Disney went great lengths to not depict a man of clear "African" descent. By the way, what is so dangerous about having an African American man as a hero? Whats id so wrong about an African American woman finding a prince who is ethnically similar to her? Excluding Pocahontas, isn't this Disney's normal storyline for their princesses? Why depart from it now?

Disney's disdain for African Americans is beginning to show. I knew it would be just a matter of time before they showed their true colors. I guess the most valuable lesson from The Princess and the Frog will be that one should never look to their oppressors to liberate them. They should never wait for those to despise them to edify them. They should never leave the education of their most precious resource, their children, to those who attempted to annihilate them. Let's be wary of Disney's latest multicultural project. After all, the psychological well-being of our children is at stake. Shem em Hetep!


Original Posts:


video