Cheikh Anta Diop is a historian who first attempted to establish new writings of African history and view of history, in Africa, beginning with criticism for the existing African historiography that was written from a Europe-centered perspective. Diop was a maverick historian, to such an extent as to get a professorship from the University of Dakar, even after twenty years since he came back from study in Paris, but his influence is immense in Africa, to the extent that the University of Dakar, a national university in Senegal, was named the University of Cheikh Anta Diop, since his death.
This paper analyzed Diop’s historical writings and thoughts, who attempted to re-write African history.
First, Diop argued that Egyptian civilization originated from Sub-Saharan ‘Black Africa’, and this initial black civilization was the first world civilization.
Since then, Egyptian ideology and scientific technology had an influence upon European culture, ancient Greek culture in particular. Second, Diop stood against the western historical descriptions that there was just diversified and split tribal culture in Africa where huge power did not exist, claiming cultural unity of Black Africa and trying to excavate and recompose its contents. Third, Diop participated in political activities, and argued an establishment of African Federation based on pan-Africanism. While opposing an imperialistic threat, he stressed unity beyond national interest or political frame, for Africa to reach absolute industrialization.
Absolutely there is a critical view against Diop’s claim. Some criticized that Diop’s historical descriptions and view of history are also another ‘Afrocentrism’, and others pointed that Diop disregarded Cultural Hybridity, or many Diop’s writings revealed unverified logical leap. In spite of such criticism, it is undeniable that Diop’s new attempt became an epoch-making motive for ‘re-making history’ or composing new historical identity of Africa.
The western historians hardly accepted Diop’s historical descriptions and view of history, or had no interest in it. But, Diop’s thoughts attracted newly some African intellectuals who studied in France, and African-American intellectuals since the Student Movement of 1968. Recently, as a debate on global history has flourished, and Martin Bernal’s Black Athena is stirring up interest, Diop’s historical descriptions newly receive attention.