Théophile Obenga

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Theophile Obenga in a 2009 photograph Obenga 2.JPG
Théophile Obenga in a 2009 photograph

Théophile Obenga (born 1936 in the Republic of the Congo) is professor emeritus in the Africana Studies Center at San Francisco State University. He is a politically active proponent of Pan-Africanism and an Afrocentrist. Obenga is an Egyptologist, linguist, and historian.


Most of his work on ancient Egypt is contradicted by modern science.


Obenga was born in 1936 in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. [1]

Théophile Obenga has studied a wide variety of subjects and has obtained a wide range of degrees. His degrees include:

Théophile Obenga holds a Ph.D. in Letters, Arts and Humanities from Montpellier University, France. He is a member of the French Association of Egyptologists (Société Française D’Egyptologie) and of the African Society of Culture (Présence Africaine). He contributed to the United Nations Educational and Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) program consecrated to writing of the General History of Africa and the Scientific and Cultural History of Humanity. He was, until the end of 1991, Director General of the Centre International des Civilisations Bantu (CICIBA) in Libreville, Gabon. He is the Director and Chief Editor of the journal Ankh. From January 28 to February 3, 1974, Obenga, Cheikh Anta Diop, and numerous professors from Egypt and Sudan were Africa's representatives to the UNESCO symposium in Cairo on "The Peopling of Ancient Egypt and the Deciphering of the Meroitic Script".

Linguistic analysis

During the 1974 UNESCO Cairo symposium, The peopling of ancient Egypt and the deciphering of the Meroitic script , Cheikh Anta Diop and Obenga were among its participants. [2] [3] [4] Adding on to Diop's African origin of ancient Egypt model, Theophile Obenga focused on linguistics. [2] [3] [4] Obenga criticized Joseph Greenberg's mass comparison method, for its inability to prove genetic relationships among languages. He cited the work of Istvan Fodor who also criticized Greenberg's multi lateral comparative analysis. [5] Obenga through the usage of the historical comparative method sought to prove that the Egyptian language is genetically related to the majority of the languages in Africa. [2] [3] [4] Obenga analyzed typological similarities in grammar as well as examined the word forms of ancient Egyptian and numerous African languages such as Wolof [2] [3] [4] and discovered that the similarities between the ancient Egyptian language and the African languages he analyzed to be greater than the similarities between the Semitic, Berber, and Egyptian languages, which Greenberg grouped together as the Afroasiatic languages. [2] [3] [4] Obenga revealed 101 putative cognates in African languages classified in different families by Greenberg. These languages share the same word across the length and breadth of the continent. According to Kambon, the sheer spatial and temporal depth involved makes the notion that these terms were borrowed from one language family to another highly unlikely. These lexical commonalities point to a common ancestral proto-language from which they are all descended. [6]

Obenga proposes three major language families for Africa: [7] [8] [9]

Obenga developed Cheikh Anta Diop's Paleo African language family as Negro-Egyptian. This family is composed of: [7] [9]

Rules of historical linguistics “Historical linguistics” or even “historical genetic linguistics” consists of a diachronic perspective of the study of languages aiming to account for the dynamic nature of linguistic phenomena. To do this, this scientific discipline mobilizes descriptive data made available by synchronic linguistic studies (lexicology, phonology, morphology, grammar, etc.), by comparing them from one language to others (or from language to language). within a corpus previously determined through the empirical observation of a few similarities. This comparative approach aims, according to him, to test said similarities, in order to know if they are “fortuitous”, “borrowed”, “convergent”, or even “inherited”. In the group of languages considered, only the regular character of inherited linguistic properties would constitute the “genetic relationship” common to these languages. In other words, according to Obenga, we should only speak of “genetic kinship” common to languages, on the one hand if they present inherited similarities between them; on the other hand if the regular evolution in time and space of said similarities can be highlighted by the method of historical linguistics. Although initially developed within the framework of the study of so-called Indo-European or Semitic languages, according to Emile Benveniste, historical linguistics can also be applied to other languages of the world; whether they were called "exotic", "primitive" or "without history". [10] Théophile Obenga, believing that the "ultimate goal of this linguistics is to be able to carry out a general classification of all known human languages", undertook - following Cheikh Anta Diop [11] - to apply the method of historical linguistics to “Negro-African” linguistic phenomena.


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  1. Theophile J. Obenga, San Francisco State University
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 UNESCO (1978). The peopling of ancient Egypt and the deciphering of the Meroitic script. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. pp. 83–84.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Unesco. International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa (1981). Ancient Civilizations of Africa. University of California Press. pp. 64–65. ISBN   9780435948054.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Mukhtār, Muḥammad (1990). UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. II, Abridged Edition: Ancient Africa. University of California Press. pp. 40–42. ISBN   9780520066977.
  5. Fodor, István (1969). The Problems in the Classification of the African Languages: Methodological and Theoretical Conclusions Concerning the Classification System of Joseph H. Greenberg. Studies on Developing Countries (3rd ed.). Budapest: Center for Afro-Asian Research of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. OCLC   456591424.
  6. Kambon, Ọbádélé (2021). "Of Repatriation, Rivers and Rivulets". In Owusu, Abena Makini; Maisha, Hyman (eds.). A Smart Ghana Repatriation Guide. Washington, DC: Adinkra Group. pp. 1–25. ISBN   9781735800127.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Imhotep, Asar. "Aaluja: Rescue, Reinterpretation and the Restoration of Major Ancient Egyptian Themes, Vol. 1". Scribd.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Dukuzumurenyi, A. The Book of the Tep-Heseb: An Afrikological Research Methodology via
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Théophile Obenga (Congolese Historian, Doctorate)". EENI Business School & HA University.
  10. Emile Benveniste, Problems of general linguistics, Paris, Gallimard, 1966, page 102:
    This method [of historical linguistics] is well known and has been tested in the establishment of more than one family. The proof has been made that it can also be applied to languages without history whose relationship is noted today, of whatever structure it relates [...] There is therefore no reason to imagine that “exotic” or “primitive” languages require other criteria for comparison than Indo-European or Semitic languages.
  11. Cheikh Anta Diop, Genetic relationship of Pharaonic Egyptian and Negro-African languages, ed. IFAN/NEA, Dakar/Abidjan, 1977