Last modified on 31 March 2015, at 14:04

Yosef Ben-Jochannan

Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan
Born (1918-12-31)December 31, 1918
Died March 19, 2015(2015-03-19) (aged 96)
Occupation writer, historian
Nationality American
Notable works Abu Simbel to Ghizeh: A Guide Book and Manual (1989)

Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan (/ˈbɛn ˈjkənən/; December 31, 1918 – March 19, 2015), also known as Dr. Ben, was an American writer and historian. He is considered to have been one of the nation's more notable Afrocentric scholars.[1]

Early life and educationEdit

Ben-Jochannan's background is uncertain. He asserted that he was born in Ethiopia to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father.[2] According to Tudor Parfitt, Ben-Jochannan was likely to have been of Puerto Rican origin.[3]

According to some sources, he was educated in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba, and Spain, earning degrees in engineering and anthropology.[2][unreliable source?] In 1938, he is said to have earned a BS in Civil Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico; this is disputed.[citation needed] He stated that in 1939 he earned a Master's degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba.[2] and then doctoral degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona, Spain.[2]

In a New York Times article published after Ben-Jochannan's death it was reported that "Documents from Malcolm-King College and Cornell show Mr. Ben-Jochannan holding a doctorate from Cambridge University in England; catalogs from Malcolm-King College list him holding two master’s from Cambridge. According to Fred Lewsey, a communications officer at Cambridge, however, the school has no record of his ever attending, let alone earning any degree. Similarly, the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, where he also said he had studied, has no records of his enrollment."[4]

Career and later lifeEdit

Ben-Jochannan immigrated to the United States in the early 1940s. He worked as a draftsman and continued his studies. He stated that in 1945, he was appointed chairman of the African Studies Committee at the headquarters of the newly founded UNESCO, a position from which he reportedly stepped down in 1970. In 1950, Ben-Jochannan began teaching Egyptology at Malcolm King College, and subsequently at City College in New York City. From 1976 to 1987, he was an adjunct professor at Cornell University.[5]

Ben-Jochannan was the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures.[2][dead link]In his writings, he asserts that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans, while the white Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.[6]

Ben-Jochannan made a number of appearances on Gil Noble's WABC-TV weekly public affairs series Like It Is.

In 2002, Ben-Jochannan donated his personal library of more than 35,000 volumes, manuscripts and ancient scrolls to the Nation of Islam.[7]

In the years preceding his death Ben-Jochannan lived in Harlem, New York City.

Ben-Jochannan died on March 19, 2015,[8] at the age of 96.[9]

ControversyEdit

Ben-Jochannan has been criticized for allegedly distorting history and promoting Black supremacy. In February 1993, Wellesley College European classics professor Mary Lefkowitz publicly confronted Ben-Jochannan about his teachings. Ben-Jochannan taught that Aristotle visited the Library of Alexandria. During the question and answer session following the lecture, Lefkowitz asked ben-Jochannan, "How would that have been possible, when the library was not built until after his death?" Lefkowitz stated that "Dr. ben-Jochannan was unable to answer the question, and said that he resented the tone of the inquiry."[10] Lefkowitz writes that ben-Jochannan proceeded to tell those present that they "could and should believe what black instructors told" them and that "although they might think that Jews were all 'hook-nosed and sallow faced,' there were other Jews who looked like himself."[11]

African-American professor Clarence E. Walker wrote that Ben-Jochannan not only confused Cleopatra VII with her daughter Cleopatra VIII and stated she was black, but also wrote that “Cleopatra VIII committed suicide after being discovered in a plot with Marc Antonio [Mark Anthony] to murder Julius Caesar.”[12]

Selected bibliographyEdit

  • African Origins of Major Western Religions, 1991. ISBN 978-0933121294
  • We the Black Jews, 1993, ISBN 9780933121409
  • Black Man of the Nile and His Family, Black Classic Press, 1989. ISBN 9780933121263
  • Africa: Mother of Western Civilization. ISBN 9780933121256
  • New Dimensions in African History
  • The Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the Exclusion of Their African Origins
  • Abu Simbel to Ghizeh: A Guide Book and Manual
  • Cultural Genocide in the Black and African Studies Curriculum. New York, 1972. OCLC 798725

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Carroll, Robert (2011). The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley & Sons. p. 8. ISBN 1118045637. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Yosef Ben-Jochannan Biography". TheHistorymakers.com. 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ Tudor Parfitt, Emanuela Semi (eds.) (2013). Judaising Movements: Studies in the Margins of Judaism in Modern Times. Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 1136860274. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ Kestenbaum, Sam (March 27, 2015). "Contested Legacy of Dr. Ben, a Father of African Studies". New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2015. Documents from Malcolm-King College and Cornell show Mr. Ben-Jochannan holding a doctorate from Cambridge University in England; catalogs from Malcolm-King College list him holding two master’s from Cambridge. According to Fred Lewsey, a communications officer at Cambridge, however, the school has no record of his ever attending, let alone earning any degree. Similarly, the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, where he also said he had studied, has no records of his enrollment. 
  5. ^ "Dr. Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan". raceandhistory.com. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ Ben Jochannan, Yosef (1993). We the Black Jews. Black Classics Press. 
  7. ^ Shabazz, Saeed (October 29, 2002). "Prized library bequeathed to the Nation". FinalCall.com. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  8. ^ Martin Pratt, "Obituaries: Noted historian and scholar Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannan has died", Rolling Out, March 19, 2015.
  9. ^ "Dr. Ben joins the ancestors". New York Amsterdam News. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  10. ^ Lefkowitz, Mary (1997). Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth As History. New Republic Book (reprint). p. 2. ISBN 978-0465098385. 
  11. ^ History Lesson, pp. 67-69.
  12. ^ Walker, Clarence E (2001). We Can't Go Home Again: An Argument About Afrocentrism. Oxford University Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0195095715. 

External linksEdit