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Black Africans of Ancient Mediterranean: Part 2 (Up in the Air) - by Dr.

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Black Africans of Ancient Mediterranean: Part 2 (Up in the Air) - by Dr. Anu
Black Africans of the Ancient Mediterranean
By Dr Anu Mauro
Which brings us to the well-known story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War. It
is a legend that lies at the very core of what is commonly called Western
Civilization and Culture.
People constantly speak of ‘working like Trojans’, or having vulnerable
‘Achilles heels’. Furthermore malicious programs that sneakily infect computers
are compared to the Greek warriors who hid in the large wooden horse to secretly
gain access to the besieged city. They are called ‘Trojan Computer Viruses.’
In the current ‘always narrowly focused’ so called information era perhaps one
can be forgiven for asking, “What connection could the story of the Greek woman
Helen possibly have with Egyptians, Phoenicians, and African people’s culture
and history. Or life today for that matter?
The short surprising answer is: ” Obviously quite a lot!”
Troy is the famous city of Greek legend, located on the Aegean Sea on the
northwestern corner of Asia Minor in present-day Turkey. It was strategically
situated at the entrance of the Hellespont (now Dardanelles), which is the first
of the two straits that connects the Mediterranean to the Black Sea via the Sea
of Marmara.
The legendary founder of the city was Ilus, the son of Tros, from whom the name
is derived.
In the founding myths of the city of Troy the god Heracles (Hercules) is
recorded as having captured the city. In early eras Hercules was known as an
‘ethiopic’ god of Egyptian origin. Even in the Greek myths, the Greek Heracles
is described as being a child of black parents - Amphitryon and Alkmene - who
were of Egyptian-Ethiopian origin (41)
Furthermore legends also state that Poseidon (the North African god of
seafarers) is supposed to have helped Laomedon, one of the kings of Troy, build
the walls of the city. (42)
To some researchers, these myths indicate that at some point in the history of
Troy, the god Hercules or rather people connected to the God Hercules (and
Poseidon)”captured” and began to exert influence on the indigenous Thracian
society. (43)
As late as the 5th century BCE ‘Thracians’ were a numerous, still warlike
barbarian people who occupied the greater part of the eastern Balkan Peninsula
from the Danube River to the Aegean Sea. This included the Bosporus and the
Dardanelles (together the present day countries of Greece, Bulgaria, and
Turkey). Like the Scythians, the Thracians were also conquered by the Egyptian
king Sesostris the Great, which, may partly help to explain the Hercules
Heracles/Melquart (King of the City) was an especially favorite god of the
Phoenician Kena’ani (especially Tyre). No doubt partly because of the role
Heracles is supposed to have played in discovering the purple dye so vital to
the Phoenician economy. According to the legend Heracles was walking on the
beach in Tyre one day, when his dog bit into the shell of a live Murex, which
stained the dog’s snout purple. This got Heracles thinking of it’s potential as
a dye, and - as they say- the rest is history. (44)
As seafaring traders the Phoenicians had a strong connection with the profitable
Black Sea region to the north of Troy. For one thing grapes grew wild on the
southern shores of the Black Sea. The Phoenicians seem to have been the first
people to commercialize grape cultivation and winemaking. They used fermentation
techniques that had already been employed for thousands of years before in
In addition Thrace was covered with forests and possessed mineral deposits,
especially gold, which the local tribes used for headgear, belts and girdles and
to bridle their horses.
These may have been among the practical incentives that prompted the Phoenicians
to establish a Black Sea colony in Thynia very early in their settlement
activities (when seeking Europa). Thynia (currently Izmit/Kocaeli in Turkey) is
the peninsula north of Troy that separates the Sea of Marmara from the southern
Black Sea.
The city of Troy was therefore undoubtedly a key part of the Phoenician maritime
commercial network.
It should therefore be no surprise to learn that similar to other places where
Phoenician traders established communities, a temple of Heracles was also to be
found in Troy.
As it turns out, not only are the Phoenicians directly linked to the story of
Helen of Troy but the Egyptians as well were also major players in the entire
sequence of events that led up to the Trojan War. The significance is that in
the end, the story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan War are not exclusively
“European” events at all. They are very much a part of any proper examination of
African or Kushite (’ethiopic’) history and heritage.
The story of Helen and the Trojan War occurred during the reign of Priam the
grandson of Ilus the founder of the ancient city of Troy.
Modern archaeological excavations have shown that Troy was destroyed by fire
sometime in the early 12th century B.C.E., which matches the traditional date of
the war. Given Troy’s strategic location some historians have suggested that the
war may actually have been prompted by the desire of the Spartan Greeks either
to loot the wealthy city or to put an end to Troy’s commercial control of the
Dardanelles strait and access to the Black Sea.
Whatever the geo-economic reasons might have been, it appears that the origins
of the Trojan War can also be traced back to a spate of female kidnappings that
seemed to have been a regular feature of that time. It is also notable that the
Phoenician-Kena’ani were deeply involved in the whole matter from the outset.
According to the historian Herodotus, the problem is supposed to have all
started when Io the daughter of the Greek king of Argos along with a handful of
other women were either kidnapped by the Phoenician Kena’ani or –as some others
claimed — voluntarily ran off to Egypt with the captain of a Phoenician ship
because she had become pregnant by him and was ashamed to face her parents.
At any rate, the Greeks viewed it as a kidnapping. Princess Io ended up in Egypt
with the Phoenician man and the incident apparently created a lot of bad blood
between the Greeks and the Phoenicians.
It was allegedly in response to this first abduction of Io that the Cretan
Greeks then kidnapped the Phoenician Princess Europa from Tyre. However the
matter did not end there as it could have.
Not content with the abduction of the ‘broad-faced’ princess Europa, the Greeks
struck again. At a later date Greek sailors sailed an armed merchant ship to
Colchis and also abducted the ‘ethiopic’ princess Medea who was the daughter of
the King of Colchis and took her to Athens.
Now some forty years after the abduction of Medea, Paris of Troy who was the son
of Priam, was apparently inspired by these stories to obtain a wife for himself
out of Greece. It seems he was confident that he would not have to pay for his
actions any more than the Greeks had been required to.
Paris sailed to Sparta in Greece, where by all reports he was hospitably
received by Helen and her husband, Menelaus, king of Sparta. However although
she was supposedly living happily with her spouse, Paris was not only able to
seduce Helen but also to persuade her to run off with him back north to Troy.
Once their departure was discovered, and apparently even before Paris and Helen
had ever reached Troy, the Greeks sent a demand for financial compensation and
for Helen’s return.
The demand was met by a Trojan reference to the earlier seizure by the Greeks of
the princess Medea. The Trojans it is reported also remarked on the injustice of
the Greeks in expecting compensation when they themselves had refused to give
any redress after they had abducted the Colchian princess. Not to mention the
fact that they had also kept her.
Ironically it was this simple woman-stealing dispute that is supposed to have
started the great enmity between the Persians (today Iran) and the Greeks. This
hatred eventually led to the massive Persian invasion of Greece in 480 B.C and
the subsequent Greco-Persian wars that marked a major turning point in European
and world history.
Among other consequences, these ancient wars between the proto-European Greeks
and Asiatic Persians greatly helped to create and widen the Europe/Asia, Western
Mediterranean/Eastern Mediterranean, Occidental/Oriental divide. This initial
discord, over time took on not just political but also religious overtones, and
in one way or another continues to influence the quality of international
relations and the media headlines of today.
The enmity seems to have stemmed from the fact that at the time of Helen’s
kidnapping the leaders of Asia took great offence to the Greeks coming into what

the viewed as ” Asiatic turf” with such a huge force; especially over what was
generally considered to be only a minor matter.
For one thing, everyone at the time thought it obvious that the woman Helen
would not have allowed herself to be ‘abducted’ if she did not wish to be taken.
Nonetheless the Spartan Greeks went ahead and dispatched their huge invading
army under the pretext of going to get Helen back and in the end they completely
destroyed Troy and the empire of Priam, sending into exile those Trojans who
Now the very great irony is, that although she is known throughout history as
“Helen of Troy”, this woman never ever once set foot in that city. She should
properly be called only “Helen of Sparta.” If she is to be connected to any
other place at all, there is a great deal more justification for calling her
“Helen of Memphis’ ( i.e. Helen of Egypt).
Apparently after her abduction Helen was never taken directly to Troy, but ended
up in Egypt of all places or as it was then known: Kmt (The Black Land).
As it happened, while Paris was on his way back to Troy with the woman he had
stolen from Sparta, somewhere in the Aegean Sea he met with bad weather. This
drove his ship towards Egypt and he was forced to come ashore. His point of
landing was the mouth of the Nile, in the very ancient Phoenician Kena’ani port
district of Buto, where there was a temple dedicated to Heracles: that favorite
god of the Phoenician purple dye traders.
One of the features of the temple of Heracles in Egypt was its reputation as a
shrine where runaway slaves could take refuge. Once in the temple they could not
be touched by their former masters provided in return the runaways went into
lifelong service of the god Heracles.
Unfortunately for Paris, not only was his behavior not likely to gain him any
friends, but it did not seem to have inspired much loyalty from his staff
On landing in Egypt, his servants apparently fled to this temple of Heracles
(which was conveniently located on the beach), and there they “spilled the
beans” about the abduction. The servants explained to the temple priests that in
addition to seducing the wife of his friend and host and running off with her,
Paris had also left with a quantity of treasures from the man’s house.
It should be noted that in ancient times the Egyptians were widely known for
being a very just and righteous people who did not at all condone such kinds of
uncivilized behavior; especially the abuse of hospitality. As a consequence, the
warden in the district of Buto sent a message about the matter to the Pharaoh
Proteus in Memphis, who then ordered that Paris be arrested.
The Egyptians captured Paris and his ships and along with Helen sailed all of
them up to Memphis to meet the Pharaoh. When they arrived, Paris tried to make
light of the accusations, but the servants again told their story, this time
directly to the king.
Because Paris was a stranger and the ancient Egyptians had a policy of not
punishing anyone who had reached their shores due to bad weather, they
apparently agreed to just let him go. They gave Paris three days to get out of
the country, but kept Helen and the treasure until the Greeks could come to
fetch them.
However as it turned out the Greeks unknowingly went ahead and sent their strong
force to Troy to demand the restoration of the girl and the treasure. When the
force arrived, naturally the Trojans told the Greeks what they were looking for
was not there but back in Egypt, and explained that they could not return
something they did not have.
But, it seems the Greeks thought the Trojans were just giving them the
“run-around” and it is this that caused them to lay siege to Troy for some time
until it finally fell. Nonetheless even after the city was taken there was still

no Helen to be found. It was only then that the Spartan Greeks finally believed
the Trojan’s story, which was that if Menelaus wanted his property back he
needed to go visit the Pharaoh Proteus in Egypt.
So leaving Troy in ruins Menelaus sailed off to Egypt, met the Egyptian King,
and related his account. Apparently the Egyptians then entertained him very
hospitably and both Helen and his property were duly returned to him.
However like his former ‘friend’ Paris, King Menelaus of Sparta did not seem to
have been a man of any particularly high virtue either. He subsequently proved
to be less than a friend of Egypt because despite all the Egyptians had done for
him, he reportedly repaid them in a most abominable manner.
When it was time for him to leave Egypt, Menelaus the Greek was delayed for
several days by unfavorable winds and in an effort to change his fortune he
reportedly took two Egyptian children and OFFERED THEM UP AS HUMAN SACRIFICE.
The Egyptians were understandably quite angry with this and pursued him, but he
managed to escape. Later the Egyptians built a commemorative shrine to Helen in
Memphis, which was still around when Herodotus visited.
That then, is the Egypto-Phoenician version of the Story of ‘Helen of Troy’
as told to Herodotus by the Priests of Egypt. (45)
It clearly shows that in ‘actual history’ Helen never ever once set foot in
Troy. What’s more there was never any decisive single-combat duel between Paris
and Menelaus that was bravely watched by noble Helen and the two opposing
armies. There was no compassion felt by all present prompted by her matchless
beauty and great sorrow and Menelaus did not take her back home to Sparta from
Troy but instead retrieved her from Egypt and ritually sacrificed two innocent
children before he left.
There are very strong practical reasons for considering the authenticity of the
Egypto-Phoenician version of that classic story compared to the Homeric tale.
For one thing the Egyptian authorities seemed to have been directly involved in
the whole matter from the beginning. Additionally, being the major economic and
geopolitical power in the region at that time (like their maritime Phoenician
allies) the Egyptians would have been quite concerned about any prolonged
conflict that disrupted maritime trade in the lucrative Black Sea area.
Furthermore unlike the other mainly oral cultures in the rest of the region,
ancient Egypt had a strong tradition of keeping quantities of written records of

past events going back thousands of years, which the temple priests carefully
preserved in their libraries.
Nevertheless despite the integral role played by people of African origin in the
story of ‘Helen of Troy’, the incident has come down to us mainly as a ” lily
white” classic Euro-centered legend. A noble tale of violated female virtue,
clever military subterfuge, male bonding and gallant revenge in the ‘heroic age’
of Greek history.
In reality though it appears that everyone who was involved behaved rather
badly, and apart from the mediating role of the Egyptians, the word ‘heroic’
hardly seems appropriate.
Today in hindsight it is obvious that like most fraternal conflicts, the Trojan
War need not have happened and if the story were properly told, probably there
would be a whole lot less “romance” now connected with it.
As Herodotus argues, it stands to reason that if Helen really was in Troy at the
time of the multi-year siege, the Trojans would no doubt have immediately given
her back. It is very unlikely that either Priam the King of Troy or his other
sons would have allowed their city to be destroyed just because of a stolen
woman their reckless relative wanted to keep.
Even more so, since Paris was not the heir to the throne and therefore
undeserving of such staunch national backing.
It was Hector his elder brother who was to have succeeded Priam. According to
legend Hector was among those of Priam’s sons who were killed, and the whole
empire ended up being destroyed by the vengeful Greeks because of the rash
actions of his brother Paris.
For most of us today, ancient history is often comprehended and absorbed as easy
catch phrases and saleable icons like bronze helmets, laurel wreaths and leather
sandals. Unfortunately this approach tends to provide an incomplete and
simplistic impression of what may have actually occurred at any particular time.
We can partly thank the ancient epic poets for this attitude, since to some
degree they may have laid the foundations for this enduring trend.
For example the ancient Greek writer Homer seems to have known the correct
‘Helen’ story, but apparently preferred to exercise poetic license. Nonetheless
the ‘Iliad’ does hint at both the stay of Helen in Egypt as well as other
Egyptian elements; and the ‘Odyssey’, also mentions the stay of Menelaus in
Egypt. (46)
Homer in ‘Odyssey IV’ makes Menelaus say to Telemachus:
“In Egypt the gods stayed me, though I longed to return
For I had not paid them their DUE SACRIFICE. ”
And also in the ‘Odyssey’, Homer writes about Helen ” the daughter of Zeus”
being in Egypt, and simultaneously refers to the significant medical knowledge,
which the early Egyptians possessed.
“These drugs of subtle virtue, the daughter of Zeus was given
By an Egyptian woman Ploydamna, wife of Thon;
For the rich earth of Egypt bears many herbs
Which steeped in liquor have power to cure, or kill.”
For some researchers those stanzas particularly highlight the deep cultural link
between ancient Egyptians and that enduring indigenous African tradition of
practicing herbal medicine.
As it happens, although it is essentially a ‘Homeric’ tale, the version of the
story of Helen’s trip to Troy that became implanted in western popular
imagination is probably not really from Homer. It is contained in the work
called the ‘Cypria’. This was most likely written by one Stasinus of Cyprus. It
is in this poem that one can find the inaccurate story of Paris reaching Troy
with Helen a mere three days after he left Sparta and having a huge wedding.
However it is the constant retelling of the more popular (but dubious) versions
of ancient tales without referring to the true natures of the players involved
that has helped to perpetuate the fantasy of the so called ‘noble European
Consequently the story of “Helen of Troy” — the face that is said to have
launched a thousand ships– is now universally considered to be an exclusively
pan-European tale. We are never told that ‘ethiopic’ people of Africa exercising
their traditional values of truth and righteousness were apparently major
players in the whole drama. Nor are we told of the destructive, bloodthirsty,
ungrateful, and barbaric behavior of some of the Greeks involved.
41. Herodotus, Ibid; pg. 146.
42. In legend Poseidon, was the son of the giants or Titans named Kronos and
Rhea, of the Libyan coast. Kronos was king of the Cyclops, who were known as
“the inventors of tower-building.” Rhea, his wife was known as the goddess of
fortifications and Kronos was worshipped under the names of Bel and Bal, which
ultimately links them to Cush (Ethiopia).
(Source: The Two Babylons: http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect221.htm (9 of 15)
43. The name Thrace was most likely derived from ‘Tros’. Like their Scythian
neighbours (and kin), the Thracians had a very low opinion of agricultural work
preferring instead to make a living from war, plunder and child trafficking.
Thracians considered tattooing a mark of high rank. Thracian men purchased their
wives and the main Thracian export trade item was reported to be their own
female children. (Source: Herodotus, Ibid; pg. 341)
44. ‘Hercules and the Hero of the Punica Edward L. Basset, edited by Luitpold
Wallach, Cornell University Press. Copyright 1960
45. Herodotus, Ibid; Pg.170-174
46. The ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey, are the two most celebrated works of ancient Greek
literature but they have a very misty past. Homer is traditionally considered to
be the author of these two works dealing with events that supposedly occurred at
least 500 years before being written down. Despite the fame and enormous
influence, nothing is really known about Homer. There is the great so-called
‘Homeric problem’, which is an ongoing debate as to whether there was ever just
one ‘Homer’ who could have written both poems. Even Plato in his day was
skeptical and had doubts as to the Greek origin of the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey.
Historical and linguistic analysis suggests only that the poems were composed on
the west coast of Greek Asia Minor, after having existed as ‘handed down’ oral
history for several centuries before. They were apparently inscribed sometime in
the 8th century B.C.E. This is some 700 years after writing is supposed to have
been introduced into Greece.
(Sources for documents and debate:
1. http://www.comp.dit.ie/dgordon/Lectures/Hum1/030919/030919hum
2. http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~joelja/iliad.html
3. http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~joelja/odyssey.html )
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Posted in Rastas.
By Don Jaide September 8, 2006
16 Responses
Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on
this post.
Alexandra Gance said
on April 18, 2007 It is sad how inaccurate the common understanding of this
situation is. Good thing the Egyptians had written records of what really
happened that they stored in a library, so that eventually the truth could
come out.
amy noyes said
on April 18, 2007 this aritcle i found instering, it talks a about an old
“myth”. this shows you way it is a good thing to write down info. of your
past, so it will not be for gotten. as for the myth it is kind of like that of
the indians who used stories to allow their childern to know ahappen in their
past and to keep their tradsion going.
Bradley Small said
on April 18, 2007 I enjoyed this article because these stories are famous ones
that I knew nothing about. I also found it interesting how this applies to our
class. Media and technology is something that effects everything we do. If the
Egyptians did not have written records no one would have ever known the real
story. With technology ever-improving, down the road there will be archives of
everything that went on.
John King said
on April 18, 2007 I like the fact how this article questions the history what
is perceived to us as “Troy”. There was a movie about Troy whichwas actually
really good if not one of my favorite movies and who would have ever known
what we saw in the movie you indeed must question? The whole time watching the
movie seeing majority “white” characters, who would have have known that it
wasn’t realistic as it was aiming to be? I never thought about it about
looking at majority of the charcters how they should have looked at that time.
Eguono Inweh said
on April 18, 2007 I love reading about past or rather yet ancient myths. This
is my first actually reading about this particular myth and i thought it was
interesting to know how this story highlights the deep cultural link between
ancient Egyptians and indigenous African tradition of practicing herbal
Joshua Copeland said
on April 18, 2007 I enjoyed reading this because it gives the positive,
effective information and istory of the African culture through its
descriptions on herbal medicine.
Christine Park said
on April 18, 2007 I saw the movie “Troy” as well, and I think it all goes back
to the notion of white superiority. Hollywood is predominantly white, and no
matter what, a movie is a movie. You can’t take it for what it is, even if the
movie is based on actual events or a historical event.
Krystal Velez said
on April 18, 2007 Myths may be served as stories passed down and because they
are repeated, they are qualified as history. These myths may be misinformation
It is important for people to protect their history in order for it to be
passed down and be true. I am glad the Egyptians saved their history by
writing things down and containing them in libraries, for future findings.
Matt Landau said
on April 18, 2007 I like how they talked about Homer because I remember in
high school reading The Odyessy and talking about the existance of Homer and
who he really was
Yohansa Fernandez said
on April 18, 2007 After reading this article it is interesting how easy it is
to compare Egyptians to the Africans we read in previous articles because just
as they kept their history written so did Africa and hence provided them with
the oppurtunity to be recognized as intellectual.
Stacy Antwi said
on April 18, 2007 I think that as myths get passed down, information tend to
get lost most of the time. It was really interesting to read the actual story
of Troy, because I’ve heard similar versions but not exactly like this.
Yaa Anokye said
on April 19, 2007 I find it very interesting how some historical information
can be transformed into something that can be considered as a totally
different situation. A myth as long told as the the story of the Trojan War is
a prime example. I feel that there was a lot of historical content that
somehow lost its way as time passed.
Keith Gotcliffe said
on April 19, 2007 Again, the author’s theory on Helen of Troy is just that, a
theory. Also, I think he is overestimating the importance of this anecdote.
“It is a legend that lies at the very core of what is commonly called Western
Civilization and Culture.” I don’t think so.
Husniya Smith said
on April 19, 2007 It just goes to show you how that racism has been around for
a very long time. It seems that Africans have consistently been ignored and
taken out of history.
Aubrey Johnston said
on April 19, 2007 It is vital to keep records of history. Generation after
generation have passed down stories as well as these legends and myths. I
think it’s interesting to hear different variations of these stories but it’s
vital to be informed.
Tom Miller said
on April 21, 2007 This is interesting because it shows that media effects how
information is passed on over time. Since the Egyptians have written records
of these events, we have a direct source. However, over time the media and
history has been controlled by Europeans and they have the power to include or
omit any information they want to.
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