Transition of Twin Towers of Afrocentric Thought

Originally By Herb Boyd
Managing Editor, TBWT (The Black World Today) and posted there on Monday, 26 January 2004

“We lost the twin towers of African spirituality and intellectual development,” Dr. Leonard Jeffries said of Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers, Jr. and the Rev. Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango.

“Jacob was one of our leading scholars and I was working with him on ten volume world history project. Ishakamusa and I were developing a communiversity.  He had already founded the Temple of the Black Messiah, School of History and Religion.”

Dr. Carruthers, perhaps best known for his meticulous translations of Kemetic (Egyptian) hieroglyphics, made his transition on January 4 in Chicago.  He was 73.

According to his close friend, Robert L. Gray of Houston, Carruthers died from cancer.

“He was just a brilliant guy, there were none smarter,” Gray told the Houston Chronicle last week.

Carruthers was highly respected historian and educator, and the founding director of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization and founder and director of the Kemetic Institute in Chicago.  He earned a master’s degree in government from Texas Southern University and his doctorate in political science from the University of Colorado.

For the last several years he had been a professor of Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University.  Like his mentors Cheikh Anta Diop and Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Carruthers was totally involved in the study of African history and culture and how the fruit of that research could be another weapon in our struggle for liberation.

“Restoration of African civilization is not possible without a return to African Spirituality,” Carruthers wrote in the Preface to his book “Intellectual Warfare,” Third World Press, 1999. “Therefore we must revisit African theology.  Cultivation of the relationships among divinity, cosmos, nature, society, and humanity is the office of all conscious Africans.  Indeed, Kemetic theology is synonymous with the concept of human speech. The words Medew Netcher mean divine speech…thus it is a metaphor for our spiritual project.  In other words, the road to African liberation begins at the door of the ‘Good Old African Spirit.'”

One of Carruthers’ associates, Dr. Asa Hilliard III, recalled his friend’s genius as “his ability to render valid problem definitions and in his ability to communicate difficult and complex ideas clearly.”  For this and more, Dr. Jeffries said: “He will be missed.”

He is survived by his wife, Linda; sons, Jacob Carruthers III, Darnell Carruthers and Christopher Carruthers; a daughter, Tawakalitu Jogunosimi; two grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.

Dr. Barashango departed from us to another sphere on January 14 in Philadelphia.  He apparently succumbed to a heart attack during his morning walk. Barashango, who was elevated to a grand master scholar in 2000 while in Kemet and co-founder and creative director of the Fourth Dynasty Publishing Company in Silver Spring, Maryland, would have been 66 in April.

“I’ve known Dr. Barashango for more than a quarter of a century,” said Dr. Jack Felder.  “In fact, we talked for about two hours two days before he made his transition. One thing he always stressed and that most impressed me was that we can never free our minds as long as we view God as a white man or as long as we keep worshiping white people’s Holy-days (Holidays).  He was a pillar of our community.”

Dr. Barashango, affectionately known as Baba, received his bachelor of arts degree in religion from Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. He studied for his master’s degree at Northeastern Seminary in Takoma Park, Maryland. The New Afrikan University Network System of Washington, D.D. saluted him with an honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree in 1979.

Always a popular lecturer, Baba leaves behind a vast collection of taped speeches on such topics as “Ten Points on the Afro-Centric Realities of Religious Thoughts and Practice,” “The Role of Religion in Afrikan Historical Development,” and “The Afrikan Origins of the Bible.”

“He was also a prolific author,” said Minister Clemson Brown, who spoke at Dr. Barashango’s funeral in Philadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 17. “I’ve known for some 20 years and he was completely dedicated to the physical, mental and spiritual liberation of our people. He dedicated his life to these causes.”  Barashango’s most recent book was published by Fourth Dynasty.

Along with a host of esteemed colleagues, Barashango leaves his wife Lydia Umyemi (Mumia Abu-Jamal’s sister), his children Daima Abdur-Rasheed, Wayne (Chaka) Mason, Damali Mason, Osagefo, T-Shaka, Changa Cunningham, Njema Walker, Imari Marcel, Nailah Barashango Washington, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren to carry on his legacy.


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