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Kemet in the Kongo, or Kongo in Kemet? A Paper in Honor of Dr. Kimbwandende K. Bunseki Fu-Kiau

by Asar Imhotep, 3 years ago
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Abstract: Detailed linguistic studies have intimated and confirmed the deep cultural unity of Black Africa (Homburger 1949, Diop 1974, Obenga 1993, Bilolo 2011, Mboli 2010), which includes the ancient civilization of ciKam (Kemet). While connections have been made on a typological level between ancient ciKam and modern African societies, very few studies have been conducted that allow for us to make more concrete correlations and map precisely the presence of certain ‘Kemetic’ concepts across the spectrum of African cultures. This presentation seeks to fill in some of these gaps by examining the works of the late Kongo Ngânga (master), K.K. Bunseki Fu-Kiau (1986, 2001, 1991/2003, 2007). Tata Fu-Kiau is one of the few scholar-initiates, from the post-post-colonial movement, who has explored the paths to personal perfection within his own wisdom-tradition in his native Kongo, and has provided counter-hegemonic discourses which have allowed us to get a better understanding of ourselves and the richness of African thought and practice through a Bantu-Kongo lens.

Because of his privilege position as a scholar-initiate of an indigenous wisdom-tradition, one that is historically related to that of ancient Kemet, His texts, we argue, provide us with the necessary cultural keys that help us to unlock many of the philosophical mysteries of ancient ciKam which are fossilized in the hieroglyphic writing script; this being the case although the focus of his scholarship was that of the Bantu-Kongo. Fu-Kiau was not a linguist and therefore would not have known that the same words that he used to describe Bantu-Kongo concepts were the same words the Kemites were using to describe their world-views and cosmologies. In this case study—using the analytical tool of comparative linguistics—we locate the Kemetic goddess Maat (Kinenga) and the god Ra (Kalûnga) in Central Africa within a Bantu-Kongo cultural context. We seek to demonstrate the vitality of utilizing the Bantu initiatory texts, languages & cultures as tools for interpreting many of the obscure concepts of ancient ciKam. The works of Fu-Kiau grounds us authentically in the African world-view, and the Bantu-Kongo becomes a launching pad to speculate more systematically many of the ideas expressed in the ancient Kemetic wisdom-tradition.

Presentation at the 2014 Cheikh Anta Diop Conference in Philadelphia, PA.

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