GUYANA’S SHINING STAR GEORGE G.M. JAMES
By HANDEL ANDREWS
Sometimes in the glorious history of ideas, a great thinker is defined byone work. Francis Bacon is best known for his “Novum Organum; Herbert Spencer for “First Principles”; Thomas Hobbes for “Leviathan.” George G.M. James’ magnus opus is “Stolen Legacy.” I will attempt to show why his great book is so important in black thought.
Born in British Guiana (now Guyana) sometime during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century to Rev. Linch and Margaret James, he wrote the best-known book on the African origins of Western philosophy.
After completing elementary and secondary schooling in his native land, he went to England to further his studies. He earned B.A., B.T., and M.A. degrees from Durham University, where he was a candidate for the D.Litt. Further post-graduate work at Columbia University earned him a PhD, most likely in the Classics. He also earned a
teaching certificate in the State of New York to teach mathematics, Latin and Greek.
His university tenures were extensive. He served as Professor of Logic and Greek at Livingston College in North Carolina for 2 years. For ten years he was Professor of Languages and philosophy at Johnson C. Smith College at Charlotte, North Carolina. His teaching career ended at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, a black institution. He died under mysterious circumstances the same year his “Stolen Legacy” was published. Apparently one afternoon he left his job and friends and was later found dead in Nashville, Tennessee.
Since no biography of Dr. James exists, the truth of his death might never be known. It is disgraceful that his native Guyana has never paid tribute in any way, shape or form to this, her native son. It is more disgraceful that the University of Arkansas, a black institution, does not have a certificate on its walls acknowledging his tenure. It is even stranger, extremely perplexing, that “Stolen Legacy” was written during Dr. James’ tenure at that university, but THERE IS NO COPY OF THE BOOK IN ITS LIBRARY!!!.
The Public Library in Georgetown, Guyana, contained copies of Plato’s
“Symposium”, but no copy of ˜Stolen Legacy”, written by a Guyanese. When I was studying philosophy, George G. M. James’ name was never mentioned and I only discovered his book after college.
Why did I not hear about him or his book? Why do European scholars vilify “Stolen Legacy” at every count? Because it dared to question the usual assumptions about the origins of much of Western thinking, and prove that black people were not as dumb as we were told.
To quote Prof. Ben Jochannan, “If you ever dare to read the works of George G.M. James,you will never again be the same as before you did. He stands at head of the line with Akhenaten, Ramesis, St. Augustine, Terrence, and so many others who heeded the warning, “Man know thyself” This is great praise from one of
the great scholars of African influences in Western philosophy.
DR. JAMES’ THESIS
Dr. James argues that Greek philosophy and the mystery systems of Greece and Rome were stolen from Egypt, and he challenges the notion that civilization originated in Greece. His thesis in “Stolen Legacy” is that, “The Greeks were not the authors of Greek philosophy, but the people of North Africa, commonly called the Egyptians.” He painstakingly documents the African origins of
Graeco-Roman philosophical thought.
He writes, “The term Greek philosophy, to begin with, is a misnomer, for there is no such philosophy in existence. The ancient Egyptians had developed a very complex religious system called the Mysteries, which was also the first system of salvation.”
European arrogance and its notion of the white man’s burden rests on the assumption that Greece invented philosophy, the arts and the sciences. Dr. James challenged the foundations of Judaism and Judaeo-Christianity, “Stolen Legacy,” Pages 177-178 assert that the statue of the Egyptian goddess Isis with her child Horus in her arms is the origin of the Virgin Mary with the baby
Jesus in her arms.
He also contends that, “All the great religious leaders from Moses to Christ were initiates of the Egyptian Mysteries.” Dr. James also tells us that in his “Timaeus”, Plato says that aspirants for mystical wisdom
visited Egypt for initiation and were told by the priests of Sais, “You Greeks are but children” in the secret doctrine, but were admitted for information enabling them to promote their spiritual advancement.
Dr. James has been called an Afro-centrist, derived from Afro-centrism, a derisive term, that is used to describe a historical approach that argues that European scholarship has largely neglected or denied the intellectual contributions of Ancient African on their civilization and formulated ” a generally European-centered model of world civilization and history.”
Instead of complimenting historians like Prof. James and Dr. Ben Jochannan for their sterling contributions to our understanding of world history, many scholars denigrate them. For example, in “Not Out Of Africa”, Mary Lefkowitz argues that Afrocentrism is an excuse to teach myth as history. But Dr. James’ and the claim of others that ancient African intellectual traditions were the basis of European intellectual traditions is not myth, but withstand the scrutiny of history.
In “James revived”, Prof. Ben Jochannan quotes from “Ruins of Empire” by Count C.F. Volney, an eighteenth century French academic ‘of the highest esteem”, page xvii:
“There (speaking of Egypt) a people now forgotten discovered while others were yet barbarians, the elements of the arts and sciences. A race of men now rejected for their black skin and wooly hair founded on the study of the laws of nature those civil and religious systems which still govern the universe.” Dr. James’ Importance
Dr. James, Prof. Yoef A.A. Ben Jochannan and others of their views teach us the truth about our ancestors. The achievements of Kimet (Africa is the derisive European term ) are startling to this day. Dr. James and others point to Kufu’s Great Pyramid (even if Eurocentrists deny Nefertiti and Cleopatra as being black, they accept that Kufu was black), the Grand Lodge at Luxor, the Pyramid Texts, the Kimetian Book of the Dead, the Kimetian Mystery Systems as
examples of African genius.
When European scholars state that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built 2,000 years before the Common Era, Dr. James and others
prove that it was built 8,000 years earlier.
When European teachers told us that Africa was “the dark continent”, he and others proved that it was the only continent of light. Indeed, men like Dr. James should be enshrined in the Intellectual Hall of Fame for those who dare expose the lies that Europe had told for so long.
Dr. George G.M. James was born in British Guiana but he belongs to the world. The movement he started was to show how Africa was the cradle of civilization and the origin of European enlightenment.
To date no biography of Dr. James exists. I hope that someone will commence research and publish a book on him. It is long overdue in the name of Black History.