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African Studies

Remembering Ivan Van Sertima: A Life Dedicated to Uncovering History's Untold Narratives

“Ivan Van Sertima, through his groundbreaking research and intellectual exploration, illuminated the interconnectedness of African history with global civilizations. His unwavering dedication to bringing to light the overlooked facets of history continues to inspire scholars, contributing to a deeper understanding of our world's rich and diverse cultural heritage”

Black Wall St. MediaContributor
Remembering Ivan Van Sertima
Ivan Van Sertima

Ivan Van Sertima

Ivan Van Sertima, born on January 26, 1935, was a Guyanese-born British associate professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University in the United States.

He was a renowned scholar and researcher, best known for his groundbreaking pre-Columbian contact theory.

His extensive research delved into the history of African explorers who pre-dated Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Western Hemisphere.

One of his most famous works is the book “They Came Before Columbus,” published in 1976.

Although initially ignored by many European scholars, it became a best-seller and garnered widespread attention within Black communities worldwide due to its thought-provoking claims of prehistoric

African contact with the Americas. In this book, Ivan Van Sertima explored the theory that Africans had made landfall in the Americas and had a significant influence on the native peoples of Mesoamerica, particularly the Olmec civilizations.

In recognition of his exceptional work, “They Came Before Columbus” received the prestigious “Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize” in 1981.

This accolade further validated his research and cemented his position as a prominent figure in the study of African history and its global impact.

Throughout his career, Van Sertima authored and edited several other influential books, including “The Lost Science of Africa: An Overview,” “African Presence in Early Europe,” and “Caribbean Writers: Critical Essays,” which highlighted the contributions of Caribbean literary figures.

Remembering Ivan Van Sertima: A Life Dedicated to Uncovering History's Untold Narratives

His dedication to scholarship and spreading awareness about African history and culture earned him respect and admiration from scholars and communities alike.

In 2004, Van Sertima was honored with induction into the “Rutgers African-American Alumni Hall of Fame” as a testament to his significant contributions to the field of Africana Studies and the broader academic community.

After a long and illustrious career, Ivan Van Sertima retired in 2006, leaving behind a legacy of groundbreaking research and intellectual exploration.

Sadly, on May 25, 2009, at the age of 74, he passed away, leaving a void in the academic world and among those who valued his contributions.

Ivan Van Sertima’s work continues to inspire scholars and researchers to explore the rich history of Africa and its interconnectedness with other civilizations throughout history.

“His dedication to shedding light on overlooked aspects of history has left an indelible mark on the field of African studies, and his books continue to be studied and cherished by those seeking a deeper understanding of the world's diverse cultural heritage.”

Black Wall St. MediaContributor

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