By Marymagdalene Debessai Asefaw
As far as the stories and tales that have been told under the sun and on our planet, there is no list of incredible historic stories and sites in Africa that could ever be complete without Egypt’s stories and findings.
Not only the current colonial Egypt borders but ancient Egyptians and the vast ancient Egyptian influence on inventions of mathematics, writing (Hieroglyphics the earliest true writing system created by humans), medicine, religion, sports, and music.
Ancient Egyptians contributed much to our modern world with cultural innovations including the earliest uses of makeup and perfume. As we all know, Egyptian civilization also had a huge impact on the way people communicate, travel, eat, dress, and many more today.
Egypt (Miseri) or Kemet, as ancient Egyptians would call it, which means the land of blacks or the ‘black land’. Egypt is a country studded with awe-inspiring monuments, statues, and pyramids that date back millennia. Despite the truth, we are about to discover, ancient Egyptians (Kemet), the land of blacks have always been presumed that ancient Egyptians were white Arab-looking indigenous people, which was the biggest misconception for centuries. At least this is the message most Hollywood-produced different films and books showcase and narrate (Watch Top 5 Ancient Egypt Movies), when in fact the ancient Egyptian population was brown and black before the Greek and Arab conquest.
THE CLICHÉD and often-repeated claim that “history is written by the victors” is as true for history films as it is for the historical record of the origin of ancient Egyptians.
The burden of historical representation, like a lot of misrepresented African stories, is not so indifferent when it comes to misrepresentations of ancient Egyptian stories in every film and book that are publicly available as of February 2023.
Most historical films were created (written, produced, directed, and funded) by—and for—the victors who represent the interests of the dominant culture. This is particularly true for blockbuster Hollywood films about indigenous peoples that are widely distributed throughout U.S. and world movie houses.
From American Westerns to colonial and even postcolonial films set in Africa, Australia, or Asia, indigenous peoples appear on screen, but are rarely given a voice or provided the opportunity to share their perspective or have their history represented.
Too often, indigenous peoples are viewed as existing only in the past; the inclusion of indigenous groups in history standards and textbooks similarly reflects a virtual extinction of groups such as American Indians at the end of the 19th century.
The same historical record is true for Ancient Egyptians too. Especially, when available history-based films about ancient Egyptians are compared to and cross-referenced with messages ancient Egyptians were trying to convey to their following generations about their daily life through actual paintings of themselves, writing hieroglyphics and images encrypted on the walls of pyramids and historic artifacts of ancient Egyptians.
Thus, until films about Indigenous People are not written for and by indigenous people, history is always going to twist, and the burden of historical representation is always going to be on our shoulders.
This realization and my interest in this truth about the ancient Egyptians came from a young age due to different personal experiences I was having growing up but also later in my adulthood.
It has always been fascinating and mesmerizing to learn on so many different occasions, how pictures of pharaohs (ancient Egyptian kings and queens from Kemet), widely available online on different search engines have skin tones and facial structures similar to mine and of course, the wider Habesha community.
Noticeable similarities of different jewellery and clothing garments and hairstyles to the Tigrigna-speaking people would right away catch the attention of any Habesha people and start to raise different questions – as it also did in my mind.
How come the images of Pharaohs encrypted on the walls and museums around the world have the same facial structures (hair, nose, and lips) as ours and nothing similar and far away from some research-based historic films?
Films specially produced in Hollywood about ancient Egyptians are indeed contradicting the actual artifacts and historical facts of the different kings and queens.
The above train of thought and so many questions have puzzled me but also inspired me to continue searching for the truth.
As most of the millennials and generation z would do, for over 7 years I made it my mission to study and research different ancient Egyptian Instagram pages, documentaries on YouTube, and research documents to seriously learn about the civilization and historic evidence of ancient Egyptians – I want to find answers!
Furthermore, I would also ask people around me to find out the correlation between the origin of ancient Egyptians and the Habesha (Tigrinya-speaking Eritreans and Tigrinya-and Amharic-speaking Ethiopians) from East Africa.
To my surprise, while I was searching on the internet, I found out that the city of Aswan was one of the main ancient cities in Egypt. To top up to my surprise the word ‘Aswan’ itself is derived from the ancient Egyptian word “Soun”, which means souk (ሹቅ) or market. Souk (ሹቅ) also has a direct translation and meaning in Tigrinya.
In ancient times, Aswan’s lower part of Egypt was the main provider of granite used for obelisks and sculptures and it was the frontier of the ancient city.
Since this realization, as a journalist, I continued to read, ask and research the origin of ancient Egyptians, and any correlation they might have with the Habesha people.
As time went on, I would also ask my friends and people closer to check if they can notice the similarities I was finding online. To test the same, I would normally send different pictures of Aswan women from the internet (see the below picture) to my friends and wait to see if they will raise any conversation that will help me further my investigation or provide me with information about the correlation between ancient Egyptians and Habesha People.
Unfortunately, and understandably due to the strong Christian belief within the Habesha community and the way Pharos and Egypt are portrayed in the bible, most people I was speaking with and trying to initiate a conversation with on how we could potentially be somehow related or are the origin of ancient Egyptians, did not want to associate themselves or somehow were reluctant to engage in the conversation.
Unsurprisingly, some religious scholars I spoke to, totally denied believing any relations or any correlation whatsoever followed by rolling their eyes 😊, as if I was speaking about a taboo topic or denying my strong Christian background.
Despite their negligence due to the above beliefs that have been practiced and taught for centuries in our region, one thing always used to give me hope. If people from our community are given the chance to travel to Aswan and start to research on their own, the truth was always going to present itself in front of them.
However, very interestingly, no one I have ever spoken to could deny our facial similarities with the people of Aswan, especially about a particular image I found a few years ago. (See below example of a picture of Aswan women I found on google a few years ago).
The inevitable similarities open conversations in a very friendly way and people start to ask questions such as:
Is this women in the picture Eritrean?
Where did you find this picture? Was it taken in Eritrea?
The best and most beautiful thing for me was the astonishment they were showing with open mouths and raised eyebrows expressions, I was getting the second I inform them, this picture was indeed a picture of an ancient Egyptian woman from Aswan and not Eritrea.
Most will follow up with questions such as;
How come she is wearing ‘GOBAGUB’ and carrying ‘SEFE’?
These were very exciting questions to hear and music to my ears!
It was very interesting to learn about the power of images!
People can more easily identify and connect with images and experiences particularly when it comes to connecting to sensitive issues.
Yes! Finally, I learned how we could potentially instigate healthy conversations about the history of the horn and specifically about the history of ancient Egyptians and their relation to the people of East Africa.
In the below picture, the beautiful woman from Aswan is wearing Gold earrings, called ‘GOGBAGUB’ similar to what our Tigrigna mothers wear while holding traditional home wear equipment called ‘SEFE’.
Every time I search on Google; the search results were phenomenal. At times, it was very confusing to me whether I was looking at ancient Habesha women (Eritrean or Ethiopian) or an image of ancient Egyptian women to be specifically women from Aswan. To my utmost surprise, there was no difference between them.
The facial artifices she wears in the picture are identical to Tigrigna’s traditional pieces of jewellery (Gold and similar design).
In my research, I also found out that the people of Aswan called traditional pot Gebena (ጀበና) and traditional coffee cups FINJAL (ፍንጃል) same as Tigrigna-speaking people.
Cold Tea Karkade (ከርከደ) which is very famous in the lowlands of Eritrean is also called karkade in the Souk (ሹቅ) markets of Aswan.
All the above findings made Aswan my new favourite city. It was very interesting to me to find out the similarities between our shared coffee ceremony but also the detailed designs of ornaments of the Aswan women and Habesha women have in common.
For those of you who are hearing the name ‘Aswan’ for the first time, Aswan is in the southernmost of Egypt. It is one of the major cities known related to ancient Egyptians in Egypt along the Nile River opposite the RED SEA.
As we all know, ancient Egyptians oriented themselves towards the origin of the life-giving waters of the Nile, and most of the statues, obelisks, monolithic shrines, and tombs are there in Aswan.
Similarly, native Tigrigna-speaking people also share the same RED SEA for centuries just like the people of Aswan but are currently located further south of the current colonial border of Egypt in Eritrea and the Northern part of Ethiopia.
While the above-mentioned similarities started to make sense to me, it was time to take my findings to the next step. I decided to create a Documentary about the inevitable truths and realization that I found out. In September 2022, I planned to book my trip with Ancestors Work to visit Egypt.
As a normal journalist would do, before traveling to Aswan, I wanted to further investigate and interview 2 of my friends who visited Aswan. One of my childhood friends Selam has lived in Egypt for over 5 Years and my other good friend Peter also lived in Egypt for 3 years.
Interestingly, both were not so much surprised at all. In their recorded interviews conducted separately, both have seen the cultural similarities I have briefly described earlier in my research document first-hand and have strongly advised me to take this seriously as they also believed there is room for further investigation on how we could be the origin of ancient Egyptians or somehow closely related.
Ever since, I have always planned to visit Aswan to prepare a documentary about the similarities between the Tigrigna-speaking communities and Aswan people, while focusing on how we have similar meanings and pronunciation of words as explained earlier in the introduction part of this article for centuries even though both communities speak two different languages (Tigrigna and Arabic).
As I was continuously preparing materials and resources for the documentary idea, for the past 7 years before I publicly publish my research findings and produce my documentary. An amazing thing happened! We meet with Esayas end of September 2022.
As a person who believes in divine intervention and a higher calling, it was during those times while I was in the middle of my preparation to Visit Egypt that I met Esayas via Instagram. After a brief introduction, Esayas asked me why I call myself ‘The Empress ‘ 😊 on Instagram.
After a very deep and meaningful back-and-forth chat, I started to share my knowledge about the ancient Egyptians, and especially how I strongly believe that our ancestors were the creator’s alphabets, ancient medical studies, ancient literature, music, and kingdom ship structures such as (Kings and Queens) while explaining their impact and influence to the early civilization of human beings and their overall contributions to the development of modern civilizations with a potential relation to ancient Egyptians.
In our initial discussion, I also briefly mentioned my beliefs and my research findings so far, over the past few years on how we could have a strong historical connection to the origin of ancient Egyptians.
After tentatively listening and as a very calm collected and great listener he is, Esayas started to explain his research findings and his deep understanding of ancient Egyptian history and the ‘Teawet’ project.
Esayas was the only person that can relate to my frustration and was indeed the only person that could help me go one step further in my research findings. After a brief discussion about his research and findings so far, Esayas said: ‘Mary yes you are right; we are the origin of ancient Egyptians.
Ancient Egyptians used to speak Tigrigna and here is proof’ and right away started to send me hieroglyphic writings translated into English when read were Tigrigna now publicly available on ‘TEAWET’s’ official Instagram page. He also sent me a YouTube video he presented in Germany confirming the same with his findings and evidence he researched over 10 years.
Even though I couldn’t understand what he was saying in the video as he was presenting in Germany, the images he was using in the video were not new to my eyes! Most of those images were the ones I have seen online while searching for answers myself. Not all of them but most!
Honestly, the recent research and findings conducted by Esayas Gebremedhin are great examples of how we Africans can finally and potentially start writing our own stories from our perspective and lived experiences backed by research documentation and shreds of evidence.
Esayas’s findings and the research and the documentary we are planning to produce could potentially open a pathway on how we Africans can finally and successfully start writing stories from our own lived experiences.
Meeting with Esayas at the end of September 2022, randomly via Instagram, was exuberating and encouraged me to search for more information and dig deeper to study the correlation between the two communities’ similarities and correlation to name and express certain things which have the same meaning in my mother Language Tigrigna.
Since we met and with the help of our team, we have managed to set up an official TEAWET website, and successfully bring you ‘The London TEAWET Submit’.
Without any doubt, our cumulative narrations can help open a new era of discussion on the origin of ancient Egyptian and provide answers to a lot of not-yet-answered questions about the Origin of Ancient Egyptians and their not-dead language Tigrigna.
It is also my great belief that our work on ‘TEAWET’ can be of great help to start an initial conversation on how we can retrieve 10,000 years of our east African own shared history that has been written and told by others.
Through storytelling, questions were answered, history was conveyed, and lifelong lessons were taught and learned.
These and many several reasons are why we need to keep telling our side of the story with the hope that this discussion will help historians rewrite history as it should be documented and told.
But importantly, it is my deepest desire for the Tigrigna language to be recognized as an Ancient African language and the mother of all languages.
Without any doubt, Team TEAWET’s collaborative findings from over 10 years of hard work research, and dedication, will accelerate, help and force some historians’ and many others’ beliefs about the origin of the ancient Egyptians. These truths and findings cannot be ignored/blocked/restricted…etc, or remain a fairy tale story anymore: but possible reality, the world couldn’t deny and benefit from.
As we all know, histories were transmitted orally, in performance, and from one generation of specialists to the next. While some narratives, such as those detailing the origins of a nation or royal lineage, were mythic in scope, others were much more prosaic and might have concerning legal codes or accounts of village or clan history.
One thing is crystal clear, we Africans are the only people that did not have the chance to tell our history. I say this with a lot of humility in my heart for the longest time, and till now (yes, bitter truth), we are still expecting our narration and history to be validated based on research conducted by others.
Unintentionally, and most of the time due to systematic colonialism, we did not benefit from the royalty we could potentially earn and have allowed our history and contributions to modern world civilization and its sources and originality to be told for centuries by people who come and found us in our lands.
As a journalist, I cannot stress enough the importance of storytelling and its impact on the empowerment of communities around the world when told truthfully and without any other intentions. Truthful storytelling is how powerful histories have been passed down, this is how customs are shared, and how traditions become endemic to a group. Shared culture is rooted in a shared tradition of communicating for the betterment of the corresponding society.
As a native Tigrigna speaker, I firmly believe East African stories have been told by different people for different agendas like almost every story that has been told about Africans. I believe it is about time we start owning our stories and sharing them with the world to heal, prosper, and inspire the wider communities for the betterment of our generation and the world.
According to Google, the Ge’ez language is believed by scholars to be circa 5,000 years old, making it the oldest of all languages (considered the “Father Language”).
In this article, I would also like to highlight that if given attention and research we will be able to prove and help Google to update their database that Language’ Tigrigna’ Is the father of all languages, Not Geeze.
Tigrigna has been the mother tongue of our ancestors and the language of ancient Egyptians as clearly communicated in the Hieroglyphics’ written symbols with English translations available online.
However, the million-dollar question no one is asking or willing to think about is:
How come Ge’ez is not the native speaking language of ancient indigenous people of the horn?
Secondly, what led to Ge’ez to be ceased as a spoken language between 900 and 1200?
Without any solid reason, can we all just assume it automatically got replaced by Tigrigna?
I asked historians who have worked for the National Museum of Eritrea and have never found an explicable answer to the above questions. Not one person can give me evidence on whether Ge’ez has ever been spoken widely or as the mother tongue within the communities in the horn of Africa.
Despite all of these yet-to-be-answered questions, Tigrigna continued to evidence itself and keep its power as the mother tongue language of over 10 million people on the horn for centuries.
According to scholars, Ge’ez is older than Hebrew. The oldest Hebrew writing artifacts date back to about 900 BCE and Ge’ez artifacts date to about 1600 BCE. The most famous book of Enoch is Ge’ez. So far, ‘Google’ has managed to write one truth about Ge’ez as an ancient Semitic language once spoken in the area that is now northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. Also, according to Google, Ge’ez went extinct as a natural language over 1000 years ago and is no longer spoken as the native tongue of any people, when in fact should be recorded as a natural language only not a native mother tongue language in the first place.
If we then agree with this subject matter is debatable and the current information on google is not the case, then what was the mother tongue of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea?
Do we ever have any pieces of evidence that show Geeze was a widely spoken language?
Don’t we all just then agree and accept that it is more likely for a spoken native mother tongue language to survive centuries than written documents of any sort of writings like Geeze in communities such as the horn, where most of the historic traditions and stories are yet to be researched and documented by its indigenous people?
With the above questions that need answers from all of us, I think it is about time we put forward our narration and research discussion to start owning and writing our stories but also research deeper on how ‘Tigrigna’ can be proven as the mother of all languages.
To my understanding of the subject matter so far, and by far, and with recent findings of Hieroglyphics meanings in Tigrigna, Tigrigna has proven itself to be and by far continues to hold its power as a spoken native mother tongue language from the times of Pyramid till today.
As my father will always say, Power comes from knowing and understanding the power from within’ with this note, I kindly encourage your full support to team Teawet over 10 years of research and findings conducted and titled ‘The East-African Origin of The Ancient Egyptians’ for the betterment of our future and owning our African stories and narrations.