Naré Mari, the little-known “first pharaoh” of Egypt

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Egypt remains one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations in world history. Popular among the things the ancient nation is noted for are the and the treasures within them, the culture of the people, the periods and the kingdoms according to historians, and the .

Unfortunately, very little is known about the people who made this civilization happen and sustained it for over 3000 years. Naré Mari is one of such men.

Also known as Menes or Meni or Mena, Naré Mari is considered the first pharaoh of the first dynasty of Egypt and he is credited with founding the unified Egypt which ruled the world for a very long time.

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According to historians, Naré Mari was appointed by chiefs from cities within the ancient geographical area during a difficult era. The North and the South were at war over the minerals carried by the River Nile to form a piece of land in northern Egypt― the Delta.

Kings of five cities namely Nekhab, Nubet, Nekhen, Yeb and Abju met to resolve the dispute and decided that Naré Mari who was King of Nekhen should be the leader of the two halves of Egypt. His task was to unify the North and the South and lead them to fight against Asians who had invaded that mineral-filled piece of land.

The foremost Egyptian ruler was born into royalty. His parents – Queen Sesh and King Serkhert Horo Ka – were rulers of Nekhen. He was born a little after the invention of writing 5,400 years ago.

Naré Mari ruled Egypt for 62 years. His years of power were characterized by the militarization of the country. He started his ruling by subduing recalcitrant tribes in Upper Egypt which refused to accept the authority of the new king. Then, he went on to conquer Lower Egypt which was occupied by Asians.

He took on the dressings of kings of both the North and the South which has stayed on as a part of the pharaoh’s apparel till the end of the kingdom. The King wore Hedjet (the crown of southern Egypt) in addition to Desheret (northern Egypt’s red crown). He had three titles: Henu Shemau Mehu – the northern and southern sovereign, Nsut Bity – the southern king who conquered the north and Neb Tawy – master of both lands.

During his reign, Naré Mari also founded Men Nafooré which is currently known as Memphis. The city which was named after him (Menes) became the capital of the North and his home city (Nekhen) remained the capital of the south.

The premier pharaoh’s unification of Egypt became the legacy he left to his successors who also protected it, making Egypt countries in the world for 3000 years.

Narmer, another variation of Naré Mari’s name died of unknown causes and his remains are mummified at the Necrópole de Umm el-Qaab, Abydos in Egypt. He was married to Queen Nithotep and was succeeded by Hor-Aha, his son.

His name is still widely used by people in West Africa. Examples of prominent people who have born the name include the leader of the Mali Empire – Sundjata Keita who was also called Mari Djata Konaté. Sundjata’s dad was also called Naré Maghan Konaté.

Mari means “loved” in the Pharaonic language. It is believed to be the origin of the name; Mary.

In 2015, Nioussérê Kalala Omotunde and Djaïbré Asha Maât published a comic book based on the life of this great king. The book, titled , is a tale for children accompanied by a pedagogical sheet based on the true story of King Narmer.