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Egypt bans Dutch archaeologists after museum portrays black singers as ancient Egyptians

June 7, 2023 at 12:11 pm

Archaeologists work on the restoration of Khufu’s second solar boat, which was found during an excavation work near the Great Pyramid of Giza, at a workshop established by the support of the Egyptian Ministry of State of Antiquities in Giza, Egypt on March 29, 2017 [Fared Kotb – Anadolu Agency]

Egypt has banned Dutch archaeologists from entering the country after a museum exhibition portrayed black singers, performers and musicians as the rulers of ancient Egypt.

The exhibition at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in Leiden, Kemet, or black land, showcased how ancient Egypt and Nubia were significant in music from the African diaspora.

In a music video, Beyonce and Rihanna play Nefertiti, rapper Nas is Tutankhamun and Eddie Murphy, Ramesses.

The row has escalated, leading to Dutch archaeologists being banned from the Saqqara burial ground near Cairo, even though they have been active there since 1975.

Egyptian authorities have accused the museum of “falsifying history” whilst an article in El Fagr newspaper said the curators should explain the “support for Afrocentric ideas that try to rob the ancient Egyptian civilisation of its people.”

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Museum Director Wim Weijland told the NRC Handelsblad newspaper: “The accusation of falsifying history is inappropriate. This exhibition has been made with great care. As scientists, you don’t accuse each other like this. I want that qualification to be withdrawn.”

Exhibitions curator Daniel Soliman said: “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.”

In April an Egyptian lawyer tried to have Netflix shut down after a black actress was chosen to play Cleopatra in an upcoming mini-series, part of the “African Queens” series.

Former antiquities minister Dr Zahi Hawass accused the makers of the series of “falsifying facts.”

“Netflix is trying to stir up confusion to spread false information that the origin of Egyptian civilisation is black,” he added.

Two months earlier, a comedy show in Cairo starring US actor Kevin Hart was cancelled, with organisers citing “logistical issues.” However, last year, several social media users called for Hart’s show to be cancelled over his “Afrocentric” views on ancient Egypt.

Media personality Ahmad Younes said: “I can’t express how happy I am with the news [that the show is cancelled] because I was one of the thousands of people who wanted this event to be cancelled. This means that our words can make a difference and we are proud to be Egyptians, and no one can take our history or culture away from us.”

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