Spanish fresco of the 13th century representing the Christians’
saint, Saint Michael weighing the “good souls” (white) on a scale facing the
devil (a black devil with frizzy hair, horns and claws) also weighing some
“evil souls” being demonized and blackened.
Where does the anti-black racism that exists in the
world come from ? If you are African or of African
origin, this is a question you have had to ask yourself at least one day in
your life. The Black man is badly seen by a large part of humanity. When he is
in the Arab Muslim world, he is rejected. When he is in the Western world,
despite all his signs of openness, westernization or integration, racism and
hatred are never far away in order to call him a bambula, monkey, etc.
Everywhere where he goes, he is always the victim of
stereotypes which end up seriously harming him (rejections, racisms, hatreds,
etc.) as history has shown it on several occasions.
But where does this attitude that other peoples have
towards Black people come from? What is the historical origin of this rejection?
When did it begin in the history of humankind?
This may shock some, but anti-black racism originally
originated from religious sources, more precisely on the religious bases of the
so-called revealed religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).
What is the founding text of this racism
? Well it is the text that is better known as the curse of Ham. This
text is in the biblical book of Genesis, more precisely in the story of Noah
and his sons, sons representing the ancestors of the nations.
This is what the biblical book of Genesis says in
chapter 9, verses 18-19: “The sons of Noah, who came out of the ark, were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah, and it is their posterity that peopled the whole Earth. “
The biblical text explains that they are the ancestors
of the nations that populated the earth after the deluge. What are these nations ?
According to the biblical text there are 3 ancestors of
the 3 nations that populated the earth after the deluge. These are the nations:
Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
is the passage from the bible where the curse is mentioned. (Genesis 9: 20-27):
” Noah, started to cultivate
the soil, and proceeded to plant a vineyard. He drank some of its wine, he
became drunk and laid uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw
his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a
garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and
covered their father’s naked body, while doing it, their faces were turned the
other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.
Noah awoke from his drunkenness and found out what his youngest son had done to
him, he said,
“Cursed be Canaan! May he be the slave of the slaves of his brothers.” He also
said, “Praised be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the
their slave. May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the
tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
At first glance, this text does not mention the skin
color of the people here. At first glance, one can not say who symbolizes (between Sem, Cham or Japhet) Blacks (Africans), whites
(Europeans), etc …
At first sight this text does not say that Ham is cursed,
since in this text it is Canaan (son of Ham) who is cursed and struck with
slavery and therefore not Ham himself. These are the kinds of arguments often
used by the followers of the revealed religions to defend themselves when it
comes to this subject.
But how do we know that Ham designates
black people ?
Well, it is because in Hebrew (the language in which the
book of genesis was written) the term “Ham” refers to the idea of heat,
blackness, or burnt. In the Pharaonic language, the term “Kam” means black.
If then these Hebrew people have at some times of their
history stayed in Egypt as the Bible says, it means that there were contacts
between these Semitic people and African people (blacks). We can then
understand where this term Ham (term to designate the physical appearance of
Blacks) comes from, which is found in the Bible.
Ham is (by taking account of the contacts between the
Semitic people and the African people in antiquity) a distortion of the term Kam
or Kem (meaning black, blackened in Pharaonic language) by the
editors of the Bible as Cheikh Anta Diop explains it in his founding book Nations Nègres et Culture. It is
therefore normal for Ham to be designated in the Bible as the source of black
Moreover, the traditions of the so-called revealed
religions refer to Ham and his Biblical descendants as the symbolic names to
designate the people originating from Africa.
If Ham is the ancestor of the first African (black)
people, then his biblical sons Kush (Nubia/Sudan), Misraim (Egypt), Punt (Great lakes) and Canaan (Palestine-Syria) were originally
If then the curse concerns (according to the text), only
Canaan (son of Cham), how did we pass from the curse of Canaan to the curse of Ham ?
Well, it is in
the interpretation and teaching of the religious leaders of the so-called
revealed religions (priests, popes, rabbis, caliphs, Imams, etc.)
Thus, according to the rabbinical commentaries (such as
Midrash Rabba and Bereshit Rabba), this text is interpreted as the fact that through
Noah’s ark during the flood, Ham committed a serious sin of sexual impurity
against his Father (what it means to see the nudity of his father). And thus through Canaan, it was Ham who was cursed (turned into
black) and his biblical descendants (Kush, Misraim,
Punt and Canaan).
In the Midrash Rabba, page 293, Noah said to Ham: “You have made me incapable of doing things in the darkest moment of the
night, so your offspring (that is, your descendants) will be naughty and have a Black skin “.
Robert Graves and Raphael Patai give us another insight into this curse in another Hebrew text through their
book entitled ” Hebrew Myths, ed. Fayard, 1987,
p.192-134: “Moreover, since you have contorted yourself to see
my nakedness, the hair of your little children will become wrapped until they
become frizzy and they will have red eyes. Your lips have joked about my misfortune, yours are going to swell and since you have lacked consideration for my nakedness, they will go naked and their male organ (genital
organs) will lengthen ignominiously. “
According to these texts, African physical
characteristics (being black skinned, having frizzy hair, sometimes thick lips,
etc.) all these characteristics are in fact the mark of the curse. According to
these texts at the beginning of the creation the first men were not black. And
if there are some blacks, it means that they are the children of the devil and
Thus, seeing a black such as one can see in nature
(frizzy hair, black complexion, etc…) is seeing
someone cursed, it is seeing a demon, the devil himself !!! Even the idea that Blacks would have the most developed and biggest male organ
in the world comes from these texts !!! Thus we see how caricatures and stereotypes about the
physiognomy of the Black began in history.
In the implicit or sometimes
explicit teaching of those responsible for the so-called revealed religions, it
is in fact the Black and all that relates to him (his civilization, his
culture, etc.) which is the incarnation of the evil and the devil.
Rabbi Maimonides in his book, considered by the Jews to
be the greatest in Jewish religious philosophy (The Guide to the lost, Book
III, Chapter 51) tells this about black people:
“Their nature is similar to
that of mute animals, and in my opinion they do not
reach the rank of human beings; among the existing things they are inferior to
man but superior to the ape, for they possess in a greater measure than the ape
the image and likeness of man.”
Christianity presenting itself as the heir of Judaism,
these ideas of the Black being cursed by God, then passed into Christianity and
were used by the church as the justification for the enslavement of Africans,
since through the text of the genesis it is written: “Let
him be the slave of his brothers’ slaves!” As
Guillaume Hervieux shows in his book entitled L’Ivresse de Noé (Noah’s Drunkenness) : The Story of a Curse.
These ideas of the Black being cursed by God then passed into
Islam. This is why in the Quran, we find in the Surah Al Imran (the family of
Imran) verses 106-107: “106. On the day when certain faces will
be illuminated, and others will darken. To those whose faces will be darkened (it will be said): “Have you
disbelieved after having faith? “Well, taste the punishment, for having denied the faith.
107. And as for those whose faces shall be enlightened, they shall be in the mercy of Allah, where they
shall dwell forever ”
We see that the dark faces are the faces of infidels,
pagans, etc … and will face punishment. On the other
hand, the “light faces” will have the graces and mercy of God.
In the volume 1 of Tabari’s Chronicle (Imam, Persian historian and exegete of the Koran), Tabari provides an explanation of Ham’s curse by saying: “Yet, may you know that all creatures have gone forth after Noah (may peace be upon him), Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The Arabs, the Persians, the white-faced men, the good people, the jurisconsults, the scholars, and the wise, are of the race of Shem, and this is
‘’ One day Noah was asleep;
the wind lifted his clothes and uncovered his private parts without his notice.
Japhet passed near Noah, whose private parts he saw; He began to laugh out
loud, and to turn his father into ridicule, without covering him. Ham,
Japheth’s brother, arrived; He looked at Noah, burst out laughing and joking,
and passed by, leaving his father in the condition in which he found him.
Sem came after his brothers,
and seeing Noah in an indecent posture, he turned his eyes away and hid his
father’s nakedness. Then Noah woke up and asked Shem what had happened; Having
heard that Ham and Japheth had passed him by, and laughed, he cursed them, saying, ” may God
change the seed of your kidneys. After that, all the men and the fruits of the
land of Ham became black. The black grape is one of the latter. “
In another passage of this book we have: “… The three sons that Noah left were: the first, Shem, whose
race the Arabs came from, the prophets and the good people; the second, Ham, it is from him that the Negroes and Ethiopians who gave birth
infidel descendants originated. Now Ham’s children became black, because their father came to his wife in the ark, in spite of Noah’s prohibition, who cursed him; and the Most High God changed the seed (semen) of his kidneys (into black) “
Thus these religions, while expanding in the world, have spread everywhere the idea
that the Black human is a pagan being, evil, cursed by God, villain, idolater,
sorcerer, etc. Thus, since Black people were declared as cursed in these
religions, all that Black people have done has been declared to be pejorative
and evil. His culture, his spirituality and all his customs were demonized as
the culture of the evil, the culture of the devil, etc.
The so-called revealed religions have been for so long
(because of the writings and teachings of so- called “men of God” ie priests, popes, imams, etc.) the first torch-bearers of
racist stereotypes and racism
towards black people.
It is the idea of the Black cursed by God that is at the
origin of all the negative ideas (idolatry, ten plagues of Egypt, etc …) about Egypt and the pharaohs that are found in all
the writings of the so-called revealed religions.
In the early days of the abolition of slavery, the idea of the black curse was
one of the reasons why the KKK, Ku
Klux, Klan members (some Christians) attacked Blacks (whom they were
considering as cursed by God and demons) in order to lynch them, kill them and
burn their houses and possessions, since the Church had used this idea of the
accursed Black at that time of slavery to justify slavery.
The Ku Klux Klan members in the United States at that time, who
were mostly Protestant Christians, also described themselves as “disciples” and
soldiers of Christ, a bit like during the period of the crusades and wars of
Religions in Europe. That is why sometimes they were bearing a cross on fire,
and they were going to fight against
the “demons” (blacks) by killing them, lynching them, burning them, in order to
have a “pure and holy country “(so filled with whites). After disguising
themselves in order to massacre the Blacks, they were going to church like good
Christians, to “thank the Lord” for having been able to hunt, defeat, lynch and
kill demons (Blacks).
The idea of Black people cursed by God led the Church to
draw pious images of beings she considers as good in white and images of the
evil and the devil in dark or black color.
Christian Fresco depicting the biblical episode of the
temptation of Jesus by the devil in the desert. Christ is seen as an envoy or a
messiah who is represented in white (as pure and holy) and the agent of the
evil, the devil, is black. When we look closely we see that this devil is even
dressed in the way the Blacks dress because of the warmth and temperature in
Africa ( bare chested, etc…)
Christ is clothed as a Roman or Greek citizen (therefore European). One can see
such frescoes (white god, black devil) in many churches in Africa and even
outside Africa. These images seem to go unnoticed, but they play a role on the
psychology and the mind. Thus, when entering a church, a white man easily
recognizes his features and color in the divine images of Jesus, Mary, etc. As
for the Black Christian when he looks at the official portraits of Jesus or
Mary in the churches, He knows in his heart that these divine images do not
resemble him, and is unwilingly obligated to
recognize his image (demonic image) in the features of the devil since the
devil sometimes has the same color as him. When the revealed religions speak of
the demon or the devil, he is actually pictured under the traits of the black
It is the idea of Black people cursed by God that the
philosophers of the age called enlightenment (who predominantly presented themselves as Christians) elaborated so many
racist theories about black people. Let us take, for example, the case of
Montesquieu, who said in his book L’Esprit des lois (the spirit of the laws) XV, 5, that: ” We cannot imagine the idea that God, who is a very wise being, has put a soul, especially a good soul , In an all-black body, (…) “
Therefore according to the famous French author Montesquieu a black body does not possess a good soul, but
necessarily bad. He goes on to recite later in the same work by saying that:
“It is impossible for us to
suppose that these people (Africans) are men; because if we considered them as men, we would begin to
believe that we are not Christians ourselves.”
Montesquieu, a good Christian is educated to think that Africans are sub-humans
or children of the devil.
Montesquieu, as a “good Christian”, thought like most people and ” the philosophers of the Enlightenment” by then, who
were often also Christians.
It is the idea of Black people cursed by God that gave
birth to a negative vocabulary about the Blacks. Thus we add the term black to all that is not good. Example: bad humor = black humor, black Thursday, black
grinding, black dot, black list, having a black heart, etc.
It is the idea of the Black cursed in the Islamic
philosophy that is responsible for this rejection of Blacks by the Arabs and
all the injustice and hatred that Blacks suffer in the Arab world.
This idea of the cursed Black man was conveyed in the
black world at the time of slavery and colonization by the missionaries.
Here is a song from a book of songs “Njembo nda nkundo” (Songs in lonkundo)
intended for Congo school children under the Belgian occupation in Bamanya in 1911. The
songs’ author is the Catholic Church nun, Arnoldine Falter of the Sisters of Precious Blood. The booklet contains 66 songs. The
songs being in their original version in lonkundo,
here is the translation in English:
ESISEZELO EA KAM (The punishment of Ham)
O Father Ham, what have you done?
suffer a lot
By God we are punished Hardly
The punishment he had inflicted on
you Inherited by us all
You mocked, you, bad son You had
taunted your father
And Noah, as a punishment to you
And thus: “Ham works always for his
brothers “ And now your descendants Slaves here on
What a pity for thy people! Because
of your curse All Blacks here
Regret your fault
As you mocked your father Your descendants
laugh at you They refuse your name
If you want the blessing on earth
Honor your father and mother
Nuns in Congo. The missionaries
(priests, nuns, etc.) in their colonial schools went to preach or teach this to
Blacks. When those missionaries were teaching, they knew what they were doing.
They taught all this to the Black in order to alienate and sully his mind.
For centuries these ideas have been conveyed throughout
the world by the so-called revealed religions (Judaism Christianity, Islam) in
their impulse of conquest and conversion, evangelism or Islamization. Thus all
the followers of the revealed religions who live around the world have already