Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

INDIA AND THE DIASPORA => Indian Perspectives => Topic started by: PatriotWarrior on May 30, 2004, 06:58:48 AM

Title: The Lost Tribe: Part I
Post by: PatriotWarrior on May 30, 2004, 06:58:48 AM

The following article is VERY much worth sharing ... I have reprinted it here for "academic purposes", and for the sake of sharing (with others the invaluable information it contains), as it appeared in NEW AFRICAN magazine, issue of October 2003, to commemorate BLACK HISTORY MONTH [in the U.K.]:


The African presence in Asia is well documented by Homer (8th century B.C.) and Europe's "Father of History", Herodotus (5th century B.C.). Negroid skeletal remains in Asia date back 95,000 years. As Africans in the UK (both continental and Diasporan) celebrate BLACK HISTORY MONTH this month (i.e. October 2003), we asked Amani Olubanjo Buntu, a lecturer and consultant at the Institute of Afrikology in South Africa, to take a closer look at the history of the African glory and downfall in Asia. This is Part I of his two-part series:

Research on the African presence in Asia is still in an early stage, and there are many blanks to fill in. But thanks to the groundbreaking work of such distinguished continental and diasporan African scholars and researchers such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Runoko Rashidi, Drusilla D. Houston, John G. Jackson and Yosef ben-Jochanan, a firm foundation of knowledge has been built. This article explores some of the findings by these, and other, historians, anthropologists and linguists.

John Henrik Clarke, the African-American educator and critic, has said that when Africa was colonised, the information about the continent was also subject to colonisation. Hence, much of the history of Africa and its peoples is still hidden, neglected and distorted. Twisting of facts and a confusing terminology still impact on our understanding (or misunderstanding) of African history.

Thus, before we can embark upon our African re-discovery of Asia, we need to know what we mean by the terms "African" and "Black". Runoko Rashidi, the African-American historian and scholar, uses the words "Black" and "African" interchangeably, defining all members of the Black race to be of "Australoid" and "African" (once labelled "Negroid" by European scholars) descent. This includes the Black peoples of Australia, South Pacific, South/East/West Asia, the indigenous people of Africa and its far-reaching DIASPORA throughout the world.

But even if we now think we have established a "criterion" (black skin, black hair) for "observing" African-ness/Blackness, those who "look African" (Rashidi uses the word "Africoid") have not necessarily been described so by European scholars.

Western historians, ethnologists, anthropologists and archaeologists, when coming across "Africoids", have labelled them "Negroid", "Proto-Negroid", "Proto-Australoid", "Negritic", "Negrito" (South/South-East and Far East Asia) or "Hamites", "Eurafrikans", "Mediterraneans" and the "Brown Race" (southwest Asia). These labels, says Rashidi, we must denounce as obsolete, invalid, unscientific and racially motivated.

During the 1990s, there was a growing awareness within the field of anthropology that there is no such thing as "race". Dr Charles Finch, the African-American scholar and anthropologist, points out that the consequence of this thinking is the idea that Black people in India, the whole Asia and the Pacific Islands, who have identical physical characteristics as Africans (black skin, woolly hair, full lips, broad noses, etc) are said to be totally unrelated to Africans!

But the highly respected Senegalese historian and anthropologist, Cheikh Anta Diop, explains that in anthropology, the aim of "racial classification" is to study a group of individuals who share a certain number of anthropological traits, which is necessary so that they not be confused with others.

He points out that physical appearance -- phenotype -- has been a reality throughout history. Hence it would be logical for Africans, in studying THEIR culture and history, to use phenotype as an essential criterion.

Diop claims that there are two black "race groups": one with black skin and woolly hair; and the other with, similarly, black skin and wavy to straight hair, many with physical features otherwise indistinguishable from Africans'.

Apart from physical appearance, documentary evidence shows that Africans were the first people to inhabit Asia. Their presence is well documented by Homer (8th century B.C.) and Europe's "Father of History" Herodotus (5th century B.C.), who described the populations of Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia (Iraq and Syria) and India as Ethiopians.

The Greeks introduced the word "Ethiops", meaning "burnt faces". There is abundant evidence to show that Black people founded and contributed to some of Ancient Asia's most important classical civilizations. Herodotus was of the opinion that many of Africa's populations he came across were descendants of colonies from an ancient civilization: the Kushite Empire.

The British anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith wrote in the 1930s about a "Black Belt" of mankind across the Ancient World, including Africa, Arabia, India and the Pacific. The belt gave rise to the Hamitic peoples of Africa and the Dravidians of India.

Canon George Rawlinson, a British historian, proved linguistically, in 1870, that the Kushites/Ethiopians peopled Arabia, India and Palestine until they were overthrown by Aryans (Caucasians speaking Indo-European languages) and Semites.

The region of North/East Africa and the Arabian peninsula, separated by the Red Sea, is the essential foundation to African civilization, as the scholars inform us. The ancient mythical land of Eden is also believed to have been in this region many thousand years ago.

Charles Finch writes that the Kushites were the original inhabitants of Western and South Asia. Skeletal remains date back to 95,000 years. Natufian culture was established in the region by 10,000 B.C. and was a parent of civilizations to follow.

According to the historical researcher Drusilla D. Houston, Ethiopian Kushites founded civilizations and spread out to all the world. They were the "Old Race", preceding the Egyptians. Houston also claims that the many civilizations giving rise to Greece, Rome and Europe were African or were under African rule. The Phoenicians called themselves Ethiopians, and were also called so by Hebrew writers. She argues that the great civilizations of South America, Aztec and Maya, acknowledge their culture as passed to them from the earlier Kushite inhabitants.

As stated by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge in 1928, classical historians and geographers called the whole region from India to Egypt by the name of Ethiopia. Today's Ethiopia is what was called Abyssinia. The country of Kush was later known as Nubia. But Kush seems to be the oldest known name for the region (present-day Sudan-Ethipoia-Eritrea-Djibouti).

Runoko Rashidi writes about the "Small Blacks", a family of Black people phenotypically characterised by "short statures, skin complexions that range from yellowish to dark brown, tightly curled hair." They represent an extremely important people in understanding ancient African history, as they contributed fundamentally to high cultures characterised by urbanisation, mining and metallurgy, agricultural science and advanced scripts. Sadly, this fact is not understood or appreciated today.

In the 1980s, several Oxford-based scholars, led by Jim Wainscoat, pronounced the "Small Blacks" (or San), who have lived in South/ern Africa for more than 100,000 years, the FOUNDER population who later left Africa and spread throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Currently, they only exist in small numbers and in barren, isolated areas. BRUTALLY forced off their ancestral land by European settlers and colonisers, other African groups have, sadly, gradually developed an attitude of superiority over these peoples, making them victims of yet more ridicule, superstition and exploitation.

Runoko Rashidi calls the "Small Blacks" the "Africoid phenotype". These forebears of civilization have been labelled a number of derogatory names: "Pygmies", "Negritos"and "Negrillos" (Central Africa), Bushmen and Hottentots (Southern/South Africa). But they have appropriate names, such as the Binga, the Gelli, the Aka, the Twa and the Mbuti (Central Africa), the Khoisan/Koi-Koi (a term grouping the three distinctive language groups of these people in Southern Africa, especially in South Africa: Zhu, Khoi and Qui).

More surprisingly, they also exist in many parts of Asia: India, Burma, Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam!

So what evidence do researchers have to verify the Blackness of peoples in Egypt and the Kushite Empire? The theology researcher Charles B. Copher lists:
  • Archaeological data consisting of written records paintings
  • Sculptures and skeletal remains
  • Modern historical works
  • critical Biblical scholarly works
  • Personal names and adjectives
  • Opinions of modern travellers, archaeologists and anthropologists
  • Ancient Greek-Roman legends
  • Historical writings, including the Bible
  • Jewish works, including the Talmud, Midrashim* and other legends

A cross-study of these sources proves that the Ancient Egyptians were black, that the Kushites (on both sides of the Red Sea) were black, and that the Hamites described in the Bible were black. It also gives testimony to the black populations that inhabited parts of Asia from the Indus River Valley westwards into Elam-Persia, Mesopotamia, parts of Arabia, Phoenicia, Canaan, Crete and Greece.

Lastly, says Copher, it gives evidence to the Black element within the ancient Hebrew-Israelite population.

As Runoko Rashidi reminds us: "The African presence in Asia is one of the most significant, challenging and least written-about aspects of the global African experience." Examining this history is a documentation of both great glory, advancement, brutal slavery and genocide. It EXPOSES the deep-rooted HISTORY OF RACISM and discrimination. It CHALLENGES some of the doctrines well-accepted within religious beliefs.

But most of all, it poses a *CHALLENGE* to the modern-day African to study, learn and impart this history, which covers a time-span of more than 90,000 years. Rashidi estimates that the African presence in Asia may well exceed 200 million people. How do Africans today act on this information?

John Henrik Clarke gives a clue: "My point is that if we RECLAIM all of Africa, all of those islands in the Caribbean, the islands of the Pacific populated by people of African descent, united with the millions in India, we will go into the 21st century with a billion people, a billion African people!"

SOUTH ASIA -- The Indus Valley (*

The African occupation of the Indus Valley goes back 9,000 years, according to the research of the historian Wayne B. Chandler. The original inhabitants were Ethiopians (called "Negritos" by Europeans) and Proto-Australoids. The Guyanese linguist and anthropologist Ivan van Sertima states that upon this aboriginal layer of Black people, an outside, more advanced force, composed of African or Afro-Asiatic elements, built the Harappan phase as they arrived in the Indus Valley. Another historian, John G. Jackson, portrays the majestic achievements of the Indus Valley thus:

"They built large cities, the principal one being Mohenjo Daro, Chanhu Daro and Harappa. Their cities were well built: Mohenjo Daro was two square miles in area, with regularly laid-out main and side-streets, lined with attractive two-storey brick houses. Bathrooms were common, and they were fitted out with runaway drains leading to brick sewers which were laid under the streets. This culture reached its peak about 3,000 B.C. These people had domesticated cattle, sheep and elephants; they cultivated wheat and cotton, possessed boats and wheeled carts, and were skilful workers in bronze and iron. They even discovered a process for making iron rust-proof."

But around 1500 B.C., Indo-European tribes from Eurasia and today's Iran brutally crushed the Indus Valley civilization after many violent attacks. These were White tribes, who were known for their aggressive military techniques, gradually establishing a rigid social order which, in effect, reduced the conquered Black people, now called Shudras, to slaves. This was later known as the *Hindu caste system*.

According to the Bangladeshi research specialist Horen Tudu, the Aryan priests copied the astonishing inventions, rituals and advancements of the Indus Valley and "appropriated them in what must have been the greatest case of scientific theft on record." For the next 1,000 years, a period of mass destruction and darkness set in. From 1,500 B.C. to 500 B.C., no civilization survived, no writing, nor any trace of the human existence was preserved.

The ruling class of India, even today, rejects any accusation of the caste system being racist. In 2001, in preparation for the UN World Conference Against Racism, the Indian government diplomatically sought to negotiate with African states, saying they would support the Africans' claim for slavery reparations if they (the Indians, that is) were granted support to take caste-ism off the agenda{!}.

Although it can be said that the caste system does not exclusively look at colour, distinctions between "whiteness" and "blackness" still form its basic foundation. According to Runoko Rashidi, the Aryan term varna denotes one's social status and is used interchangeably with caste, literally meaning colour or complexion, and reflects a prevalent racial hierarchy.

Rashisdi adds: "Caste Law (* in India, based originally on race, regulated all aspects of life, including marriage, diet, education, place of residence and occupation. SERVITUDE to whites became the basis of the lives of black people of India for generation after generation. With the passage of time, this brutally harsh, colour-oriented, racially-b{i}ased caste system became the foundation of the religion that is now practised throughout India. This is the religion known as Hinduism."

Hinduism divides people into four castes. This System places the more than 200 million "Untouchables" or Dalits (* of India and Pakistan at the very bottom. According to the Indian-born human rights activist V. T. Rajshekar, the Aryan Brahmans (rulers) formed a four-caste hierarchy system:

  • the Brahmans (the rulers)
  • the Kshatriyas (the warriors)
  • the Vaishyas (the merchants)
  • the Shudras (the workers)

The "Untouchables" represent the diverse groups of people who refused to surrender to Aryan domination. Because they did not compromise, they were seen as outcasts, outside the caste system of Hinduism, and belonging at the bottom of society.

Throughout history, the "Untouchables" have suffered severe discrimination, restrictions and humiliating injustices. Their status has changed little since ancient times. In recent times, the Dalits have been demonstrating a rapidly expanding awareness of their African ancestry and their relationship to the STRUGGLE OF ALL Black people throughout the world.

Buddhism in India

Buddhism appeared in India during the 6th century B.C. and was in many ways a PROTEST against Hinduism. Buddhism objected to hierarchy and ARROGANCE. This philosophy spread rapidly around the regions of India, attracting especially large numbers of Black people who had been oppressed for a long time. Observing Buddhism is also testimony to the African presence in Asia.

Dr Vulindlela Wobogo writes: "Manifestations of the Buddha in Asia are black with woolly hair. They all appear to be Egypto-Nubian priests who fled Egypt. The priests carried their spiritual knowledge but lost much of the scientific knowledge for obvious reasons. The well-known aspects of Buddhism and its companion, yoga, are simply Egypto-Nubian priesthood practices."


As explained by Runoko Rashidi, the DRAVIDIANS (the Shudhra caste) of India are descendants of the Harappan people of the ancient Indus Valley, who were pushed into South India as the result of the Aryan invasions. The Dravidians, also descendants of ANCIENT AFRICANS, are one of the peoples described by Cheikh Anta Diop as the "second" Black "race group", with black skin and wavy to straight hair, many with otherwise indistinguishable African features. As Rashidi points out, Dravidian is also a family of languages spoken by more than a hundred million people, primarily in South India. The term Dravidian seems to be an Aryan corruption of TAMIL. From the third century A.D., several great Dravidian kingdoms arose in South India. These kingdoms excelled in architecture and established standards for literary production. Many were ruled by powerful queens.

Many African slaves were taken by Arabs to India, where they served as soldiers. Adopting Islam, they called themselves Sayyad (descendants of Mohammad) and were consequently called Siddis. They were known as great sailors and soldiers. Suffering under inhumane conditions, some became free and established kingdoms, others excelled as military and social leaders. Many Siddi descendants are still found in India today, some in separate communities, others are completely assimilated.

-- Courtesy of NEW AFRICAN, ( COVER STORY: The Lost Tribe PART I. October 2003.


CHECK OUT THIS LINK: The GLOBAL African Presence (


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Title: Re: The Lost Tribe: Part I
Post by: Ayinde on May 30, 2004, 10:10:05 AM
Good post!! I am adding this older article for further consideration.

History of Ancient Indian Conquest Told in Modern Genes, Experts Say

By Robert Cooke, Newsday
San Francisco Chronicle, 26 May, 1999

Like an indelible signature enduring through a hundred generations, genes that entered India when conquering hordes swooped down from the north thousands of years ago are still there, and remain entrenched at the top of the caste system, scientists report. Analyses of the male Y chromosome, plus genes hidden in small cellular bodies called mitochondria, show that today's genetic patterns agree with accounts of ancient Indo-European warriors' conquering the Indian subcontinent.  

The invaders apparently shoved the local men aside, took their women and set up the rigid caste system that exists today. Their descendants are still the elite within Hindu society.  


Thus today's genetic patterns, the researchers explained, vividly reflect a historic event, or events, that occurred 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. The gene patterns "are consistent with a historical scenario in which invading Caucasoids -- primarily males -- established the caste system and occupied the highest positions, placing the indigenous population, who were more similar to Asians, in lower caste positions.''  

The researchers, from the University of Utah and Andhra Pradesh University in India, used two sets of genes in their analyses.

One set, from the mitochondria, are only passed maternally and can be used to track female inheritance. The other, on the male-determining Y chromosome, can only be passed along paternally and thus track male inheritance.  

The data imply, then, "that there was a group of males with European affinities who were largely responsible for this invasion 3,000 or 4,000 years ago,'' said geneticist Lynn Jorde of the University of Utah.  

If women had accompanied the invaders, he said, the evidence should be seen in the mitochondrial genes, but it is not evident.  

According to geneticist Douglas Wallace of Emory University in Atlanta, the work reported by Jorde and his colleagues "is very interesting, and is certainly worth further study.''  

Along with Jorde, the research team included Michael Bamshad, W.S. Watkins and M.E. Dixon from Utah and B.B. Rao, B.V.R. Prasad and J.M. Naidu, from Andhra Pradesh University.  


By studying both sets of genetic markers, the research team found clear evidence echoing what is still seen socially, that women can be upwardly mobile, in terms of caste, if they marry higher-caste men. In contrast, men generally do not move higher, because women rarely marry men from lower castes, the researchers said.  

"Our expectations in this natural experiment are borne out when we look at the genes," said Jorde. "It's one of the few cases where we know the mating situation in a population for 150 generations. So it's kind of a test for how well the genes reflect a population's history."  

The ancient story holds that invaders known as Indo-Europeans, or true Aryans, came from Eastern Europe or western Asia and conquered the Indian subcontinent. The people they subdued descended from the original inhabitants who had arrived far earlier from Africa and from other parts of Asia.  

During the genetic studies, in 1996 and 1997, researchers took blood samples from hundreds of people in southern India. The analyses compared the genes from 316 caste members and 330 members of tribal populations, looking for signs of Asian, European and African ancestry.

In the mitochondrial genes passed along by females, Jorde said, they could see the clear background of Asian genes. "All of the caste groups were similar to Asians, the underlying population" that had originally been subdued.  

But, he added, "when we look at the Y chromosome DNA, we see a very different pattern. The lower castes are most similar to Asians, and the upper castes are more European than Asian."  

Further, "when we look at the different components within the upper caste, the group with the greatest European similarity of all is the warrior class, the Kshatriya, who are still at the top of the Hindu castes, with the Brahmins," Jorde said.  

"But the Brahmins, in terms of their Y chromosomes, are a little bit more Asian."  

So the genetic results are "consistent with historical accounts that women sometimes marry into higher caste, resulting in female gene flow between adjacent castes. In contrast, males seldom change castes, so Y chromosome" variation occurs only as a result of natural mutations, Jorde said.  


He added that even though India's ancient caste system was abolished legally in the 1960s, it is still entrenched socially.  

"People are very well aware of their caste membership," he said, noting that in some cities the housing is still arranged along caste lines. So "one might argue, unfortunately so, that it (the caste system) does exist in people's minds."  

In terms of who marries whom, the researchers described the Hindu caste system as "governing the mating practices of nearly one-sixth of the world's population."  

The blood samples taken from tribal people in southern India are still being analyzed, Jorde added.  

But so far, "the tribal populations are more similar to the lower castes than to anyone else, similar to the original residents of India," he said.

Reproduced from: