Dr. Ivan Van Sertima
He published his They Came Before Columbus in 1976, as a Rutgers graduate student. The book deals mostly with his claims of African origin of Mesoamerican culture in the Western Hemisphere, but among other things also writing that the kings of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt were Nubians. The book, published by Random House rather than an academic press, was a bestseller and achieved widespread attention within the African-American community for his claims of prehistoric African contact and diffusion of culture in Central and South America. It was generally “ignored or dismissed” by academic experts at the time and strongly criticized in detail in an academic journal in 1997.
Van Sertima completed his master’s degree at Rutgers in 1977. He became Associate Professor of African Studies at Rutgers in the Department of Africana Studies.[year needed] In 1979, Van Sertima founded the Journal of African Civilizations, which he exclusively edited and published for decades.
He published several annual compilations, volumes of the journal dealing with various topics of African history. His article “The Lost Sciences of Africa: An Overview” (1983) discusses early African advances in metallurgy, astronomy, mathematics, architecture, engineering, agriculture, navigation, medicine and writing. He posited that higher learning, in Africa as elsewhere, was the preserve of elites in the centres of civilizations, rendering them vulnerable in the event of the destruction of those centers and the disappearance of the knowledges. Van Sertima also discussed African scientific contributions in an essay for the volume African Renaissance, published in 1999 (he had first published the essay in 1983). This was a record of the conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 1998 on the theme of the African Renaissance.
On July 7, 1987, Van Sertima testified before a United States Congressional committee to oppose recognition of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of the Americas. He said, “You cannot really conceive of how insulting it is to Native Americans … to be told they were discovered”.