Conspiracy theorists who posit the existence of an alien race in Africa and preach the end of earth this Saturday do nothing for the advancement of Africa, academics say, and in fact perpetuate racist myths about the continent.
According to Christian theorist David Meade, September 23, aka The Niburu Apocalypse, has been pinpointed as the day the world ends after colliding with a rogue planet called Niburu.
He built this theory using codes from the Bible and also a "date marker" shown by the pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Meade argues that the pyramid was built by the alien Annunaki race.
"Africa has an extensive archaeological record, extending as far back as 3.3 million years ago when the first-ever stone tool was made in what is today Kenya. The continent's cultural complexity and diversity is well established; it is home to the world's oldest-known pieces of art. And, of course, it is the birthplace of modern humans' ancient ancestors, Homo sapiens", says Dr Julien Benoit, a postdoctoral fellow of the Evolutionary Studies Institute.
"Despite all this evidence, some people still refuse to believe that anyone from Africa [or anywhere in what is today considered the developing world] could possibly have created and constructed the Giza pyramids or other ancient masterpieces. Instead, they credit ancient astronauts, extraterrestrials or time travellers as the real builders.
"Why is it so hard for some to acknowledge that ancient non-European civilisations like the Aztecs, people from Easter Island, ancient Egyptians or Bantu-speakers from southern Africa could create intricate structures?"
Racism, and a refusal to appreciate the achievements of Africa, are the root cause, Benoit says.
"The answer is unfortunately as simple as it seems: it boils down to profound racism and a feeling of white superiority that emanates from the rotting corpse of colonialism.
"Colonial powers saw their "subjects" in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia as exotic, fascinating -- but ultimately primitive.
"An increasing knowledge and understanding of the archaeological record mostly dispelled these notions. But for some, and until nowadays, it seems unthinkable that ancient non-European societies have been resourceful and creative enough to erect such monuments. So, the thinking went, conventional science must have been missing or hiding something: ancient astronauts, aliens, or the lost civilisation of Atlantis. Even some mainstream scholars have dabbled in this thinking."