On Diop, Monogenetic Theory, and Lucy

John Short

At the bequest of my teacher, Dr. Teodros Kiros, I have expanded the contents of my lecture into written form. The subjects to be addressed are the personal life of Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop and his argument for the historical validity of Black-skinned ancient Egyptians based out of the monogenetic theory of origin, his negation of the racist polygenetic theory of origin, and information about Lucy, the Australopithecine—whose discovery is physical proof of the common origin of man. In my studies, I marveled at the striking parallels that exist between biology, linguistics, philosophy and natural history in their relation to these subjects. I sincerely hope that the material is recognized as a legitimate compilation of well-respected sources and is internalized so as to maintain a more educated and enlightened world. It is literature of this kind that liberates man from being fettered in shackles of ignorance and superstition.
Concerning Diop
My presentation began quoting Dr. Diop from his anthropological masterpiece, Civilization or Barbarism, an Authentic Anthropology, “The monogenetic and African origin of humanity is becoming, every day, a more tangible fact. What then remains to be done with ideology? Faced with scientific progress, the ideologists, instead of abandoning lost ground and indefensible positions, contrive to recast their conceptual apparatuses. This is the current practice. In so doing they think that they will be able to integrate all of the known facts without having to renounce the sacred ideas that are so dear to them. For some ideologists, this would amount to committing moral suicide.”(Diop, 25) I feel this quote to be an appropriate way to begin, firstly because it is a testament of what he spent his career investigating, and secondly because he immediately dispenses with his opponents who argued for polygeneity. I went on to discuss personal information about the man himself, who I discovered to be a polymath in the fields of physics, mathematics, anthropology and politics.

Dr. Diop was born in Diourbel, Senegal on December 29th, 1923. He originally intended to study advanced mathematics at the University of Paris, but turned his attention to physics, anthropology and philosophy instead. His scientific achievements include investigating nuclear physics with Frederic Joliet-Curie and translating Einstein’s theory of relativity to the indigenous Senegalese language, Wolof. In 1951, he presented a doctoral thesis stating ancient Egyptian (Khemet) society to be populated by black or darkly pigmented persons (unlike Elizabeth Taylor in her portrayal as Cleopatra), which the University rejected. However, a number of anthropologists, historians and sociologists challenged and protested his denial and the University awarded his Docteur es Lettres as a kind of apology—if only they’d put their prejudices aside the first time. Aside from work in physics and anthropology, Dr. Diop involved himself in a number of political and educational engagements. During his time in Paris he was the General Secretary of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain, an anti-colonialist caucus within the French Socialist Party. He established the first Pan-African Student Congress of Black writers and Artists in Paris in 1956 and participated in a second congress, held in Rome in 1959. In attendance of the Paris Congress was the writer, James Baldwin, who was unimpressed with Diop’s work: “The evening session began with a film, which I missed, and was followed by a speech by Cheik Anta Diop, which, in sum claimed that the ancient Egyptian empire as part of the Negro past. I can only say that this question has never greatly exercised my mind, nor did M. Diop succeed in doing so—at least not in the direction he intended. He quite refused to remain within the twenty-minute limit and, while his claims of the deliberate dishonesty of all Egyptian scholars may be well founded for all I know, I cannot say that he convinced me”(James Baldwin, Princes and Powers, 162). Close to the end of his life, Dr. Diop was the director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory at the fundamental institute of Black Africa (IFAN) at the University of Dakar in Senegal. On February 7th 1986, he died in his sleep, aged 62 years.

Concerning The Monogenetic and Polygenetic Theories of Origin
The monogenetic theory of origin was the basis for Diop’s argument for black-skinned ancient Egyptians. Monogenetic theory is rooted in Darwinian thought, which states that man originated from a lower form of life in a common area (Africa) and as time went on, migrated out of Africa into Europe, Asia, and much later—the Americas. Data to explain this phenomenon comes from the fact that there are 6 species of man (5 ancestors and our species) and only the latter 3 can be found outside of Africa. These six species are Ardipithecus (roughly translated as “First Ape”), Australopithecus (“Southern Ape”), Homo Habilis (“Man who uses his hands”), Homo Erectus (“Upright Man”), Homo Neanderthalensis (“Man from Neander Valley”), and Homo Sapiens (“Man who Thinks”). Another argument is in the case of a species, nature does not strike twice—a cousin species shares a common ancestor. This is observable with species that are phenotypically (based on physical characteristics) or genotypically (based on genetic characteristics) different. Some examples besides humans include elephants, rhinoceros, primates, most species of birds, and rodents such as rabbits, rats and their heftier cousin, the capybara. The conclusion from this theory is that man has only one race, the human race.

This theory contradicted assertions made by pre-Darwinian racialists of the 18th and 19th centuries. They asserted that there existed several races of men. The only ‘data’ to confirm this claim was that men from Europe didn’t look like men from Africa, who in turn didn’t look like men from South America—i.e. phenotypical (and very unreliable) evidence. Existing cultural differences were also alleged arguments, however, this claim is in reality made to propagandize Western Europe cultural supremacy. As time passed, the polygenetic theory of origin was discredited as unscientific because its advocates rejected Darwin’s claim that high forms of life come from lower forms of life. They instead believed high forms of life lead to higher forms of life—a theory now known as Lamarckism. Lamarckism can be explained in this simple anecdote: a man and a woman have a child and after its’ birth remove its appendix, and set a standard for each successive generation to remove his offspring’s appendix. Several generations later, according to this theory, a class of descendants will be born organically without appendixes. It was laughable even in the 19th century. A few individuals who subscribed to these theories are Ernst Haeckel, Samuel George Morton, Louis Agassiz and Josiah Scott. Some of them claimed the book of Genesis validated their theories—which is strange because they must have forgotten that curious passage about the two nudists in the Eden’s Garden, whose eating a magic apple at the bequest of a mischievous anthropomorphic serpent, results in their expulsion—and from their sexual congress in the wilderness came all the peoples of the earth. Perhaps they didn’t read the whole story through.

Another existing theory was that the man’s origin was in Asia. I made no inquiries as to why this was, but I assume it could be related to the fact that in Asia, the imperial powers of the day were impressed with the traditional culture of the Indian/Chinese/Burmese/Japanese people, and categorized them as ‘noble savages’ or ‘honorary Aryans’, from whom we may have an origin point. According to Western thinkers on the other hand, the Africans had little history or any knowledge about them—and for that reason doubted man’s origin in that continent. One staunch intellectual advocate of the alleged savagery of Africa and her people was Wilhelm Fridrich Hegel, which is ironic given that the views of his students (such as Marx and Engels) inspired many movements against imperial domination and prejudice in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

There is a dimension to the polygenetic inquiries that can be somewhat excused due to the general lack of medical information of the time. One the previously mentioned natural scientists, Samuel George Morton, amassed a massive collection of roughly 20,000 skulls from human beings from all over the world and from all different walks of life. He discovered observable differences in the curvatures of various skulls. He concluded (incorrectly) that skull curvatures could result in larger and healthier brains of certain ethnic groups. It should be noted that there are no proofs for this conclusion and none have been discovered. However, it is worth noting that one can easily reject the existence of race and recognize that there are significant observable physical differences amongst human beings. After consulting with my father, a physician, I discovered that there are even certain diseases that can be associated with various ethnic groups—one such disease is sickle cell anemia, which is incredibly common in dark-skinned Sub-Saharan peoples. It is not due to race, but rather the fact that all the people born without this trait died of malaria long ago; and that geographic isolation resulted in a near monolith population of people with this condition. Dr. Diop himself recognized this fact, “Race does not exist! It is to say that nothing allows me to distinguish myself from a Swede, and that, a Zulu can prove to Botha (Prime Minister of the White minority government of South Africa) that they both are of the same genetic stock, and that even consequently, at the genotypical level, they are almost twins, even if accidentally their phenotypes, meaning their physical appearances, are different.”(Diop, 25). With this in mind, we may realize that the origins of the concept of race come from a faulty attempt to categorize humans on phenotypical distinctions as opposed to genotypical ones. The Empiricists also made this mistake in respect to other mammals, reptiles and amphibians in the late 18th century. To return to the question of the skulls, with the first question being answered that isolated populations acquire unique physical characteristics—there is a possibility that head shape can be determined by a lack of attention during infantile development. It is well known that during the first years of life; the skull is malleable and subject to change shape if not given proper medical supervision. Could this fact have not been known at the time? Has a great biological mystery been resolved? I suppose that is to be determined in an altogether separate inquiry.

A Curious Linguistic Contribution
In my studies, I found another proof for the monogenetic theory of origin in the field of linguistics. The lingual monogenetic theory of origin is related to the Chomskian theory of Universal Grammar. Some of the following quotations are acceptable reductions of this theory; first in its confirmation of the universal capacity for language, and second in the properties of Universal Grammars: “Furthermore, humans are, obviously, not designed to learn one human language rather than another; the system of principles must be a species property.”(Noam Chomsky, Reflections On Language, “The Whidden Lectures”, 11)“Let us define “Universal Grammar”(UG) as the system of principles, conditions, and rules that are elements or properties of all human languages not merely by accident but by necessity—of course, I mean biological, not logical, necessity. Thus UG can be taken as expressing “the essence of human language”. UG will be invariant among humans….Each human language will conform to UG; languages will differ in other, accidental properties. If we were to construct a language violating UG, we would find that it could not be learned by LT(H,L).”(Chomsky, 29). Here is a historical example to explain a few more technical terms. Due to the imperialist exploits of the Portuguese, Spanish, Germans, French and English—a number of Africans (particularly West Africans) were abducted and spread throughout the Caribbean, and North and South America. The languages that developed in Haiti, Jamaica, Hawaii, Pitcairn, Mauritius, and Réunion are marriages between English, French, Spanish, as well as West African and indigenous dialects of the region. Originally they were pidgins, which are “Nobody’s native language; may arise when two speakers of different languages with no common language try to have a makeshift conversation. Lexicon usually comes from one language, structure often from the other. Because of colonialism, slavery etc. the prestige of Pidgin languages is very low. Many pidgins are contact vernaculars’, may only exist for one speech event”(Schiffman, 1997) Now, however, these languages are now recognized as Creoles, which means “A language that was originally a pidgin but has become nativized, i.e. a community of speakers claim it as their first language. Next used to designate the languages of people of Caribbean and African descent in colonial and ex-colonial countries.”

Some of the information presented in the last paragraph may give the impression of an overuse of technical jargon, so here is a historical parallel to make the information pertinent. The constant invasion, enslavement, and domination of the West Africans and their displacement to these European colonies is a historical repetition of the development of that Western European Creole now referred to as the English language. The original English would be to a modern English speaker unintelligible, as it has been modified by cultural ‘discourse’. Thanks to constant contributions (rape, pillage, and exploitation) of the Germanic tribes (the Angles and Saxons), the French Royal Dynasties (the Normans and Britons), the Latin conquests (from Roman exploration), the Danish occupations (from the Norse invaders) as well as the Celtic Clans does English exist in its current form. This is why it is among the more confusing languages to learn, with frequent neutered pronouns and conjugation, as well as numerous exceptions regarding verb tense and endless homophones. In the United Kingdom, there are still some 10-12 languages that are not English, such as Cornish (the language of Cornwall), Manx (the language of the Isle of Man), Welsh (Wales obviously) and Irish (I would say Celtic, or Gaelic but my travels in Ireland taught me not to use those terms to describe it). In essence, the creativity of the West Africans in developing new languages out of several older languages is proof that they too are endowed with the genetic capacity for language, verifying our common origin and that the polygenetic theories of origin are rendered useless.

I have so far offered a number of explanations debunking polygenetic theory, but the final piece of information will be the ultimate proof. I have written this section in a much more creative style because I think it mother of our species deserves the finest.

Lucy the Australopithecine
It is the 23rd of June 1974 A.D. The whole world is quiet in a way that will never be heard again. The peculiarity of this day comes from the fact that on the next day, the hundred year period spent debating the theories of Charles Darwin will finally be resolved. The racist theorists that ‘countered’ Darwin’s monogeneists will forever be silenced by the discovery of several fragmented bones belonging to a small humanoid whose characteristics are between an ape and a human. The specimen’s popular name derived from several hours of parading, celebrating and listening to the recently disbanded Beatle’s record, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band— specifically the track, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. Her scientific name is AL-288-1. She is of the family Hominidae, the Genus Australopithecus and the Species Australopithecus Afarensis. She is the missing link and physical proof that we developed from a lower form of life. Though she is higher on the tree of life than Chimpanzees, Orangutans and Gorillas—she stands/hunches a few branches below modern man. Lucy was born on the edge of a forest south of modern Afar, in Ethiopia. She roamed the plains and forests of North Africa, roughly 3.18 million years ago. There is evidence that she maintained a diet largely omnivorous, and sometimes used simplistic tools. The stress on her spine indicates that she walked upright like her many succeeding generations of children. She was not elderly at the time of her death, and her bones show that she likely died of a degenerative disease—a condition that many of her descendants still suffer and perish from. Her remains have been laid to rest in the Laboratories of the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Abada, the country of both her ancestors and her descendants.
I hope that this document provided some insight regarding scientific anomalies that are well known, but often not widely discussed and acknowledged. It is in the interest of all decent persons that this knowledge not only becomes well known—but internalized and recognized as the greatest proof of human equality. The enemies of these scientific truths, either well intended or otherwise, are a great threat to humanity’s future. In the past, these vulgar priests used their position to justify the enslavement of the world to finance capital and to imperial subordination. It is in the interest of a prosperous and enlightened future to outright reject such falsehoods for the sake of our own moral consistency.
Works Cited

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Diop, Cheickh Anta., Harold J. Salemson, and Marjolijn De Jager. “Prehistory.” Civilization or Barbarism: Authentic Anthropology. Brooklyn, NY: Lawrence, Hill, 1991. 11-25. Print.

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Frederickson, George M. PBS. PBS, 2003. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

Hotep, Amon, and Runoko Rashidi. “A Brief Biography of an African Champion: Dr. Cheik Anta Diop.” Cheikh Anta Diop . Global African Presence, n.d. Web 31 Jan. 2017.

“Louis Agassiz (1807-1873).” Louis Agassiz. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

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Renschler, Emily S., and Janet Monge. “The Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection.” Expedition Magazine The Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection Comments. Penn Museum, 15 Nov. 2008. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.

Robinson, Gloria. “Ernst Haeckel.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 08 Feb. 2011. Web. 01 Feb. 2017.

Schiffman, Harold. “Pidgin and Creole Languages.” Pidgin and Creole Languages. N.p., 1997. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

Featured Artwork:
André Thévet [Public domain], “Ardipithecus Hand” via Wikimedia Commons