Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilization
(200,000 B.C. - 476 B.C.)

Unit 1: Class 3: The Beginning of Civilization

People To Know
Basil Davidson, (1914 - 2010) Historian of Africa, Journalist, Activist.  Basil Davidson was a true champion of African history in the face of a white world unwilling to acknowledge Africa's righteous place in world history...

Documentary: Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, Episode 1 of 8 - "Different but Equal" 

Related Video
The Dabous Giraffes are a neolithic petroglyph (rock art) completed between 9,000 B.C.E. and 7,000 B.C.E. in what is now Niger, Africa. One giraffe has on a leash, suggesting the early domestication of the camel. The sophistication and significance of these carvings provide evidence that the African genius was sparked thousands of years before the founding of Ancient Egypt. ​

Basil Davidson’s seminal 8-episode documentary series ‘Africa’ challenges the long held beliefs like the opinion of David Hume that Africa had ‘no ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences’. The series presents a pan-African conception of history from the origins of Egypt and Nubia to the liberation movements that Basil was familiar with, and newly independent nations in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

When Greek Historian Herodotus visited Ancient Egypt he described the civilisation he saw there as ‘different but equal’. Episode one shows that some of the world’s greatest early civilisations have their origins in black Africa, including those along the Nile Valley. The episode includes interviews with Senegalese mathematician, philosopher and Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop and explores the growth of African civilisations in West and Northeast Africa.

About the series:

The series was produced in collaboration between Channel 4, The Nigeria Television Authority MBTV and RM Arts. It first aired 30 years ago in 1984 and won many awards, including the International Film & TV Festival of New York Gold Award. It has since been distributed, free of charge to many schools and colleges in the UK and Africa.


"They painted themselves reddish pink." Despite claiming that the ancient Egyptians were African people, Basil Davidson knowingly falsely stated that the ancient Egyptians "painted themselves reddish pink." This is pure propaganda. The ancient Egyptians painted themselves a variety of shades of black and brown. In fact, the color black isthe most sacred color to the ancient Egyptians. The color black represented the Gods. When pharaohs were depicting themselves as deities, they painted themselves jet black. No other Egyptian was allowed to depict themselves jet black except for Pharaohs and Queens.

To say that these "African" people painted themselves reddish pink is to suggest that they in fact were not African, but closer to Europeans in appearance. Even well-meaning white historians like Basil Davidson are used to promote anti-African propaganda. It is my belief that this was a compromise he had to make in order to get the documentary made. But there is no way possible that Davidson believed this lie; yet he told it anyway. This is why African people should be in charge of telling African history.