AFTER his visit to Mali in the 1930s, where he reportedly lived among the Dogon for many years, Marcel Griaule-and his female French collaborator, Germaine Dieterlen- claimed the Dogon Ayantu or spiritual leaders had evinced detailed knowledge of the Sirius system.
Griaule said the Ayantu told him of “Sirius-B” and had also predicted a third companion star, which he took to mean “C”. Astronomers had known of “B” for 70 years. But it is not visible to the naked eye; and the Dogon didn’t have access to a telescope. Even today, the existence of “C” remains unconfirmed.
Suggestions that aliens from Sirius had imparted astronomical knowledge to the Dogon, created a modern myth and raised the tribe to cult status among UFO/ancient astronaut enthusiasts. Also, whites who rejected the African origins of mankind, could now claim their ancestors were from Sirius!
As I have opined previously in this column, the whole Dogon business is hokum-perpetrated, perhaps, to help sustain the market for esoteric genre of books and film. The late U.S. cosmologist Carl Sagan and anthropologist Walter van Beek have both trashed the Dogon hype.
So too, oddly enough, did the recently late Phillip Coppens- himself an “ancient aliens” buff. In an article, entitled “Dogon Shame,” Coppens accused Griaule of creating the myth. He noted that van Beek had gone to Mali and “found absolutely no trace of the detailed Sirius lore reported by the French anthropologists”.
Actually, there is no need to invoke esoteric or mystical origins or make spurious claims concerning African astronomical knowledge, especially when it comes to the star Sirius. There are more than enough hard facts on the ground, to indemnify Black Africa’s image.
Some years ago, I was listening to a BBC science programme, in which a few young people, including reporters, had been invited to witness the opening of a mummy from Egypt. When the British scientist un-wrapped the corpse, there was an audible gasp of surprise and shock—then silence.
“They used black dye to preserve it,” he told them, obviously embarrassed. I have always harbored doubts though, as to whether any of the intelligent young students and reporters accepted that lame explanation. I certainly did not.
Modern Egyptology and Archaeology has, for the most part, vindicated early Black pioneers, such as the Senegalese scholar, Cheikh Anta Diop, who devoted his professional life to struggle for reclamation, Chancellor Williams and Josef ben-Jochannan as well as contemporary intellectuals like Dr. Joel. A. Freeeman.
“The original Egyptians were unmixed pure black folks,” Freeman asserted on the Freeman Institute website. “When they were at the pinnacle of their glory they were not a mixed group by any means.”
Freeman is simply making, in a starkly straight forward manner, the same point British scholar E.A.Wallis Bulge made decades ago in Osiris And The Egyptian Resurrection- minus, of course, the racial stereotyping, exaggeration and sensationalism that publishers required of scholars writing about Africa in those days. (See Professor Phillip Curtain, Image Of Africa.)
Bulge had little to say about Egyptian Astronomy. But if Osiris, as Bulge argues, is the progenitor of the idea of spiritual resurrection-now a core Christian belief-mathematical and positional astronomy, from which we derived the modern calendar, are equally indebted to Sirius.
To be continued.
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