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Zulu, Itibari M. 

The Ancient T -emetic Roots of Library and Information 
Science . 

California Univ. , Los Angeles, Af ro-Amer ican Studies 
Center . 
Nov 93 

24p.; Paper extracted from "Culture Keepers: 
Enlightening and Empowering Our Communities." 
Proceedings of the National Conference of African 
American Librarians (1st, Columbus, Ohio, September 
4-6, 1992) . Photographs and illustrations used for 
presentation not included here. 

Itibari M. Zulu, Librarian, 44 Haines Hal 1 , UCLA 
Center for Afro-American Studies, 405 Hilgard Avenue, 
Los- Angeles, CA 90024-1545 ($5) . 
Historical Materials (060) — Viewpoints 
(Opinion/Position Papers , Essays , etc.) (120) 



EDRS PRICE MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. 

DESCRIPTORS *African Literature; Classification; ^Development; 

"Foreign Countries; Higher Education; "History; 

Information Retrieval; Librarians; *Libriries ; 

Library Administration; Library Catalogs; 

Pos tsecondary Education 
IDENTIFIERS *Africa; Dewey Decimal Classification; Egypt 



ABSTRACT 



(Egypt) , "the 
libraries and 
of discussion 
chronology of 



This paper argues that the ancient people of Kemet 
black land," built and operated the first major 
institutions of higher education in the world. Topics 
include the Ancient Egyptians as an African people; a 
Ancient Kemet; literature in Kemet; a history of 
Egyptian Librarianship ; the temp 1 e~l ibrary-univers i ty ; the Kemetic 
library as the prototype for all libraries; the first librarians and 
library directors; library architecture; Kemetic education; the roots 
of the Dewey Decimal system in Kemetic classification; the 
classification system of Kemet; information retrieval and a library 
catalogs in Kemet; roots of the bookcase/chest in Kemet; and 
miseducation and misinformation on library history. (Contains 70 
references.) (AEF) 



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* Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made * 

* from the original document. * 

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The Ancient Kemetic Roots 
of Library and Information Science 

Paper Extracted From: 



CULTURE KEEPERS: 

8 ENLIGHTENING AND EMPOWERING 

OUR COMMUNITIES 

Proceedings of 
the First National Conference of 
African American Librarians 

September 4-6, 1992 
Columbus, Ohio 

Sponsored by 

the Black Caucus of the American Library Association 

Edited by 

Stanton F. Biddle, 
Baruch College, The City University of New York 

and 

Members of the BCALA NCAAL Coherence Proceedings Committee 

November 1993 



•J S DEPARTMENT OP EDUCATION 
Cft.co o' I rtur.iJion.il H*>somcr. and lmptovomr.nl 
EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION 
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o11ici.il OERI pooihnn or pnltcy 



BEST COPY AVAILABLE 
2 



"PERMISSION TO REPRODUCE THIS 
MATERIAL HAS BEEN GRANTED BY 

Itibari M. Zulu 



TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES 
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9 

ERIC 



The Ancient Kemetic Roots of Library and Information Science 

Itibari M. Zulu 

Center for Afro-American Studies 
University of California, Los Angeles 
Los Angeles, CA 

Abstract: Contrary to traditional library history taught in American schools of library and information 
science, the libraiy, as an institution, and librarianship, as a profession, have their roots in ancient 
African society. Thus Africa, in addition to being the birthplace of the modem human species, is also 
the birthplace of librarianship. Thousands of years before the emergence of Greece as the fountainhead 
of Western civilization, Africans in ancient Kemet (Egypt) had developed an advanced system for 
collecting, organizing, describing, preserving, and providing access to information, and had developed a 
class of professionals to operate the system. Until this truth is known, and incorporated into our social 
consciousness and the library school curriculum, we vnll continue to masquerade as the informed, when, 
in reality, we are the misinformed and miseducated "educated". An Afro-centric corrective paradigm 
juxtaposes and probes the above phenomena. NOTE: The author used photographs and illustrations to 
further support his arguments. 



Introduction 

The knowledge of knowledge, and its 
acquisition, should not be a mystery to the 
African, because historical evidence indicates 
that it was his/her ancestors, the ancient 
people of Kemet (KMT), ''the black land", 
who built and operated the first major 
libraries and institutions of higher education 
in the world. Thus, the African should take 
his/her proper first place in library history, a 
well deserved first place, based upon historical 
evidence. 1 That evidence directs us to begin 
our discussion of library and information 
science with ancient Kemet (KMT), "the black 
land", Egypt, the home of all humankind, a 
high culture, and the African world 
community, and consequently, an essential 
starting point in any discussion of civilization 
and history that will allow us to define and 
develop new realities and visions for human 
development. 2 

The great Cheikh Anta Diop (19234986), 
author, Egyptologist, Kemetologist, historian, 



linguist, and scientist, stressed the importance 
of the above when he wrote: 

For us, the return to Egypt in all domains is the 
necessary condition for reconciling African 
civilizations with history, in order to be able to 
construct a body of modern human sciences, in 
order to renovate African culture. Far from 
being a reveling in the past, a look toward Egypt 
of antiquity is the best way to conceive and 
build our cultural future. In reconceived and 
renewed African culture, Egypt will play the 
same role that Greco-Latin antiquity plays in 
Western culture (Diop, 1991, 3). 

Hence Kemet is to Africa what Greece is to 
Europe, a foundation/introduction to 
civilization, and in the case of Africa, the 
oldest civilization, developed in part 6,000 
years ago by people of African descent in the 
rich Nile valley. 

The Ancient Egyptians: An African People 



246 



ERLC 



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Now the Black civilization that shook the white 
man up the most was the Egyptian civilization, 
...a Black civilization, (He) was able to take the 
Egyptian civilization, write books about it, put 
pictures in those books, make movies for 
television and the theater --- so skillfully that he 
has even convinced other white people that the 
ancient Egyptians were white people,,. They 
were African, they were as much African as you 
and I (Malcolm X, January 24, 1965). 

There is an ongoing debate concerning the 
race of the ancient Egyptians. Some have said 
the Egyptians were not Black, and thus 
African people have no claim to Egyptian 
culture, and that the Black folks pictured in 
the temples and on the monuments of Egypt 
were only slaves in a racially mixed Egyptian 
population, and thus did not play a significant 
role in Egyptian civilization. 3 

To debate the issue here isn't necessary. 
However, we can briefly explore this 
important topic and remind ourselves and 
others that "...human lineage began in Africa 
some 2.5 million years ago...", and as a result, 
all humans are genetically linked to an African 
woman who lived 200,000 years ago (Williams, 
1991, 56-57). 41 - 5 

Cheikh Anta Diop, author of "Origin of the 
Ancient Egyptians" in Egypt Revisited (Van 
Sertima, 1982, 9-37), understood the 
significance of the above facts. His research 
uncovered seven key aspects of this 
race/culture debate. 

(1) He asked the curator of the Cairo 
Museum to allow him to perform a melanin 
(skin color) test to determine the 
pigmentation of the ancient Kemetics and thus 
end the debate. The curator refused to allow 
him to perform the test. The test would, 
according to Diop, "...enable us to classify the 
ancient Egyptians unquestionably among the 
Black races." (Ibid, 15) 



(2) He reported that, by osteological 
measurements (body size as determined by 
muscles and bones) used in physical 
anthropology, the ancient Egyptians were an 
African people (Ibid), 

(3) He discussed the connection of the 
Group B blood type among the modern and 
ancient Egyptian populations, and the African 
population of west Africa (Ibid, 16). 

(4) He discussed how Herodotus (the "father 
of history") and others (Aristotle, Strabo, 
Diodors...) referred to the Egyptians and the 
Ethiopians as people with "...black skins and 
kinky hair," or people who were (according to 
Ammianus Marcellinus, Book XXI, para 
16:23) "...mostly brown or black." 

(5) He illustrated how the divine inscriptions 
of Kemet associated the surnames of the gods 
with the word black; hence, a reflection of the 
(black) good in people and God. 

(6) He illustrated how in The Bible (where 
Egypt is mentioned over 750 times) Semitic 
(Hebrew and Arabic) custom and tradition 
associate Egypt with Black people. 

(7) He investigated the linguistic link (e.g. 
Egyptian and Wolof) between ancient Kemet 
and other parts of Africa. 

The crux of the issue of race and iht 
Egyptians is part of an attempt to take Egypt 
and Egyptian history out of Africa 
intellectually, and thus substitute a 
Euro-centric politicization of history that 
confirms the racist notion that Africa has no 
history of importance, and that the ancient 
civilization of Egypt is not part of the African 
experience, but rather is a part of the Arab, 
Asian, or Eurocentric experience. 

For example, Elmer Johnson, in his book A 
History of Libraries in the Western World, made 
the above mistake by referring to Egypt as 
part of the Western world rather than Africa, 

247 



5 



when he hesitatingly said, "It is difficult to say 
whether the first library in the Western World 
was located in Egypt." (Johnson, 1965, 21) 

Hence it seems easy for those of the 
Euro-centric mind to put Egypt in the Middle 
East, or anywhere but Africa, because its great 
past contradicts all the jungle and savage 
images white racism has created about Africa 
and its people. 

The truth, as revealed through a correct 
reading and interpretation of history, is that 
Egypt is a part of Africa and African people. 
No amount of dis-information or 
mis-information will change that reality; a 
reality some may not want to face, because it 
requires that they alter/change what they think 
about Africa, about the African experience, 
and ultimately about themselves. 

This ambivalence or fear to alter how we 
think, act, and react to African ethology was 
illustrated by Ailman F. Williams when he 
said, "...if the 'Out of Africa* model proves 
even partially correct, ...it will fundamentally 
change our view of who we are," in reference 
to the African origins of humankind (U.S. 
News & World Repo.i, 1991, 60). 

Consequently, there seems to be a fear that 
once people (especially those effected by 
white racism) realize that their roots are tied 
to an African worn an 'who lived 200,000 years 
ago, and that Egypt was a Black civilization, 
they may have psychological problems. 

The problem is rooted in white racism, and a 
false consciousness that will not allow one to 
see Egypt (Kemet) as a Black civilization; the 
ancient leader in art, literature, science, 
government, etc., while Europe, the pinnacle 
of Western thought, eagerly sent its elite 
(students) to Kemet to receive the advanced 
and fundamental lessons of civilization, an 
enterprise Kemet mastered many years before 
the rise of Europe. 



We should expect this debate/problem 
concerning the race of the Egyptians to 
continue. However, we know, through the 
work of Diop and other capable scholars, that 
there is a solid connection of language, 
culture, religion, biology, and eyewitness 
reports, to prove that the ancient Egyptians 
were an African people. 6 They were a people 
who saw themselves as Black, referred to 
themselves and their land (Kemet: "the black 
land") as Black, and had others see and refer 
to them and their land as Black. 

Having explored the issue of phenotype 
(color/race) and its delineations in ancient 
Kemet, we can now turn briefly to its history. 



Ancient Kemet: Remember the Time 

To assist our chronological understanding, 
Manetho, a Kemetic priest, in his book Lost 
History of Egypt, divided Kemetic rulers into 
thirty time periods or dynasties. This division, 
still used by modern historians, sub-divides 
Kemetic dynasties into: the Old Kingdom 
(First Intermediate, Middle Kingdom, Second 
Intermediate), and the New Kingdom, 
geographically referred to as Upper and 
Lower Egypt to identify their north and south 
locations. 

The Upper and Lower kingdoms of Kemet 
were rivals until the reign of King Mencs (fl. 
c. 3100 B.C. - 3038 B.C.), also known as Aha 
Mena and Narmer. He politically united 
Kemet, established a centralized government 
(c. 3200 B.C.), and founded a capital named 
Memphis in his honor, between Upper and 
Lower Kemet (Egypt). 

This political unification played a significant 
role in Kemet, which allowed economic, 
social, cultural, and governmental institutions 
to endure with comparatively little change for 
almost two thousand years. Thus a high 
culture emerged, hieroglyphic (Mdw Ntru) 
writing was introduced, commerce flourished, 



248 



the great pyramids were built, and Kemet 
became one of the most advanced nations ; n 
the ancient world. Consequently, it set a 
record of achievement few civilizations could 
rival. 

After this period, Kemet entered a cycle of 
instability which ended in c. 2000 B.C. with 
the establishment of the Middle Kingdom 
(2134-1786 B.C.), and the founding of Wa-Set 
(a.k.a. Wo-Se' and Thebes). However, 
because of weak leadership, in 1786 B.C. 
Kemet was captured by foreign nomads, the 
Hyksos, who were eventually expelled in c. 
1570 B.C. leading to the birth of the New 
Kingdom. 

The New Kingdom (c. 15704085 B.C.) 
witnessed: the rule of Amenhotep I, II, IV 
(Amenhotep IV introduced monotheism to 
Kemet and the world), Tuthmosis I, II, III, 
and IV, Makare Hatshepsut (the queen who 
proclaimed herself pharaoh and ruled during 
the minority of her nephew Tuthmosis III), 
and Rameses I and II (the Great), whose 
temple doorways were flanked by large pylons 
or towers (often with statues or obelisks in 
front), the construction of the famous rock 
carved temple of Abu Simbel, and the 
establishment of Wa-Set/Wo-Se' (Thebes) and 
Memphis as the intellectual, political, 
commercial, and cultural center of the world. 

After the twentieth dynasty (1200-1085 B.C.), 
Kemet was subject to foreign domination by 
Libya, Sudan, Assyria, Nubia, and Persia, with 
only a brief period of independence in 405 
B.C., which ended in 332 B.C. when 
Alexander, the "Great" (a former student of 
Aristotle), and his army invaded. 

Thereafter, the Greeks founded the Ptolemaic 
dynasty (Greeks in Egypt) and built the city of 
Alexandria to honor Alexander "the Great" 
and Hellenistic culture, with the Alexandria 
Library as its hallmark. This library was built 
"unscrupulously" upon ancient Kemctic 



knowledge and the "confiscated" documents of 
Athens (Hessel, 1950, 1). 

The Ptolemaic empire lasted for 200 years, 
until it was weakened by internal conflict and 
fell to Rome in 30 B.C. Egypt was absorbed 
into the Byzantine empire (c. A.D. 395) until 
the Arab conquest of 63942 A.D., which 
incorporated (Kemet) Egypt into the 
Arab/Muslim "Middle East" world community, 
a place where it has remained ironically, 
despite its African roots and colonization by 
the Mamelukes (1250), Ottoman Turks (1517), 
French (1798), and the British (18834937), 
since 63942 A.D. (Levey, 1983, 254-55). 

Now that it has been established that the 
ancient Egyptians were an African people with 
a long history, we can turn to our main topic, 
the Kemetic roots of library and information 
science via an evidential exploration of: 
literature, history, education, classification, 
cataloging, and the genesis of information 
storage. 



A Library: A Literature 

An obvious axiom in any discussion of 
libraries is that one must first have a literature 
in order to have a library. In this regard, 
Kemet was rich: (1) the Egyptian language is 
the oldest written (via hieroglyphics) language 
in existence (McWhirter, 1982, * 166); (2) 
evidence of a literature is present in the 
library of Akhenaton (Amenhotep/Amenophis, 
IV) which contains numerous clay 
tablets/books in cuneiform writing 
representing diplomatic correspondence 
between Amenhotep III, Akhenaton's father, 
and nation-states subject to Egypt (Metzger, 
1980, 211); (3) the Palermo Stone, a book of 
annals of Kemet mentioning Seshait 
(Seshat/Sesheta) as the goddess of libraries, 
writing, and letters (Richardson, 1914, 58-60); 
and (4) the text of the Precepts of Ptah-hotep, 
one of the first (c. 4000 B.C.) philosophical 
compositions (composed 2,000 years before 



249 



the Ten Commandments of Moses and 2,500 
years before the Proverbs of Solomon), 
engraved in stone (Nichols, 1964, 33-34). 

Hence literature in ancient Kemet was 
common and varied in its form. Sometimes it 
was on papyrus and at other times it was 
carved/engraved in stone (c. 2700 B.C.) on the 
walls of temples (library-universities), 
pyramids, and other monuments (Nichols, 
1964, 32). Fortunately, works written in stone 
have survived, to provide unequivocal 
evidence of an extensive Kemetic tradition. 7 

This survival gives credence to the expressions 
"written in stone" and "the handwriting is on 
the wall"; the former meaning that a situation 
will not or may not change, and the later 
meaning a person must be aware that 
something negative may happen to him/her, or 
that a negative or positive is obvious, and a 
person must proceed with caution. The 
origins of these expressions are not known. 
However, we can turn to the wise directives of 
the twenty-sixth confession of the Kemetic 
forty-two Negative Confessions that require 
the deceased to recite when in the Hall of 
Judgement. It states: "Hail Seshet-kheru, who 
comest forth Urit, I have not made myself 
deaf unto the words of right and truth," 
(Budge, 1959, 159), and a verse in the Book of 
Daniel (Chapter five, Verse five) in The Bible 
which states: "Suddenly the fingers of a human 
hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the 
wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace." 
(Barker, 1985, 1307) 

Moreover, wisdom was the essence of Kemetic 
literature, as it placed people at the center of 
life, in harmony with God, and the ancient 
Kemetic concern for a transformation (life, 
death, rebirth) of the soul, found in: 

(1) the famous Book of the Coming Forth 
by Day (commonly called the Book of 
the Dead), a book of magical formulae 
and instructions intended to direct the 
soul of the departed (James, 1954, 134); 



Ric 



(2) the Book of What Is in the Duat, a 
composition on magic and chemistry; 

(3) the Book of Gates, a work on the 
spiritual world; 

(4) the Book of Caverns, a book concerning 
psychology; 

(5) the Litany of Re, a metaphysical 
description/praise of the sun; 

(6) the Book of Aker, a spiritual exaltation 
of the king; 

(7) the Book of Day and the Book of Night, 
a work focused on cosmology and 
astronomy; and, 

(8) the Book of the Divine Cow, a 
mythological litany which allowed the 
ancient Kemetics (Egyptians) to organize 
their temple-library-university and 
subsequently develop the early 
antecedents of librarianship. 



Egyptian Librarianship: A History 

Egypt was the land of temples and libraries.... 
(James, 1954, 46). Contrary to a misconception 
which still prevails, the Africans were familiar 
with literature and art for many years before 
their contact with the Western world (Jackson, 
1970, 20). 

Egyptian librarianship has a 6,000 year 
continuous history. During the early periods 
of human civilization, the ancient Egyptian 
temples contained the first organized library 
collections. The collections were both private 
and public collections, housed in temples, 
schools, royal palaces, and other important 
places (Amen, 1975, 574). The libraries were 
maintained by librarian-priests who attended 
a professional library and religious school. 
Evidence of this has been found at 
Wa-Set/Wo-Se' (Thebes) in the tombs of 



8 



librarian priests, Neb-Nufre and Nufre-Heteb, 
a father and son team. The first indication of 
librarianship was as an inheritance-based 
profession (Ibid). 

The chief library builder of ancient Kemet, 
and thus the most famous, was the previously 
mentioned Rameses II (c. 1304-1237 B.C.), 
who can be called the dean of the library 
sciences. He built the Hypostyle Hall at 
Karnak, the Abu Simbel rock temple-library 
(regraded as one of the wonders of the 
world), the Abydos temple library, a 
temple-library at Luxor, and notwithstanding, 
he established the sacred Ramesseum funerary 
temple-library at Wa-Set/Wo-Se' (Thebes) (c. 
1250 B.C.), and inscribed the first library 
motto, "Medicine for the Soul" over its 
entrance. 

Since its non-indigenous discovery, this motto 
has become the subject of a variety of 
translations, interpretations, and renditions, 
e.g.: (1) the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus 
of Sicily refers to it as "Medicine for the 
Soul,"; (2) Edward Edwards (1865, 1969) said 
Diodorus translated the motto as 'The Soul's 
Dispensary,"; (3) Putman (1967) reports it as 
"A Place of Healing for the Soul,"; (4) Myers 
(1964) refers to it as "The Dispensary (or 
Hospital) of the Soul," or "The Soul's 
Dispensary,"; while (5) Nichols (1964) used 
the eyewitness report of Hecataeus. of Miletus 
(a Greek geographer and historian) to confirm 
the motto as "Healing of the Soul". 

This assortment of viewpoints attests to a 
general agreement that Kcmet was the home 
of the first library motto, and an early leader 
in linking knowledge, and its acquisition, to 
the health of the individual and society, which 
facilitated an interdisciplinary organization of 
an estimated 20,000 now extinct rolls/books at 
Wa-Set/Wo-Se' on agriculture, astronomy, 
history, irrigation, literature, and other topics 
by Rameses II c. 325 AD. These texts were 
divided into two levels (high and low) and six 
divisions consisting of: grammar, mathematics, 



astronomy, law, medicine, and priestly love 
(Nichols, 1964, 23, 28). 

The libraries of ancient Kemet were referred 
to by a number of names, e.g.: (1) "...the 
library building at Edfu (was) known as the 
House of Papyrus (Thompson, 1940, 3); (2) 
the House of the Tablet; (3) the House of 
Sealed Writings, and other names. However, 
they all usually held "...the sacerdotal books 
employed in the temple sendees," (Nichols, 
1964, 18), government archives, wall 
engravings/inscriptions, tombs, papyrus 
rolls/sheets (the temple university-library was 
a papyrus manufacturing center). In a sense, 
the pyramids themselves were libraries, 
because papyrus sheets/rolls were found in 
almost all of their tombs. 

In addition to the above, the temple libraries 
of Kemet were elaborately decorated. The 
inner halls had "...represer*. nions of Thoth 
(Djehuti/ Tehuti), the Kemetic god of the arts, 
speech, hieroglyphics, science, and wisdom; 
and Safkhet-Aabut (a.k.a. Sesheta, Seshat, 
Seshait), the goddess of literature and the 
library," who was called "The Lady of che 
House of Books," the "Lady of Letters," the 
"Presidentess of the Hall of Books," "The 
Great One," and "The Lady of Libraries" 
(Edwards, 1969, 5; Mercatante, 1978, 140); an 
exquisite tribute to the feminine essence of 
library science and ecclesiastical interior 
design. 



Temple Universities 

Every sanctuary possessed its library and school 
"the House of the Tablet" or "'he House of the 
Seal" in which the temple archives and liturgical 
texts were preserved.... (Thompson, 1940, 1). 

The libraries of Kemet were not only places of 
arch 1 ' ves, sacred wo r ds, papyrus m anu f actur ing, 
' the like, they were also centers of 
x ung, that combined the functions of their 



ERLC 



9 



libraries and temples into universities. 3 Hence 
Kemet became a land of temples, libraries, 
and universities. As a result, the 
"temple-library-university" became the key 
center of ancient Kemetic intellectual and 
spiritual activity. 

Evidence of this library-temple university 
relationship has been explored in recent 
literature on Kemet by Asa Hilliard, who 
i eports that at Wa-Set/Wo-Se* (Thebes/Luxor) 
"...two gigantic temples (Southern Ipet; Ipet 
Isut, the largest temple of ancient times) 
...contained the most highly developed 
education systems on record from ancient 
times." (Hilliard, 1985,156) Ivan Van Sertima 
tells us that the ancient Kemetic temple 
university system had a "...huge library divided 
into five major departments: astronomy and 
astrology; geography; geology; philosophy and 
theology; law and communication...", with an 
elite faculty of priest-professors called 
"teachers of Mysteries" who, "...at one time, 
catered to an estimated 80,000 (Ipet Isut 
University) students at all grade levels." (Van 
Sertima, 1985, 19) 

Moreover, the temple-university library 
arrangement of ancient Kemet was common. 
"Every important temple in ancient Egypt was 
equipped with (an) ...extensive library of 
books," (Hurry, 1978, 112), and "...every 
temple had its library and school." (Schullian, 
1990, 310) 



The First Library 

Since the Kemetic library was the "...home of 
the ancient writing material, papyrus," science 
and letters, and an extensive literature, with 
an "...excellent system of archives and public 
records with a sizeable staff," one can 
reasonably conclude that it was also the home 
of the first library, and thus the prototype for 
all libraries (Hessel, 1955, 1). 



Acknowledgment of this primacy has been 
scarce within the literature. However, a few 
brave scholars have affirmatively stated: 

(1) We must look to the temples of ancient 
Egypt for the first libraries (Thompson, 
1940, 1); 

(2) The establishment of the first library of 
consequence has been attributed to 
Rameses II of Egypt (r. 1304-1237) 
(Dunlap, 1991, 558); 

(3) One of the earliest societies to develop 
collections which may be called, in our 
sense, libraries was Egypt (Metzger, 1980, 
210); and, 

(4) When Abraham visited Kemet c. 
1950-1900 B.C., libraries housing public 
records, religious texts, medical texts, and 
annuals had been flourishing for over a 
thousand years (Richardson, 1914, 57-58). 

The above declarations concerning Kemet as 
the home of the first library may spark some 
to ask about the contributions other 
civilizations have made to library and 
information science. To this end, we 
acknowledge the library of King Ashurbanipal 
at Nineveh, which contained more than 30,000 
tablets (c. 625 BC), and the contribution of 
Sumeria, Babylonia, Assyria, China, and other 
early civilizations to library history. 

We recognize that it would be dishonest of us 
to enthusiastically report the glory of libraries 
in ancient Kemet, and at the same time 
discount/ignore the library history of Sumeria, 
Babylonia, Assyria, and other civilizations; 
especially when we know that the civilizations 
of Kemet, Sumeria, Babylonia, and Assyria 
flourished simultaneously (Mukherjee, 1966, 
76). However, "...there are records of even 
earlier libraries (found in Egypt) at Heliopolis, 
Menes (Memphis), and '(Wa-Set/Wo-Se*) 
Thebes, that were literary centers from three 
to six thousand years ago, and (that) many 



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ancient Egyptian inscriptions refer to (them 
in) their libraries," (Myers, 1964, 199), before 
the advent of the simultaneous phenomenon. 
Thus Kemet is identified as the home of the 
first library. 

First Librarians/Library Directors 

Since Kemet is the home of the first library of 
consequence, we can logically conclude that it 
is also the home of the first (priest teacher) 
librarian. Librarianship was a respected 
profession in antiquity that commanded the 
titles of: (1) "custodians of the unlimited 
knowledge," (James, 1954, 150) (2) scribe of 
the house of sacred writings (Shedmeszer and 
Messuri)/ (3) scribe of the house of the 
archives of Pharaoh (Neferhor), (4) scribe of 
the gods, (5) scribe of the sacred book, (6) 
scribes of the hieroglyphics, (7) scribe of 
records, (8) keeper of the scrolls, (9) the 
controller of the library, and other verve 
(special ability/talent) titles. 

Ernest Richardson, in his book Some Old 
Egyptian Librarians, has identified twenty-one 
"librarians" by name, e.g.: the son of Nennofre 
(in the House of Books and Case of Books), 
the grandson of King Khufu (a writer in the 
House of Books), Senmut, Mai, Peremhab 
(scribes of the archives), Messuri, Shedmeszer, 
Neferhor, Henhathor (scribe of the Kings' 
records) son of Nekonetkh, and two 
anonymously, to demonstrate the importance 
of, and respect for, librarianship in ancient 
Kemet. 

This respect allowed Rekhmire, a vizier, judge, 
superintendent of the prophets and priests, 
chief of six courts of justice, and master of 
secret things, to also be a librarian in the 
Temple of Amon. He headed what may have 
been the first law library of 40 law books, at 
the time the largest collection of law books in 
the ancient world. His picture is depicted in 
the tomb of the Temple of Amon with forty 
rolls at his feet and a collection of books from 



15th century B.C. (a picture of him is also op 
the ceiling of the Library of Congress).* In 
addition to the titles, names, and authority, 
the librarians of ancient Kemet (as mentioned 
above) also had their own god and goddess, 
Djehuti/Tehuti (Thoth) and Seshait, to protect 
the profession. 



Library Architecture 

The architecture of ancient Kemet was 
independently formulated before 3000 B.C. 
from the abundant clay and wood of the 
region via ceramic art and brickwork, which 
later emerged into a great library building 
tradition. 

This tradition can be traced to the outstanding 
work of our dean of library architecture, 
Rameses II (c. 1292-1225 B.C.), who built a 
public library at Wa-Set/Wo-Se' (Thebes) 
under the direction of Amen-em-an, referred 
to by Charles L. Nichols as an "...the vestiges 
of the ancient building, which may be called 
the oldest library standing," (Nichols, 1964, 10) 
This magnificent building has withstood the 
test of time to confirm its place in library 
history, along with other structures: 

(1) the Abu Simbel, one of the world's 
largest temples, was "... brilliantly designed (by 
Rameses II) so that the rays of the sun could 
penetrate the deepest room, 180 feet back 
from the entrance (Kondo, 1988, 3). 

(2) the labyrinth style administrative center * 
was built with some reported 4,000 rooms, 
making it one of the largest architectural 
structures in the ancient world (Kondo, 1988, 
3), and notwithstanding, 

(3) the buildings with flat stone block roofs 
supported by closely spaced internal 
"...immensely thick..." columns, and walls with 
an exterior covered with "...hieroglyphics and 
pictorial carvings in brilliant colors with 



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symbolic motifs...", indicating a mastery of the 
arts and sciences (Levey, 1983, 255). 

Hence, no discussion or trivialization of 
libraries in Kemet can be made based on the 
idea that no building existed lo house a 
library. The buildings were, massive, and 
organized to house books and other related 
materials. In fact, "...every important temple 
in ancient Egypt was equipped with (an) 
extensive library of books," (Hurry, 1978, 112), 
and a school to study Kemetic science and 
theology. 



Kemetic Education: The Mystery System 

And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the 
Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in 
deeds. (Acts, 7:22) 

When it came to the acquisition of knowledge, 
Kemet was the center of most, if not all, 
ancient learning. At the center of this 
learning was the Mystery School, a secret 
learning center (until c. 570 B.C.) where one 
went to become a whole person, and thus help 
mold civilization and its philosophy. Its 
curriculum was a rigid and lengthy process 
designed to ensure (1) an educated leadership, 
and (2) peace among the populous via 
effective leadership. 

As a result, students from around the world 
came to study the secrets/mysteries of Kemet, 
the learning center of medicine, science, 
astronomy, mathematics, and other subjects 
taught by African master teachers. Moses and 
other ancient prophets studied at Kemet (the 
home of monotheism, salvation, etc.) before 
introducing the world to religion and religious 
study. The above quote from the book of 
Acts (7:22) confirms this reality. 

However, the most populous international 
students were the Greeks, referred to by the 
priests of Sais as "...the children of the 
Mysteries," (James, 1954, 39-40, 42) consisting 



of: Solon of Conchis, Tliales, Plato, Eudoxus, 
and Pythagoras, who, according to Plutarch, 
"...greatly admired the Egyptian priests," and 
copied their "...symbolism and occult 
teachings..." to "...incorporate..." them in their 
"...doctrines." (Babbitt, 1969, 161) 

The temple-university (the home of the 
Mystery System) was conducted by an elite 
faculty (as mentioned previously) called 
Hersetha or teachers of Mysteries, who 
taught: architecture, carpentry, cosmography, 
plant science, pharmacology, physiology, 
anatomy, embalming, law, astrology, literature, 
magic, theology, mining, metallurgy, land 
surveying, engineering, geography, forestry, 
agriculture, and animal science (in addition to 
the above) in the departments of: (1) the 
Mystery Teachers of Heaven (astronomy, 
astrology...); (2) the Mystery Teachers of All 
Lands (geography...); (3) the Mystery 
Teachers of the Depths (geology, 
cosmography); (4) the Mystery Teachers of 
the Secret World (philosophy, theology); and 
(5) the School (mystery) of Pharaoh and 
Mystery Teachers (language, law, 
communication) (Myer, 1900 via Hilliard, 
1984, 157). 

Furthermore, Kemetic education required 
students to master: 

A. the seven liberal arts of: grammar, 
rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, 
harmony/music, and astronomy; 

B. the ten virtues of: (1) the control of 
thought; (2) the control of action; (3) 
steadfastness of purpose; (4) identity with 
spiritual life to higher ideals; (5) evidence of 
a mission in life; (6) evidence of a spiritual 
call to Orders or the Priesthood in the 
Mysteries; (7) freedom of resentment when 
under persecution or wrong; (8) confidence in 
the power of the master teacher; (9) 
confidence in one's ability to learn; and (10) 
readiness or preparedness for initiation 
(James, 1954, 30-31), and 



254 



C. the union/principle of opposites, such as: 

negative-positive, male- fern ale, 
material-immaterial, body-soul, love-hate, 
hot-cold, wet-dry, fire-water, war-peace; 

and a general Kemetic education requiring a 
dedication of one's time to: 

(1) become a scribe (a highly honored 
profession which required disciplined 
study directed by a master teacher), 

(2) change (transform) because of new 
knowledge, 

(3) conduct independent study to improve 
one's self, 

(4) study nature (natural phenomena), 

(5) believe in one supreme creator (God), 

(6) unify one's consciousness with the 
universe, and 

(7) become like the supreme creator (God); 

with the overall aim being to exemplify the 
NTRU (diving) principles of Tehuti (a deity of 
writing and learning...) and Maat (a deity of 
truth, justice, harmony, equilibrium, cosmic 
law, and righteousness), and be a holistic 
(mind, body and soul) blend of theory and 
practice. 

A synthesis of these educational concepts later 
became the "...prototype for Greek (grammar, 
rhetoric, logic) and Roman (arithmetic, 
astronomy, geometry, music) education 
systems"; systems that generously borrowed 
from the Kemetic seven liberal arts (grammar, 
rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, 
astronomy, music/harmony) to structure the 
curriculum of Western higher education 
(Hilliard, 1984, 160). 



Kemetic Classification before Melvil Dewey 

Speaking of borrowing, we can investigate the 
classification scheme introduced by Melvil 
Dewey (1851-1931) in 1872, after studying 
schemes for classifying knowledge devised by 
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), who emphasized the 
study of nature and the usefulness of 
analyzing all phenomena in terms of "the four 
causes (m?*erial, formal, efficient, final)." 
These echo the Kemetic "four elements" of 
earth, air, fire, and water used in the Mystery 
Schools before the birth of Aristotle and other 
early Greek "philosophers". 9 

The association between Aristotle's four 
causes and the Kemetic four elements may 
explain why Dewey anonymously published his 
philosophically based classification scheme in 
1876. He may have recognized that Aristotle 
obtained many of his philosophical ideas from 
ancient Kemet. To cite Aristotle as a source 
might have discounted the originality of his 
classification, and prompted questions about 
his credentials before the scheme had an 
opportunity to integrate itself unbiasedly into 
the library community. Hence, he published 
anonymously. 

Also interesting is how Dewey divided non- 
fiction books into ten categories: 

General works; Philosophy (logic...); Religion 
(mythology...); Social sciences (folklore, 
government, manners, customs...); Language 
(rhetoric, gammer...); Pure Science 
(mathematics, astronomy, geometry...); 
Technology (aviation, building, engineering...); 
Arts (painting, music, sports...); Literature 
(plays, poetry...); and History (ancient, 
modem, geography, travel...). 

These categories metamorphically fit the 
ancient Kemetic concept of the seven liberal 
arts (gammer, rhetoric, logic, geometry, 
arithmetic, astronomy, and music), the general 
Kemetic mystery system of the four elements 
(fire, water, earth, air), four qualities, duality 



255 



of opposites (hot-cold, wet-dry...), and its eight 
equal pole synthesis. 

To illustrate this point further, we can use the 
Kemetic four elements (fire, water, earth, air) 
to outline the Dewey Decimal Classification 
and Library of Congress systems, and assign 
Dewey numbers and Library of Congress call 
letters to them. For the Dewey Decimal 
Classification system, we can assign the 
500-599 pure sciences section, and in the 
Library of Congress classification the call 
letter "Q" for science can be used. For a 
specific element/quality for specific books we 
could ose: 

QC 254 R6 (Heat and Thermodynamics by 
John Keith Roberts) to represent heat; QP 
82.2 T4 B86 (Man in a Cold Environment by 
Alan C. Burton and Otto G. Edholm) to 
represent cold; QH 541.5 S24 W47 (Wet 
Coastul Ecosystems edited by V.J. Chapman) 
to represent wet; QB 981 C5 (The Origin of 
the Earth by Thomas C. Chamberlin) to 
represent dry; and QD 121 038 (Traces 
Analysis of Atmospheric Samples by Kikuo 
Oikawa) to represent the element of air. 

Some might view this occurrence of Kemetic 
elements in the Dewey and Library of 
Congress classification systems as coincidental, 
or accidents of parallel human consciousness. 
But to the contrary, these are not cases of 
parallel consciousness. Kemetic knowledge 
preceded the above (Dewey and Library of 
Congress) classification systems by thousands 
of years. Hence, it would be virtually 
impossible in 1872 for Melvil Dewey to 
independently create a parallel scheme, 
without first researching ancient 
philosophical/classification schemes such as 
the Kemetic Mystery System. 

It is especially doubtful when we know that 
(1) Dewey philosophically borrowed from 
Aristotle, who in turn borrowed many of his 
ideas from the Kemetic philosophy (Mystery 
System) taught at the temple-libraries of 



Kemet, which allowed him to later (after the 
invasion of Alexander) establish a Greek 
research center (library) in Alexandria from 
what he ".,.plundered and pillaged../ from the 
royal temples and libraries of Kemet (James, 
1954, 1), and (2) both systems (Dewey and 
Library of Congress) begin their classifications 
with general works then move to philosophy 
and religion; a key classification phenomenon 
(theology/philosophy) of ancient Kemetic 
society. 

The above unity of approaches to classifying 
knowledge (ancient and modern) is 
astonishing. Hence we can conclude with 
minimal (if any) reservation that the ancient 
Egyptians (Kemetics), a Black people, who as 
Malcolm X said were "...as much African as 
you and I," created the first library 
classification system from their 
philosophical/theological (Mystery System) 
knowledge, and thus, preceded the Dewey 
Decimal, Library of Congress, Universal 
Decimal, and the Ranganathan Colon systems 
by thousands of years. 



Classification 

The putting of like kinds of works in boxes 
together, medical works, etc., is found as early 
as 2700 B.C. in Egypt... (Richardson, 1963b, 
149). 

The classification scheme of Kemet was based 
on the Mystery System, and organized in a 
chest/jar arranged by placing a label/docked 
on the verso of papyrus rolls with small pieces 
of papyrus/parchment to describe its contents 
(Posner, 1972, 87). Hence they probably had 
little if any problem designing their 
classification system (they had an extensive 
educational system and were excellent record 
keepers). 

Ernest Posner, in his book Archives in the 
Ancient World (p. 2), illustrates this point by 
saying: "Rarely ...has there been bureaucracy 

256 



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as record-conscious as that of ancient Egypt" 
and that it "...also contributed toward making 
record-consciousness integral and important in 
the life of the people." 

This concern with keeping records was thus 
institutionalized in the office of the vizier, the 
chief administrator and official of the 
government, who catalogued and inventoried 
"...every Egyptian," and all things in Egypt, 
and headed all the archives of the king in the 
House of the King and the courts, and 
directed four departments of the royal writings 
(Posner, 1972, 79, 81) i.e.: 

(1) the House of the Royal Writings , i.e., 
the Chancery; 

(2) the House of the Sealed Writings, i.e., 
the registration department; 

(3) the House of Writings or Archives, 
archival service; and, 

(4) the House of the Chief Taxation. 

The most well known vizier from ancient 
Kemetic tomb inscriptions was Rekhmire 
(mentioned above), a judge and (the first) 
professional library administrator, who is 
depicted in a picture in the tomb of the 
temple-library of Amon with forty papyri rolls 
before him and a collection of books from the 
15th century B.C. This same person 
represents Kemet as the cradle of civilization 
and the idea of "Written Records" in the 
dome of the Rotunda Reading Room in 
Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. 

Herbert Small, in his book The Library of 
Congress: Its Architecture and Decorations 
(1982, 106-07), gives a description of 
Rekhmire in his representation of Kemet as 
one of the four primary influences of twelve 
nations or epochs which have contributed 
most to the development of America. He says 
Rekhmire: 



,„w clad in loincloth and a cap with flaps as he 
supports a hieroglyphic inscribed tablet in his left 
hand, an ankh (Tau or cross) in his right hand, 
a case of books at his feet — filled with 
manuscript rolls of papyrus, and a second tablet 
behind his feet in the form of a winged ball. 

The representation is an outstanding pictorial 
homage to the Kemetic contribution to human 
knowledge and wisdom in the "House of 
Archives" (Library of Congress). 



Information Rcuieval: An Exercise 

In the second year of the reign of King 
Neferhotep (ca. 1788 B.C.), the sophistication 
of Kemetic libraries (and librarians) was 
demonstrated when the king asked to see the 
ancient writings of Atom in the temple of 
Heliopolis. His nobles, scribes of the 
hieroglyphics, masters of all secrets, and 
librarians, agreed. Therefore, he examined 
the books in the temple library with his 
librarians and cabinet of intellect, and 
thereafter decided to build a temple in honor 
of Osiris, based upon the information he 
discovered (Metzger, 1980, 36-37). 

This action indicates a high level of library 
organization, and evidence of a system for 
organizing books and materials, that allowed 
them to be found quickly arid easily by those 
who wanted to use the library (and a means to 
bring materials together easily ar:d 
conveniently). 10 (Gates, 1983, 42) These are 
key criteria for any library classification 
system, a system the ancient Kemetics 
obviously possessed (and the Greeks used in 
their "book hall" wall catalog in the Horus 
temple at Edfu, which lists 37 titles and dates 
from the time of Ptolemaios VIII and 
Euergetes II (177-116 B.C.) (Wendel, 1949, 5; 
Blum, 1991, 212). 

A Catalog 



257 

15 



A library without a system of classification, 
organization, or cataloging does not work. It 
is like a person without a heart; to live one 
must have a heart. Hence, for a library to 
live, it must have a heart which is its system of 
classification, cataloging, and organization. 

To this end, the ancient Kemetics had 
organization, a catalog, and a cataloging 
system. The system, like the previously 
mentioned classification scheme, was based on 
the Mystery System, which, in this case, gave 
cataloged library items/materials an 
arrangement via class (fire, water, earth, air), 
process (hot, cold, wet, dry), method 
(duality/union of opposites), and logic; the 
basic ingredients of any library catalog. 

Evidence of a catalog and a system have bc^n 
found (as mentioned above): (1) "incised on 
the walls at Edfu/Idfu (with) ...a full catalog of 
all the "heretical" works contained in that 
library," (Schullian, 1990, 310) (2) on "papyrus 
rolls ...placed in clay jars or metal cylinders 
...labeled with a few key words describing their 
content, (3) and via parchment scrolls 
...divided by author, ...title, or ...major subject 
or foim groups, ...placed in bins or on 
shelves." (Gates, 1983, 41) 

At Tel el-Amarna (13754350), the modern 
name for the site of the city of Akhetaton, a 
clay tablet was found that bears the 
inscription: The Book of the Sycamore and the 
Olive. The Good God, Nibma'at-Re, given life, 
beloved of Ptah king of the two lands, and the 
King's Wife Teie, living to identify/classify 
books belonging to the royal library of 
Amenhotep III and his wife Teie (the parents 
of Akhenaton). This is another indication of 
a catalog system, and the genesis of a 
catalog/classification system (Metzger, 1980, 
211). 

The Bookcase/Chest 

The bookcase/chest, like the catalog, 
classification, and othei aspects of 



librarianship, also seems to have its roots in 
Kemet. The bookcase/chest (or clay jar) was 
the most universal and natural method of 
keeping records in ancient times. According 
to Ernest C. Richardson, in his bock Biblical 
Libraries, the rolls (books) "...must have been 
kept in chests or in small boxes, like the box 
containing the medical papyri of King 
Neferikere some 1,300 years before, or the 
many boxes at Edfu long after, or the wooden 
boxes in which some allege that the Amarna 
records were kept." (Richardson, 1914, 46; 
1963b., 145, 171) 

Richardson also gives us a visual picture of 
the bookcase/chest which seems to have 
provided Kemet with a method to store its 
papyri rolls and temple/monument documents 
and other materials. Hence the Kemetic 
bookcase/chest seems to be a predecessor to 
the modern bookcase, compact shelving, 
high-density storage, and other space saving 
units (Ibid, 77). 



Miseducation by Design 

Now that we have discussed: (1) the 
importance of Kemet; (2) race/color in ancient 
Kemet; (3) Kemetic history; (4) the roots of 
Kemetic literature and librarianship; (5) the 
first librarians and library motto; (6) Kemetic 
education, architecture; (7) Melvil Dewey and 
his classification scheme; and (8) cataloging, 
we can turn to the issue of miseducation, 
misinformation, and an affirmative 
Afro-centric corrective action paradigm. 

The issue of miseducation is usually 
controversial. The subject of the library and 
its history is not exempt. Traditional library 
histoiy as taught in American schools of 
library and information science/studies is 
generally Euro-centrically focused on the 
Western world, rather than the international 
world community. Hence "library history" is 
essentially a Euro-centric over glorification of 
the Alexandria Library, Aristotle, and Western 

25S 



16 



civilization. For example, when we read about 
library history, we usually receive the following 
ditties: 

(1) Aristotle is the first, of whom we know, 
who collected books, and it was he who taught 
the fangs of Egypt the organization of a library 
(White, 1978, 384); 

(2) Important libraries of the ancient world 
were those of Aristotle, the great library at 
Alexandria with Us thousands of papyrus and 
vellum scrolls... (Encyclopedia Britannica, 
1985, Vol. 7, 333); 

(3) In a sense modern library history begins 
with Aristotle, Alexander, and Alexandria... 
(Richardson, 1914, 148): and 

(4) The first libraries as such were those of 
Greek temples and those established in 
conjunction with the Greek schools of 
philosophy (Encyclopedia Britannica, Ibid). 

In reality, the opposite is true. The first 
libraries of culture were in the temples of 
ancient Kemet (Egypt), with an advanced 
library-university faculty who taught 
"philosophy" before the Greeks learned of its 
existence from the Egyptians; a reality George 
G.M. James informs us of in his book Stolen 
Legacy: Greek Philosophy is Stolen Egyptian 
Philosophy (1954, 47). 

"The Greeks did not carry culture and 
learning to Egypt, but found it already there, 
and wisely settled in that country, in order to 
absorb as much as possible of its culture." In 
the same vain, Aristotle didn't teach the kings 
of Egypt (unless its a reference to the Greek 
Ptolemies), the Egyptians taught him. He was 
the student, not the teacher. 

In fact, it was the previously mentioned 
Manetho, an ancient African Kemetic 
historian and high priest (credited with writing 
between three and six books on Kemetic 
philosophy and religious history) in the 



Temple of Isis at Sebennytus/Heliopolis, who 
taught the Greeks of Alexandria, and 
corrected errors .'n their documents made by 
Herodotus ("the father" of history) and 
Hecataeus of Abdera (Alagoa, 1989, 5-6). 

Therefore, the idea of Aristotle teaching the 
Egyptians is a myth, along with the myth of 
his being the first to collect books and 
establish the "great" library of Alexandria. 
The real story is that he (or his agents) stole 
most of the collection, and copied or stole the 
remainder (700,000 volumes) from the 
Kemetic temple libraries, to build, the "great" 
Alexandria Library. Hence his library of 
"...thousands of papyrus and vellum scrolls..." 
was actually stolen Kemetic property. 

Moreover, Peck (1897) and Hessel (1955) 
inform us that: (1) "the large libraries of 
Assyrian and Egyptian monarchs were 
unknown to the Greeks til the time of the 
Ptolemies," (Peck, 1897, 208) and (2) 
"...libraries were still unknown to Greece in 
classical times." (Hessel, 1950, 2) Hence 
Greek knowledge of libraries and information 
science before their arrival in Kemet was nil. 
This attests to the fallacy (infused in 
misinformation) of Aristotle, the plunderer of 
ancient Kemetic books, as a teacher of 
Egyptian kings. 11 



Misinformation by Design 

The World Book Encyclopedia (Vol. 12, 1989, 
253), a major source for school libraries, has 
unfortunately added to the above 
misinformation by not telling the true story of 
the African contribution to library history. In 
its first few lines concerning Africa and its 
place in library history, it states "...millions of 
Africans have no public library service," with 
no contemporary or historical explanation as 
to why "...millions of Africans have no public 
library service," if that is the case. 



259 



17 



Moreover, it fails to mention (1) the ancient 
documents or archives of ancient Kemet — 
the home of the first library, (2) the 10,000 
volume royal library of Kushite ancient 
writings found in 1655 (Tejani, 1988, 28), or 
(3) the work of Ahmed Baba, the last 
chancellor of the University of Sankore and 
author of more than 40 books who, in 1592, 
had a library of 1,600 books, one of the 
iichest libraries of his day (Clarke, 1968, 633). 

This om" sion does a grave injustice to African 
people specifically, and library history in 
general. Hence we can see how negative 
images are formed about Africa and African 
people, when major educational sources 
(Encyclopedia Britannica/ World Book 
Encyclopedia, etc.) state the above without 
qualifying the reason(s) for "...no public library 
service" in Africa. 

There is no discussion of imperialism, 
colonialism, racism, or any of the evils that 
hinder the progress of Africa. Consequently, 
the encyclopedia(s) fail to inform their readers 
that ancient Kemet ("the black land") is the 
home of the first: library of consequence, 
library motto, law librarian (via Rekhmire), 
university library, and a Mystery System based 
catalog and classification scheme developed 
6,000 years ago. 

Reasons for the abov? info-injustice 
(miseducation/ misinformation), and why 
ancient Kemet is not generally recognized for 
its early mastery of library and information 
science (and civilization) are many. However, 
we can explore some of the reasons, which 
seem to relate to eight hegemonic 
phenomena: 

(1) a general attempt to colonize information 
by moving u from its i;hce of origin. For 
example, the (Precepts of Path-hotep) Prisse 
Papyrus, the oldest Egyptian book written 
before the end of the third millennium circa 
(2880), was moved to the Bibliotheque 
Nationale in Paris (Gates, 1983, 6; Nichols, 



1964, 33-34), and other texts are in the 
Pergamum, the Bibliotheca Ulpia of Rome, 
and other enclaves of the Western world for 
public and private examination; 

(2) after the invasion of Alexander, the royal 
temples and libraries were "plundered and 
pillaged" (James, 1954, 1), and "...knowledge 
of the culture of Africa has been lost because 
of the destruction of ancient records," 
(Jackson, 1970, 296); 

(3) due to the destruction of the ancient 
library at (Wo-set/Wo-Se') Thebes (destroyed 
by an invading Assyrian army in 661 B.C.), 
and the destruction of the "...great libraries in 
several African cities [that] were burned and 
looted, and [thus had] their treasures... lost to 
posterity," (Ibid); 

(4) a general over glorification of 
Eurocentric librarianship; 

(5) a general negation of the contributions 
people outside the Western world (e.g. China 
has a library history dating from the 6th 
century B.C. and a national collection 
beginning in 220 B.C.); 

(6) the Greek (and the Arab) habit of 
altering place and personal names to fit their 
agenda. For example, the Kemetic name for 
what the Greeks called hieroglyphs or 
hieroglyphics is Neter Kharu (meaning divine 
words), according to Peck (1897, 814), and 
Mdw Ntr according to Kimard (1985, 157); 

(7) a false consciousness (usually steeped in 
white racism, or its highest order: white world 
supremacy) that will not allow one to see 
Egypt (Kemet) as a Black civilization and a 
world leader (as stated previously); and last 
but not least, and perhaps the most 
devastating; 

(8) the phenomena that attempts to control 
thought, a phenomena our elder statesman- 
historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke says began 



260 



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18 



"in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, 
during the rise of the Atlantic slave trade, 
[when] the Europeans not only began to 
colonize the minds of people of the world, 
[but] ,..also colonized information about the 
world," (Clarke, 1991, 343). 

Consequently, our mission is to develop a 
corrective agenda, or paradigm, to address the 
above issues. Therefore, outlined below is an 
Afro-centric corrective paradigm in various 
stages of national and international 
implementation, based on the premise that the 
library is a key institution of society, organized 
to facilitate human knowledge and 
understanding. Thus, all should know its 
Kemetic origin, be rejuvenated by it, and 
utilize their knowledge to combat library (his 
story) history hegemonism and exclusionism. 

The metamorphosis of the latter will obviously 
take time. However, we can begin with a 
paradigm that asks its adherents to: 

(1) challenge (and ultimately change) the 
Euro-centic focus of library and 
information science education; 

(2) incorporate the above facts, general- 
izations, concepts, and theories into 
current discourse on or about African 
world community history and thought; 

(3) build and assist Afro-centric school 
formations; 

(4) critically re-think what they are taught 
about library history (if anything), pre- 
and post- library school; 

(5) empower themselves, and their 
community with knowledge; 

(6) discuss the ancient Kemetic origins of 
library and information science with 
others, whenever they visit a library, or 
are near a library (an act of empowering 
the community); and, 



(7) establish a network of Afro-centric 
libraries and library enthusiasts to 
address the needs of the African world 
community, hence an independent, new 
African world information order. 

The library is an institution many believe 
originated in the Western world with the 
Greeks, who, contrary to popular belief, 
learned what they knew about libraries from 
ancient Kemet, and later claimed to the world 
as their creation. Therefore, it is time for the 
African (especially), and all people who seek 
the truth, to become aware of (and an 
advocate of) the glorious library history and 
tradition of ancient Kemet (Egypt). A long 
proud and productive history and tradition 
that will not allow one to sit on the outside of 
library history, looking in, from across the 
street, as if he/she were a stranger to an 
institution our African ancestors invented and 
refined for t ? world to enjoy. 

It is time for a new reconstruction of library 
history. It is time for a history that will 
unhesitantly put Africa, and the African 
experience, at the center of its discussion. 
Otherwise, we risk the evil of participating in 
our own oppression, while our adversaries 
laugh at our imitative ignorance, and assign us 
to the bottom rungs of society. 



Notes: 

*■ The Main Reading Room of the U.S, 
Library of Congress acknowledges the 
Egyptian (Kemetic) contribution to knowledge 
via the Egyptian in its ceiling architecture, 
who holds an ankh (a Kemetic symbol of life 
and reincarnation), ahieroglyphically inscribed 
tablet with the seal of King Menes (Aha 
Mena/Narmer), and a case of books at his 
feet, filled with rolls of papyrus manuscripts 
(Small, 1982, 106-07). 

1 The words Kemet and Egypt are used 
interchangeably throughout this article to 



261 



19 



awaken our consciousness to the importance 
of using the word Kemet for the land we now 
call Egypt. 

*■ Hilliard (1984, 154) tells us that although 
Kemet was somewhat a mixed society, it was 
the Africans who founded the early kingdoms 
and built the pyramids and temples during its 
golden age. 

4 Based upon all scientific evidence, Africa 
appears to be the ultimate source of all 
modern human mitochondrial DNA, an 
essential component of all living matter and a 
basic material that houses the genetic code 
and transmitter of heredity patterns (Williams, 
1991, 58). 

5 * All humans are very recent descendants 
of African people. The various races today 
only reflect superficial physical differences 
(Williams, 1991, 54). 

6 - William C. Hayes, in his National 
Geographic article (1941, 425), states that the 
ancient Egyptians, like their neighbors, the 
Libyans, Bedjas, Somali, and the Galla "...are 
and always have been Africans," and simf irly 
Bernal says "Egyptian civilization is clearly 
based on the rich Pre-dynastic cultures of 
Upper Egypt and Nubia, whose African origin 
is uncontested." (Bernal, 1987, 15) 



7 Evidence of this writing is inscribed on 
the palette of King Narmer, commemorating 
his military victory over Upper Kemet, before 
the rule of King Memes (McWhirter, 1982, 
166). 

*• Although many of the libraries of Kemet 
were for the elite, by 2000 B.C. literacy was 
not limited to the elite (Metzger, 1980, 210). 

9 Dewey also studied Sir Francis Bacon 
(1561-1626), an English philosopher who 
emphasized using inductive reasoning to 
obtain knowledge, and John Locke 
(1632-1704) who believed that all ideas come 
from experience and aren't innate, and other 
philosophers (Wetterau, 1990, 214, 216). 

ia We can only guess what might happen to 
a librarian who couldn't find the request of 
the king, or did not know how to find a 
source. Hence the librarian must have had a 
classification system, a good memory, or both, 
to locate a book, etc. upon demand. 

In fact Europe didn't know anything 
about libraries until the African Moors of 
North Africa occupied and introduced them in 
Spain (James, 1954, 39). 



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