HO, Volta Region, Ghana – Four thousand years ago, long before Alexander the Macedonian, a pharaoh of the 12th dynasty of Kemet extended African military and political power as far as India in Asia, across Europe, through the Balkans and up to the Sea of Azov in today’s South Russia.
This powerful African king, Senwosre I, revered from his African fulcrum as the Lord of the Universe, created a devastating military machine that set its imprimatur over the lands of Eurasia and even beyond.
The sacred historical memory of the Lord of the Universe serves as a powerful motivating dynamic in the reawakening of the African mind and the reignition of African self-confidence in forging perhaps the next rise of Africa from the bitter embers of the last five hundred years of her Pale Ages.
By gathering the historical echoes of African military power in Eurasia and beyond, our African minds might yet re-awaken to action and create anew a most powerful civilization to lead the world; dedicated not only to conquest but to the preservation of Maat within the bounds of the geographic realm of Africa and the necklace of Islands that adorn her in the Americas and Asia, where people whose umbilical cord is tied to the indomitability of the African spirit still reside.
Senwosre I, Lord of the Universe, left behind a trail of historical echoes in Europe and Asia that are relevant to modern Africa’s historical consciousness and the restoration of African self-confidence.
Tracing these echoes on the grand canvass of African historical memory against the backdrop of western scholarship’s attempts to denigrate this African pharaoh and his achievements has become important.
We start the trajectory into the African past by providing the political context in which Senwosre I, whom the Greeks referred to as Sesostris I, rose to power.
The Middle Kingdom had been established around 2160 BCE in Kemet after the chaos and disarray of the first intermediate period when the Old Kingdom had ended with the end of the 6th dynasty. The founders of the Middle Kingdom, the 11th dynasty were from the far south of Kemet near the border with Nubia in inner Africa.
Just as the first dynasty that unified Lower and Upper Kemet was from the south. Again following the collapse of the Middle Kingdom, the founders of the New Kingdom again came from the south. It is therefore interesting to note that in the history of Kemet unification or restoration has always come from the south, from Upper Kemet (Upper Egypt).
After the 11th dynasty ended, a man who came to be known as Amenemhe I founded the 12th dynasty. Amenemhe’s father was from Waset, which the Greeks called Thebes, and his mother was from Ta Seti in Nubia. Amenemhe’s son and second pharaoh of the 12th dynasty was Senwosre I. He came to the throne around 1971 BCE and by the end of his reign around 1926 BCE, he was regarded as the greatest conqueror of the ancient world and was given the title Neb Re-Det, which means, Lord of the Universe.
Manetho, the great Kemetic historian who lived around 300 BCE, Diodorus Siculus, Herodotus and other Greek historians wrote extensively about him.
The priests of the temples of Kemet as recorded by the historians say that while still a youth, he was sent by his father with an army into Arabia where he subdued under the fist of his arms the entire Arabia. He then was sent by his father Amenemhe I to subdue the tribes of Libya. Following the death of his father in an intrigue in the Great House of the Pharaoh, he ascended the throne to become the living Horus. Being filled with supreme confidence by virtue of his earlier military exploits, he undertook to conquer the world to establish African power.
Senwosre I sailed with a powerful fleet of four hundred warships from what is today the Arabian Gulf along the coast to what is now the Indian Ocean, subduing the coastal tribes. His sea armies subdued the entire coast as far as India and even to the Ganges. He then turned back to Kemet. He raised a powerful army and marched through the Syro-Palestinian coast and across the continent of Asia reducing to subjection every nation in his path.
Whenever Senwosre I would meet a courageous enemy who had valiantly fought for freedom, he erected pillars on the spot inscribed with his own name and the name of Kemet, and a sentence saying that by the might of his armed forces he had won victory. If however a town fell easily into his hands without a struggle, he added to the inscription on his pillars a picture of a woman’s genitals indicating that the people of that town were cowards and no braver than women.
He continued his victorious progress across Asia laying waste to the cities and kingdoms of Anatolia (today’s Turkey) and destroying among other cities the famous city of Troy. He then established a city called Abydos on the Anatolian side of the Hellespont facing today’s Istanbul which is on the European side of the Hellespont and then crossed into Europe.
The city Abydos was so called in honor of the sacred city of Abydos in southern Kemet, where a tomb of Osiris and the holy burial grounds of the pharaohs of the first dynasty laid.
In Europe, Senwosre I moved through the Balkans crushing the Thracians, subjugating southern Europe and sending booty and metal worker slaves back to Kemet. He then moved his armies like a knife cutting through the steppes of Scythia (todays Southern Russia) defeating the Scythians. He then moved around the coast of the Black Sea and in today’s Abkhazia in the sea of Azov, where he left a Kemetic-Nubian colony that later became known as Colchis.
After concluding his campaigns with his African armies in nine years, bringing huge parts of Asia and Europe under his power, he returned to Kemet as a victorious God gaining the title of Neb Re-Det, that is, Lord of the Universe.
Every year foreign nations and princes from Asia and Europe would come to pay homage to the Lord of the Universe in Kemet. His conquests were greater than that of Alexander the Macedonian. He ruled Nubia, Kemet, Libya, and exercised suzerainty over many nations in Europe and Asia. Alexander the Macedonian failed to conquer Nubia with its fearsome bowmen, who were the finest and most ferocious of the ancient world.
A graphic demonstration of Senwosre’s military power and African military capability was the massive fortifications he built in Nubia in Buhen. This was a chain of the mightiest military fortifications ever erected in the ancient world. We are told by William Adams, a specialist on Nubian history, that four thousand years after their building, and three thousand years after their final abandonment, the mud walls of these gargantuan structures still rose in places towering forty feet above the desert sand. The complexities of its defenses stuns the imagination. Bastions, loopholes, fosse, drawbridge, and glacis – virtually all the classic elements of later European medieval fortifications are present in the structures at Buhen. These structures are believed to have been probably built in the event that Kemet might one day be overrun by the barbarians from the North, then in the gateway to inner Africa, African military power could make a last stand.
All across the ancient world in Africa, in the Middle East and other regions of Asia and in the Balkans, stories and folk tales about a powerful black prince with a powerful army conquering the ancient world abound. Even in the time of Herodotus as personally seen by the Greek historian, massive pillars in Anatolia signifying the conquests of Senwosre still stood a testament to African military power and military genius. He was worshiped as a God until the end of ancient Kemet’s history. A remnant of his exploits survived into the 20th century with the survival of the black population that he left behind in Colchis in today’s Abkhazia on the Black Sea coast. This population’s existence has long stirred the interest of historians.
Herodotus wrote that he had found independent confirmation of the claim that these were the descendants of the Kemetic and Nubian soldiers left there by Senwosre. He wrote that his own idea on the subject was based first on the fact that they have black skins and woolly hair, and secondly, and more especially, on the fact that the Colchians, the Kemites, and the Nubians are the only races which from ancient time have practiced circumcision.
A well-known Soviet and Abkhazian historian, Dimitri Gulia, who wrote a history of Abkhazia in the 1920s talked about this black population which still existed in his day. He again reiterated that they had been there for thousands of years and were descendants of the Kemites and Nubians.
The powerful exploits of African armies under Senwosre I were arrogantly dismissed as being untrue by western historians and archaeologists. In their minds, it was inconceivable that an African and an African army long before the likes of Alexander the Macedonian would undertake such exploits on a greater scale and was worshiped as a God and Lord of the Universe more than one thousand five hundred years before Alexander the Macedonian.
Western historians and archaeologists, left with so much evidence of Senwosre’s military achievements, chose rather to denigrate this stupendous African history and decided to call the exploits of Senwosre I, a crude propaganda and a pathetic attempt by Kemites to salvage some national dignity after their conquests by the Greeks by raising the exploits of Senwosre I to the level of Alexander.
It is indeed amusingly interesting that the so called crude propaganda was written by two of the greatest historians of the Greco-Roman classical world, the Greeks Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, who sit as titans at the source of western historiography. As to what purpose would Greek historians lie in order to raise a foreigner, an African to the level of and even beyond their famous Alexander boggles the mind.
In 1974, under one of the Colossi of Rameses II of the 19th dynasty, who reigned from 1290 to 1224 BCE, a large inscription was discovered. The colossi stood in front of the temple of Ptah built by the pharaohs of the 12th dynasty and enlarged by the pharaohs of the 19th dynasty. The inscription was called the Mit Rahina inscriptions as the nearby village was called Mit Rahina. The text of the inscription mostly refers to the expeditions of Senwosre I and his son Amenemhe II beyond Kemet by land and sea. Most of these expeditions were in Asia far north in Anatolia and other countries deeper into Asia.
Western Egyptologists had claimed that no African army could ever campaign that far. The Mit Rahina inscription said otherwise confirming the words of Manetho, Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus. Majority of “logic” suffused western Egyptologists dismissed it as propaganda. There has never been a complete translation into modern languages of the inscription for the benefit of the thinking public. That is noteworthy.
But the fact remains that the powerful exploits of African armies under Senwosre I can no longer be arrogantly dismissed. They stand to jolt the African historical memory and they stoke anew a deep mentality across the continent that since Africa has done it before, she can do it again.
These echoes of African military power and dominance in the past ring ever so loud and clear. Will Africans listen?