Théophile Obenga

Philosophy. Egyptology. Linguistics.

In 1961 Théophile Obenga discovered Cheikh Anta Diop’s book Nations nègres et Culture – De l’Antiquité nègre égyptienne aux problèmes de l’Afrique noire d’aujourd’hui, a book that would shape his intellectual trajectory decisively. Already trained in philosophy and having a mastery of ancient Greek and Latin, Théophile Obenga turned to Egyptology and linguistics. In 1973, he published his first book, L’Afrique dans l’Antiquité – Égypte ancienne – Afrique noire, with a preface by Cheikh Anta Diop. In 1974, Cheikh Anta Diop and Obenga were the two scholars from sub-Saharan Africa to take part in the UNESCO colloquium entitled Le peuplement de l’Égypte ancienne et le déchiffrement de l’écriture méroïtique. This colloquium was part of the General History of Africa project. The insightfulness of their contribution, particularly in the field of linguistics, was acknowledged by most of the participants and recorded in the minutes of the colloquium. Théophile Obenga continued his collaboration with UNESCO. In the 1980s, he directed the International Center for Bantu Civilizations based in Libreville, Gabon. He founded the journal Muntu. In 1991, he returned to the Republic of Congo and taught Egyptology at the Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville. ANKH, Revue d’Égyptologie et des Civilisations africaines, was established in February 1992 and Obenga is its current director. From 1995, he taught Egyptology at Temple University in Philadelphia. In 1998, with collaborators of the journal ANKH, he taught Egyptology in Paris. He is professor emeritus at the University of San Francisco, where he served as head of the Department of African Studies until 2009. Upon his return to the Congo, he set out to build a large university with a pan-African vocation. The first courses of the Brazzaville-based University were inaugurated in February 2021. Professor Théophile Obenga is a prolific scholar who has published over thirty books and many more articles.