How North Africa became white

“North Africa is white!” I don’t know how many times I have heard this statement from North-Africans determined to deny any contribution of Black people to the civilizations of Egypt and Maghreb despite the quantity of evidence. Beforehand, the present North Africa is not entirely white and we think so, especially in Libya and the South of Algeria where strong African features have survived. But as we will get to know the whiteness of North Africa is relatively recent. We will try to give some elements of answers concerning the Maghreb and Libya especially.

Pharaoh Menkheperrè Djehuty-Mesu (Thutmose III) on the left, who embodies the absolute climax of Black North Africa. On the left a present Berber of Maghreb
Pharaoh Menkheperrè Djehuty-Mesu (Thutmose III) on the left, the greatest African ever, who embodies the absolute climax of Black North Africa. On the left a present Berber of Maghreb

Beforehand it is important to say that the natural feature of the whole Africa is black. All Whites of this world come from Europe-Asia. It is under the European polar temperature that the Black, first human being became white through the adjustment to the icy climate, this point was explained here [1]. And it is from his European cradle that the white human being spread in the whole world. As a consequence, every White who lives in Africa has a close or far ancestry outside Africa. The natural feature of Africa is strictly black. We are going to discover when and how the white element entered Africa and became domineering in North Africa.

The whitening of Egypt

Pharaoh Nare Mari, founder of unified Egypt, sacrificing maybe a white man
Pharaoh Nare Mari, founder of unified Egypt, sacrificing maybe a white man

It is no more important to go over the Black-African nature of the Egyptian civilization because it has been sufficiently proved. At the definite fall of Egypt and its besiegement by Greeks, Aristotle kept on telling about Egyptians that they were “excessively black” [2]. But there was a white element in Egypt obviously in small number in the very beginning of the Egyptian history. This is testified by the examination of Nare Mari (Narmer)’s palette, first Pharaoh of unified Egypt, when he sacrificed apparently white foreigners in 3300 BC. The examination of the palette is not unanimously acknowledged.

The white element came back to Egypt permanently only in the form of a war prisoner of a servant around 1300 BC, under the reign of Mery-n-Ptah (Merenptah) [3]. Egypt succumbed to the white Assyrian, Persian (Iranian), Greek and Roman invasions. Those invasions made Blacks flee towards other regions of Africa. Those who remained were cross-bred. Those are Coptics. Finally the country’s besiegement by Arabs in 639, then three centuries of the Ottoman (Turkish) domination completed the whitening of Egypt.

Libya and Maghreb’s whitening

  1. Blacks and Whites in Libya
Left : Iuput, Pharaoh from the invading Lybian dynasty of Egypt. He was a black man (Brooklyn Museum) Right : A Tamehu, Suti's tumb
Left : Iuput II, Pharaoh from the invading Lybian dynasty of Egypt. He was a black man (Brooklyn Museum)
Right : A Tamehu, Suti’s tumb

It was in the time of Pharaoh Suti Mery-n-Ptah (Seti I), around 1300 BC that some white people were visually described in Libya, under the appellation of Tamehu. Since when had they been there? Is there any relationship between them and the sacrificed white people by Nare Mari? We cannot tell. Moreover, under the reign of Ramesu Hekayunu (Ramses III) around 1200 BC, a large people of white invaders were pushed back from Egypt to Libya and that emphasized the white contribution. According to Cheikh Anta Diop, before the Tamehus, the Tenehus also known as Lebus were a black people living in Libya and they are probably the ancestors of the present Lebus in Senegal [4]. Therefore, we can maintain that in the second half of antiquity, there were Blacks and Whites in Libya. We do not have a clear description about the Maghreb before the testimonies of Greeks and Romans.

  1. The Black Carthaginians in Maghreb

We already explained here the black race of Carthaginians – a people who had ruled Maghreb between 814 and 147 BC – this is based on the skeletons analysis carried out by some European anthropologists [5].

The French anthropologist Stéphane Gsell, director of Alger museum concluded that: “…the anthropologic analysis of the skeletons found in Carthage proves that there is no racial or ethnic unity… the Semitic type (White Berber or Arab) characterized by an oval face, an aquiline thin nose was not found in Carthage. On the other hand, the type with a more stretched out body than the legs is common to the skeletons found in Lebanon and Tyr (it corresponds to Phoenicians who were also Blacks)the majority of the Carthaginian population was Negroid [6].

Pièce de monnaie carthaginoise commémorative de la victoire au Lac Trasimène Il s'agit bien d'Hannibal sur cette pièce. C'est la seule image authentique de lui Source : Great Black leaders, Ivan Van Sertima, page 317
Carthaginian coin commemorating the victory at Lake Trasimeno
This is the only authentic depiction of the famous general Hannibal
Source : Great Black leaders, Ivan Van Sertima, page 317

Phoenicians, Carthaginian ancestors were also Blacks if we consider the same analysis of the skeletons of their capital city, Tyr in Lebanon and their port of Syracuse in Italy. That being said, there has been a close contact between Phoenicians and Whites from Asia hence the fact that Phoenicians had a Semitic language. But once again that contact did not modify the racial constants in Carthage’s time if we take the osteological analysis into consideration. Carthage was a Black-African civilization.

  1. Maghreb was black

When the Romans took the Maghreb after their war won against Hannibal the Carthaginian, they found so many Blacks in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco that they called “Moors” and named the place Mauretania. The word “Mauros / Maures” in Greek as in Latin means Black strictly [6]. Mauretania therefore means the Black people country [6]. Morocco is possibly derived from the same root “Moor”. In fact if the word finally means “White” today, it is because it is a word for the inhabitants of a region which has been preserved despite the fact that those people have changed their appearance. This categorical testimony of the Europeans suggests that Blacks were always there in the Maghreb.

Mauretania corresponded to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Libya was Barbari. Source: African Presence in Early Europe, Ivan van Sertima, page 150
Mauretania corresponded to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Libya was Barbari.
Source: African Presence in Early Europe, Ivan van Sertima, page 150

Libya for its part, due to the robbery its nomadic people was indulging in, was named Barbari by the Romans. Also in Libya, Greeks and Romans described the presence of people with scarred and painted faces, wearing braids and practicing totemism, with a clearly matriarchal organization [7]. This is a clear cultural description of a Black people. The same period documents describe the presence of a small “Ethiopian” nation living from Tripoli to Tunis [8]. The word “Ethiopian” derives from the Greek word Aethiopus which means burnt faces, so Black; the word was originally applied to the Blacks of Sudan [9]. This proves that there were Blacks in Libya.

  1. “Blacker than the blackest ink”

When the Arabs entered Barbari and Mauretania, they transformed the word Barbari in Berber to refer to all the peoples of Maghreb and Libya without distinction of color [10]. Therefore, initially, the word Berber was referring to a mostly black people. Those indigenous peoples were composing the overwhelming majority of troops who entered Spain in 711 BC to start the 781 years of Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. The testimonies of Europeans at that period are categorical.

The Spanish King Alfonso X also known as the wise narrated the invasion “All the Moorish soldiers were dressed with silk and black wool that had been forcibly acquired… their black faces were like pitch and the most handsome of them was like (black as) a cooking pan” [11].

Moorish dignitaries playing chess in Spain. Beside them, two maids – a white lady and a black one – and a black musician. 1283; Source: the Golden age of the Moor, Ivan van Sertima, page 29
Moorish dignitaries playing chess in Spain. Beside them, two maids – a white lady and a black one – and a black musician. 1283; Source: the Golden age of the Moor, Ivan van Sertima, page 29

Here is an excerpt of the Roland’s song, a French epic tale about the battle between the Franks and the Africans in northern Spain in the 8th century, which tells us about the appearance of the invaders “At their head rides the Saracen Abisme [Abyssinian ?] : no worse criminal rides in that company, stained with the marks of his crimes and great treasons, lacking the faith in God, Saint Mary’s son, And he is black, as black as melted pitchEthiope (Burnt faces/Africa in ancient Greek), a curse land indeed; The blackamoors from there are in his keep, Broad in the nose they are flat in ear, Fifty thousand and more in company… When Roland sees that unbelieving race, those hordes and hordes blacker than the blackest ink – no shred of white on them except their teeth…” [12].

Mulay Rachid, King of Morocco in the 17th century. He is the founder of the Alauite dynasty that rule Morocco until now. He was unmistakably black. The civilization of Imperial Morroco with its magnificent cities like Marrakech and Meknes, is mostly the result of Black dynasties. Source: British Royal Collection royalcollection.org.uk
Mulay Rachid, King of Morocco in the 17th century. He is the founder of the Alaouite dynasty that rules Morocco until now. He was unmistakably black. The civilization of Imperial Morroco with its magnificent cities like Marrakech and Meknes, is mostly the result of Black dynasties, and must be considered as a black civilization.(Source: British Royal Collection royalcollection.org.uk) 

It was therefore the Europeans who gave us the best descriptions of the first people of Maghreb. Historians estimate 3.5 million of Blacks in Spain and Portugal at the end of the Muslim occupation [13]. Their current descendants are called Moreau, Maurice, Moore, Morin, Moreno, Murray, Maurois etc.

We therefore ask ourselves this question: if Maghreb was black till the 8th century how did it become white? The Arab presence explains partly the phenomenon but the last two steps of the populating process seem to solve the enigma.

  1. White slavery and Ottoman presence
Millions of white Europeans had been enslaved by the Arabs and other Muslims Image: the slave market by Jean Léon Jerome
Millions of white Europeans had been enslaved by the Arabs and other Muslims
Image: the slave market by Jean Léon Jerome

The 2002 Ukraine Encyclopedia estimated from 2 to 2.5 million the number of deportees from Ukraine, Belarus and Moscow region between the 15th and the 18th century only [14]. Knowing that the white slave trade by Muslims began in the 8th century and involved a larger area, one is led to believe that the outcome is much more important than 2.5 million. This is a slave trade people want to hide because it is about the enslavement of white Europeans – Germanic and Slavic in particular (hence the word “slave”) – by the Muslim Arabs. White men were castrated by European Jews in Verdun in France and deported from Venice. Europeans and Arabs have a kind of tacit agreement to pass this story in silence and make all believe that only the Blacks were slaves. All those whites, especially women were enslaved in the whole Muslim world, including Maghreb, probably much more than Blacks.

Therefore, white people cross-bred with the black Berbers to create those we continue to call Berbers till today. The Ottoman presence will also intensify the whitening phenomenon. This tends to explain why there are African elements, European and Semitic (Arab) in the Berber languages.

We suspect that the Berbers will never accept such a conclusion.

A black Berber lady and white Berber one. Berbers, who represent the essential of the population Maghreb, are not yet a uniform white people till nowadays. It is likely that much of their culture comes from their black heritage.
A black Berber lady and white Berber one. Berbers, who represent the essential of the population of Maghreb, are not yet a uniform white people till nowadays. It is likely that much of their culture comes from their black heritage.

In summary if the steps of the Egypt whitening are known, Maghreb and Libya meanwhile, initially black, would have bleached with the first white Libyans, Arabs, Turkish, and especially the white slave trade.

Hotep!

PS: According to BBC through their article British Slaves Barbary Coast, 1,250,000 whites of Europe were enslaved between 1530 and 1780 in Libya and the Maghreb

By : Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :

  • [1] The First Europeans were Africans, by African History-Histoire Africaine
  • [2] Antériorité des civilisations nègres (Anticipation of Negro civilizations), Cheikh Anta Diop, page 36.
  • [3] Statement by the historian David Imhotep
  • [4] The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 26
  • [5] The Black race of the Carthaginians, by African History-Histoire Africaine
  • [6] The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 151
  • [7] Ibid, pages 109, 111, 113
  • [8] Ibid, page 118
  • [9] Le grand dictionnaire et critique (The general dictionary and critic), Antoine-Augustin Bruzen de la Martinière, page 357
  • [10] African Presence in Early Europe, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 149
  • [11] The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan van Sertima, page 184
  • [12] Ibid, page 43
  • [13] Ibid, page 66
  • [14] Polemia.com
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