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historian, Egyptologist, educator, and Pan-Africanist, known popularly as “Dr. Ben,” was born in Gondar, Ethiopia, the son of Krstan ben Jochannan, a lawyer and diplomat, and Tulia Matta, a native of Puerto Rico, who was a homemaker and midwife. Both parents were Jewish: his father was a member of a Jewish Ethiopian people then called the “Falasha,” or Beta Israel, and his mother was descended from Spanish Sephardic Jews. The couple met in Madrid, Spain, where Matta was attending college and the elder ben Jochannan was a diplomatic attaché. Soon after their marriage, they traveled from Spain to Ethiopia where their son, Yosef, was born.

Ben Jochannan spent his earliest years in Ethiopia but after age five he was raised in the Americas He said in later interviews that in the 1920s the Ethiopian government sent his father to Brazil to help develop the coffee trade of that country ...


Kwame Zulu Shabazz

Théophile Obenga was born in Congo Brazzaville. He is a multidisciplinary scholar holding advanced degrees in philosophy, education, history, Egyptology, and linguistics. Obenga earned his Ph.D. in Letters, Arts, and Humanities from Montpellier University, France. In addition to being either fluent or conversant in seven or more modern languages, he is also an articulate reader of Metu Neter (Divine Speech), the language of ancient Egyptian elites. Obenga is a member of the Société Française D’Egyptologie and of Présence Africaine. Until 1991, he was Director General of the Centre International des Civilisations Bantu (CICIBA) in Libreville, Gabon. He is presently the Chief Editor of the journal Ankh.

Obenga’s scholarly profile rose markedly in 1974 as a result of his collaboration with the Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop (1923–1986 during the symposium The Peopling of Ancient Egypt and the Decipherment of Meroitic Writing sponsored by the United Nations Educational ...


Jeremy Rich

Congolese (Brazzaville) historian and Egyptologist active in the United States, was born in the town of Mbaya, now located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on 2 February 1936. Obenga completed his primary and secondary studies in the Congo prior to independence in 1960. He then moved to France, where he received a range of degrees. He received a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Bordeaux, a master’s degree in history from the University of Paris, Sorbonne, and a doctorate in the humanities from Montpellier University. He also received a master’s degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh and has completed further coursework in linguistics, Egyptology, and archaeology in France and Switzerland.

Obenga speaks French, English, Greek, Italian, Arabic, Latin, Syriac, and several African languages. In the 1960s and early 1970s Obenga developed a close collaboration with the legendary Senegalese historian and Afrocentric ...