When and why did you begin writing Before the Slave Trade?
In Summer 2006 a colleague invited me to help in teaching a course on Ancient Egypt entitled African Perspectives on Egypt. While planning the programme and reading material for the course, I realised what was missing. I realised that someone needed to write a book that contained the photographic evidence that proved that Ancient Egypt belonged to Africa - a book that contained the authentic portraits of the different pharaohs. Professors Cheikh Anta Diop and Ivan Van Sertima made much headway in their respective books, but they did not publish all the evidence in one place. I began Before the Slave Trade to fulfil this need.
What inspired you to write this book?
As a teacher of many years experience I have seen the need for a book that contains the photographic proof of Black People in the ancient civilisations of Israel, Phoenicia, Carthage, the Moorish Empire, Arabia, Sumer, Elam and India. The book Before the Slave Trade fulfils this need.
Finally, one cannot claim that Black people built anything outside Africa unless one can first demonstrate that Black people built things in Africa. Again, Before the Slave Trade contains a visual survey of monuments built by Black people in West, Central, South and Eastern Africa.
Who or what has influenced your writing?
I was much influenced by the example set by my teacher Dr Femi Biko. He often lectured over slides. I was also influenced by the books and papers of Dr James E. Brunson, Mr Wayne Chandler, Dr Basil Davidson, Professor Cheikh Anta Diop, Dr Peter Garlake, Dr Runoko Rashidi, Mr J. A. Rogers and Professor Ivan Van Sertima.
How did you come up with the title?
The title Before the Slave Trade was chosen to sum of the main question raised by the book: What history do Black people have before the Slave Trade? If we are going to teach history to our next generation, I believe that this is the key question that our parents and teachers must be able to answer.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I would like readers to understand that Black people have a history. It is a great history that Black people can learn from, be proud of, and be inspired by. It is also a great history that non-Africans can respect and celebrate as part of the wider story of human achievement.
What books have most influenced your life most?
In 1990 I read Dr Chancellor William’s The Destruction of Black Civilization. The book explained that Black people do indeed have a history independently of Asian influences or of European influences. The book documented the story of that history and explains how Black people were eventually conquered and enslaved by our conquerors. The book ended with an inspirational message of what Black people can do to today to become a great people once again.
Who designed the cover?
I designed the front cover of the book. It shows an Ancient Egyptian Princess of the great Eighteenth Dynasty in a quietly dignified attitude..
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Perhaps the most difficult and tedious section of the book was drawing up the Index and also the Summary sections.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned just how much fun finding out new things can be. I hope that some of this enthusiasm comes through the book.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would like people to read the book and study it with other adults and also your children. We do actually have a study guide that is also available to facilitate this.
If you could leave your readers with one legacy, what would you want it to be?
I would like to be known as the person that popularised the history of the African people and brought that history to the attention of all peoples.