Tutankhamun’s Mask and Rewriting Africa’s History

Published on 26th January 2016

The reconstruction of the iconic 3000 year old Tutankhamun mask after some Egyptian museum employees allegedly damaged it in a botched attempt to glue his beard back on should be extended to the history of Africa. 

Africa has a very rich socio-political and economic history whose narrative was erased by  years of colonization. Africans must find meaning and pride in their history if there is to be any hope in rebuilding their societies.  Pre-colonial Africa boasted of thriving cultures with scholarly centers, trading cities, wealthy empires and advanced health knowledge. Mali, Karne-Bornu, Songhai, and Ghana were major trading Kingdoms. Timbuktu was a sophisticated metropolis boasted of intellectuals, impressive architecture, and trading centers. In Ethiopia, we trace the earliest Christian History. The Trans-Saharan route enabled trading caravans to go inland and made it easier for European traders to have access to goods not readily available at the coastal ports.

Sadly, Africa is a land divided between two histories: The history before the arrival of the Europeans (which is buried) and has been termed as “pre-colonial” history, and  the other history written by outsiders and is generally accepted as the history of Africa. Just like Tutankhamun’s  mask  was restored to its original form, Africa needs to reconstruct its history from its own perspective.

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