Throughout history wars have erupted in societies great and small, and from Stone Age conflicts to the great battles of the 20th century, wars have been etched into the memory of mankind. It should come as no surprise, then, that many wars have been fought on African soil, and that some of the greatest generals in human history have been Black Africans.
As a matter of fact, the first military leaders in history appear to have arisen in northeast Africa, the cradle of the human race and civilization. Along the Nile River, in ancient Nubia and Egypt, Black generals of extraordinary genius devised tactics and strategies that are still taught in military institutions around the world. In other words, modern generals such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Colin Powell, H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Donald Rumsfeld undoubtedly studied the warcraft of the great Black militarists of antiquity. Who were the Black generals of yesteryear whose names are now largely lost to history?
In Egypt and Nubia they included Narmer, Ahmose I, Thutmose III, Sesostris I, Pianky and Taharqa. Another great general was Hannibal of Carthage. Many of these Black commanders, in their turn, ruled the civilized world of their time, and laid the foundation of modern offensive and defensive military tactics.
A prominent case in point was that of Thutmose III. He was born into Egypt's 18th dynasty (royal family) around 1504 B.C. According to African-American historian William L. Hansberry, this dynasty, consisting of 14 Black kings and queens, was one of the greatest royal families in human history.
During this reign, numerous temples, obelisks and civic centers were constructed, Egypt's religion and culture were revitalized and transformed, the first world empire evolved in Egypt and this nation became the most prosperous on earth.
Born to Thutmose II and a Sudanese woman, Aset, Thutmose III was the sixth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. He was short, muscular and black with a round face and broad features. It appears that his reign was delayed by that of his stepmother/aunt, the great Hatshepsut, who succeeded her husband/brother, Thutmose II, to the throne. Sibling marriages were common in the ancient Egyptian royal family to assure purity of the regal line.
Hatshepsut legally ascended the throne after the death of her husband. By tradition she was obligated to pass the crown to her stepson/nephew, Thutmose III, upon his reaching adulthood. However, the great queen stubbornly remained "pharaoh" of Egypt long beyond the appointed time, in defiance of protocol and the protests of young Thutmose, high priests and others.
After Hatshepsut died, young Thutmose III, angry at having been denied for so long his right to the throne, lashed out with a vengeance against her entire regime. Some even speculate that he may have played a part in arranging the great queen's death. At any rate, Thutmose III stripped the queen's officials of their rank, expunged her name from royal records and obliterated her statues and monuments. Once having established himself as the true ruler of Egypt, he became a great king in his own right.
Although Thutmose III proved to be a wise, just and compassionate sovereign, most authorities have focused on his extraordinary military genius. For example, African-American historian Lester Brooks has noted that, "Thutmose III turned out, in the  years of his actual rule, to be the greatest warrior king ever to direct the destinies of Egypt." The Pharaoh conducted 17 military campaigns into Western Asia and captured more than 350 cities during an 18-year period. He also fought back Nubian incursions from inner Africa.
He was a fearless leader of unmatched military skill. According to the distinguished scholar, W.E.B. DuBois: "His empire extended from Napata to the Euphrates. The Assyrians and Babylonians sent their daughters to him in marriage, and the descendants of Syrian rulers, conquered by his father and educated in Egypt, ruled as slaves of the Pharaoh. Tribute poured into Egypt." So impressed was Egyptologist James Breasted with the pharaoh's military genius that he dubbed him "the Napoleon of Antiquity."
But Thutmose III was not just a warrior-king. He was an upright and just ruler who took great pains to appoint fair and competent judges and administrators. He was also exceedingly compassionate and magnanimous toward the poor, the enslaved and prisoners of war. A highly spiritual leader, this pharaoh also maintained a strong priesthood. In support of this, he built, enriched and embellished numerous temples throughout Egypt. Marcus Garvey, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, once wrote that "[E]very student of history of impartial mind knows that the Negro once ruled the world." From that era of imperialism and splendor, Thutmose III looms as the epitome of Black majesty, statesmanship and military genius.
[Legrand H. Clegg II is an attorney in Compton, CA, and the producer of the video, "When Black Men Ruled the World." It may be ordered by calling toll free 800-788-CLEGG, or on the web at www.melant.com/cleggseries.]