Alice C. Linsley
Many of the peoples who live in central and west Africa migrated there from the Benue Trough, or Lake Chad, or the Nile Valley. This is true of the Dogon, whose origin appears to be the Nile. Biblical practices are observed among the Dogon because the point of origin of their ancestors is the same point of origin of Abraham's ancestors.
PBS filmed a special in which Michael Palin visited the Dogon of Tirelli on the Bandiagara Escarpment. The Dogon have kept themselves isolated, marrying endogamously, and keeping their religious practices secret. They acknowledge lineage by ba debu n, that is, the “father’s house” or the native village of ancestors. The ancestry of the mother is also important.
The Dogon now live in a dry land, but at one time their habitat was the lush elevated forests above the Nile. There the hunter found abundant prey. To this day the hunter is revered as a sacred caste. While with the Dogon, a hunter blew gunpowder in Palin's face from the hunter's old blunderbuss.
Bravery is acclaimed among the Dogon. The victorious warrior or hunter is said to have anankaji, bravery or heroism.
|Found at Tel Gezer (dated 12th to mid-11th century BC)|
The Egyptian word for phallus was khenen (hnn) related to khenty, meaning before or in front of
Anthropologist Janice Boddy has studied Pharaonic circummcision among people of Sudan. In an essay that appeared in American Ethnologist titled "Womb as Oasis: The symbolic context of Pharaonic circumcision in rural Northern Sudan" (Vol.9, pgs. 682-698), Boddy explains:
In this society women do not achieve social recognition by becoming like men, but by becoming less like men physically, sexually, and socially. Male as well as female circumcision rites stress this complementarity. Through their own operation, performed at roughly the same age as when girls are circumcised (between five and ten years), boys become less like women: while the female reproductive organs are covered, that of the male is uncovered. Circumcision, then, accomplishes the social definition of a child's sex by removing physical characteristics deemed appropriate to his or her opposite: the clitoris and other external genitalia, in the case of females, the prepuce of the penis, in the case of males. (Boddy, p. 688)
Female and male circumcision is regarded as necessary to achieve the proper role of wife/mother or husband/father.
Herodotus (BC 485-425) wrote concerning the origins of circumcision:
Egyptians and the Ethiopians have practiced circumcision since time immemorial. The Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves admit that they learnt the practice from the Egyptians, while the Syrians in the river Thermodon and the Pathenoise region and their neighbours the Macrons say they learnt it recently from the Colchidians. These are the only races which practice circumcision, and it is observable that they do it in the same way with the Egyptians.
The Dogon chief has two wives who maintain separate households. Two wives is the rule rather than the exception among Nilotic rulers and the rulers named in the Genesis King Lists.
The Dogon recognized the binary star system of Sirius before it was known through modern astronomy. By 4245 BC, the priests of the Upper Nile had already established a calendar based on the appearance of the star Sirius that becomes visible to the naked eye once every 1,461 years.
Apparently, Nilotes had been tracking this star and connecting it to seasonal changes and agriculture for thousands of years. This is verified by the Priest Manetho who reported in his history (241 BC) that Nilotes had been “star-gazing” as early as 40,000 years ago. Plato, who studied in Egypt, claimed that the Africans had been tracking the heavens for 10,000 years.
Related reading: The Origin of Circumcision; Circumcision and Binary Distinctions; No! You Can't Take another Wife; The Pattern of Two Wives; Mother's House and Father's House; Dogon Vocabulary