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Descripción de editorial
'Man, Know Thyself' is perhaps one of the world's oldest and most important sayings. This adage was originally coined by Imhotep the world's first multi-genius and perhaps the greatest creative mortal individual who ever lived. Imhotep lived over five and a half thousand years ago from our present age. It must be said immediately that Imhotep was an African. He is among our first Notable Ancestors.
Considering Imhotep's instruction, it means that as individuals, as a family, collectively as a people, a community, a society or a nation, we should know ourselves; that is, who we are. This includes knowledge of who spawned us, where we have been and where we currently are. Knowing this, as our Notable Ancestor and Grandmaster Teacher (Baba) Dr John Henrik Clarke has said, will tell us who we are and where we must get to. Who we are is dependent on who we were. Who we were should determine who we should be.
To emphasise the point, Marcus Garvey, another of our most important Notable Ancestors, frequently reiterated this advice when he reminded us that our first obligation is to know ourselves. He told us that we should make our knowledge about us so complete so as to make it impossible for others to take advantage of us. He told us that in order to know ourselves we must know who our Ancestors were and what they achieved. We would then realize who we are and what we are capable of achieving. This is the meaning of the African adage and Sankofa symbol of 'looking back in order to go forward'.
The importance of knowing our ancestors has been summed up in an old Native American saying that 'It is the spirit of our ancestors that should guide our path'. There is a sense however that Africans have forgotten our ancestors. Because of this, there is no 'spirit' to guide us and so Africans are lost and confused. The roots of African spirituality and culture have been made redundant. Yet as Dr Clarke points out, the unbilicord that tied Africans to our spiritual and cultural roots have only been stretched. It has never been broken. It is for Africans to come to this realization and to rediscover the spirit of our ancestors.
This volume lists some of our Notable Ancestors in the hope that knowledge about them and their achievements will aid some of us in understanding where we have been, who we presently are and consequently who we must become. Ultimately, it is hoped that we may use this knowledge to reconnect with the spirit of our Ancestors and let them be our guide.
This volume is based on the 'truth' about Africans and therefore correcting what is 'told' about us. This 'corrective knowledge' of us is important because as Imhotep said; 'Know the truth and the truth shall set you free'. This means being free to interpret our own story and to define who we are. This is crucial because although 'history' is a witness to the truths, 'history' has been 'stolen' by others who have hidden the truths about us. 'History' has never been true or kind to Africans and therefore it cannot tell us about us. Yet as Peter Tosh intimated, we cannot come to a consciousness of ourselves, of who we are, if we do not know the truths about us.
'History' has been described as the 'Queen' of the academic subjects. So important is History that it is said that 'whoever controls history, controls the future'. In one sense education in general and history in particular is about teaching us who we are. History teaches who we are so as to help us to know where we belong in our community (or society). Africans cannot know where we belong in society however, because our story has been told by 'others' (those who 'own history'). Africans are therefore unaware of who we are because what is 'known' about us is not the truth about us. The story of Africans, the oldest people on earth, like the history of the world, is taught by 'others'. Yet these others came into the world thousands of years after Africans had already established great civ