Westerners line up to cheer the blackwashing of history, other peoples are less enthusiastic. Netflix’s black nationalist depiction of Cleopatra, a Greek ruler wrongly depicted as African, led to a major backlash in Egypt. But it was the decision by a Dutch museum with a prominent Egyptology collection to display this garbage that has come with serious consequences.
What did the ancient Egyptians look like? A new exhibition at National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands, has sparked controversy by including a contemporary artwork that appears to depict the Pharaoh Tutankhamun as Black.
“Kemet: Egypt in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Funk” pairs Egyptian antiquities from the museum’s collection with work inspired by ancient Egyptian culture by created by musicians of the African diaspora, including Miles Davis, Erykah Badu, Beyoncé, and Rihanna.
“This is a very difficult topic and that is the thing with this exhibition: I think you really have to give it a chance,” Daniel Soliman, museum’s Egyptian and Nubian curator, told The Art Newspaper. “There are Egyptians, or Egyptians in the diaspora, who believe that the pharaonic heritage is exclusively their own. The topic of the imagination of ancient Egypt in music, predominantly from the African diaspora, Black artists in different styles, jazz, soul, funk, hip-hop, had long been ignored.”
While garbage like Little Mermaid occasions seal clapping in America, Egyptians aren’t putting up with it. They’ve got their own identity politics and those take priority over the sudden enthusiasm for Wakanadizing everything.
“Kemet: Egypt in Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul & Funk”, which was organized by National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands, sparked a fierce backlash from Egyptian authorities. In an email to the museum, they denounced the exhibition saying it took an “Afrocentric” approach to Ancient Egypt, which equated to “falsifying history.”
The consequence? The museum’s team of archaeologists that since 1975 has carried out excavations at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis, a sprawling burial ground and key archaeological site, is now banned from continuing its work.
The attempt to be woke has cost the museum access to actual archeological finds. The question is was it worth it? Is fictional woke cultural archeology better than actual archeology?