I tend to disagree with Diop's explanation for two reasons: First, his explanation seems to lack Afrikan worldview orientation; he makes such an important tradition subject to the personal or individual whims of a ruler. The king was a guardian of an ancestral tradition and it seems unlikely that kings could circumvent something so fundamental to tradition. Akhenaten stands out as a king that circumvented tradition—and he paid the price for it with his life and his legacy (among the people of Kemet). His name was banished and many of his followers were forced out or left the country after his death. But my second reason is more substantive: DNA studies of mummies do not bear it out. The DNA research of Professor Scott Woodward on Kemetic mummies has not been fully disclosed but what little has leaked demonstrates that the Kemeyu did not sire heirs to the throne in their brother-sister unions. For example, Ahmes I and Seknet-re were full-blooded brother and sister, and according to tradition, were supposed to have married. However, the DNA results from the heir to the throne, Amenhotep I, shows Seknet-re was not his biological mother. The DNA of Tehutimes I does not suggest his parents were siblings either. Thus far, the DNA evidence has failed to confirm royal incest determined the heir.
Some scholars argue in favor of the practice of royal incest because it was justified by cosmology, where Kemetic deities (neteru) Ausar and Set both married their sisters, Auset and Nebt-Het respectively. This would suggest that society sanctioned incestuous marriages from the beginning of time. On this point, however, Budge cautions that it does not follow that the wife whom the Egyptian called “his sister,” was really his sister, for the love songs of the Egyptians prove that the lover often called the loved one “sister,” using the word as the equivalent of the words “beloved,” “dearest,” or “darling.” We also know that other Afrikan societies have brother-sister “marriages. Apparent, the Baganda, Banyaro, Shilluk, and even the Dogon have rituals that speak of brother-sister marriages. Hadfield relates that although the Baganda marry their half-sisters, they do not allow children from these unions. Among the Baganda, like other Afrikan societies, childless unions fail to consummate marriages, and since in the aforementioned case no heirs were produced, these unions fail to address the primary issue of providing an heir. What then would be their purpose?
He further tells us that the Banyaro practice cohabitation with their sisters, but do not marry them. In this second case, the Banyaro, they did not marry but instead “cohabited” with their sisters. This needs no discussion since marriage was not involved. Even if a child were produced, because it was born out of wedlock it would be disqualified as a legitimate heir. In the case of the Shilluk, we know their kings do not marry their biological sister. They married a “sister” from the Ororo priest-clan which, incidentally, represents the aboriginal clan that was mythically conquered by the cultural hero at the beginning of time. Dogon society is said to also allow brother-sister unions. But the Dogon further help to clarify the symbolic nature of this brother- sister union. In their cosmology, each Nommo (deity) is mated with his or her twin of the complementary sex. According to them, the brother- sister union is the most ideal union since it represents the form of marriage of the eight celestial ancestors. However, the Dogon do not marry their consanguine siblings. Marriage partners will undergo certain rituals that establish the pair as “brother” and “sister.” Further- more, a man’s mate will come from his mother’s lineage, a “cross- cousin,” thus since the bride comes from his maternal side, she is naturally considered his “sister.”
From all the available information on brother-sister marriages or incestuous marriages in Afrika, including the divine kingship of ancient Kemet, we must reject a literal interpretation—these are symbolic unions. On a more practical level, inbreeding is detrimental to a lineage group because it can result in recessive genes, which usually carry diseases, becoming dominant in several generations causing a family line to become severely weakened or deformed. Since Kemetic civilization lasted arguably beyond three thousand years, and with the various dynasties lasting more than three generations, it is safe to assume that the Kemeyu never practiced this form of marriage that clearly would have had disastrous effects on the royal family. One argument for the behavior of the Greek and Roman rulers (and society overall) was they suffered from the mentally deranging effects of endogamous reproduction. The Greek pharaohs did marry their biological sisters.
In Ptolemaic Egypt, or simply Egypt, since before Greek rule the land was called Kemet, we can definitely document “royal incest” and not from periods of indigenous Afrikan rule. Furthermore, Greek rule brought the violence and sexual mores characteristic of their culture into Kemet. In the new context of royal power, the violence of Greek culture combined with endogamous marriages produced a climate of intrigue and murder which involved matricide, patricide, infanticide and suicide.
The Greeks ruler of Kemet in order to not intermix with the native population began to inbreed, beginning with Ptolemy II, who married his sister. Ptolemy IV, Philopator, whose name means “lover of father,” ironically ascends the throne after killing his father and marrying his sister, only to later kill her. Two courtiers, Agathocles and Sosibus, arrange the murder of the mother of Ptolemy V, Epiphanes, and establish guardianship over him. Ptolemy VI kills the son sired by his sister and then serves him to her as a meal. He then marries his niece. Next to ascend the throne was Ptolemy VII, whose rule was brief because he was killed by his uncle, who ascended the throne as Ptolemy VIII (Euergetes II). He marries his sister-in-law Cleopatra II and later her daughter Cleopatra III. Ptolemy IX rules next and marries in succession his two sisters. Soon he was forced to flee the throne by the antics of his mother Cleopatra III, who enthrones his brother whom she later tried to kill, only to be assassinated by him instead. Ptolemy X marries his niece and then murders her. Eventually Cleopatra VII becomes queen. She married successively her two brothers, had a child by Rome’s Julius Caesar, three by Mark Antony, and then committed suicide. While her story is well known, the court intrigue of her dynastic line was not.
The Ptolemies represent a break in the ethical tradition of Afrikan governance. Much of the unscrupulous and unprincipled behavior associated with Egyptian pharaohs is based on the exploits of non-Afrikan rulers, individuals not beholden to the Maatian tradition. (Mind you, the conduct of the succeeding Romans was just as deplorable with Gaius Caligula and Nero being the most obscene.) We know the Greek and Roman rulers of Egypt practiced brother-sister marriages but in the case of Afrikans, the data is absent. Apparently the Greeks took the Kemetic symbolic union of brother and sister, and made it a real one.