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Jake, The Giant Slayer

By Charles A. Grantham

Presented by Omni-U Virtual University

The title of this essay might remind some readers of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” a fairy- tale they grew up reading. Others may have seen various versions of a movie called “Jack, the Giant Killer” and “Jack, the Giant Slayer.”Still others will conjure up images from the biblical story of David who, with just a sling-shot, slew a formidable adversary in the foreign land where he had settled. In this essay, the reference is -in part- to a written text which predates the story of David and Goliath by at least a thousand years.[1] Also, we have substituted "Jake" for "Jack" because this reference is to our Ancestor, Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers, Jr., who was known simply as "Jake" to his family, colleagues, and friends


Dr. Carruthers, although short in stature,was an intellectual giant - an accomplished and accredited scholar who was equipped with the necessary academic weapons to meet his adversaries head- on. He held a Masters degree in Political Government from Texas Southern University and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Colorado. Coupled with these distinctions were his friendship and collaboration with Ancestor Anderson Thompson and other faculty members at Northeastern Illinois University's Center for Inner City Studies. During his more than thirty-year tenure there, he honed his skills in the development of African- centered thought and the deconstruction of the Eurocentric worldview.


The aforementioned written text, “The Story of Sinuhe" predates the biblical story of David and Goliath. This story, to which Jake often referred, takes place in Africa, i.e., Kemet, and neighboring foreign lands during the reign of a King/Pharaoh named Senwosret (c.a. 1918-1875 BCE). Because this text was so popular in Kemet, there are scholars who take the position that this Kemetic text may have served as “a literary prototype” for the biblical story of David and Goliath which appeared much later.[2] Among others, a common theme in both of these texts is that both protagonists,i.e., Sinuhe and David, use physical force to subdue their overwhelmingly physically superior opponents. However, Jake used his intellectual skills to defeat his opponents to whom he often referred as “Defenders of Western Civilization” (3). These were, in too many cases, the purveyors of lies and the disseminators of erroneous information about Africa and African peoples. These "giants" are often held up as the quintessential sources of knowledge and truth. Nothing could be further from the truth as an examination of the book “Intellectual Warfare” by Jacob H. Carruthers reveals.


I was one of the many students who attended Jake's classes at the former Center for Inner City Studies, now renamed The Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in his honor.. Although I was not at all familiar with their views on Africa, I remember the names of some of these "Defenders". Among them are Georg W. F. Hegel and Charles Montesquieu, both well known philosophers who are highly regarded in Western academia. One of Hegel’s quips - though generally not associated with him- is that Africa was “the unhistorical, undeveloped spirit- still involved in the conditions of mere nature; devoid of morality, religions and political constitution.” [4] Hegel stated that as far as Egypt was concerned, it did not belong to Africa. Thus, with a quick sleight-of- hands and words, Hegel became a magician and took Egypt out of Africa/ Kemet and Africa/ Kemet out of history. Montesquieu, after arbitrarily separating mankind into three stages of social development, categorized Africans as savages and barbarians “without industry or arts.” [5] Jake exposed both Hegel and Montesquieu for who they were.


Another "Defender,” closer to home, was James Henry Breasted, the founder of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. Jake described Breasted, a cornerstone in the development of American Egyptology, as a “brilliant Egyptologist” but, one who, nonetheless, argued that only white peoples were responsible for the initiation of civilization. [6]


Jake didn’t just engage in battle with the white "giants" who espoused white supremacy, he also took on Blacks whose words and actions, in Jake’s opinion, also defended Western hegemony. “African or American?-A Question of Intellectual Allegiance” by Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers offers further insight into this problem. [7] In his classes and elsewhere, Jake was relentless in his efforts to uncover and deconstruct the myths that had been told about Africa and her peoples. Jake stressed the importance of doing the research and then letting Africa and Africans speak for themselves. If that meant challenging the "Defenders" - which was the objective of the research-then you had to be well- prepared to do battle.


As did many other students of Jake, I tried to model myself after him (an impossible feat). However, when the occasion presented itself, I was well-prepared to meet and defeat a formidable adversary, an Egyptologist- from of all places- the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, home of the “brilliant Egyptologist” James Henry Breasted! Details of this encounter are available in the essay “Unwrapping Egyptology” which appears in the book “The Battle for Kemet.” This, in part, is what Jake wrote in the Foreword:


"….Grantham has effectively penetrated some of the fabrications found in esoteric reports going back to the early days of that discipline. By tracking down the famous Champollion who is credited with decipherment of the ancient language, Charles Grantham has become an important officer in our battle to liberate the African mind. His confrontations of contemporary defenders of the fabrications such as Erik Horung and Frank Yurko were valuable victories for our project. [8]


I am forever grateful to Jake for his patience with me and humbled by his kind words. But, more importantly, I am thankful to him for being my Mentor, not only while he lived, but also for having the insight to teach us the value of fighting the battle for Kemet.


Recommended Viewing

"African-centered Scholars: Intellectual Warriors,"an H3O Art of Life Show, Featuring: Professor Charles A. Grantham and Dr. Joseph Ben Levi



Recommended Readings

Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers. Intellectual Warfare. Third World Press.


Charles A.Grantham. The Battle for Kemet. Kemetic Institute.


R.B.Parker. The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Egyptian Poems, 1940-1640 B.C.(Oxford World's Classics).


Dr. Joseph Ben Levi. "Ancestor Dr.Jacob H. Carruthers: African Centered Scholars,Intellectual Warrior", Parts One and Two. "The H3O Art of Life Blog".



BlogNotes

1.* Pritchard, James B. ed. 1958. The Ancient Near East An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton University Press.

2.* Simpson, William K., ed. 1973. The Literature of Ancient Egypt An Anthology of Stories, Instructions, and Poetry. Yale University Press.

3.* Carruthers, Jacob H. 1999. Intellectual Warfare. Third World Press.

*Grantham, Charles A. 2003.The Battle for Kemet. Kemetic Institute.

4.* Carruthers, Jacob H. 1999. Intellectual Warfare. Third World Press.

*Hegel, G.W.F. 1956. The Philosophy of History. Dover Press.

5.* Carruthers, Jacob H. 1999. Intellectual Warfare. Third World Press.

6.* _________. 1999. Intellectual Warfare. Third World Press.

7.* _________. 2009. African or American A Question of Intellectual Allegiance. Kemetic Institute.

8.* Grantham, Charles A. 2003. The Battle for Kemet. Kemetic Institute.

* _________. 2003. The Battle for Kemet. Kemetic Institute.

*Lichtheim, Miriam. 1975. Ancient Egyptian Literature. Vol.1., University of California.



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