HomeAnalysisFrom dispensable to original…Africa, homecoming and the future of humankind

From dispensable to original…Africa, homecoming and the future of humankind

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By Dr Tafataona Mahoso

ACCORDING to Ariana Baio reporting to INDY100 NEWSLETTER on January 13 2023, Dr Anthony Wohns told Reuters that: “We are reconstructing the genome of our ancestors and using them to form a vast network of (human ancestral) relationships.

We can then estimate when and where these ancestors lived.

The very earliest ancestors lived up to and over one million years ago.

The very ancestors we identify trace back in time to a location that is in modern Sudan.” 

(Later we shall also learn that what is called ancient Egyptian civilisation originated from Sudan/Ethiopia and developed down the River Nile.)

The cited report by Dr Wohns is only one among the latest of scores of studies of human origin using different disciplines, languages and methodologies. 

With the growth of DNA as a sort of new language of its own, what has changed most is how far back universal human ancestry can be traced with a good degree of certainty and which materials can now be made to speak to us and to yield  scientific data. 

Most of the methodologies have used fossil studies, with one in Ethiopia decades ago leading to the skeletal remains of a female human ancestor dubbed ‘Lucy’. 

A recent one using mitochondrial DNA led to the identification of everyone’s female ancestor being located in Southern Africa in the area between Namibia, Botswana and western Zimbabwe. 

Whichever method is used now points to African origins.

What is the big deal about 

ancestors?

This subject is a big deal because the marriage of early Christianity with imperialism and racism (based on chattel slavery) led in the West to more than half a millennium of white attempts to escape from Africa and run away from humanity’s African connection by trying to prove separate human origins and even denying the humanity of the African. 

Some of the 18th Century’s white pseudo-scientists went as far as theorising that there were seven human races of which the Caucasian was the most superior. 

The African was supposed to be the lowest.

For the Western Church, this idea of separate human origins or human creations was indeed heretical and a contrived departure from what Professor Bernard Magubane calls ‘Classical Christianity’ in his study: ‘Race and the construction of the dispensable other’.

When the Church became catholic and imperial, its popes issued Papal Decrees declaring Africans to be enemies of Christ and enemies of the Christian empire, fit only to be subjected to plunder and enslavement.

So, to be pre-occupied with the understanding of our human ancestors is indeed a big deal because, only a while back, that concern was scorned if not condemned outright as primitive ‘ancestor worship’.

This meant that for almost a millennium, the study of human ancestry was promoted  mainly for the purpose of proving how separate and superior white people were, especially in contrast to Africans. 

Race studies sought to prove that it was the Creator who damned and condemned the African during a separate creation. 

Yet none of the white racist myths and constructions had anything to do with God’s creation. 

They were products of a warped mindset driven by material greed for the monetary benefits of African slave labour.

Gradual and grudging movements back home to Africa

The first modern white movement towards some respect for Africa started when Western historians demystified Greek civilisation by conceding that it was later than Egyptian civilisation. 

At least the continent of Africa had given birth to the first human civilisation; but the creators of such a great human awakening could not really be ‘black’ Africans?  

They just happened to be on African soil! 

So the racists thought.

This concession, however, opened the way for historians, such as James Breasted, who paid close attention to the actual human content of that Egyptian civilisation.  

For instance, in The Dawn of Conscience, Breasted demonstrated that what we, in Zimbabwe, would call the fundamental values and principles of hunhu/ubuntu (morality, conscience, ethics, biophilia, solidarity, law and justice) were first developed by ancient Egyptians. 

Breasted demonstrated that these values were first developed within the realm of the family and for the benefit of the family but later expanded to the level of community, the State and the common religious philosophy of the entire society. 

This society, therefore, developed the first artistes, writers, teachers, prophets and intellectuals.

It was not long after this recognition of the content of  Egyptian civilisation that Africans, led by the Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop, started to prove that the civilisation just given recognition was in fact an African ‘black’ civilisation similar to those of other areas further south. 

In African origins of civilisation: Myth or reality, Diop produced a compendium of evidence which convinced and inspired thousands of followers, with 

George James, in Stolen Legacy, producing evidence to show that the early Greek scholars and intellectuals were students of Egyptian Africans. They went overseas to study in Egypt the way many flock from all over the world to Western universities to pursue advanced degrees today.

Indeed, as the Old Testament of the Bible shows, Egypt was also the breadbasket of ancient civilisations. 

During famines, whole nationalities used to come home to Africa, to migrate to that fertile land on the Nile in order to escape hunger and starvation. At least seven separate groups came as invaders and settlers over the many millennia. 

The Arabs happen to be the latest but they are not the creators of what is called ancient Egyptian civilisation.

Different disciplines and methodologies upholding Africa as the original

What is clear now is the fact that history, theology, anthropology, archaeology and DNA – all point to African origins, not just of the human species but of the values (hunhu/ubuntu) that distinguish us as humans.

The Old Testament Books such as Proverbs and Deuteronomy and the New Testament method of teaching, using parables, all derive from Egyptian teachings of Maat which pre-date their Hebrew derivatives by at least 2 000 years.

The earth movement, biophilia and biodiversity as African  homecoming

All the languages of DNA, history, anthropology, archaeology and even faith point to Africa no longer as the dispensable other but as the original  mould and model — the prototype. 

The philosophy and value of wildlife-based totems (mitupo) expressed our ancestors’ fantasy and desire for biodiversity and biophilia as living philosophies of sustainable existence. 

The experience and wisdom of lions, elephants, monkeys and hares had to be incorporated into daily human teachings by literally naming each community after an important animal.  

Indeed, even our ancestors as artists were pre-occupied with the human relationship with the wild. 

They left us a legacy of that practice, fantasy and desire in the form of cave paintings.

So, it is not surprising that Africa is today one of the centres for biodiversity and its values of learning from nature form the core principles behind the earth movement. 

The natural world is a living organism, not just raw material. 

We must give back to the wild what it needs to thrive and sustain our lives through its own life and agency.

What was mistaken as primitive ancestor worship has proven to be a desire to learn from the original how to survive and thrive now in the face of apparently angry nature and furious elements.

So, the big deal is that the AU and neo-liberal African leaders do not recognise the global homecoming to Africa of the entire world for renewal. 

Our leaders are pre-occupied with being integrated and getting incorporated into the very same market economy of capitalism which has caused the very same dead-end and catastrophe now mis-named as global warming.

In fact, the NATO war with Russia over Ukraine will soon bring about the wrong ‘homecoming’, another scramble for African resources to replace what the North Atlantic  States have lost due to the Russian blow-back against sanctions and encirclement.

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