What fun

Bronze Woman is one of more than 120 monuments, plaques, murals, statues and artworks in a new pocket-size guidebook, Black London, compiled by Nanton and her co-author Jody Burton, and published on Windrush Day on Tuesday.

The oldest entry is Cleopatra’s Needle, an obelisk carved in Egypt more than 3,500 years ago and shipped to London in 1878 to be placed on the Embankment.

That’s not really black now, is it? Thutmose III would have been horrified if you’d called him black – that was those Nubians upriver. Mohammed Ali who gave it to us was Albanian. Cleo herself was Greek (or Amanda Barrie).

Come along now, we’re Europeans, we know a bit of geography. African ≠ Black.

Seriously, let’s not become American about this.

11 thoughts on “What fun”

  1. Cleopatra was Macedonian by descent, not Greek. The Greeks had a lot to say – not entirely based on objective reasoning – about how Macedonians being barbarian scum. The ‘ancient Egyptians were black, and we are descended from them’ argument is very old in some areas of African American belief. ‘Cleopatra was black’ is still very much around.

  2. Well, she only needed to be 0.000001% black to claim the race card. Bit like Meghan Markle who looks to me to be less than half black, ‘cos her Mum wasn’t in all probability entirely black, on account of a female slave ancestor being shagged by a whitey slave owner. That makes her (probably) more descended from a slave owner than I am (a white bloke descended from native Brits of the pleb variety for lots of generations).

  3. There is a marked ignorance about Mediterranean culture. Amongst historians as much as anybody. As distinct from say N. European culture. It was more or less one culture. Opposite the coast where I’m sitting was the other half of Carthage. They were the people with the agricultural toolkits to make a living on the land. A bunch of demented goatfuckers with big swords imposing their particular mythologies didn’t change that. Islam benefited from the remains of the Greaco-Roman-Egyptian civilisation as the Franks, Goths & Visigoths did. Go look at a Roman map of the world. Their Africa stops just stops south of the Sahara. The west coast is joined to the east coast. They weren’t aware there was anything else there. So how did people not believed to exist have much influence on European history?

  4. Given it’s Father’s Day I am toasting the old boy (as with his father, a confirmed teetotaler) with a glass of 26 year old cask strength Highland Park (from the Mesolithic nomadic tribes of Orkney to the Neolithic tombs and Bronze Age circles that surround the homestead here on Dartmoor). Johnny-come-lately culture war warriors eat your heart out.

  5. Until fairly recently it was common to view Egypt as part of the Near East rather than part of Africa – perfectly reasonable if you like to ignore the geography and attend to the religion and culture. (Or, stray thought: was it because Egypt played a big role in Bible yarns?)

  6. “Macedonians being barbarian scum”

    Perhaps more ruffians and brigands than barbarians since they spoke a Greek dialect.

  7. Hmmm… North-Africans (continent) have very specific opinions about Africans ( anything below that big litterbox)…

    Equating the former to the latter tends to invite …. shall we say… a very Cultural Response which may… not align with current sensitivities…

  8. But as the Basketball-Americans would say “We Wuz Kangz ‘n shiet”.

    When in Egypt doing the Nile cruise thing I once mentioned this obsession of some “African-Americans” that they were descended from the Pharaoh’s and he managed to keep a straight face while explaining that he was aware of this delusion, but that given that most African-Americans were clearly of West African origin, he thought it unlikely.

    Quite diplomatic, I thought.

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