Africans in Ancient America
Negroes in the New World ? - Oh no there goes the Neighborhood !

By R.A. Rajotte

Ivan Van Sertima in his book 'They Came Before Columbus' hypothesizes that Africans reached America in at least two pre-Columbian stages. The first being ancient Egyptians and Nubians, who reached the Gulf of Mexico between 1200 BC and 800 BC. He further theorizes that the "Black Caribs" are descended from pre-Columbian African explorers who intermingled with the indigenous population. Conservative anthropological rationale for the existence of the Black Caribs is that escaped African slaves from a ship that had run aground near St. Vincent in 1675 were assimilated into the native culture and their offspring became known as Black Caribs.

The second Theoretical wave, Circa 1310 AD, the Mande/Mende people of Western Africa arrived along eastern Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and various Caribbean islands, some 180 years before Columbus. Although there is indications that other Mende migrations, perhaps in pre-history preceded the 14th Century wave.

Historian / linguist Leo Weiner, in his book, Africa and the Discovery of America wrote that Columbus was well aware of the Mandinka [Mandinga/Mande] presence in the New World, and that the West African Muslims had spread throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, North America and even into Canada, where they were trading and intermarrying with the Indians

The Olmecs

One of the earliest civilizations of ancient America was the Olmec society. Located along the Gulf Coast of Mexico circa 1000 BC. Basalt stone heads, weighing up to forty tons, have been found in various Olmec sites. Archaeologist Mathew Stirling, described their facial features as "amazingly Negroid." The Olmecs may have been Blacks of Egyptian, North or West African lineage , they may have been an African settler-colony, or they have been part of an ancient race that includes the Australian Aborigines as well as Lagoa Santa man.

Major gaps exist in our knowledge of Olmec culture and history, but enough has been unearthed to hypothesize a significant African influence in America centuries before the advent of the Imperial-Colonial slave trade.

Although it is not 'written in stone' Studies indicate that there is a fair possibility that the Olmecs were not Amerindians who simply resembled Africans [although some Amerindians and Olmecs did naturally mix].

Olmec Writing

It has been claimed that the Olmecs used the Mending/Mende script, a writing system used among Africans in West Africa . Controversy surrounds the presence of writing among the Olmecs. Some scholars have maintained that the Olmec writing was identical to the Manding writing used in West Africa. While others believe that the Olmecs possessed an iconography but not a writing system.

An important paper on the Mayan writing that helped in the decipherment of the Olmec Writing was published by a Nineteenth Century scholar named Rafinesque.

In this paper he discussed the fact that the Mayan glyphs were broken down into their constituent parts, they were analogous to the ancient Libyco-Berber writing, which originated in North Africa.

Olmec Writing: The oldest in the Western Hemisphere

Olmec Writing : Ancient Indian Civilizations

The Mende Expedition

African Expedition to America Circa 1310 AD

The ruler of the West African Empire of Mali had been assured by scholars that the world was round and new lands lay on the other side of the vast ocean. This ruler decided to find out , he assembled enough soldiers ,craftsmen and supplies to build an armada of ships of all types and sizes.

Hypothetical Route of African Travelers to Pre Columbian America

The fleet sailed, the following year only one ship ever returned, that of a captain who had reversed course just as the fleet was caught by a powerful westward-flowing current . The captain bore no news other than that he had seen the rest of the ships continue westward.

Obsessed ,The ruler would try again with a similar fleet paid for with the gold and sweat of his empire. The ships of this voyage carried colonists and trade goods.

On the deck of the "Flag ship" was placed a throne. The ruler would lead the second voyage himself. When all preparations were made, he handed over the government of Mali to his brother [Mansa Musa] and departed.

The ruler and his fleet never returned . Where or If Mali's ruler ever landed is uncertain, but there is some speculation that he finally arrived in the New World, and settled with hundreds of followers.

Mansa Musa took the throne sometime circa 1310. The following is his account of his Brothers voyage.

"So Abubakar [Abubakari is an honorary title, such as 'his majesty' or 'his highness' not a proper name,] equipped 200 ships filled with men and the same number equipped with gold, water, and provisions, enough to last them for years, they departed and a long time passed before anyone came back. Then one ship returned and we asked the captain what news they brought.

He said, 'Yes, Oh Sultan, we traveled for a long time until there appeared in the open sea a river with a powerful current ... the other ships went on ahead, but when they reached that place, they did not return and no more was seen of them ... As for me, I went about at once and did not enter the river.'

The Sultan got ready 2,000 ships, 1,000 for himself and the men whom he took with him, and 1,000 for water and provisions. He left me to deputize for him and embarked on the Atlantic Ocean with his men. That was the last we saw of him and all those who were with him. And so, I became king in my own right."

... Mansa Musa, talking to Syrian scholar Al-Umari.

Documented Post Colombian Black Indians

Black Tribe of Darien, Panama

A contemporary historian of Columbus, noted that Spanish explorers found 'Negro slaves' in Darien, Panama. 'It is thought,. that, Negro pirates of Ethiopia established themselves after the wreck of their ships in these mountains.' [The explanation that they were former pirates is pure speculation on the Author, Peter Martyr. They were captives of local Indians and had apparently come from a nearby colony. They were there before Balboa found them in 1513.

It is conceivable, however logistically improbable, that they were escaped Spanish slaves. The first slaves were brought to the West Indies by the Spanish about 1501. It is however ,quite possible that they were descended from either the Olmecs or the Mende.

Black Californians

Black Californians or Black Mojave were an indigenous group of Amerindians who once occupied parts of California. The enigmatic part of their existence is that they were not of the same racial stock as the typical Amerindian, they were Negro.

They fought the Spaniards, the Mexicans and Anglo-Americans up to the mid 1800's. Many were enslaved and later freed after slavery was abolished. Many others continued fighting and were eventually subdued. Their Descendants melted into the afro populations of the inner cities of southwestern US and Mexico where many continue to resist civilization to this very day. [See: Origins of American Slavery ]

Black Caribs

Ivan van Sertima hypothesizes that the "Black Caribs" are descended from pre-Colombian African explorers who intermingled with the indigenous population rather than from slaves as the conservative view espouses.

A Century earlier, the son of Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand, may have been speaking of Black Caribs when he wrote about people seen by his father in Honduras.

'The people who live farther east of Pointe Cavinas, as far as Cape Gracios a Dios, are almost black in color' he wrote.

The Gullah People

The Gullah people of the sea islands off South Carolina and Georgia are a scholarly enigma.

Anthropologists have long been puzzled because their culture retains a much stronger African influence than the culture of former African slaves. Their language, cultural practices, folktales, and beliefs all give strong evidence of African roots.

The probability of this matter is that the Gullahs being isolated from the mainland influences were able to retain more of their African heritage, although the possibilities that the core element of their subculture is descended from African independent arrivals exclusive of the slave trade are certainly intriguing.

The Water Brought Us: The Story of the Gullah-Speaking PeopleBook Gullah Speaking People


Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (Southern Classics Series)


King Jubas Treasure

In 1982, Russell E. Burrows, an amateur treasure hunter allegedly discovered a remote cave near Olney ,Illinois loaded with ancient weapons, gold sarcophagi, jewels, and stone tablets depicting West African Soldiers, Roman soldiers, Jews, and early Christians . He removed over 7,000 artifacts then dynamited the entrance closed.

Juba's father was king of North African Kingdom of Numidia - Present day Libya. He fought against Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire in 46 B.C. and was defeated. Juba's father committed suicide and his baby son, Juba II, was taken back to Rome by Ceasar.

Juba was educated as a Roman by Octavian, Caesar's nephew. When Octavian became emperor, he installed Juba as ruler of Mauritania on the West Coast of Africa. He married Cleopatra, the daughter of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, they ruled as King and Queen from 25 B.C. to around 19 A.D.

According to Researcher and Author Frank Josep, Juba was persecuted by Octavian's successor, Caligula and his son was executed, causing a rebellion against Rome. Juba moved into present day Ghana, built a fleet , and set sail to establish a new kingdom - but where ? The Lost Treasure of King Juba: The Evidence of Africans in America before Columbus proposes that the treasure found in Illinois was that of King Juba.

The Treasure Hunter Russell E. Burrows wont reveal where he found the treasure, but Frank Joseph claims the hoard to be proof that Africans reached America long before Columbus. There's several problems with Josephs theory.

1. Why Illinois? , an inland state , how would Juba travel this far and bypass all coastal regions.

2. Juba II and his queen Cleopatra Selene allegedly are buried in present day Algeria.

3. Archaeologists have disputed the authenticity of the inscriptions found on the treasure.

4. While it is true that Burrows may have discovered an archaeological site of importance and took steps to preserve his claim to it, whether it is that of King Juba is open to debate.

The Washitaw

The Washitaw Nation, or Washitaw de Dutgdahmoundyah is a group of people who claim to be a sovereign Native American nation within the boundaries of the US, headed by Empress Verdiacee Tiari Washitaw Turner Goston El-Bey. [Wikipedia]. I hesitantly include this group in this site because there is a very remote miniscule possibility that their story bears a minute shred of credibility.

They present on their websites blatantly and ridiculously Africanized , Egyptianized artifacts as proof of their lineage from African and ancient Egyptian colonists of antiquity. Any aspects which could point to Egyptian or African origins on these artifacts is highly accentuated . The Olmec heads, for instance, of Central America hint at African racial grouping, while the Washitaw artifacts scream African, with a strong Classical Egyptian influence.

In 1991, the U.S. returned about 68,000 square acres of land to the Washitaw Nation of Louisiana. Although the Washitaw claim to own about 1/3 of the US. Washitaw's empress claims that the land sold by Napoleon to the United States in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase, was fraudulently obtained because she owns it. Verdiacee Goston, [the Empresses name before she decided to be the Empress] was indicted in 1984 for the alleged embezzlement of $150,000 in federal funds.


Jamassee/Yamasee and the Guale Indians of the American Southwest were said by some to be of African origin, although there is no evidence of this prior to their mixing with colonial slaves.


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