By Dr. Na'im Akbar



        The preceding/following text is/was used with permission from the author Dr. Na'im Akbar or publishing company Mind Productions and he says the following in the introduction of his book (Know Thy Self ISBN 0-935257-06-3).

Knowledge is the hallmark of civilized human life. That special attribute which distinguishes human life from all other forms of life on this planet is the unique ability to acquire knowledge. Knowledge is the capacity to know oneself, and to have the ability to communicate that knowledge to others. Other animals have the capacity to learn and to establish new behavior that is actually only habit or action without awareness. Human beings are capable of knowledge acquisition and this permits them to move above the level of habit and actually gain and trans­mit knowledge about themselves and the world that they live in, over generations. Other forms of life may alter their genetic code by altering their habits over sus­tained periods of time, but they are unable to leave a record of the rationale for developing certain patterns, mastering certain obstacles and breaking down the complexity of some aspect of the environment.


This remarkable and significant way of getting knowledge and passing it along permits human beings to master their environments and themselves unlike any other form of life. We are able to redesign much about the environment that we live in because of our knowledge of its patterns and its cycles. We are ulti­mately able to change ourselves and improve ourselves unlike any other form of life because of the accumulated and transmitted knowledge of who we are and how we function. The real mark of civilization is in the maintenance of certain systematic knowledge that preserves the code of how to overcome obstacles and understand problems that reoccur in the environment. We don't have to grow another layer of hair over the course of several generations, as the other mammals must do in order to survive the elements. Instead, we need only keep a mental record (an external or internal library) of how the cold was avoided when it came before. This mental record permits each generation to rise above those who came before because we are able to build on the knowledge of those who have already mastered a problem. Whereas it takes other animals literally scores of generations to alter their instincts in order to transmit the newly discovered messages, humans are transformed by the single discovery that is preserved and then transmitted forevermore. Transformation can occur for the entire human race by the one-time discovery of a bit of knowledge that makes everyone different from that point for­ward. The discovery of the use of fire transformed human beings from that gen­eration forward. The same can be said about electricity, engines, flight, the cau­sation of diseases, etc. Whereas it probably took the first birds several thousands of years to master flying and encode it in their genes, in just a couple of genera­tions after the Wright Brothers, every human being on the planet is now capable of flying. Smallpox once wiped out entire populations, but once its cause was understood, it now has the rarity of a remote moment in history.


All civilized groups struggle to preserve their shared or collective infor­mation. There is recognition that the people's ability to survive and master the obstacles of the environment is a direct consequence of their ability to preserve their knowledge. There is also recognition that in the process of human competi­tion for limited resources and preserving ourselves, we must ultimately seek to gain greater knowledge than our competitors. So each group, not only engages in the process of developing and sharing certain knowledge, they also engage in the concealment of knowledge which may give them enhanced effectiveness over their competitors. Human communities must acquire and preserve the secrets of life that ensure their survival. Each community must also be sensitive to the excessive appetites of some groups that requires the more modest to defend them­selves by maintaining an advantage in their knowledge base.


Consciousness (literally translated to mean with knowledge or knowing with others) is the internal manifestation of knowledge. Awareness is the distin­guishing quality that differentiates between human life that is functional and life that is dysfunctional. As a people's shared knowledge is the criteria for assessing their level of civilization, personal awareness is the way by which we determine individual functioning. There is no wonder that the Ancient African people taught the world (and later transmitted by the Greek and Roman students of Africa) that the ultimate instruction for human growth and transformation was: "Man know thyself." To be conscious was to be alive and to be human. The greater the con­sciousness the higher was the expression of ones humanity. Human beings in their highest points of development (e.g., Egypt or Kemit; Mayans, etc.) were most noteworthy for their devotion to the development of consciousness. These soci­eties were distinguished by their commitment to developing images and structures that cultivated the human consciousness. Such societies were also famous for the devotion of large groups of people to the process of consciousness development for the benefit of the entire society. We are told that in the peak of Kemetic civ­ilization there were actually more than 80,000 students who were studying the system of consciousness development at Ipet Isut (called by the later interpreters, The Temple of Karnak.) There is reason to believe that these ancient temples and all of their embellishment were developed for the express purpose of cultivating human consciousness. Even the pyramids and the mighty Sphinx were obvious­ly more than pagan idols and Temples. It took great levels of skill to construct these mighty structures. The failure of contemporary efforts to duplicate these building feats suggests that these were examples of a higher form of science than current science and not just the clumsy efforts of a "primitive and pagan people," as some have claimed.


Consciousness is a valued human asset and every people seek ways to enhance their knowledge-particularly their self-knowledge. There is a mistak­en notion that consciousness is a finite resource and many people engage in the hoarding of these resources under the assumption that if they don't accumulate more than others then they will be less effective as human beings. There has also been the discovery by some that other human beings can be subjugated and made servile by limiting their consciousness of themselves and by imposing certain selective aspects of alien knowledge on others.  It is the recognition of the consequence of losing self-knowledge and being overwhelmed by the knowledge of another group of people that inspired Dr. Carter G. Woodson's' description of the process which he called "mis-education." Though Dr. Woodson applied the concept of "mis-education" specifically to the condition and circumstances of African-Americans, such a process can ultimate­ly undermine the human endeavors of any people. In Dr. Woodson's case study of the African-American, he demonstrated the consequence of an entire group of people being systematically deprived of the knowledge of themselves. He described the personal and collective consequences in the behavior and conduct of people who lost their self-awareness because of a process of deliberate "mis-education."

In order to correct the process of mis-education and to heal the conse­quence of this plague, it is necessary to gain a basic understanding of what edu­cation should be. Though there is considerable educational philosophy and theo­ries of education that have been offered by European-American educators, we cannot risk the use of those theories since they have been offered by a tradition of education which has comfortably and deliberately mis-educated African ­Americans and other non-European people. The objective of this discussion is to look at the process of education in a holistic way and to determine what should be the ingredients of an effective education. We shall draw upon the traditions of African education as a means of conceptualizing what this educational process should entail. We shall also include concepts from the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his highly successful educational program for the Nation of Islam. We should end up with a model for educational institutions which teach African-Americans, as well as some guidelines for the process of the reeducation of those African-Americans who have already been mis-educated by Institutions that did not have their true education in mind.


Several years ago, I wrote a very popular little pamphlet entitled From Mis-education to Education.' It was a very brief effort to distinguish between real education and mis-education. This pamphlet drew from Dr. Woodson's concept of mis-education and suggested several ways that we could identify authentic educa­tion. The ideas in From mis-education to Education caught the imagination of many hundreds of people who had never heard of Dr. Woodson's ideas, but imme­diately recognized some deficiencies in their own learning which gave living proof to the concept of mis-education. For over twenty years, I have begun my classes in "Black Psychology" with the reading and discussion of Dr. Woodson's book, The Miseducation of the Negro. I have found this concept of Dr. Woodson's to be fundamental as one begins to discuss the need for an alternative way of thinking. Though Dr. Woodson was a highly gifted scholar and graduate of the renowned Harvard University, the book is simple, clear and direct. It also served as the mission statement for his entire career of seeking to correct this severe problem of the mis-educated "Negro." Amazingly, the original document by Dr. Woodson was written in 1933, but it is as current here at the end of the 20th century as it was during the first half of the century. It's a timeless piece, not because the problem is irresolvable, but because it so clearly identifies the far-reaching behavioral, social and economic consequences of this process. There are many contemporary African-American scholars who strongly agree with Dr. Woodson that the continuing problem of the African-American community is the fact that we have not secured adequate knowledge of ourselves. Since we have been mis-educated, we do not operate at the simplest levels of our own self-inter­est.


In the Foreword of the small book, From Mis-education to Education, Muhammad Armiya Nu'man stated: "Mis-education is the root of the problems of the masses of the people. If the masses of the people were given correct knowl­edge from the very beginning, we would not be in the condition that we find our­selves in today."3 This a very accurate statement and it is no doubt true, not only of the "masses," but of the leadership of the African-American community as well. The fact that we continue to make so many of the same mistakes over and over and operate so predictably in opposition to ourselves can best be understood by this concept of mis-education.


This book is going beyond the description of the problem, however. We analyze the concept of education and describe what should occur in the educa­tional process. We build on the idea of the ancient sages of Kemit who declared that the foundation of all learning was "Know thyself," and was echoed in the clear admonitions of Elijah Muhammad that we must obtain "knowledge of self," in order to act and respond like intelligent people. Though we do not provide in this book a curriculum and the details for this proper education, we do offer some clear guidelines by which we can assess whether we are acquiring "real educa­tion" or "miseducation." We are hopeful that through these ideas, we can begin to do what Armiya Nu'man urged, in the Foreword of From Miseducation to Education: "(Let us) begin to think with our own minds, and not the mind of the manipulators, and consequently free ourselves from "miseducation."'

The objective of this publication and all of the work that I do is intended to help restore the ability of the African-American community in particular, and oppressed human beings in general, to once again think with our own minds.  HOTEP!!!


(The name Egypt is a Greek name given to the Nile Valley Civilization. The people of this Civilization identified their culture as KMT or Kemit. In this volume, we will refer to the land of the Great Nile Valley Civilization as Kemit as these great African people referred to themselves)