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In my first book The Akan, Other Africans and the Sirius Star system, I posit that historical accounts from ancient writers such as Herodotus and from more recent writers such as Robert Morning Sky and Robert Temple point to the fact that the Sumerians called themselves the “black-headed” while the Egyptians have also been known to call themselves the “black-footed”. I then argue that there were in fact large populations of black peoples in Ancient Egypt as well as in Sumer. These included ancestors of the Akan people of Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa, who have cultural artifacts, historical accounts as well as language particulars that give us modern people fascinating clues into these two ancient cultures.
I have already written much about connections the Akan people have with Ancient Egypt and Nubia, especially in the sequel to my first book. In this short article, I shall expand on connections the Akan people and blacks in general have with the Sumerian and Akkadian cultures.
Before I delve into that, however, I should point out that the world as we know it today has a very different demographic configuration than what existed in antiquity. This is obvious, but the “why” of it, especially as pertains to migrations and displacements of peoples and cultures over centuries and millennia may not be so obvious. The historical evidence points to the fact that there were significant populations of black people in what is today known as the Middle and Near East, spreading from the Euphrates region, to Egypt and across to south Asia in places like India. Of course, there were also non-black people in this region as well, which I shall touch on. The importance of this article is to point out the role black people played in the high cultures of Sumer and Akkad (and no small roles those were), which has scarcely been acknowledged in the mainstream understanding of contributions to world civilization. I am convinced that among the stalwarts in academia, among the published works, there are those who are well aware of these historical facts. Some of these facts have been acknowledge. Yet the narrative that exists in the public mind about who contributed in successful ways to civilization is woefully inadequate when it comes to knowledge about black cultures and black civilizations. I will give you an example. As a youngster, I was keen to learn history. I remember reading about world history and learning that the most important civilizations of antiquity in their influence on the current age in terms of literature were the Minoan and Greek cultures, and maybe the Indus Valley civilization of India and the Han Civilization of China. No mention about Mesopotamia and even about Ancient Egypt. The Greek narrative is still so strong in the minds of the public (of course, credit should be given where credit is due), but I think there has been such a downplay or outright disregard for cultures existing much longer than any of the ones I have just mentioned and where they have been mentioned, very little credit or recognition has been given to black people who played roles in this culture. Isn’t that interesting? So, I came to the conclusion that in the end, black people must tell their own stories if the narrative is ever going to change. Sometimes this topic closes minds immediately. I hope yours remains open to examine my case.
AkanBa, author of Revelation: The Movement of the Akan People from Kanaan to Ghana, a magnificent work of research, is a researcher who has provided the world with some deep research into ancient times. Drawing painstakingly on research, AkanBa tells us that:
“After the western religious and scientific researchers failed to perform their duties right, trying to blind other people, finding ways to deny the AkAn and GuAn people from their origin as founders of Chaldear (Babylon), Aramaic Kingdoms, Edom, Kanaan, Israel, Carthage, Carthage Nova, RaSena (Etrusker), Kapua, KreTa, Kibi, BilMa, GaNa and SonGhaye; we the AkAn and GuAn folk of today have taken up our tools and have gone beyond our ancient GaNa and SonGhaye Empires until we could break down that untouchable Bible into pieces.”
AkanBa is not joking here. This is quite a serious statement. In his introduction, AkanBa points out that Malcom X had also reached a similar conclusion. In his book Afro-American History, Malcolm X points out that there were high civilizations of black nations in Sumer, in India (Dravidian), in Egypt and Nubia, and in Carthage, even before the more recent civilizations of Ghana and Songhai that everyone is told about these days. In particular, Malcom X wrote that:
“if you go and read some of the ancient manuscripts or even read between the lines of some of the current writers, you will find that the Sumerian civilization was a very dark-skinned civilization, and it existed prior even to the existence of the Babylonian empire, right in the same area where you find Iraq and the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers there. It was a black-skinned people who lived there, who had a high state of culture way back then.” (p. 19)
Of course, Malcom X was right, and by the end of this article, I will also prove that he was right. I am a trained researcher, so I provide evidence to back up my arguments. Anyway, following on from where Malcom X left off, AkanBa meticulously shows how black people in general and the Akan people in particular must have had ancestors who were in those places that Malcom X mentioned (e.g. Egypt, Mesopotamia, North Africa and surrounding regions). He draws on appropriate Biblical and secular sources to tell a fascinating story of migrations of black peoples to the African continent from Mesopotamia and neighbouring regions. This is a story that needs to be told, if for no other reason than that cultural and historical accounts indicate that it is true. I too have contributed to the telling of this story in my books. So, let us start exploring this story about the presence of black people in the Middle and Near East. To begin, I shall delve into the Christian Bible as a starting point to build off of, using actual historical records from Sumerian and Akkadian times.
References from the Christian Bible
In the Christian Bible, we find in Genesis chapter 10 a breakdown of the nations created by the “Sons of Noah”. Of these sons, the Christian Bible holds that the children of Ham are among those that formed black nations. In the Christian Bible, specifically Genesis 10:7, we are told that the sons of Ham are Kush, Egypt/Kemet, Put/Punt (i.e. Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, along with Ethiopia/Eritrea) and Canaan/Kanaan. We are further informed in Genesis 10:8 that Kush was the father of Nimrod, who was the forebearer of Babylon, Uruk, Akkad, and Assyria.
Okay, so the Christian Bible seems to be saying similar things to Malcolm X, or maybe it is the other way around. Some people out there might think, “Oh yeah, Malcolm X?” Well, he was a black nationalist, right? Of course, he’s going to say things like Ancient Sumer and Akkad had strong black influence! So, what if European researchers said the same thing almost 100 years before Malcolm X? What would we make of that? Would we also say that these researchers were being black nationalist? The truth is the truth, right?
One such European researcher was Francois Lenormant, who lived between 1837 and 1883. Lenormant was an Assyriologist and archaeologist who was among the foremost Assyriologists in France during his time. Over the past years, I have studied Francois Lenormant’s work, titled Chaldean Magic, which I believe was first written in 1874 in French and later translated into English. In this book, Lenormant discusses the religion and spirituality of cultures such as the Assyrian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Canaanite, Egyptian, Sumerian and other ancient cultures. This is what Francois Lenormant wrote about the Kushites in chapter 26 of his book (Chapter XXVI – The Origin of the Chaldaio-Babylonian Cosmogonies):
“To the Greeks the name Cephenes was synonymous with Ethiopians. The opinion which has been preserved by Hellanicus counts them as one of the two elements of the race inhabiting the countries watered by the lower course, of the Euphrates and Tigris, the famous Ethiopians or Kushites of Babylon, whose existence is proved by so many passages of classical antiquity and the sacred writings. The Bible connects with these Kushites the name of Nimrod, which is used both as the name of a hero, and the name of a place, like all those contained in the same chapter of Genesis….The other element of the nation in the dualism of the Chaldees and Cephenes consisted of the Chaldees, who are described by Diodorus Siculus in a very correct passage about their discipline and their ideas as “ the most ancient of the Babylonians.” Hellanicus said in the same way, following the example of Stephen of Byzantium that “ before the king Cepheus,” that is to say, before the Cephenes, “there were some Chaldees who extended beyond Babylon as far as Choche,” as far as the place where Seleucia afterwards stood.” (1877, pp.337 – 338)
As we can see, Lenormant is also asserting that the Ethiopians or Kushites were the ones that were in Babylon. Not only that. Did you catch in the phrase above that the “Ethiopians” also ruled in Babylon? Or did you miss that? The last-but-one line in the quotation above, “before the king Cepheus,” that is to say, before the Cephenes”. Lenormant mentions the Bible, which is a Christian sacred text, but he also mentions “passages of classical antiquity”. We will examine some of those shortly. At any rate, if you are familiar with ancient accounts of black people, you will know that the term “Ethiopian” was used liberally in antiquity by the Greeks to refer to black people. Herodotus was a good example of that. Going back to Lenormant’s quote above, it does not mean that there were only black people in those times in Babylon and in Chaldea. Certainly not. There were others as well. There were different Semitic peoples. Accounts also indicate that there were also Altaic-Uralic people, those that have in the past been called Turanian. That there were black people there, however, is evident. It also seems that the black civilization was originally pre-eminent. The black civilization taught the Semitic people. The Semitic people later took over the region. I am not making this up. That is what Lenormant and others like Drusilla Dunjee Houston have taught us. In the section that follows this one, I shall also introduce Peter and Tara Hogan, two contemporary white Australian researchers, who have also made the same claim. So, why is this not widely known? Rather, it is so common to hear that black people contributed little or nothing to civilization. Oh, how incorrect that is, a perspective born of ignorance, and how very unfortunate! Allow me to quickly put things into perspective before we continue.
Usually, when asked which black civilizations were prominent in times past, people who know something about past African civilizations tend to mention the Ghana, Mali or Songhai empires. Or they might mention more recent kingdoms and empires such as Ashanti, Dahomey, Kano, Monumutapa, or Zulu etc. These are all very recent – within the last 1000 years. If you are really lucky, you might also get people throwing in the Kingdom of Axum (i.e. the Ethiopians), and if you are incredibly lucky, they might add Nubia or even Egypt/Kemet. Well, wait a minute! There’s much more! Nubia alone spanned a period of over 3,000 years of continuous culture from the time of its height, during the kingdom of Kerma (2500BC) until the Meroitic period slowly declined (around 500AD). Now, I bring up Nubia because that one was undisputedly black for most if not all of its period of sustained culture. 3000 years, at least. Never mind that Kemet/Egypt also had long, thousands of years of history of black influence, albeit there is still some contest among scholars when it comes to Kemet. No contest with Nubia. Okay, what about Sumer? Sumer was even earlier. We’re talking close to 5000BC. If you again take the span of the period of Sumer and Akkad when they were run by black people, before invasions by Semitic people who were also close by in the region (same thing – invasions and takeover – happened in Kemet and Nubia at a later time), then we can imagine Sumer and Akkad under black rule from about 5,000BC to about 2,000BC. After that, the centers of black rule and influence shift to the African continent, primarily to Kemet/Egypt and to Nubia. Here for another 2,000 years more or less, until around the time of Christ. So, all in all, that is 5,000 years (Sumer/Akkad + Egypt/Nubia). There are also certain accounts that state that the ancient Ghana empire was already on the go at about 500AD, which would mean that around the time Nubia falls from influence, black civilization shifted further west, into West Africa, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa – Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Hausa, Mossi, Monumutapa, Yoruba, Zulu, and all the rest. Get my drift? Black civilization only kept shifting locale, it never completely vanished!
One could argue that there was no longer a single region such as Sumer/Akkad or Egypt/Nubia that was the main center of black culture. That the culture fragmented, and spread all across the African continent. Yes, I may grant that point. But the argument I am making here is that there has been at least 7,000 years of continuous black civilization, more or less. This is definitely not very well known. That much should be acknowledged, and millenia more, if we consider that people lived before the deluge and the supposed time when the world began, according to Christendom. In fact, I learned from a high ranking initiate of ancient African lore, a man of the Gurma/Gurmanche people of West Africa (one of the groups in West Africa that still continues the traditions of the kingdom of Kerma/Gurma, that was in Nubia), that black civilization on this planet is tens of thousands of years old, going back into antediluvian times. Even if we do not venture that far back, we can safely know, and prove, that there has been continuous black civilization for about 7,000 years at least. That’s a lot of time to miss out on acknowledgement, people! This is something I think black people and other humans interested in knowing the true history and culture of the peoples of this planet need to pay attention to. This knowledge is unfortunately not very well known.
Anyway, back to topic. On the topic of authors, one individual who definitely deserves mention and who carried out research before Malcolm X, AkanBa, and myself, was Drusilla Dunjee Houston. Her work comes after Lenormant’s time. This genius of a black woman who lived between 1876 and 1941 wrote Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire which was published in 1926. It is a wonderful book. This woman was really an intelligent and lucid writer. Her research and presentation on the ancient origins of black people is impeccable. She was a forerunner to all of us doing this same work today. In her book, she wrote (Chapter XI – The Strange Races of Chaldea):
“All the earliest traditions of Chaldea center about Belus or Nimrod. We know that Nimrod was the son of Cush. Babylon had two elements in her population in the beginning. The northern Accadians and the southern Sumerians were both Cushites. The finds of recent explorations in the Mesopotamian valley reveal that these ancient inhabitants were black, with the cranial formation of Ethiopians.”
Within the same chapter, she also wrote that:
“Indisputable proofs of the extreme antiquity of Chaldea have been unearthed. This evidence shows that under the oldest cities lie the successive foundations of still older cities, seemingly stretching back into the antediluvian world. This substantiates the vast cycles of time included in the Babylonian chronology and the claims of the legend of the deluge upon the Babylonian tablets, which says that the survivors of the flood returned and rebuilt upon the old foundations of Babylon, which had gone down in the general destruction. Rawlinson says that the race of Nimrod passed from East Africa by way of Arabia to the valley of the Euphrates before the beginning of history. Loftus speaks of this powerful stream of colonization from the south. The emigrants were called Accadians, the Accad of Genesis. Delineations found among the ruins of Nineveh, on the walls of the palaces, prove that there were two Ethiopian types, one the ancient Cushite and another a heavy southern face having the protuberant lips, the receding forehead, broad thick nose and crisp hair of Africa. These were the native inhabitants of Susiana as well as Babylon.”
A few comments to make, on what I have posted so far on her work. First, Rawlinson refers to is Sir Henry Rawlinson, the British Assyriologist who is often called the “father of Assyriology”. Second, it is common to find variations in spellings of ancient names, substituting ‘c’ for ‘k’. For instance, Cush or Cushite is now spelt as Kush or Kushite. Accad is now spelt as Akkad. Even my own people, the Akan, were once called the Accanes, by European writers. Nowadays, it is common to find Africa written as Afrika by conscious black people. So it is common to find these differences. The changes depend on the writers and on the times/eras. Third, I find it noteworthy that Drusilla outlines two African phenotypes: that of the so-called Kushitic (i.e. groups of black people from present day Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia) and the so-called Negroid (i.e. groups of black people of the Bantu, those that speak the Bantu and the Niger-Congo languages across Africa). Well, if the people of ancient Mesopotamian times had these two broad physical features (i.e. the more Ethiopic-Somali, generally lighter frame look, and the more heavy-set Bantu look), then very little has changed in close to 7,000 years. To be more explicit, if Drusilla is correct, then it would appear that the blacks in ancient Mesopotamia were of the same (general) phenotype as those in present-day Africa. That is a point I think is noteworthy.
So, in general, my research has led me to conclude that some of the stories told in ancient texts, including the Christian Bible and especially in the earlier part of the Old Testament, books such as Genesis, are based on even older religious and historical sources and texts from ancient cultures, especially those in Mesopotamia. If that is the case, then why not go directly to those historical sources and texts for more answers, especially as they are now widely available in print and on the internet?!?
That is precisely what I thought to do, and that I shall do next. This article is about showing that historical accounts from the Sumerian and Akkadian clearly point to the existence of black people in those regions. It is a historical fact which is not well known in the mainstream, unfortunately. I believe it is well-known in academia, just not widely acknowledged or highlighted. So, we black people have to take it upon ourselves to tell our own stories.
Here is the main point to take away from this article, if you don’t get anything at all. Not only were there black people in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago. The black people of those times were also among the rulers, the teachers and the high officials of that time. They were among the elite, that contributed to building high culture. This is a historical fact. I will provide actual proof in a step-by-step fashion, drawing from Sumerian literature and cuneiform pictograms as my sources of data upon which I build my argument. I will then finally connect all of this to the Akan people, since these African people are my point of origin as well as a point of reference for me. So, my contribution to this overall effort of revealing connections black people had with ancient cultures is to point to the actual evidence in the ancient source texts, to the cuneiform pictograms, and to also show where the evidence connects with the Akan people, one group of Africans. This way, I shall add to earlier efforts by Drusilla, by Malcom X, by AkanBa and by other black authors working to reveal such historical truths.
So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Peter and Tara Hogan’s Sumerian Dictionary
A while back, I came across a very interesting “grassroots” Sumerian dictionary put together by two white Australian researchers, Peter and Tara Hogan, that provides a wealth of information on Sumerian cuneiform. Now, let me just come clean at the very start of this. Before delving into the Hogans’ dictionary, I must point out that these researchers by themselves came to the conclusion that the Sumerian people were black, and among these black people were a lot of distinguished people. I think this fact surprised them, because they seemed to be very excited about it, and were emphatic on stressing this point in their dictionary. In fact, they even suggest that the earliest known author and poet, Enheduanna, was likely black. Fortunately, they are not wrong. In fact, they are correct, because the historical source texts also back this claim, as well as a number of prominent researchers over the past almost 200 years (not to also mention ancient authors such as Berossus of Babylon, and Herodotus of Greece).
Now, stating that Enheduanna is to date the earliest author and poet is a historical fact. She was like the Shakespeare of those times. Now, I ask you. How many people know this? I am sure you can guess the answer for yourself. What makes things even more interesting is that Enheduanna was the daughter of Sargon of Akkad. She was a high priestess of Inanna/Ishtar, daughter of Nanna, the moon god. So, anyone who knows about the Akan culture will very quickly put one and one together to realize two things. First, that the Akan religion and culture strongly aligns with the moon cult. Specifically, among the Akan people, the queenmother, is regarded as a “daughter of the moon”. This is documented in chapter 2 of Eva Meyerowitz’s work The Sacred State of the Akan. In Chaldean Magic,
Moreover, among the Akan, the ruler, the chief or king is called “Nana”. Isn’t that interesting? I mention in my first book that the Akan name ‘Nana’ refers to Inana, who has also been known by other names such as Ishtar. Now, I am also adding that the Akan name ‘Nana’ also refers to Inana’s father, Nanna, who was the son of Enlil, one of the leaders of the Annuna “gods”. So, there you have it. Add to that the fact that Enheduanna was the daughter of Sargon of Akkad, and also the idea that according to the Christian Bible and other ancient sources, Akkad, along with Sumer and many places within the region were the domain of Nimrod, a son of Kush, a son of Ham, all of whom were black, then it no big stretch of the imagination to think that Enheduanna was also black. If it is true that she was indeed black, which is highly likely, then that is a huge deal in my reckoning. Virtually no one I know knows that.
Hey Peter Hogan, you may very well have been right, mate! You probably just didn’t have all the pieces. But what you have given us in regard to the actual Cuneiform characters is invaluable. So thank you.
The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
One other resource the Hogans brought to my attention is the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (hereafter, ETCSL), housed at Oxford University and open to anyone with an internet connection. So, since I already knew and had written in my first book that the Sumerians called themselves the “black-headed”, which is a fact among religious/liturgical and other writings on clay tablets, I first performed a simple search for the phrase “black-headed” on ETCSL. The search returned 104 results. So, there are quite a few references to the “black-headed” in Sumerian literature. I shall share some of them here, and the texts they are from:
In the text, “The Flood Story: c.1.7.4”, we can read:
“After An, Enlil, Enki and Ninḫursaĝa had fashioned the black-headed people, they also made animals multiply everywhere, and made herds of four-legged animals exist on the plains, as is befitting”
Okay, hold up. Before we go any further, where have you heard that story before? Doesn’t it ring Biblical? And this is from an ancient Sumerian text. Mind you, the four beings mentioned, An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninḫursaĝa, these are among leaders of the beings I have written about in my books. In these texts, they are presented as “gods”. In actual fact, they were Sirian-Reptilian Annunaki extraterrestrials. In this story, it is said that they created the black-headed (i.e. “black”) people. In actual fact, it was Enki and Ninḫursaĝa/Nin-Har-Sag (i.e. Reptilian priestess/genetic scientist) who worked on this project. An and Enlil gave the go-ahead. They were administrators.
Another fun quote referring to the Biblical flood: In the text, “The rulers of Lagaš: c.2.1.2”, we are told:
“After the flood had swept over and brought about the destruction of the countries; when mankind was made to endure, and the seed of mankind was preserved and the black-headed people all rose; when An and Enlil called the name of mankind and established rulership, but kingship and the crown of the city had not yet come out from heaven, and Ninĝirsu had not yet established for the multitude of well-guarded (?) people the pickaxe, the spade, the earth basket and the plough, which mean life for the Land — in those days, the carefree youth of man lasted for 100 years and, following his upbringing, he lasted for another 100 years.”
Seems life after the flood was so chilled that human beings at that time were living for 200 years! Now, how about that?!? If that is true, then should present day people take a cue from this and live a more relaxed life? I don’t know, but it is something to ponder on. Another important point in the quote above is that the kingship “came from heaven”. Okay, so that’s where you get your extraterrestrial connection. Basically, An and Enlil went up into heaven in their spaceships to escape the flood. After it was said and done, they came down and brought the kingship with them to man.
So, Enlil’s name came up, make note. I think it is natural to read a lot about Enlil in relation to the blacks in Mesopotamia because Enlil had dominion there. This is in contrast with Enki, who had dominion in Africa and in parts of Asia. Enlil fathered Nanna, who fathered Inana, whose priestess Enheduanna was. Okay, let’s check out another reference to the “black-headed” from the 104 sources:
In the text “The lament for Urim: c.2.2.2”, we learn that
“From distant days when the Land was founded, O Nanna, the humble people who lay hold of your feet have brought to you their tears for the silent house, playing music before you. May the black-headed people, cast away from you, make obeisance to you. In your city reduced to ruin mounds may a lament be made to you. O Nanna, may your restored city be resplendent before you. Like a bright heavenly star may it not be destroyed, may it pass before you.”
Here, we find some reference to Nanna, Enlil’s son. It seems this lament is referring to a city that was destroyed.
In yet another ancient text excerpt, “The lament for Nibru: c.2.2.4” we learn the following:
“How did the true city become empty? Its precious designs have been defiled! How were the city’s festivals neglected? Its magnificent rites have been thrown into disorder! In the heart of Nibru, where the divine powers were allotted and the black-headed people prolificly multiplied, the city’s heart no longer revealed any sign of intelligence — there where the Anuna used to give advice! In Ubšu-unkena, the place for making great judgments, they no longer impart decisions or justice!”
Here, we are reading of a tragedy that has occurred to throw into confusion norms that were once in place. Here, the Anuna “gods” are the same ones that have elsewhere been referred to as the Annunaki. I have written in my books that I think these “gods” and “goddesses” were (or you could say still are) in fact extraterrestrial beings that use to openly communicate with humans in antiquity.
In the same text ,“The lament for Nibru: c.2.2.4”, we also learn that:
“He promised him that he will be a man of pre-eminent kingship! He promised him that he will be a king whose reign is good! He promised him that he shall have the people inhabit safe dwellings! Enlil found agreement in what he had said to the numerous people! On the day for decreeing fates, every part of Sumer and Akkad, among the black-headed people flocking like sheep, among their well-tended people, will praise forever the majesty of the Great Mountain Nunamnir, enkar weapon of the universe! It is his awe-inspiring way!”
Here, the text is referring to Išme-Dagan, who was a king during Sumerian times. Notice here the reference to the black-headed people being numerous in Sumer and in Akkad. I am not the one saying this. It is a fact from the historical literature.
One final text, this time about Inana. In the text “Inana and Šu-kale-tuda: c.1.3.3”, we read:
“His father replied to the boy; his father replied to Šu-kale-tuda: “My son, you should join the city-dwellers, your brothers. Go at once to the black-headed people, your brothers! Then this woman will not find you among the mountains.” He joined the city-dwellers, his brothers all together. He went at once to the black-headed people, his brothers, and the woman did not find him among the mountains.”
Okay, I think that for references, just a few out of the 104 paragraphs should be enough to get across the idea that this term “black-headed” was fairly frequent in Sumerian literature. So, Drusilla Dunjee Houston and Malcom X were both not kidding when they wrote decades ago that the evidence is right there in the ancient texts. It just takes a bold effort such as what I am doing to go in there, to bring it out, and to share it with everyone who is interested to know and to learn. The time has come for these things to be more widely known.
So, without further ado, let us proceed from Sumerian literature quotations to the actual cuneiform pictograms.
Cuneiform, at last!
NOTE: See the PDF version to get the full account of this section of the article, with the cuneiform script displayed.
According to the Hogans, the Sumerians frequently referred to themselves as black or black-headed. First of all, let’s discuss some ancient languages. Just as Egyptian hieroglyphs include representations of forms existing in the real world, such as drawings of boats and of humans, Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform script also appear as pictorial representations. In the case of cuneiform, they are made up of triangular or wedge shapes made with a reed as stylus, and that are organized into patterns representing ideas and objects. For example, one root for the word “black” in the Sumerian language, is “sag”. The Hogans hold that the cuneiform pictogram for this root word resembles the braided hair of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Let us now trace the use of this pictogram to get a better understanding of just what words or ideas were associated with the black people in Sumerian and Akkadian times, who these black people were and what roles they played.
The “black-headed” and the “black-headed people”
I believe it is fitting to start with this one. In the Sumerian language, the “black-headed” were known as the “saĝ.gig.ga”. Let us break this down. First of all, saĝ means head, gig means black, and ga means carry. So colloquially, “head.black.carry”, or, “carries a black head”. The Sumerian language is agglutinative, which is why it is structured this way. Moving on, the root word for “people”, is “ùĝ”. So, putting it all together, “ùĝ. saĝ.gig.ga” means “people.head.black.carry” or “people who carry a black head”, or even more simply, black people. Commonly, one would find ‘saĝ gig.ga’ referring to the black-headed, or the black-headed people. And it was a very common term. As I pointed out earlier, my search in ETCSL returned 104 references for the “black-headed people”. Malcom X was not exaggerating. Now, moving on to the next term. Again, “gig” and “mi”, both referring to “black”, were used interchangeably in ancient times. For instance, Lenormant in Chaldean Magic states that “in the Accadian, Sak.mi.ga. or Sak.gi.ga” (p. 193) was a reference to black people.
Sumerian experts/professors were black
In the Sumerian language, the term for ‘expert’ is um.mi.a. This term has three components, um, which refers to the reed stylus used for writing, mi, which refers to the colour black, and a, which refers to progeny. So together the three root words literally mean “reed stylus. Black. Progeny”. In other words, “those who specialize in writing (and learning) are those of black progeny. It is no surprise then, that the Hogans exclaimed in their dictionary that “First professors are BLACK!” It would appear that this is not well known. The Hogans then continue by asserting that the first professors were black, and they back this up with a quote from Sumerian literature. According to them, the quote is: “nig um.mi.a.gu mu.un.pad.da za.e ga.ra.pad.pad”. It translates as something (nig) professor who of course must be black (um.mi.a.gu) revealed to the people of Sumer (mu.un.pad.da) you (za.e) like threshing grain will be revealed (ga.ra.pad.pad). In other words, the sentence means “a certain expert/professor, who of course must be black, revealed to the people of Sumer that they, like threshing grain will be revealed”. Once again, Sumerian, just like several other ancient languages such as the Elamite and Hurrian languages, were all agglutinative. Guess what? Bantu (i.e. Niger-Congo) languages as well as Berber languages, and languages from several other places (e.g. Altaic-Uralic, Native American Algonquian, and Turkic languages) also have agglutination.
It is important to also point out that in Sumerian literature, there were other words not having to do with people that include the root word “mi” for “black”. For example, the word/term “proudly display”, is im.mi.du, where im means “wind, mood, is”, and mi means “black” and du means “spread”. Another term, “to draw or fill” (as in, water from a well) is im.mi.ib.si.si, that means im “mood”, mi “black”, ib “cross-beam (of well))”, si.si, “high water”.
High status women, including priestesses and the goddess Inanna herself, were black
In cuneiform, when there were accounts in relation to Inanna were written, the person was referred to as “nu.gig”. Remember that Inanna was the daughter of Nanna, who was the son of Enlil. These characters (Enlil, Nanna, Inanna) were among the leaders of the Anuna (the “gods” and “goddesses”), so they were personages of high rank. According to the Hogans, the term “nu.gig” stands for “Sumerian high-status woman was black wore beads” in Sumerian literature. It was also used to represent priestesses, so that presumably, the priestesses were representing Inanna herself.
Connections with the Akan language
At this juncture, I would like to transition to discussing examples from an actual African language. I would however like to thank the Hogans for the work they have done in actually revealing cuneiform pictograms and also independently making the connection to the role black people played in Sumer and Akkad. As with such new knowledge, which is in fact very old, I imagine they may have suffered some ridicule others downplaying their work. To that, I say, you were both really on to something, so do not be deterred.
I will now transition to discussing connections between the root words “gig” and “mi” that mean black in the Sumerian language and that I have so far discussed in the context of this pictogram . I had to ask myself, “if present day African languages have any connections with the ancient languages of Sumer and Akkad, then one would expect that perhaps this root word for black would appear in some forms in present day African languages”.
Well, I happen to know one such present day African language well. Having grew up reading, speaking and writing the Akan language, I am fairly confident in its use colloquially as well as in research. And so, as I have done in the past, I resorted to J.G. Christaller’s 1833 dictionary for the Asante and Fante languages (both are dialects of the Akan language) to search for clues, and boy did I find some!! Exciting, isn’t it? So, let’s get into it. The following Akan words have the root “bi”/ “mi”. I shall argue that “bi” and “mi” are variations of the same sound, since I was able to find words in the Akan language that meant black in both forms. Here are a sample of Akan words and their meanings. For each word, I shall highlight the part meaning black:
Obibini – a black person
Biri – to make black, dark, blackness
Abiriwaa – blacking, black paint
Obobiri – black stone
Obrammiri – a black, strong man
Duabiri – blackwood
Adubiri – black ink
Oguammiri – black sheep
Akokobiri – bravery, braveness, courage [interesting – connecting courage with a “black chest”]
Kotokosabire – a black, singing bird
Oponkobiri – black horse
Oprammiri – a kind of black snake
Sibiri – a species of reed; a kind of black cloth
Okay, I will stop there. Anyone who can speak or who knows the Akan language will immediately recognize many or all of the words that I listed above, so these are words that are still used in the Akan language.
Let’s make a few points here, based on the cases/data I am presenting here from Christaller’s valuable dictionary. Even before discussing the Akan language, I should say in passing that the Akan are a black people that are currently found in West Africa, mostly in Ghana and in Cote d’Ivoire. The Akan people number over 20 million, and the language has several dialects, including Twi, Fante, Baule, Brong and many others. Christaller’s dictionary deals with Twi and Fante, arguably the two main dialects of the Akan languages in Ghana today.
So, the first point I want to make is that the 13 examples I gave (there are more) from Christaller’s dictionary show that the sounds “bi” and “mi” are used interchangeably in reference to things that are black. I think this is super-interesting! Before conducting research into the Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform, I was not aware of this. So that makes me wonder how many other African languages display such patterns. Now, if you speak the sounds “bi” and “mi”, you will find that they are very close in sound to one another. It does not surprise me that both are used interchangeably, so much so that that one of the words for “black man”, in the Akan languages, is “bibini” or “obibini”, and another word for a (brave) “black man” is “obrammiri”. It is therefore worthy of note that the ‘b’ and ‘m’ vary when both referring to black, in either “bi” or “mi”, in the Akan language.
A second point of note and also of interest to me, is the repeat of syllables in certain words for emphasis. In particular, I refer to the part “bibi” in “bibini”, the word for “black man” in the Akan language. “Bibi” means black. The final part of the word, “ni”, means “person”, as in the word “nipa” for “human person” or “human being” in the Akan language. “Pa” is a suffix that means “good”, as in the Akan word “adepa”, which means “a good thing”, where “ade” means “thing”. So, “bibini” or “obibini” is “black person”. Emphasis on “bibi”. Ancient languages such as the Sumerian like to repeat a root word for emphasis. Earlier, we saw that in the Sumerian term “im.mi.ib.si.si” which means to draw/fill, the part “si.si” means “high water”. So, emphasis on water. Guess what? As an aside, in the Akan language, the word for water is…su! Hey, it’s not that far off from the Sumerian “si”.
Another interesting aside is the observation that in the Ancient Egyptian language, the word for black is “Km”, or “Kmi” in the demotic Egyptian. So, here too, we find a connection with “m”, or “mi” sounds in association with black. An interesting aside.
At any rate, I believe I have just shown that the root words “bi” and “mi” are used interchangeably in the Akan language to refer to black. I showed earlier in this article that “mi”, together with “gig” were root words in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, also referring to black. So, what does this mean? It could mean a number of things. I am going to speculate. One is that the Akan and Sumerian/Akkadian languages have a common root/origin, or that one of these languages influenced the other. It could also mean that either the Akan or the Sumerian language, or both got influenced by a third language associated with Akan or Sumerian, both, and which had “mi” as a root for black. Another possibility could be that those ancestors of the Akan who lived in that region used the root of the word that was associated with what they did. By that I mean perhaps those experts and professors (the “um.mi.a” and those builders who built things with “mi” in the word, or who called themselves names that included “mi”) kept use of this root. Anyway, these are speculations.
In other words, at the present time, I am not exactly sure why both the Ancient Sumerian/Akkadian and the Akan language (which is also ancient by all accounts) have “bi”/“mi” as the root for black. The linguistic data clearly indicates a link. What is more is that the use of “bi”/“mi”is still alive and current among the Akan people whereas Sumerian and Akkadian are no longer spoken. This is significant. What I think we need now is more data, from other African groups, and on other root words, not only these two, the “gig” and “mi”, and also “su”/“si” (for water) which I also just inadvertently showed in this last secton. What I have done here is merely a small part of a much wider scope of work that can be done in this area.
Other black people in Africa and beyond
Well I hope I have got the ball rolling in this short article by pointing to the root words “gig” and “mi”, which mean “black” in the Sumerian/Akkadian languages. I have also pointed to how one of these root words, “mi”, appears in the Akan language where it also means “black”. At this point, I would be very interested to hear from people who have some expertise, knowledge or interest in African languages (or other languages for that matter), and who can do similar searches such as I have for connections with these root words and meanings with black. For instance, how do these terms and how does this research play out in these languages (far from exhaustive): Akan, Amharic, Berber, Chewa, Dagbani, Dogon, Ewe, Fon, Fulani, Ga, Guan, Grusi, Hausa, Igbo, Kikuyu, Kimbundu, Kinyarwanda, Kongo, Lingala, Luganda, Mande, Mossi, Ndebele, Oromo, Shona, Somali, Tamil, Tigrinya, Wolof, Xhosa, Yoruba, and Zulu?? Are there similar patterns? Do we find only the root “mi” for black? Do we find “gig”? Do we find both roots? I would be interested to know. Do please feel free to get in touch, if you happen to make similar discoveries. Meanwhile, I shall continue to research the Akan language and other languages that I have access to and some understanding of.
In this article, my main purpose was to establish or prove that there were significant numbers of black people that made up the populations of the great centers of early civilization in Sumer and Akkad. Also, to establish that these black people interacted with “the gods”. These “gods” were the Annuna and their leaders who are spoken about on the Mesopotamian clay tablets. These black people of antiquity played important roles in society, as the evidence attests. I have also show that one of the root words for “black” in the Sumerian language has survived and is still being used by at least one group of black people, the Akan people of today, who can be found in West Africa.
Now, what happened to the black people that were in Sumer and in Akkad? Did they simply vanish off the surface of the Earth? No, I do not believe that they did. Existing accounts and research have revealed that these black people migrated from those regions in Mesopotamia back into Africa. Drusilla Dunjee Houston argues that blacks actually first came from Africa into Mesopotamia. They merely pulled back after successive wars and invasions by aggressive invader groups. Some of the ancestors of today’s blacks in Africa migrated back from Sumer and Akkad to other black centers of civilization. In other words, the blacks of Sumer/Akkad retreated to Punt/Yemen. They retreated to Kush/Nubia (including Axum/Ethiopia). They retreated to Egypt/Kemet. And so on, finally retreating into the heart of Africa. These are all places that the “Biblical children of Ham” were said to have been found. This is an epic story that has not received the due recognition and acknowledgement that it deserves. Someone could do an authentic “Game of Thrones” version of this story, or even turn to anime or to historical fiction for educational purposes, and make tons of money in the process, while waking people up to the truth of these facts. Finally, to learn more about these accounts of history and of migration, I would direct you to my two books on the subject, as well as recommend books written by others such as AkanBa, Dr. Nana Banchie Darkwa (he wrote The Africans who wrote the bible), and certainly read Drusilla Dunjee Houston’s book Wonderful Ethiopians of the Cushitic Empire, because it is also an awesome read.