The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam By David M. Goldenberg


Note too that the early Arab (not African) leader ‘Ubada inb al-Samit is described as a black (aswad) man, and consider the expression used by the Arabic writers to mean “non Arabs and Arabs” (i.e., the whole world), al-ahmar wa’l-aswad, “the red and the black” respectively. Similarly the explanation of al-Jahiz, which he puts in the mouths of the Zanj (black Africans): “The Arabs belong with us not with the whites, because their color is nearer to ours… For the Prophet, God bless and save him, said, ‘I was sent to the red and the black,’ and everyone knows that the Arabs are not red.” Jahiz concludes: “Our blackness, O people of the Zanj, is not different from the blackness of the Banu Sulaym and other Arab tribes. We can add several other authors including those who use the term in the context of Ham’s curse of dark skin.

Ka’b al-Ahbar (d. ca. 652), a Jewish Yemeni convert to Islam, spoke of the cursed descendants of Ham “begetting black [aswadayn] male and female children until they multiplied and spread along the shore. Among them are the Nubians [nuba], the Negroes [zanj], the Barbars [brb], the Sindhis [sind], the Indians [hind] and all the blacks [sudan]: they are the children of Ham. We saw earlier that Wahb inbn Munabbih (d. ca. 73), “a celebrated authority on the traditions of the ahl al-kitab,” reported that God “changed [Ham’s] color and the color of his descendants in response to his father’s curse,” and that Ham’s descendants are Kush, Canaan, and Fut; Fut Fut’s descendants are the Indians; and Kush and Canaan’s descendants are the various races of blacks [sudan]: Nubians, Zanj, Qaran, Zaghawa, Ethiopians, Copts and Barbar. In another source Wahb is reported to have said that Canaan’s descendants were the blacks [al-aswid], Nubians [nuba], Fezzan [Fazzan], Zanj [zanj], Zaghawah [zaghawa], and all the peoples of the Sudan [sudan]. The Akhbar al zaman counts “among the descendants of Sudan, son of Kan’an…the Ishban, the Zanj, and many peoples that multiplied in the Maghrib, about 70 of then.

Clearly, the rabbinic story of sex in the ark is an etiology that is meant to account for the existence of all dark skinned people, not just the Black African. Although, to the best of my knowledge, rabbinic literature does not mention the skin color of the Putites and Canaanites, who descended from Ham, it does refer to the dark skin of Ham’s other descendant, the Egyptians. In the next chapter, we will see two examples of Egyptians referred to as Kushites because of their dark skin color. (107)

Archaeological and epigraphic (South Arabian) evidence in East Africa indicates that already in the early first millennium B.C.E. there were strong trade contracts between East Africa and Arabia. Similarly, “topographical names with Sabean foundations testify.. to the relations between ancient Yemen and Abyssinia. The anonymous author of the Periplus says that in his time a significant part of the East African coast (“Azania” was subject to the kingdom of Arabia “by ancient right” and that Arab traders “through continual intercourse and intermarriage, are familiar with the area and its language. Lewicki notes that the name Azania itself indicates the existence of South Arabian traders in East Africa, “many centuries BC,” for the name is a Greek transcription of the Arabic name Ajam. In light of the evidence from the Greek and Latin texts of a slave trade in black Africans during the first six centuries of the Common Era, it is likely that these trad contacts between Africa and Arabia included slaves.

Another reflection of biblical imagery may be indicated in the midrashic play on the Arabic word Kuwayyis to describe the Kushites as particularly handsome people. (195)

Source: The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam By David M. Goldenberg

Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London By Ethnological Society (London)

“In this connection on account of the Jews of Waregla, given by Mr. Tristram in his recently published travels in the Sahara, is deserving mention. Waregla is an oasis in the desert, about north lat. 32 degrees, inhabited by a race believed by Mr. Tristam to be deeply stained with negro blood. The Jews have been settled there for ages.”

“They afford,” says he, “an interesting example of the effect of climate, which, in the course of generations, seems to have produced the dark colouring pigment. They were almost as black as negroes, much darker than their brethren of the M’zab and Wed R’hir; yet there was not the slightest trace of the negro features: all the lineaments were as distinctively Jewish as in any clothes-dealer in Houndsditch.”

 “They were as dark as the black Jews of Abyssinia, whom I have seen in Jerusalem, but the hair, without being woolly, was grizzled and matteed. The Jews of Ghardaia, in the Wed M’zab, are also stated to be very dark, dark as Hindoos, but “with features intensely Jewish. On the other hand, Mr. Tristram found in and near Tuggurt a sept of Mussulmans, who never intermarry with the others, and who are very fair, with strongly marked Jewish features.”

“They are called Mahadjeriah and are said to be of the earliest date of settlement, who submitted to the Koran several centuries ago. Mr. Ginsberg (Jewish Intelligence, No. 308), who also met with these Hebrew Moslems, says that the characteristic signs of the Jewish face are very recognizable; and that in spite of the influence of climate, the Jew retains his white complexion, and forms a striking contrast to the native Arabs, and even Moors. “

Quoting Dana Reynolds Marniche 

“Those that remained in North Africa retained their black complexion although they had mixed with the incoming foreign peoples losing their Negroid features in some cases. Of course, it’s been interpreted as the other way around when in fact early Arab observers said they had become mixed with other non-African groups and were great proselytizers.”

Afer, Indian, and Aethiops as Equivalents of Maurus

“Although Aethiops is by far the most common generic word which the Greeks and Romans used to designate a Negroid type, Afer (African), Indus (Indian), and Maurus (Moor) are at times obviously equivalents of Ethiopian. The Moretum passages uses Afra of a woman about whose racial identity there can be no doubt. This usage of Afra is evidence that Afer which generally indicates African or Libyan origin, may refer also to a racial type that is unquestionably Negroid.”

“In spite of a common ancient confusion between east and south, both Vergial and Ovid seem to have applied Indi to Ethiopians, that is, African Negroes. The former refers to the Nile pouring down from the colored Indians; the latter to Perseus’ bringing Andromeda from the black Indians. Ab Indis, appearing in both cases at the end of the dactylic hexameter, seems to be a poetical tag, a convenient substitute for an intended Aethiopibus, metrically unsuited.”

“Mauri was also used at times both as the poetical equivalent of Aethiopes and as a broad term which included Ethiopians. S. Weinstock notes that the meaning of Mauri is not sufficiently clear and considers impossible the association which some ancients made between Mauri and the color of the people or the words for black. Manilius, for example, says that Mauretania received its name from the color of its inhabitants.”

“Further, Isidore preserves a similar tradition and adds that the Greeks designated nigrum by….. Martial’s retorto crime Maurus, a phrase clearly suggesting the kinky or frizzy hair associated with the Negro, however, and perhaps Juvenal’s nigri…Mauri provides classical corroboration of a tradition which Weinstock rejects. Claudian speaks of all the Moorish tribes (“omnes Maurorum… populos”) who lived beneath Atlas and of those whom the excessive heat of the sun cut off in the interior of Africa. Early Christian literature, as Den Boer has emphasized, also uses …in the sense of Ethiopian.”

Working Title/Artist: Neck Amphora: Hermes, Apollo, Leto
Department: Greek & Roman Art
HB/TOA Date Code:
Working Date:
photography by mma 1986, transparency 4D
scanned and retouched by film and media (jnc) 12_5_07


“Most pertinent in this connection is the phrase ……(an Ethiopians black as soot), which has the proverbial force of the classical….. Further, a sixth-century A.D. papyrus from Hermopolis pertaining to the sale of a twelve-year-old girl seems to the point the practice of equating Μαυρός and Aethiop. In short, the Greeks and Romans on occasion grouped colored peoples together loosely on the basis of color and, ignoring certain other physical characteristics, used Maurus a comprehensive for various colored peoples of Africa; and from the first century, A.D. onwards at times also used Maurus as an equivalent of Aethiops.”

“On the basis of the Greco-Roman usage of Aethiops, we may safely assume that bearers of that cognomen were of a physical type denoted by that word. That Meroe should have been given as a name to some Ethiopian slaves is what would be expected in light of the importance of the Ethiopian capital of the same name. Such a practice is suggested by an epigram in which Ausonius referred to a tippler who received her name Meroe, not from the black color of those born in Nile-washed Meroe, but from her capacity to consume pure wine, unmixed with water.”

“Although the Meroe in question may have owed her name to a capacity for imbibing her drinks straight, there is no reason to doubt that other Meroe’s were so named because of their black color and origin in Nilotic Meroe. The association of After and Maurus with unquestionably Negroid types suggest that cognomina Afer and Maurus, though frequently given to non-Negroid types, might also have been used of Ethiopians. An interesting commentary on Maurus as a cognomen for dark persons is found in Ausonius’ observation that his grandmother was given te name Maura by her childhood friends because of her dark complexion.”

“In consideration of the Greek and Roman acquaintance with the Negroid type as revealed by the literary evidence, and in view of the use of the word Ethiopian, it is reasonable to assume that a given passage refers to a Negroid type in the following instances: (2) whenever a consideration of the evidence indicates that Afer, Indus, or Maurus is the equivalent of Aethiops; (4) whenever an individual is designated as belonging to one of the several Ethiopian tribes such as Blemmyes, Megabari, Troglodytes, Nubae, et cetera.”

Source: Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience By Frank M. Snowden

“Black” in the study Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500–1677 Imprints of the Invisible IMTIAZ HABIB is thus “Negro,” “Ethiopian,” “Egyptian,” “moor”/“blackamoor,” “barbaree”/“barbaryen,” and “Indian” (including orthographic variations thereof for all of them). The study’s use of the word also includes geographic names by themselves, such as Guyana or Guinea, where for the early modern English they function openly or implicitly as regional identifers of people of color. Anthony Gerard Barthelemy in Black Face, Maligned Race (pp. 1–17), Michael Neill in “‘Mulattoes,’ ‘Blacks,’ and ‘Indian Moors’” (pp. 273–77), and Margo Hendricks in “Surveying Race” (pp. 15–20) all offer useful demonstrations of the propriety of adhering to a taxonomic looseness in tracing sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English constructions of colored people. At the same time, hidden in the vast archives of parish churches within London and without, all through the Tudor and Stuart reigns, are voluminous cryptic citations of “nigro,” “neger,” “neygar,” “blackamore,” “blackamoor,” “moor,” “barbaree,” “barbaryen,” “Ethiopian,” and “Indian.” The discussions of the records are organized in five chapters dealing with records of black people in early sixteenth-century Britain, in Elizabethan London, in seventeenth-century London, and elsewhere in England, with the last two chapters examining records of black people in the English provinces, and East Indians and other people of color in London and in the countryside.”

Source:  Three principal tribes of Aethiopians, the Hesperi, Garamantes, and Indians

Philostratus claimed that “The Indians are the wisest of mankind. The Ethiopians are a colony of them”. Source: Philostratus Vit. Apol. II:33f.  

Source: Edmund Dene Morel, pages 141–142




Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality

“Freyre and others maintain that there was considerable miscegenation between the Portuguese and the Moors and Jews which reputedly resulted in a Portuguese tolerance of, even preference for, dark complexioned women. This miscegenation, however, may have been more common during the Moorish occupation. Unquestionably the most peaceful and tolerant relations between the Portuguese, Moors, and Jews transpired under the Moorish rule of Portugal.”

“Ironically, Portugal manifested its most intolerant and brutal behavior towards its own ‘infidels’ at the very time the Portuguese were meeting and colonizing the African and Indian ‘infidels’. In fact, prior to the end of the Inquisition in 1769, Jews, Moors, and Negroes were frequently referred to in official documents as racas infectadas (infected races).”

“If there was a legacy of amicability among the Portuguese towards the Moors after seven centuries of contact in Iberia, it was not apparent in their relations with the Moors they encountered in Africa. Beginning with the conquest of the Moroccan coast town of Ceuta in 1415 and until the middle of the eighteenth century, Portugal was engaged in almost constant warfare with the Moors. At times these battles reached the proportion of a holy crusade; personal accounts of some of the battles reveal that the Portuguese soldiers often made no distinction between combatants and civilians since none of the infidels was deemed worthy of human consideration.”

 “A richly detailed narration of these voyages by Henry’s personal chronicler, Gomes Eanes de Azurara, recounts the initiation of the African slave trade with the exons of Antao Goncalvez and Nuno Tristao to Senegal in 1441 and 1442 respectively. By 1446 there were nearly a thousand African slaves in Portugal. Azurara, who witnessed the return of many of the early slave ships, described the anguish which overcame the Africans as families and friends were separated indiscriminately, ‘faces bathed in tears…[while] others struck their faces with the palms of their hands, throwing themselves upon the ground.”

 “Slavery, however, was not the only objective of the Portuguese explorations. They also sought minerals, ivory, spices, and souls as they searched for a land or sea route to the fabled riches of the Orient. Their experience in the Maghreb provided them with important knowledge which fed these ambitions: they learned of gold on the Guinea coast which was beyond the control of their Muslims enemies, and of Arab navigation on the East African coast, confirming that the continent was surrounded by water.”

 “By 1471 Portuguese sailors had arrived in Ghana and found it so rich in gold that a decade later they built their first fort in West Africa (Elmina), in order to deter other European explorers from following in their wake. Another fort was built at Benin (Nigeria), where Portugal found not only more wealth but a well-developed kingdom which greatly impressed the crown. The Portuguese and Benin kings exchanged gifts and diplomatic missions and the latter’s son even adopted Christianity. Further down the coast, along the northern frontiers of Angola, the Portuguese encountered in 1482 the undisputed leader among the coastal states of Central Africa–the vast Kongo Kingdom. In a letter directred to Joao III (1526) Afonso wrote, ‘there are many traders in all corners of the country. They bring ruin to the country. Everday people are enslaved and kidnapped, even nobles, even members of the King’s own family.” 

“Portugal, the native inhabitants of Portugal were influenced and shaped by a variety of cultural, ethnic, racial and religious groups. From the arrival of the Phoenicians in the eighth century BC until the final expulsion of the Moors in the thirteenth century AD, the Iberian tribes absorbed at least seven major civilizations including the Greeks, Celts, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. Each left an indelible mark on the emerging Portuguese society.”

“Unfortunately, there is scanty information concerning miscegenation in Portugal during the period when blacks formed a part of its population. In fact, most histories of Portugal contain little more than passing references to the presence of African slaves. Yet, African slaves constituted an important segment of Portuguese society, being an integral part of the labor force, for more than three centuries–long than the period of slavery in the United States.”

“In a 1533 letter written from Evora, a Flemish priest wrote, undoubtedly exaggerating that ‘slaves were swarming all over. All the work is done by captive blacks and Moors. Portugal is being glutted with this race. I’m beginning to believe that the slaves in Lisbon outnumber the Portuguese. Actually, from about the middle of the sixteenth century until at least 1620 approximately 10 percent of Lisbon’s 100,000 inhabitants were Africans.”

“Although slavery was abolished in Portugal (not in the colonies in 1761, as late as the mid-nineteenth century Lichnowsky reported seeing ‘thousands of blacks on the streets in Lisbon’, noting that they were not treated as men by the Portuguese ‘but as an inferior race of domestic animals’.”

 Source: Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality By Gerald J. Bender


Dana Reynolds Marniche: “African History Time For The Children”

The following commentaries were made by Dana Reynolds Marniche. The references provide very specific details about African History that most “African Americans” are not informed on. In a post published this morning Professor Marniche stated the following and provided the following sources:

“Sorry for the interruption but my ancestors have said its African history time again. Please review these sources and teach to your children so that they understand and can relate to what they learn about Africa in school. I talked about this at the powerpoint Saturday in Baltimore at the Moorish Retreat, though I’m not sure everyone was able to follow. (Qouting Dana Reynolds Marniche)

– “According to Arab sources of the sixth/twelfth century (Kitab al-Istibsar and al-Zuhri), the blacks known as the Barbar or Barbara (Arabic plural: Barabir) formed the population of the Sudanese land of Zafunu, corresponding to present-day Diafunu. They counted among the Djanawa that is to say the blacks and also, according to al-Zuhri, lived in the center of the desert (probably the deserts and steppes of south-east Mauritania) and in areas in the vicinity of Ghana and Tadmekka (north of Gao),…The Barbara would thus appear to be a group of the Soninke.”(Lewicki, Africa from the Seventh to Eleventh Centuries UNESCO History of Africa 1988.  (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“(The word Soninke (Aswanek) is supposed to be related to the Aswan region.”Besides being identified as the merchant class among the Malinke, the Wangara are associated with the Soninke as ancestors both of the Songhai monarchs and the Muria Kurya clerics.” From the book, Social History of Timbuktu ” (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“…Oualata is believed to have been first settled by an agro-pastoral people akin to the Mandé Soninke who lived along the rocky promontories of the Tichitt-Oualata and Tagant cliffs of Mauritania. There, they built what are among the oldest stone settlements on the African continent.”Ksour New World Encyclopedia   .” (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“Gabriel Camps identified the Bafour Soninke/Imraguen with the “Mauri Bavares” – “le même auteur cite les Barbares = Bavares), dans le Dahra” The Dara’a or Dahra are the Berbers like those of Ouarzazate that I posted previously.” (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“Your children need to be aware of the close connection of the ancient Berbers or “Barbares” of ancient North Africa and that of the peoples of West Africa called Wan’Gara and Wa’Kore or Soninke/Songhai in texts. Related peoples in West Africa included the Isuwaghen, Zawagha/Zaghawa or Zaghai, Tekruri (mixed with Wodabe Fulani), Kwona, Abira, Jukon, Kanuri, Imraguen, Djerma, Marka, Serere, Sarakholle, Djallonke, Jahanke, Bafour, Bupir, Pabir, Barabir, Beriberi.”  (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“They are the descendants of the great masons, merchants, metallurgists, miners, musicians, magicians, agro-pastoralists, horsemen, and most importantly scholars to whom was due the great civilizations of West Africa (Hausa lands, Kanem, Ghana, Songhai and before that in most of the Maghreb, from where they traditionally claim descent, i.e.,. Wargla, Touggourtia, Garamantia, Numidia, Mauretania Caesarea and Tingitana (Tangiers) and Carthage were also their original dwelling places according to their own traditions.” (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“From there they settled 900,000 strong in the Iberian peninsula during the centuries of the Islamic era. And that was long after their movement from the East.” (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“They are the real people of Genesis, including first “people of the book”. According to the ancient Greeks they were connected to ancient inhabitants of the Aegean and Mediterranean and those “Ethiopians” they named “the favorites of the Gods.” These the men “of whom myths are made”. There is good reason to believe they brought their masonic knowledge to ancient America and the Far East as well, in a remote period.)” (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

“Now these are not the only ancestors of the African American people, but certainly the largest part of them. And Wakanda can not compare. Believe it! BTW – however, I do believe that the hundreds of people of all ethnicities involved in the making of that movie came into incarnation for the express purpose and destiny of producing it – from the cosmetologists, costume designers to the directors, and actors. Because times are a-changing and now is the time – this is the place for the Ethi- ophites, the fiery serpents of wisdom to rise again -within all of humanity. The history of Africans will bring back remembrance strongly of humanity’s divine origins.” (Qouting Dana Reynols Marniche) 

Source: Dana Reynolds Marniche