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“We have come to reclaim the house of history.” – Dr. Ivan Van Sertima.
In the following interview with the TVO television network, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima discusses the cultural and scientific achievements of Africa that were later eclipsed by slavery. He maintains that Africans were responsible for advances in metallurgy, astronomy, agriculture, medicine and other fields. He also believes that black Africans came to North America long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
This was originally broadcast in 1997.
Dr. Ivan Van Sertima was born in Kitty Village, Guyana, South America on January 26, 1935. He was educated at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University where he graduated with honors. From 1957 to 1959, he served as a Press and Broadcasting Officer in the Guyana Information Services. During the decade of the 1960s, he broadcasted weekly from Britain to both Africa and the Caribbean. He came to the United States in 1970, where he completed his post graduate studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Dr. Van Sertima began his teaching career as an instructor at Rutgers in 1972, and he is now Professor of African studies in the Department of Africana Studies.Van Sertima is a literary critic, a linguist, and an anthropologist, and has made a name for himself in all three fields. As a linguist, he is the compiler of the Swahili Dictionary of Legal Terms, based on his field word in Tanzania, East Africa in 1967. As a literary critic, he is the author of Caribbean Writers, a collection of critical essays on the Caribbean novel. He is also the author of several major literary reviews published in Denmark, India, Britain, and the United States. He was recognized for his work in this field by being requested by the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature from 1976 to 1980.The cornerstone of Dr. Van Sertima’s legacy will probably be his authorship of They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America.
More and more the history of Africa is being reconstructed upon the basis of hard, objective data rather than upon the self-serving speculations and racist theories about the black barbarians.”Since 1979 the Journal of African Civilizations has published works by and about many of the world’s finest Africanist scholars in a series of magnificent anthologies. These works include Blacks in Science, Nile Valley Civilizations, African Presence in Early America, Black Women in Antiquity, Egypt Revisited, Egypt: Child of Africa, African Presence in Early Europe, Golden Age of the Moor, African Presence in the Art of the Americas, Great Black Leaders, Great African Thinkers (coedited with Larry Obadele Williams), and African Presence in Early Asia (coedited with Runoko Rashidi). In 1998 Transaction Press produced produced Van Sertima’s newest text–Early America Revisited–the definitive statement on the subject.On July 7, 1987 Dr. Van Sertima appeared before a Congressional Committee to challenge the Columbus myth. In November 1991 he defended his thesis in an address to the Smithsonian Institute. In this arena Ivan Van Sertima has emerged as an undefeated.