Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Another Ape - another trek Out of Africa

I went to a party the other day. One guy stood out from the crowd as loud and outspoken; let’s call him “Pablo”. He seemed to have opinions about most things. He had some theories that I found amusing and very interesting, and just the kinda stuff I enjoy... If his theory happens to be correct, I’ll have to revise my own “Out of Africa” theory, but what the hell. So I’ll try to quote some of his theories… hope I get it right! I should also add that there are no racial motives behind this theory… I believe!

Apparently, there is a difference between the black people and the other races in this country. The blacks were here from the early morning, and bred right out of the cradle – The Cradle of Humankind that is. They have found tons of evidence to confirm this. Mrs. Ples, Lucy and Littlefoot and lots of other unnamed apes (John Doe’s) and humanoids. These monkeys are our prehistoric forefathers, earlier stages in evolution, before they developed into humans like you and me. As the general scientific theories go, they are the forefathers to people in all continents. They spread out from South Africa to all the continents – almost like today’s island hopping in Greece, and like my forefathers on their great trek (

Pablo’s theory though, reject that the same monkey made the great leap across the Mediterranean or the Suez Canal, and out of Africa. There was another ape that developed further north somewhere that crossed the rivers, ponds and lakes or whatever… and then spread out to inhabit the other continents. So, there was one monkey for Africa, and another one for the rest… So what? You’ve got two different monkeys to explain the nuances in skin colour?! The Stensby Ape’s trek was a bit shorter than earlier assumed (Coz I must assume that my ancestors was among Pablo’s lot), but still a lot more impressive than that of the voortrekkers. But there is more to it than that. When Jan Van Riebeck and the Dutch and later the Brits came to South Africa, they were technologically much more advanced than the native Africans that they met. A small difference could be random… but they were centuries apart in development! According to Pablo, there was no wheel even in Africa when the first colonizers started to nose about the African shores. How could this be if they were descendants of the same monkey?! So it’s proved then, that there was another monkey! Let’s just call it Pablo’s monkey to make things easy.

As Lucy, Mrs. Ples and Littlefoot grew up in abundance of food and resources, they were never pressured or challenged to find new ways. They were laid back and happy with things. Pablo’s monkey though developed further north. I can not remember exactly where… but whether it was Egypt, Middle East or Turkey… it was damn dry and far from the same abundance of flora and fauna. Why the hell did they end up there in the first place? My theory is that they were chased out by the other monkeys. Pablo’s monkey now had to be smart and creative to stay alive. Indeed it proved fit to survive also… so fit that the wheel was just around the corner. It’s like the Norwegian proverb: “Emergency teaches a naked woman to make clothes”! The significant difference back then was that Pablo’s monkey, unlike the laid back ones further south, developed the ability to plan from one day to the next. Pablo’s monkey also managed to overcome before insurmountable obstacles like crossing a river either by a raft or some kind of bridge. Mrs. Ples and Littlefoot were cut off by the Limpopo River, Zambezi and the Congo and thus stayed put, but did not care as they managed well in their abundance on this side. Not one single bridge, or a single structure like a log across the stream, has been found throughout Africa after the African monkeys. If it was really Mrs. Ples’s clan that chased Pablo’s monkey up north, then I owe her eternal gratitude. Then I will go to the Sterkfontein Caves once again to pay tribute. I guess I should not bear grudge against my forefathers either then ( I have to thank Pablo also, for putting my family’s evolution into a new and more favourable perspective. Now I can understand the reasons for ending up in the cold so far north. At the end of the day, I much prefer brains in the north to the alternative.

Whilst the smart apes migrated to Europe and other places, the other apes carried on in Africa at a slower development pace. So the technological development took different paths already hundreds and thousands of years ago. In light of the monkey story, it’s not so strange after all that the technological development was a few centuries behind in Africa. It certainly explains a few things that have been on my mind lately as well. Black people, at least some of them, are so laid back (like the ancestor ape) that they can hardly get out of the road in time to avoid cars on the highway! The Brits also went all the way to India to find proper working capacity on the cane fields, instead of using the (laid back/lazy) African tribes that was already here.

How can the whole nation (SA) pull together as one?:
Pablo went to Europe and was very impressed by the well functioning socialist European societies… especially the Scandinavian ones. This makes me proud of course being a Norwegian. Now we already established that there was a different breed of monkeys behind the “out of Africa” societies, but there is another explanation behind the socialist systems also. Europe was the scene of the Second World War. After everything was bombed to pieces there was a feeling of solidarity among people and they wanted to rebuild their countries. People helped each other and shared whatever they had at hand. 60 years after the war was over, you find societies where wealth is distributed fairly even throughout the whole population. Just that could be a goal for South Africa and many of the African countries to reach for, right?!

So what about South Africa then? Wasn’t Apartheid South Africa’s answer to Europe’s World War 2? Sure, for some, but only for one part of the population – the blacks. It’s a fight to claim back something rather than pulling together… It is admirable of course that this country came out of Apartheid without a civil war. But is that for the better really, or is it more like prolonging the pain? Maybe they NEED a war to get a new start with clean sheets? A civil war would probably not be a good solution anyway though… so they should find somebody outside their own borders to fight against. Then blacks, whites and Indians could have a common task to fight for or against... or whatever. It would mean pulling together at least. The only likely candidate I can think of at the moment is Zimbabwe… or Bob I mean of course! But then again - Mugabe and Mbeki are far too good friends for anything like that to happen!!


abraxas said...

Aside from a really thought provoking article, a topic i've had many talks, thoughts, and zero conclusions about, the cartoon at the end made my day.
Remember that europe used cartoons as well, to "level the fields" .. in the same way that hopefully a little cartoon, can produce a big response.

Jonny said...

Thanx man! Always appreciate your comments! First one to dare say anything about this article as well... kept it unpublished for a few days before I decided to publish actually. I must stress once again though, that there are no racial motives behind. Not from me (married to a non white) and not from "Pablo"! History invites a lot of speculations though, and that makes it all even more interesting!!

Would be interesting to know other people's thoughts on the subject!!

Pablo said...

Hey Jonny
Just to clear something up, I never insisted that there were two apes. My first option remains one ape, one species. The question is why would a group decide to head north out of an area of abundance? Or were they forced out for some reason. The second and more controvercial option is two different apes.

Jonny said...

Hey Pablo! Thank you for clearing that up! I am truly sorry that I got you wrong on that. I guess I was too hooked up on the controvercial part and went off at a tangent. Sevika always tells me that I've got selective hearing... or that I "check out" at times. Usually not when there is something that I find interesting (like this) though. U got a theory on that too maybe??

So what you are saying then is that my forefathers who ended up in the cold north had no f***ing good excuse to go there at all and cause problems, inconvenience and unpleasantness for future generations (ME!)?! They were plain stupid to head that direction! Either that, or I guess they could still be an expelled group of apes from the main clan... or another clan from the same ape spcies! There are no clear evidence that my ancestors can be excused with a low IQ at least... I guess I can live with that for now!! I hope you will tell me if any evidence or new theories should come up... favorable or not!!!

Anonymous said...

The theories can roughly be divided in two: 1 - "half-man, half-apes" evolved to plain man in Africa and from there they populated the whole world, "recent single origin theory", or "out of Africa" theory. In the other, "multiregionalist theory", "half-man, half-apes" left Africa, went at least to Europe and to Asia, and separately, evolved into man. There could be intermediate theories, such as "half-man, half-apes" migrate from Africa first, they don't evolve really much; man evolves in Africa and then migrates to other continents, where they interbreed with half-man, half-apes just a bit. The first theory, in the most "pure" version is favored by all the data up to now; pure multiregionalism is discarded by most scientists, and there are a few who believe that there could have been some crossbreeding between our species and close relatives when they met out of Africa, and some genes could still be there lurking in some populations.

About technological and cultural disparities between continents, this need not be explained by different biological abilities, only by different resources and cultural histories in each continent. Just like, Amerindians, descended from plain human Asians, in either theory, but their technological and cultural history is quite contrasting; most Amerindians stood in a sort of "wild" type of culture (despite some civilizations in Central America), with tribes and bands, while Asians achieved more advanced civilizations.

I strongly recommend to read "Why Did Human History Unfold Differently On Different Continents For The Last 13,000 Years?" by Jared Diamond, which is an introduction to one of his books where he explains the subject a bit more detailedly.

Jonny said...

Thanx Anonymous (Scientist or professor or something?)! I will definitely check out Jared Diamond!

I guess my family's great trek does not necessarily represent the major part of the trek that took place :-) We made a path though, and I'm sure we had lots of followers!