Dr. Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan (born December 31, 1918), also known as Dr. Ben, is an African American writer and historian. He is considered one of the more prominent Afrocentric scholars
Professor Yosef Ben-Jochannan is an Egyptologist. Having taught at Cornell University for over 15 years, Dr. Ben, as he is affectionately known, has lectured widely on both sides of the Atlantic. His theme – the ancient civilizations of Egypt. His presentations have placed him in great demand by students and community groups, especially those of African descent. Perhaps the high regard he enjoys today stems from his long, unwavering theme that the ancient civilizations along the Nile were African.
We preached that the so-called major western religions were White folk’s religions and offered the historically incorrect but universally accepted blond-haired, blue-eyed representation of Jesus Christ as proof that our enemy had become our deity. We quoted Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who said in his book, The Mis-education of the Negro, that the European destruction of African civilization was done under the guise of “saving souls.” And we asked the rhetorical question, must one be dehumanized before one’s soul is saved? In retrospect, we had allowed someone else to define our reality.
Yoruba priestess, Iyanla Vanzant says your soul is saved when you accept that the spirit of God lives in you. She specifically says, “When you can look at yourself, accept who and what you are and love yourself unconditionally, your soul is saved. Your spirit is empowered.”
Dr. Ben-Jochannan’s African Origins of the Major “Western Religions” was one of the vehicles I used on my journey through the empowerment of my spirit.
“For more than five decades, Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan, a master teacher, researcher, author, lecturer, has led what has now become a mass effort to emphasize African contributions to the world.” African Origins of the Major “Western Religions: first published in 1970, continues to be one of Dr. Ben’s most thought-provoking works. “By highlighting the African influences and roots of these religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), Dr. Ben reveals an untold history that many would prefer to forget.”
His opening sentence sets the tone for the well-researched and documented work.
Dr. Ben-Jochannan says, “I shall show that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are as much African as they are Asian in origin, and in no sense what-so-ever European as the title, “Western Religions” suggests;” Dr. Ben’s ultimate goal in this work is to show the definite links between exclusively indigenous traditional African learning systems with these so-called “Western Religions.”
Early Life and Education
Dr. Ben-Jochannan was born the only child of an Afro-Puerto Rican Jewish mother named Julia Matta and an Ethiopian father named Kriston ben-Jochannan, in a Falasha community in Ethiopia.
He was educated in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba, and Spain, earning degrees in engineering and anthropology. In 1938, Ben-Jochannan earned a BS in Civil Engineering at the university of Puerto Rico. In 1939 a Master’s degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba. He received doctoral degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona, Spain.
Career and Later Life of Dr. Ben Jochannan
Dr. Ben-Jochannan immigrated to the United States in the early 1940s. He worked as a draftsman and continued his studies. In 1945, he was appointed chairman of the African Studies Committee at the headquarters of the newly founded UNESCO, a position from which he stepped down in 1970. In 1950, Dr. Ben-Jochannan began teaching Egyptology at Malcolm King College, then at City College in New York City. From 1976 to 1987, he was an adjunct professor at Cornell University. Dr. Ben is considered to be a world renowned Egyptologist.
Ben-Jochannan is the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures. In his writings, he argues that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans, while the white Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.
Ben-Jochannan has been criticized by envious European scholars’ for allegedly distorting history and promoting Black supremacy. In February 1993, Wellesley College European classics professor Mary Lefkowitz publicly confronted Dr. Ben-Jochannan about his teachings. Dr. Ben-Jochannan taught that Aristotle visited the Library of Alexandria. Lefkowitz showed this to be impossible since Aristotle was dead before the library’s construction.
In 2002, Dr. Ben-Jochannan donated his personal library of more than 35,000 volumes, manuscripts and ancient scrolls to The Nation of Islam.
Dr. Ben-Jochannan currently lives in the Harlem section of New York City.