Caste in PreColonial AfRaKa

PreColonial Africa

My Commentary from the book



  1. Division of Labor vs Supremacist Slavery
  2. No Nobles No Caste
  3. Matriarchal Tribes Evolve
  4. Prisoners of War
  5. District Communities
  6. Land Ownership Feudalism

There have been many misconceptions taught and accepted that pre-columbian AfRaKans of the motherland captured and sold each other for profit. This confusion has created anxiousness between Pan-AfRaKans across the world. But slavery, as exercised in the United States and other lands of abusive colonization; was not the norm practiced in pre-columbian AfRaKa by the children of the Sun.

Point1: Division of Labor vs Supremacist Slavery

Pre-columbian AfRaKans mostly practiced something better described as a caste system that arose for distinguishing the divisions of labor. So that, as high civilizations evolved; villagers organized themselves by the career paths they chose or inherited. There were basically two divisions of labor: Slaves and Free-PherSuns (persons). The free pherSuns were even more distinguished by descriptors like “gor”, “ger”, and neno.” The Ger were nobles; manual professionals; and agriculturist (a sacred activity). Neno described artisans; shoemakers; blacksmiths; and goldsmiths. And unlike the abusive behaviors of supremacist slave owners; the ger could loose respect for exploiting others in a different caste. Because all caste, including slaves, were associated with some sort of power structure.


Point2: No Nobles No Caste

There are pre-colonial writings that describe that before the invasions of North Africa; no kings were found of the clans or tribes. I’m going to take privilege here to make an assumption that this may have been the case where a Euro-centric thinking author totally disqualified matriarchal ruler-ships. But either way; where there were No nobles; there was no caste system.

Point3: Matriarchal Tribes Evolve

The book suggests tribal systems began to be delineate as early as 1352 AD. And as groups of AfRaKans expanded into vast communities and societies; they organized into specialized professions that created a division of labor. Before then, the clans were indeed purely matriarchal. PherSuns were named after their mothers and father’s sister. Male inheritances went to the nephews. And names included a description of their clan.

Point4: Prisoners of War

What is usually not emphasized to AfRaKan-Americans is that AfRaKan slaves brought to the Americas; via the trans-atlantic slave trade; were mostly the result of becoming a prisoner of war, POW. As a result of their tribe/clan loosing a major battle; the defeated would be brought to the village of the victor after their own village was dismantled. Because their home became a conquest; they could be traded, gifted or sold. Many times, the leadership of a defeated clan would be purposely sent/sold far away as to not resurrect an uprising. While those with more passive attitudes could take on labor duties for the victor.

But the book makes it very clear that slaves to the mothers households were never POWs. Instead natives of the clan took on roles to serve the mothers. Whereas POW slaves could be used in fathers activities. This distinguishes further evidence how important the womben of any tribe or nation was. That the pre-columbian AfRaKan safe guarded its womben from potentially dangerous pherSuns.


Point5: Districts Communities

The book lists 7-classes of free pherSuns in Kemet, ancient Nubian Egypt. The households lived in districts (nomes) associated with their class: -priest, -warriors, -herdsmen, -swineherders, -tradesmen, -interpreters, and -pilots. Since the book did not explain the roles of the classes; I’m going to provide what I’ve learned of Kemet:

Priest – Before the union of Upper and Lower Kemet, spiritual guidance was the role of the Sibyls. The Sibyls were all womben dedicated to the Great House or Pharaoh. After the union, male priest from Lower Kemet; which had already been integrated with Euro-centric thought; were allowed to provide guidance. I’ve read and viewed images of Kemetic locations; and re-member areas described as districts. One area that is of particular interest is situated near the Amenhotep III temple in Luxor; an abandoned area desribed as the District of MU or Womben’s District where statues of Goddess Sekhmet were found and stolen.

Warriors – The armies consisted of both a cavalry and infantry. PherSuns trained in the art of military and war made up the cavalry like the officer ranks we are familiar with. And non-professional laborers, including POW slaves, served as infantrymen. These warriors lived in a specific district; not unlike the military bases of today.

Herdsmen – This is most likely who we call ranchers that tend to domesticated animals. Like today, these districts were probably far from the cities; and included housing in the midst of grazing land. Since agriculturist are not pointed out; I’m assuming they lived in these rural districts as well.

Swineherders– This group was considered of the most un-pure and lowest of the classes by “Muslim religious” standards. But they were not any less wealthy or powerless than any other herdsmen. No other classes intermarried with the swineherders. Superstitions insisted Egyptians not touch pig or anyone who touched pig. It is my assumption the Muslims of Lower Kemet insisted on making the distinction between herdsmen. Swineherders districts were probably located in rural areas with other Upper Kemetic herdsmen who hadn’t converted to Islam.

Tradesmen– Sales pherSuns and market managers might have made up the tradesmen district. I can imagine community activity centered around this district for pherSuns to purchase goods and services.

Interpreters- From what I’ve learned about Kemet; interpreters would be todays master teachers. I’m also going to assume those practicing medicine and other science lived in these districts. In Kemet; medicine was considered an art; and every physician practiced a specialty by disease.

Pilots- Even though some would think aircraft didn’t exist during Kemetic ages; there are indeed words and art left in the stone that describe very advance means for transportation.  So that a pilot’s district probably included those in roles for transporting pherSuns and goods whether it be by land, water or air.


Point6: Land Ownership Feudalism

Every caste system was involved in cultivation of the soil; even the ruling classes. But the pre-columbian AfRaKan believed land could Not be owned or conquered. Instead, the respected poor of the village were entrusted with the spirit of the land. Earth was considered divinity; and it would be “sacrilege” to try and own it. The book suggests concepts of private land ownership didn’t begin on the continent until a sea port was developed by Europeans at the Cape Verde peninsula. And thus feudalism entered AfRaKa.

As I continue reading the book; I’m glad the author provided an analysis of pre-columbian caste systems in the first chapter. He makes it clear that slavery in AfRaKa was not as we know it in the Americas. But rather more so a division of labor… even though POW servants don’t seem to have had an easy life.

Looking forward to the next chapters.

Asante Ashe.

US Historical Amnesia

Part 1 – My notes from the book,

“An African American and Latinx History of the United States”
by Paul Ortiz

AA Latinx History Book Image

I met Dr. Paul Ortiz back in February when he did a book signing at Texas Christian University. I hate to admit I just finished the book I started more than nine months ago… but it seems appropriate I can now publish a blog from my notes… as I camp on the Rio Grande River.

You may wonder why this text belongs in my Kemetic Studies blog space? And I say… it makes sense that just like the ancient philosophies and science of Kemet have been left from main stream American textbooks; we must demand history not more than 400 years young be part of modern history books.

I loved the book from the first page. It brought to me bold and clearly exemplified examples how US American history is written from an elitist perspective. I hadn’t thought much about it; but now I can clearly relate to how major contributions by the poor and working-class of our country are left out… a form of “historical amnesia.” Just as mentioned in the book, also in my history classes, Abraham Lincoln was glorified as a hero to Afro-Americans for “putting an end to slavery”; in his Emancipation Proclamation. But the entire narrative on how the US was founded on racial economics is not taught. It seems Dr. Ortiz is suggesting a “new origin narrative” for American history. A narrative that would include people like Carl Hansberry; an Afro-American, who in 1945 presented at a conference in Mexico to propose ending racism and militarism in the Americas.

Carl Hansberry Image

And how Geoconda Arguello Kline left her home land of Nicaragua in 1983; to help organize a labor union in Nevada that supported workers in 48-nations.

Geoconda Kline Image

I agree with Dr. Ortiz. Traditional US history has most often been written with emphasis that stretches to and from European lands. Hardly much of any details are found from the origins of Africa, the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas… what the author refers to as the “Global South.” How can the US declare itself a body of democracy; when its historical aspects of diversity hardy reach beyond Europe?

I learned from the reading… Mexico was the first country, in the world, to fully “frame in” a social democratic constitution. And unlike the US; that constitution of Mexico was realized With-Out racial economics (slavery). Latin America’s highest accomplishments for civil rights include: a Right to Organize; a Right to an Education; and a Right to Health Care. These aspects have been added to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. But the book author suggests Latinx have yet to be given credit for sharing their early accomplishments for providing opportunities for quality of life with the rest of the world.

The book is great about explaining how Afro-American and Latinx communities have more in common from an American Global perspective than what is originally thought. It has been widely noted that both groups of people have indigenous, African and European blood running through their veins, (Afro-Latinx, Indo-African, Moreno, Mestizo). Some Latin American countries consider Africa “Nuestra Tercera Raiz”; meaning “Our third root.” However, traditionally accepted historical literature make sure the two people’s events and activities stay distinctively separate. And modern day leadership seems to be attempting to widen the gaps for divisiveness. Truths must be known, to every generation; there are deep rooted connections between Afro-American Anti-Imperialist, Mexican Labor Unions, Central American Workers, and Caribbean Anti-Colonialist.

Dr. Ortiz suggests his book is an attempt to “chip away at the barriers that have been placed in the way of understanding between people, between nations.” He uses many examples of Fredrick Douglass’ speeches and writings to express Douglass’ insistence, that the center of the United States development has been imperialism and economic slavery. For instance:

-the US focused on Florida when a war was waged with the Native and Indigenous Americans of the Seminole tribes… concluding with the brutal Trail of Tears to a reservation that would later be taken away from them again and named Oklahoma;

-the Louisiana Purchase took away ancient lands from more Native/Indigenous Americans and further disenfranchised free Afro-Americans with hateful,greedy policy that intensified racial economics (slavery);

-the Annexation of Texas waged war with Mexico for rich resourceful lands;

-the Missouri Compromise consists of broken promises to keep slavery south and east of the Mississippi river;

-and the Pacific Railroad projects effectively created additional labor abuses by corporations… to Asian communities at that time.

The truths behind these and other racial capitalism is left out of history books; and can be described as historical amnesia.

The United Farm Worker Organizing Committee (UFWOC), co-founded by Cesar Chavez; is an excellent example of how Filipino and Chicana/o farmer workers came together with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on occasions. Together, they emphasized the struggles of working-class people for international liberation. Some suggest Dr. King’s anti-Vietnam War stance lead to his assassination when his movement’s attention began to highly focus on labor issues. King called for an end to slaughtering Vietnamese farm workers by US military. Ortiz suggest both Douglass and King believed “oppression and militarism” destroys attempts for the US to become “truly democratic.”

Some of the worse misrepresentations in US history involve how slave owning “Founding Fathers” attempted to write “civil liberties” in the Constitution of the United States. A constitution that developed policy for Racial Capitalism… where slavery is historically ignored as “mythological innocence.” The world should agree with the Colored American who can legitimately question the US as a “Model Republic.” A county with policy of buying a man for money; and hanging and burning him alive does not give the impression that the US is the freest county in the world.

It is eye opening to realize while reading the book, that in every expect; poor people have had to organize and fight for “civil liberties” that are not automatically granted in US policy. Therefore, “Self-Emancipation” must embody everyone in America… no matter their color, nationality or wealth bracket to “Make America Great.” The book quotes Dr. Coretta Scott King’s notes to explain… just as skin color hues of every American make us different; oppression for being colored and poor make us the same.

King Chavez Image

Afro-American civil rights workers believed the victory of Cuba’s revolutionary war against Spain would “enhance freedom’s march everywhere.” Literature on these beliefs, and others, are available to be integral to US history textbooks on how early colonist fought many a battle against their European opposition. In a similar manner, there seems to be a double standard on what is good foreign policy when its appropriate for US military zones to start international migrations; that later classify those impacted as illegal aliens.

So what is the solution to US historical amnesia? For one, we must embrace the theme… There is More than One Way to be American. And US school curriculum must include the historical aspects of Afro-Latinx-Caribbean culture, pride, and struggle to enhance the traditional American history they already receive. The sooner we put an end to our historical amnesia. The sooner we are on the road to “Making America Great Again.”

Make America Great hat

Side Note: It is not my intention to steal any wording or phasing from the book. I hope I was careful enough to not misrepresent the author or any content of the writings. Asante Ashe.