"The Clan of Southern Man", by Author and Cultural Historian John Valentine, takes you on a fascinating journey through time and untold history. Starting with the famous "African Eve", the Ancestor of all humans living today, "The Clan of Southern Man" takes the reader from humanity's humble beginnings in Africa around 200,000 years ago, through tens of thousands of years of surviving the unforgiving African macrocosm. It tells how humans arose in Africa and used their constantly evolving brains and social skills to survive and progress. During this time they developed many of the systems, processes, and tools needed to colonize the planet, and later spread out all over the world.
Using a new method he terms "ourstory", the telling of human history from a black cultural perspective, Valentine contradicts the narrative that African peoples were savage and uncivilized until Whites came along.
The "Clan of Southern Man" traces the history of Black people both before and after colonization and slavery, and offers modern day Blacks a guide to recovering the lost legacy and culture of their ancient Ancestors.
Valentine believes it is this disconnection from their past that makes it impossible for Blacks to feel complete and fulfilled. He also believes that only by reconnecting to their own culture and history can they erect workable strategies to tear down the walls of systemic racism still prevalent throughout the globe.
Valentine's editor, Dr. Reginald Martin, M.F.A, Ph.D. and full professor of English at the University of Memphis, describes the book this way: "This is no usual history of Blacks onto these shores of misery but is instead a history of the Earth and the place of Blacks in it, where they come from, whom they have always been, and where they are going if they are not careful and do not listen to Valentine".
As Professor Martin states: "The very idea that a history of Blacks should start in geological prehistory periods and be worked forward to the present has only one parallel that I know of. The book was "Black Folks Here and There" by St. Clair Drake. Valentine's book is in this mold, but he goes further by constantly presenting present day analogies for ancient themes. Using this method, Valentine is able to quickly make plain ancient and complex data that spreads over millions of years. After this great book comes out you will know who Valentine is and you will not forget him".
BLACK HISTORY AS IT'S NEVER BEEN TOLD! A TREASURE TROVE OF ANCIENT WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE!!
1. THE ORIGINAL GARDEN OF EDEN WAS IN AFRICA, MOST LIKELY IN THE AREA NOW KNOWN AS THE SAHARA DESERT... ONCE ONE OF THE GREENEST AND MOST FERTILE AREAS OF AFRICA.
2. THE WORLD IS BASICALLY MADE UP OF TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE, SOUTHERNERS AND ARYANS, EACH WITH DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED CULTURAL OUTLOOKS.
3. ALL HUMANS LIVING TODAY DESCENDED FROM ONE AFRICAN WOMAN WHO LIVED AROUND 150,000 YEARS AGO.
4. ANCIENT AFRICANS DEVELOPED MANY OF THE FAMILIAL AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS WE STILL USE TODAY... INCLUDING THE CONCEPT OF THE CLAN, OR EXTENDED FAMILY.
5. HUMANS LIVED IN AFRICA, AND ONLY IN AFRICA, FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS BEFORE SOME LEFT THE CONTINENT AND EVENTUALLY POPULATED THE ENTIRE PLANET.
6. ALL MODERN RELIGIONS EVOLVED FROM ANCIENT AFRICAN SPIRITUAL IDEAS AND PRINCIPLES.
7. AFRICA IS THE OLDEST AND MOST STABLE CONTINENT ON THE PLANET.
8. ANCIENT EGYPT WAS THE WORLD'S FIRST TRULY INTEGRATED SOCIETY.
9. EARLY HUMANS LIVED IN MATRIARCHAL (FEMALE-CENTERED) SOCIETIES FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS BEFORE BEING SUPPLANTED BY THE PATRIARCHAL CULTURE OF FOREIGNERS.
10. THE HUMAN SPECIES IS NOT EVOLVING, BUT DEVOLVING, OR DEGENERATING.
Why begin a book review with a story about the 'African Eve', who is defined as the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman? The Clan of Southern Man by John Valentine is written "...in the tradition of pioneering studies in black history in the vein of Chancellor William's The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. and Cheikh Anta Diop's African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality..." classics in the canon of Africa's contribution to humanity. The Clan of Southern Man sheds much-needed light on the role, history, and contribution of the "Southern Man"- southern Africa-originated black people- in the evolution, survival, and success of the human species.
Today, Rebecca L. Cann is a professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Hawaii. Back in 1987, a year after she had joined the faculty, her paper on the genetics of human origins was published. Her paper suffered a contentious two-year incubation at the prestigious British Journal Nature because it totally upended the field of paleoanthropology- the study of human origins. Most of the eminent scientists in the field fought the paper fiercely. However, presently Cann's paper forms the basis of the most widely held scientific view: that all living humans descend from a small population that dwelled in southern Africa a couple hundred thousand years ago. DNA (the molecule that carries our genetic information) analysis inferred an African origin, and more importantly- that all modern DNA descended from a single African woman. Cann also inferred that the African common ancestor of modern humans lived between 140,000 to 290,000 years ago.
Accordingly, Valentine uses several disciplines (anthropology, history, genetics, biology) and references several respected researchers in support of his work. Through his introduction of the 'African Eve', Valentine expands his findings to the evolution of the races: "We don't know for sure whether people at this time saw themselves in terms of race, but I suspect not. The earliest evidence I've uncovered of people being classified by race is found in the tomb of Sesostris I of the 12th dynasty. The bas-reliefs in Sesostris I's tomb date back to the Eighteenth Dynasty, around 3,600 years ago. The monument is the oldest complete ethnological document available. It lists basically four families of men: The Rot-en-ne-Rome (the Egyptians), the Nahasi (black Africans), the Namou (Asians), and the Tomhou (Europeans)".
A Cultural Historian and Egyptologist, Valentine skillfully weaves the story of human climatic adjustment, survival intelligence, perseverance, and tenacity; while always noting those African-rooted societal and foundational contributions that have been (and continue to be) absorbed by continuously melding cultures, and that have elevated human sovereignty. Positive acknowledgments given, Valentine does not shy away from listing the ravages that oppressive cultures- those rooted in a savage patriarchy - have imposed on the African matriarchy and its descendants.
Yet, The Clan of Southern Man, is not a history alone. The author closes the book with two praiseworthy and aspirational chapters: 'Black Women: Keep Up the Good Work' and 'The Coming New Age and the Return of God'.
Along with Destruction of Black Civilization and African Origin of Civilization, The Clan of Southern Man is a very informative and readable addition to the canon of the African contribution to humankind.
QBR (www.qbr.com) has been called "the African-American book review of record" by former New York Times culture critic Martin Arnold. It features books by and about the African and African American experience in all genres. Founded in 1992, in its pages you will find fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children's books, health and lifestyle management, writers from Africa and the Caribbean- the whole of the diaspora, the whole of our experience.
Any serious student of African-American history could point to the rich, informative contents of two iconic publications: Chancellor Williams' "The Destruction of Black Civilization" and Cheikh Anta Diop's "The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality". These two titanic resources have fired up the imagination and academic resolve of many scholars surrounding their subject, and John Valentine's "The Clan of Southern Man", promises to elevate the ongoing debate about the origins of humankind.
Valentine, a historian and Egyptologist, is committed to getting to the genesis of the toxic ills plaguing our community and developing world. Born the son of poor sharecroppers in rural Mississippi, the author knows the dual scourge of racism and prejudice firsthand. He also witnessed some of the most combative civil rights campaigns of the 1960s. The fiery passion and power of the Black protest writers during that period freed him from "my prison of self-doubt" and inspired him to define himself. However, he notes many of his writings have been censored by mainstream publishers and traditional Black publications.
Valentine did not want to follow his father's footsteps as a sharecropper, seeing how the white landowner "humiliated" and disrespected" him. "I told myself no man, white or Black, would call me boy after I became a man," he writes. "I'd die first."
At the heart of this book is the pivotal twofold question of identity and humanity. "Over the years I'd always sought to find out who I really was. Where had I come from? Why did my black skin make me less than a white person? "Why didn't I have the same rights and opportunities as my white brethren? In many respects, this book answers that crucial question of the cultural and societal limitations of his black skin. He writes of his youthful dreams of craving the white world from the glossy magazines his mother brought home from her white employers. In 2003 he was proud of his black manhood, but now he considers that blackness "too limiting." Valentine was a citizen of the world.
Furthermore, the twin perils of racial identity and gene mixing concerned Valentine, who knew his color was the defining characteristic of his existence, and that the blending of genes seemed paramount in the significance of labeling races. "The fear, of course, is that racists, for their own empowerment reasons, will continue to use these small differences between human groups to create a rift that will further divide our species," the author writes. "The question then is are we smart enough to get past these small differences?"
As a quest in finding out about his past and his true self, Valentine turns to Diop's epic work on the African origins of civilization, with the scholar's detailed evidence of the indigenous community as the bedrock of ancient Egyptian culture. He lauds the great Egyptian history of the famous Old Kingdom period such as the Great Pyramids by the talented 27th century architect Imhotep. The accomplishments of the ancient Egyptians, he notes, were not only in architecture, but geometry, math, science, and medicine. As a bonus, the book includes twenty remarkable illustrations: Egyptian scribes, women, monarchs, cultural rituals and Gods and Goddesses such as Osiris and Isis.
Valentine blasts the scorched earth policy of patriarchy over the matriarchal culture of his Southern ancestors. "The Aryan man cannot possibly imagine a world that does not revolve around him, and his wants and needs," he writes. "I believe Aryan people are paying for their sins today with the sorry state of our modern world... The pressure and stresses of our concrete jungle keep us uptight, tense, and on edge. The constant upheaval in the world, with each nation or group vying for supremacy, has put us on the edge of destruction."
Although filled with information about ancient Egyptian history and its invaluable contribution to our modern world, Valentine adds a few wise tidbits of his own, making "The Clan of Southern Man" worthy of our attention and totally appropriate in these chaotic times. Even if readers do not fully understand the abundance of facts about Egyptology, they will find the greater narrative that touches on a deeper truth about our urgent cultural and societal issues, very timely.
"Now that we know we're not evolving, we should understand
it's us, and only us, who can make the necessary changes in
ourselves to become the people we want to be," Valentine
concludes. "We can't wait for society to change, we must
change ourselves, and then we can change society. The key to
those changes is within us."
With this impressive book, Valentine wants to stress the value of words, ideas, and facts in our perception of our modern world. He has turned his back on half-truths, deception, and manipulation of what we are taught in school. And for that, we should be grateful to him and his grand purpose of re-educating our minds.
Robert Fleming is an American journalist and writer, and a contributing editor for Black Issues Book Review. He landed his first real writing job as an associate editor in 1977 at Encore Magazine, a pioneering black newsmagazine. This job brought him into contact with some of the most gifted and famous writers of the time. His many works have been published in a host of black and white publications, including Black Enterprise, Essence, The Source, U.S. News and World Report, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Times, among others. He has a degree in psychology and attended the prestigious Columbia University School of Journalism. Mr. Fleming has written over 36 books.