This landmark documentary tells the story of Cheikh Anta Diop, a man who fought his whole life to restore historical awareness and dignity to Africa. Diop remains a significant but also controversial figure in Senegal and further afield for the views he espoused on African history, African languages, and the origins of humanity.
Born in 1923 in a village in Senegal, Diop developed a passion for science and African history at an early age. He studied philosophy, then physics, chemistry, history and linguistics in Paris. In 1954, he published Nations Nègres et Culture (translated into English in 1974 as The African Origins of Civilisation), a cult book which revolutionised the view of the origin of civilization, arguing that Africa is the cradle of humanity and that the Pharaohs of Egypt were black Africans.
Contradicting the Egyptologists cost Diop dearly his whole life, though his ideas travelled widely in America, Africa and Europe. Diop later built his own carbon dating laboratory in Dakar and remained convinced that Africa’s development would come about through scientific learning, the protection of its national languages, and the federation of the United States of Africa. This film, by a leading Senegalese director, offers unprecedented insight into Diop’s life and his work in Senegal. It speaks to ongoing debates concerning race and the curriculum, the role of the university, and the nature of truth and knowledge in the contemporary world.