Yosef Ben-Jochannan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan
Born (1918-12-31)December 31, 1918
Died March 19, 2015(2015-03-19) (aged 96)
Occupation writer, historian
Nationality American
Notable works Abu Simbel to Ghizeh: A Guide Book and Manual (1989)

Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan (/ˈbɛn ˈjkənən/; December 31, 1918 – March 19, 2015), also known as Dr. Ben, was an American writer and historian. He is considered to have been one of the nation's more notable Afrocentric scholars.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Ben-Jochannan's background is uncertain. He asserted that he was born in Ethiopia to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father.[2] According to Tudor Parfitt, Ben-Jochannan was likely to have been of Puerto Rican origin.[3]

Ben-Jochannan was educated in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba, and Spain, earning degrees in engineering and anthropology.[2][unreliable source?] In 1938, he earned a BS in Civil Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico.[citation needed] He stated that in 1939 he earned a Master's degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba.[2] and then doctoral degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona, Spain.[2]

Career and later life[edit]

Ben-Jochannan immigrated to the United States in the early 1940s. He worked as a draftsman and continued his studies. He stated that in 1945, he was appointed chairman of the African Studies Committee at the headquarters of the newly founded UNESCO, a position from which he reportedly stepped down in 1970. In 1950, Ben-Jochannan began teaching Egyptology at Malcolm King College, and subsequently at City College in New York City. From 1976 to 1987, he was an adjunct professor at Cornell University.[4]

Ben-Jochannan was the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures.[2][dead link]In his writings, he asserts that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans, while the white Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.[5]

Ben-Jochannan made a number of appearances on Gil Noble's WABC-TV weekly public affairs series Like It Is.

In 2002, Ben-Jochannan donated his personal library of more than 35,000 volumes, manuscripts and ancient scrolls to the Nation of Islam.[6]

In the years preceding his death Ben-Jochannan lived in Harlem, New York City.

Ben-Jochannan died on March 19, 2015,[7] at the age of 96.[8]


Ben-Jochannan has been criticized for allegedly distorting history and promoting Black supremacy. In February 1993, Wellesley College European classics professor Mary Lefkowitz publicly confronted Ben-Jochannan about his teachings. Ben-Jochannan taught that Aristotle visited the Library of Alexandria. During the question and answer session following the lecture, Lefkowitz asked ben-Jochannan, "How would that have been possible, when the library was not built until after his death?" Lefkowitz stated that "Dr. ben-Jochannan was unable to answer the question, and said that he resented the tone of the inquiry."[9] Lefkowitz writes that ben-Jochannan proceeded to tell those present that they "could and should believe what black instructors told" them and that "although they might think that Jews were all 'hook-nosed and sallow faced,' there were other Jews who looked like himself."[10]

African-American professor Clarence E. Walker wrote that Ben-Jochannan not only confused Cleopatra VII with her daughter Cleopatra VIII and stated she was black, but also wrote that “Cleopatra VIII committed suicide after being discovered in a plot with Marc Antonio [Mark Anthony] to murder Julius Caesar.”[11]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • African Origins of Major Western Religions, 1991. ISBN 978-0933121294
  • We the Black Jews, 1993, ISBN 9780933121409
  • Black Man of the Nile and His Family, Black Classic Press, 1989. ISBN 9780933121263
  • Africa: Mother of Western Civilization. ISBN 9780933121256
  • New Dimensions in African History
  • The Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the Exclusion of Their African Origins
  • Abu Simbel to Ghizeh: A Guide Book and Manual
  • Cultural Genocide in the Black and African Studies Curriculum. New York, 1972. OCLC 798725

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carroll, Robert (2011). The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley & Sons. p. 8. ISBN 1118045637. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Yosef Ben-Jochannan Biography". TheHistorymakers.com. 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ Tudor Parfitt, Emanuela Semi (eds.) (2013). Judaising Movements: Studies in the Margins of Judaism in Modern Times. Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 1136860274. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dr. Yosef A. A. Ben-Jochannan". raceandhistory.com. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ Ben Jochannan, Yosef (1993). We the Black Jews. Black Classics Press. 
  6. ^ Shabazz, Saeed (October 29, 2002). "Prized library bequeathed to the Nation". FinalCall.com. Retrieved June 30, 2011. 
  7. ^ Martin Pratt, "Obituaries: Noted historian and scholar Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannan has died", Rolling Out, March 19, 2015.
  8. ^ "Dr. Ben joins the ancestors". New York Amsterdam News. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  9. ^ Lefkowitz, Mary (1997). Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth As History. New Republic Book (reprint). p. 2. ISBN 978-0465098385. 
  10. ^ History Lesson, pp. 67-69.
  11. ^ Walker, Clarence E (2001). We Can't Go Home Again: An Argument About Afrocentrism. Oxford University Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0195095715. 

External links[edit]