Marriage of Obsession and Racism… By Mae Catherine Godhigh

Alright, readers, I’ve gone down a rabbit hole… Go ahead and admit it you’ve done it before, too.

Recently, a trove of at least fifty-nine 2,500-year-old Egyptian Tombs was discovered in Saqqara, one of the centers of ancient Egyptian life.

The obsession of black culture can be a blessing or a curse. The history of this love/ hate affair can be found in exhibit halls and museums around the world.

Alexander Henry Rhind (1833-1863) was the first archaeologist to conduct systematic excavations in Egypt in the 1850s. Later others would flood the ancient sites to begin their studies and the original looting of Africa.

As I began to dig into the meaning of Egyptology, I discovered its definition was much broader than the study of language, history, documentation, and civilization of ancient Egypt.

The science of Egyptology also traffics the idea the ancient rulers and pharaohs were not black, which brings me to the ousted Dr. Zahi Hawass, archaeologist and former Secretary-General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Even Face to Black Face, Dr. Hawass insisted King Tutankhamun was NOT BLACK. He further stated to reporters, “The portrayal of ancient Egyptian civilization as black has no element of truth to it.” Egyptians are not Arabs and are not Africans despite the fact that Egypt is in Africa, he said, quoted by MENA news agency.

I recently participated in online virtual tours of museums in Scotland, England, Belgium, and France. In awe, I viewed regal and endless displays of our ancestors, the arts, the world of literacy, tools, inventions, and so much more. My Black Pride was energized, along with the traumatic anger of Black people around the world.

As my tour continued, I noticed a consistent pattern of bullet-ridden statues of ancient pharaohs and leaders, many with their noses shot off. What was the meaning of this? What were the Anglo-Saxons afraid of or trying to hide? What caused these disfigured minds to destroy such beauty? My indignation further questioned the intrusion of these sacred places. The people who stand to gain the most are the ones who view our people as less than human. Currently, investors and institutions continue to stuff their pockets with profits from the business of looting and stolen property from our ancestors.

Sara “Saartjie” Baartman is another prime example of obsession. She was born in 1789 in the Camdeboo valley. Sara spent four years of exploitation on stage in England and Ireland. Sara died December 29, 1815, in Paris. After her death, the naturalist George Cuvier, a former dance partner of Sara’s, made a plaster cast of her body before dissecting it. He preserved her skeleton, pickled her brain and genitals. Cuvier than placed her body parts in jars and displayed them at Paris’s Museum of Man. Sara’s body parts remained on display until 1974, something Holmes described as “grotesque.”

In 1994, after his election, South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela requested Sara’s remains, and the plaster cast be returned to her native Africa. The French government reluctantly conceded in March 2002. Finally, in August of the same year, Sara returned home and was buried in Hankey, located in Eastern Cape Province. Sara’s grave would not be exempt from racism. A plaque at her burial site was splattered with white paint, causing further distress to her community. Today the plight of Sara Baartan remains almost invisible.

Miles Moralis recently spoke truth to power when he stated, can you imagine if people from a foreign land tried to come to America dig up George Washington or Thomas Jefferson’s grave, and put their bodies on display in museums? There would be outrage like we’ve never seen before. This has never, and will never set right with me. I concur with Mr. Moralis; there is something pure evil about the disrupting the resting places of ancestors to profit greedy investors and intuitions.

Unfortunately, the marriage of obsession and racism remains our reality.