Archives for category: African Fractals
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The African origin of heroes, super and otherwise

July 7, 2011

by J.D. Jackson

[1]Historically, heroes – super-powered or not – come in all shapes and sizes. But what about colors? If we allow your standard history book and Hollywood small and silver screen productions to answer that question, the overall answer would be that the color is only one – white. Black heroes, it seems, do not exist.

But nothing could be further from the truth, especially for the sharp-witted student of world history or even popular culture. For such a person – though not without long-lived hard work and patience, intense study and research, and steel-spined dedication – would discover that throughout time immemorial, the Black hero – real and imagined – repeatedly appears and impacts culture as well as individuals who either welcome or disregard his or her heroic appearance, words and/or deeds.

Speaking of words, some scholars now agree that the very word “hero” comes from an African (Black) word and an African god. The 19th century scholar, Gerald Massey, states that the word “hero” comes from the Egyptian, “ma haru,” meaning “the typical warrior” or the “true hero.” Whereas another scholar states that the word “hero” is derived from the Latin name of a Greek word for the African god, Heru or Hor, who most Egyptologists call “Horus the hawk, the avenger.”

Interestingly enough, the hawk is an ancient and sacred bird of Africa, particularly Ethiopia, and what the late but legendary African world history scholar, Dr. Chancellor Williams, calls “Ethiopia’s oldest daughter, Egypt.”

Furthermore, based on the testimony of the Greek historian, Herodotus – often dubbed the “father of history” – and other scholars past and present, the very names – if not the very same gods, Greek then Roman, under different names – of the gods from Greek and Roman mythology came from, or were heavily influenced by, the ancient Egyptian and African mythology which predated them.

Those African-derived Greco-Roman gods would consequently serve as the backbone of today’s multi-billion dollar superhero comic book and movie industry.

[2]

Obatala, God of Yoroba mythology.

But the unmatched impact of Black heroes, real and fictional, would not stop in Greek and Roman mythology or even in Western society today. It would encompass both Asia and the Far East too. Whereas there is little, if any, hardcore evidence that King Arthur truly lived, in the Asian country of Saudi Arabia, there is evidence that over 1,500 years ago, there lived a courageous, 6th century, Black or Afro-Arabic warrior-poet and lover named Antar.

History has dubbed him the “father of knighthood … [and] chivalry” and “the king of heroes.” Greatly admired by the founder and prophet of Islam, Muhammad, he is still widely celebrated for his poetry and warrior spirit throughout the Arab world today.

Those African-derived Greco-Roman gods would consequently serve as the backbone of today’s multi-billion dollar superhero comic book and movie industry.

Then, in the Far East – China, specifically – during the 9th century, there lived a writer named Pei Xing. Although there is virtually no proof that he was Black, during the Tang Dynasty of said century he wrote what some have called “China’s first martial arts short story,” entitled “Kunlun Nu.” It means the “Negrito,” “little Negro” or “little Black” slave and its hero is an enslaved Black man who can fly and has incomparable martial arts skills – just as in the traditional Chinese martial arts films of the 1960s and ‘70s, if not in earlier and even in modern-day movies.

Then there’s Japan, where this ancient but little-known proverb was found: “For a samurai [warrior] to be brave, he must have a bit of Black blood.” Another version says: “For a samurai to be brave, he must have half Black blood,” meaning one of his parents must be Black.

We also find in Japan a noted Black warrior who historians have called “the paragon of military virtue,” a Japanese general and the first person to bear the Japanese title of sei-i tai shogun – meaning “barbarian-subduing generalissimo.” His name was Sakanouye Tammamura Maro, sometimes spelled Sakanouye No Tamuramaro.

Furthermore, let’s not forget about the only “thoroughly documented amazons in world history [3],” the women warriors of Dahomey, who were West African women often serving as the king’s bodyguards and who, unlike the Grecian “amazons” and the comic book “amazon,” Wonder Woman, truly lived.

And what about the beautiful, fictional or factual, Black warrior-queen, Califia – after whom the state of California is said to be named; or Nzinga, a lioness-hearted Angolan warrior-queen, who fought against the Portuguese for decades to keep them from enslaving her people? Nzinga lived. Xena, the warrior-princess, did not.

[4] [5]Nor let us ignore the Black steel-driving man, John Henry, who not only – according to legend – beat a steam-driving machine with his hammer in his hand, but – according to one scholar – serves as the model for both Superman and Captain America, who is called the “first avenger” in the trailer [6]for the movie to be released July 22.

Then there’s the Black Frenchman, Alexandre Dumas père, who wrote both “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo,” which both influenced fictional characters such as Mickey Spillane’s private eye, Mike Hammer, Ian Fleming’s super spy, James Bond, and characters created by the cowboy novelist, Zane Grey.

But what about the gun-slinging, outlaw-catching – catching between 3,000 and 4,000 outlaws – greatly feared, highly respected, often disguised, Black deputy marshal – serving for over 30 years – Bass Reeves? Says one scholar, Reeves may have served as the model for both the Lone Ranger and the Rooster Cogburn characters in the novel and movie, “True Grit.”

And let’s not fail to acknowledge the literal and literary hijacking, if not outright theft, by movie productions of African people’s centuries-long struggle against racial oppression, especially the Civil Rights Movement. Examples of such productions, if not parodies, are the “Planet of the Apes,” “Matrix” – an idea which allegedly was written by and stolen from a Black woman named Sophia Stewart – and “X-Men” movies.

And not one movie has been made about the late Henrietta Lacks, whose legendary cells are considered to be the world’s “first immortal cell lines [7],” reproducing on their own, adding billions to the coffers of medical researchers and research companies, and having been instrumental in the developments of the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization, gene mapping and the possible cure for cancer, if not AIDS. It’s her mutated cells – the He-La cells, if you will – that should be the subject of a major motion picture, or several of them.

Truly heroic, African-centered people should make movies about her, her poverty-stricken family and the other Black heroes and she-roes, real and imagined, that may or may not have been mentioned.

For they, like Robert F. Williams – the Black, Marine Corps trained weapons expert and stalwart, armed self-defense advocate and major but little-known Civil Rights Movement activist – clearly indicate that Black heroes do exist, should be studied and known and their lives should be written about and filmed for the small or silver screen by African people. It’s important for us to restore what the Afro-Puerto Rican bibliophile, Arthur Schomburg, once said “slavery took away” – our sense of humanity, self-worth and undying willingness to work together and improve the overall dismal plight of the world’s 1 billion-plus African (Black) people – as crafted by anyone’s hand, mind or faith – come hell or high water. Such people are the real heroes – walking, talking and doing superheroes.

This is dedicated to Brother Obadela Williams, who suggested research on this topic over 20 years ago.

© 2011 by J.D. Jackson, better known as Hawk, a priest, poet, soloist, journalist, historian and African-centered lecturer who can be reached at Jdhwkslr1@yahoo.com [8].

Posted on THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY VIEW, a national Black  Newspapers.

Hmmmm, how did Joseph Campbell manage to miss all this?

Two students here at UCSD in visarts,  Artie and James,  introduced me to Dr. Ron Eglash last night, and now my little mind is  blown. Completely. There is too much to say about the things this man has learned about mathematics, and the origins of binary code (origins being Africa!) So I offer you this 18 minute lecture that Dr. Eglash did for Ted Talks. I took me a long time to find this guy, but now that I have, a lot of ideas are very uch falling into place. I look forward to discussing it more.

And here is his book publish by Rutgers Univeristy Press in 1999.

Rutgers University Press, 1999.

I am anticipating some aesthetic mash-ups between the cosmological philosophies of Sun Ra, and fractals in my film. But for now I simply log the genius that is Dr. Eglash’s vein of research. Very much looking forward to a deeper analysis of these ideas.