My formal exposure to Kemet took place as a doctoral student at Temple University taking courses, beginning in 1994, from Dr. Theophile Obenga, a world renowned African scholar from Congo (Brazzaville) noted for his scholarship in the areas of philosophy, linguistics, and Egyptology. My less formal introduction to Kemet occurred as an undergraduate student at Miami University, Oxford, OH while pledging Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., an organization that integrated Kemet into the system in a variety of complex ways as both a symbol and during the ritual initiation process. As a prospective initiate, we were referred to as "Sphinxman." I chose our line name, "The Triad," and also chose our individual line names, Khufu, Khafre (that would be me!), and Menkaure, the namesakes of the three Great Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. I have always been captivated by the pervasive spirit of excellence in Kemet that is exhibited in monuments, tombs, temples, and all works of craftsmanship. Dr. Carr also has this fraternal affiliation with Alpha Phi Alpha, but I digress! (smile) Too many Egyptologists will say that the extent of the scientific knowledge of the Ancient Egyptians was primarily of a "practical" nature, noting that we do not have at our disposal many written texts to demonstrate their knowledge, particularly in the Old Kingdom. Many say that we don't have good knowledge of their school system and use this as a subtle means to lessen the greatness of the achievements of our ancestors in the Nile Valley. (Two main concepts for school in Kemet- one, "at-seba," lit. place of teaching and continues in Coptic as "ansebe" and the other, "per-ankh," the house of life)My retort to these scholars is that the monuments themselves are texts and witnesses to the greatness of their knowledge. The scientific knowledge in terms of mathematics, astronomy, and architecture that built the pyramids implicitly necessitates a rigorous and ambitious educational curriculum and this is a fact despite the lack of enough written texts that could provide us with a more complex picture. In his post, Dr. Carr mentioned that some scholars view the pyramids as being built in a sacred cosmic alignment with the three stars in the constellation Orion's belt. The Egyptian called this constellation "sah," and it was typcially an image of Wsir or Osiris holding a was-sceptre. This is a plausible interpretation. When I attended and presented at the International Congress of Egyptologists in Rhodes, Greece last May, I sat in on a presentation that theorized that the alignment of the pyramids could also depict the symbol of the horizon (Egyptian "akhet") with the sun rising between them, symbolic of a powerful process and moment in the rhythmic movements of the cosmos. Thus, there are both solar and astral meanings of the alignments of the pyramids and both are plausible and probably true which is reflective of the Kemetic mind to always have a complex of creation, and the creative process in the cosmos. Dr. Carr also mentioned the divinities of Djehuty and Seshat. I sat in on another presentation in Rhodes, Greece last May and a team of scholars indicated that the normative understanding in Egyptology of the headdress of Seshat as indicating a star on a pole is flawed. Their is a problem with this interpreation because Egyptian stars ALWAYS have five-pointed stars, but the so-called star on Seshat's headdress has seven. They showed a 3-D depiction of the headdress and demonstrated that it was not a star on a pole as most assume, but it was actually an astronomical instrument used to align monuments with the movements of the sun or other stars. I thought that their presentation was very convincing and I am inclined to now view Seshat's headdress as such. Dr. Obenga was my dissertation advisor and I wrote my dissertation on "The Image of Celestial Phenomena in the Book of Coming Forth By Day: An Astronomical and Philological Analysis" so I am very conversant with issues dealing with Egyptian astronomy although my most recent work has focused more on Kemetic wisdom literature and weighing in on important historical issues. I am sure that during your trip you will learn more about Dr. Obenga and his coupling with Cheikh Anta Diop at the famous 1974 UNESCO Cairo symposium held on the Peopling of the Nile Valley and the Deciphering of the Meroitic Script. I hope that during the next two weeks that I will be able to make a small contribution to your understanding of this great African civilization. As your ancestors in the Nile Valley would say, "djed maat, ir maat," "speak maat, and do maat" throughout this life-changing journey.
Dr. Mario Beatty
Chair, African American Studies
Chicago State University