• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Catherine Acholonu: Igbo Traditions Reveal Ancient “Genetic Engineering”

Also: accuses me of racism

Prof. Catherine Acholonu has a new book out: They Lived Before Adam: Prehistoric Origins of the Igbo The Never-Been-Ruled. Acholonu is Nigeria’s Country Ambassador for the UN Forum of Arts and Culture (UNFAC), and according to this profile:

The UNFAC team of culture researchers- linguists, anthropologists, historians, IT specialists, folklorists – led by Prof. Acholonu, are conducting research aimed at unearthing the hidden meanings of ancient Nigerian rock art/inscriptions known as Ikom Monoliths of Cross River State, which thanks to Acholonu’s research findings and nomination application, have now been listed by the World Monument Fund in its 2008 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites as “a ancient form of writing and visual communication … dating before 2000 B.C.” Acholonu is seeking international support and funding for her monoliths research by which she has proved that Sub-Saharan African Blacks possessed an organized system of writing before 2000 B.C. (more than 4000 years ago) and a Pre-History recorded on 350 stones which she and her team of researchers are now  transcribing and translating. (See The Gram Code of African Adam, the first in a series on the monoliths research.) She believes that the contents of these stone records will prove that Black Africans were the midwives of human civilization, and will change human history as we know it.

The inflated claim in the last sentence should set off alarm bells, and here she is in full flow on C-SPAN’s BookTV, speaking recently at the Harlem Book Fair:

Our research includes the origin and meanings of symbols used in every religion and sacred literature all over the world. In these, we found that the Hebrew Bible, the Kabbalahs of the Hebrews and the Chinese, the Hindu Vedas and Ramayana, and the recently discovered Egyptian Crystal Bible called the Nag Hammadi are of immense importance in revealing lost knowledge. Wherever we looked we found evidence confirming the claims by geneticists who have been conducting mitochondrial DNA research in four leading universities here in the USA that all mankind came from sub-Saharan Africa, that Eve and Adam were black Africans.

…Igbo oral traditions confirm the findings of geneticists, that by 208000BC – 208000 BC – human evolution was interrupted and Adam, a hybrid, was created through the process of genetic engineering. However, our findings reveal that the creation of Adam was a downward climb on the evolutionary ladder, because he lost his divine essence, he became divided, no longer whole, or wholesome. All over Africa and in ancient Egyptian reports, oral and written traditions maintain that homo erectus people were heavenly beings, and possessed mystical powers such as telepathy, levitation, bi-location, that their words could move rocks and mountains and change the course of rivers. Adam lost all that when his right brain was shut down.

Listening to that is enough to shut down both sides of the brain. It’s all nonsense, of course – the texts she cites contain no “lost knowledge”, and her description of the Nag Hammadi library (Nag Hammadi is the name of a place) as the “Egyptian Crystal Bible” is simply bizarre. The concept of “Chinese Kabbalah” can be found in a couple of dusty tomes about Freemasonry, but the term has no sensible academic application. The “lost knowledge” she has supposedly discovered is just the latest formulation in a long tradition of pseudo-scientific and mystical speculations that feed parasitically off scientific work. The purpose of all this is apparently to show that the Igbo of Nigeria are the true “kings and queens of the earth”.

Remarkably, as well being broadcast by C-SPAN, this farrago was also recently presented at an Igbo Studies Association conference at Howard University; her speech there can be seen here. It’s more of the same:

Leaning on Archaeology, Linguistics, Historical, Anthropological and Paleontological sources, but also using Igbo, Yoruba and Benin Oral Traditions (for all these peoples are related), Biblical and extra-Biblical sources such as the Hebrew and Chinese Cabbalas, our researchers trace the presence of Igbo-speaking, ichi-bearing god-men world civilizers all the way from the ancient Nok region of Nigeria, to the Sahara Desert of North Africa and  to Pre- and Post-Deluge civilizations around the world, all the way to Egypt, China, India, Greece, Babylon, Assyria, Palestine, etc.; their Pre-Deluge connections to the lost continent of Atlantis where the Igbo language was also spoken; their contributions to the shaping of Hebrew culture, Judaism, the Cabbala and ultimately, Christianity; and their role in ancient Egypt in shaping world Democracy and Philosophy as inventors, architects, philosophers and masterminds of Theocracy and of the egalitarian society known in Greece and the world over as Democracy. Indeed Ndi Igbo have never ceased to be world travelers. As they populate the remotest parts of the planet today, so have they done since at least 500,000 B. C.

However, she doesn’t react well to criticism; I blogged about her previous book Garamma: Stone writings of African Adam in 2005, and her response has been to assert that I am a racist:

Dear Bartolomew and co,
I promised you I would be on C-Span on the 18th of July, 2009 to discuss my latest book and discoveries – the sequel to The Gram Code of African Adam which you have been insulting and casting racist slurs at. Well my lecture came up on the 17th but was out on U-Tube by the 18th. You can obtain copies of the lecture on C-Span Online Library and you can watch part of it on The Daily Beast U-Tube site.

Clearly, the civilized world is listening, Bartolomew. Hardly anyone is still jumping around in the jungle of human error thinking racist thoughts like you and your KKK-sounding kind..

For someone who has many tuning into your site, you would do your image a world of good by coming out of your 10th Century fixation with racial stratification of the human intellect. We would be glad to welcome you into the 21st Century.

Of course I’m not a racist – I’ve written against racism numerous times on this blog, and I’ve been proud to carry a guest-post by the Nigerian intellectual Leo Igwe.  Acholonu’s theory is a grandiose fantasy, and it would be patronising to say otherwise. It’s rather pathetic to see someone who wants to be taken seriously hiding behind a bogus accusation of this kind.

Acholonu’s complete C-SPAN talk can be seen here. I’ve also blogged on a religious movement in the UK that uses Igbo identity – see here.

They Lived Before Adam