Episode 1: Our Human Origins: Why We Are All Africans

[From The Archives]

So let’s start on a philosophical note. When Europeans denigrate Africa to the extent of saying that Africa had no history what does it really mean? What is the purpose? 

We know what the purpose is. The purpose was to sanitize and justify the crimes committed against Africa. The crime of enslavement. The crime of colonial conquest and subjugation. The crime of exploitation of Africa’s natural and mineral wealth and Africa’s labor and the contemporary crime of neocolonialism and imperialism that still hijacks Africa’s wealth to benefit the industrial world to the detriment of Africa, and holds back the continent, in this, our 21st century. 

So let’s look at some of the things alleged against Africa. The calumnies against Africa. What did Hegel say in 1831? Well, let me read: “This is the land where men are children. Africa is no historical part of the world.” Let’s see what Samuel Baker said, racist British imperialist. In his book “Albert N’yanza” in 1866: “Human nature as viewed in its crudest state as seen amongst African savages is quite on the level as that of the brute and not to be compared to the noble character of the dog.” 

This hateful individual was an alleged explorer who went to Africa, and then he was guided by Africans who took him to lakes that he then renamed and claimed he discovered. Lake Albert in Uganda. Guided to the lake by an African, and then when he gets back to Europe, he’s abusing Africans in his book. But Baker’s true mission and objective was, number one, simply to map out the continent in preparation for later conquest, colonization, and plunder by the British empire. But of course the evidence contradicts their words and their attempts to cut off Africa from history when in fact the attempt itself is upside down. It is European history that should be questioned. How can you have a history by cutting off the source of the origin of humankind?

That doesn’t make sense. In fact African history is all world history, because you cannot have any other history without African history. The evidence is now overwhelmingly clear that humankind originated in Africa, particularly in the Rift Valley zone, which includes Ethiopia, which includes what is now Kenya, which includes what is Tanzania and extending all the way to South Africa, and it’s in this zone that some of the most important fossil remains have been discovered of the pre-Sapien ancestors of what is now human beings. So for example in 1924 in South Africa the discovery of what was later named the Taung child. And that was dated at 2.8 million years old, and then in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, the discovery of Zinjanthropus, in 1959, and that was dated at 1.8 million years old, and then in 1974 the discovery of Dinkinesh, in the Afar region of Ethiopia (dated at 3.2 million years old) and that was what the Ethiopians named this fossil, and otherwise known also to the outside world as Lucy. And of course, in terms of sapiens, the earliest discovery was also made in Africa and these date to 200,000 old. There’ve been discoveries in other parts of the world, including in Asia, and in Europe, but none of them come close in terms of the age, in terms of how old these remains are. They don’t come close to the 200,000 year old fossil remains of sapiens discovered in Africa.

So this has always been an inconvenience, a major inconvenience to Europeans who’d like to delink the evolution of Europeans, and to try to claim that we do not have a monogenetic lineage that we are all ancestored from, we are all descended from the original lineage, from the Rift Valley zone. So they even came up with a (polygenetic) claim, and the most preposterous manifestation of this was in 1912 when a British archaeologist named Charles Dawson purportedly discovered the remains of what he termed was a pre-sapien, the (ancestor) of European sapiens. He claimed he made the discovery in Sussex, in England, and produced what he claimed was the skull of this pre-sapien which had no connection to Africa, he alleged. This was a hoax which was later on completely repudiated in 1953 after more than four decades, which to me suggest that many in the European academy who were sympathetic to what Dawson was trying to do, to cut off European links to Africa, must have been covering up for him. And why do I say this? Because these are supposedly some of the best scientists in the world. How could they not tell that the jaw part of the skull produced by Dawson belonged to a dog? How could they not make that distinction? I suppose other parts of the skull might have been human remains, but clearly the jaws were from a dog, and yet this was produced and it was entertained for more than four decades by his colleagues and by Dawson himself. 

And why was it so important for them to try and do that? Well many people who support the polygenetic theory of human origin are also not surprisingly those who claim that Europeans are intellectually superior to Africans. Now of course it’s very difficult for them to maintain this argument so long as it remains a fact that we are all descendants of Africans from this monogenetic chain as Professor Anta Diop has clearly shown in his work “The African Origin of Civilization.” So this has always been a very inconvenient truth to those who would deny and cut off Africa from the evolution and from human history. 

So, mankind and womankind after originating in Africa, at some point, traveled to populate the rest of the world into Asia through the Suez isthmus and into Europe through the Straits of Gibraltar and one of the last parts of the world populated by human beings was of course the Americas and that’s why the remains that are found in America are those of Sapiens. In Asia and Europe, the cro-magnon, neanderthal, and then sapiens. None of the earlier stages, none of the remains dating back millions of years like the discoveries made in Africa can be found in Europe, which is also another clear manifestation that it was after traveling from Africa to Europe that mankind and womankind populated the rest of the world. And that is why the earliest stages of evolution, fossil remains cannot be found in Europe, in Asia, in the Americas, but only in Africa. Another strong manifestation and proof of the works of professors such as the late Anta Diop.

And of course after populating other parts of the world, Europe for example, that was during the ice age when that part of the earth was extremely cold and it was there and in other parts of the world settled by humans that human beings over periods ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 years started through adaptation to their physical environment and climatic conditions, started taking on different features and that is why today the earth is populated by human beings with different physical attributes, characteristics, and pigmentation and that’s why we now have so-called races, different races, when in fact we are all descendants of an original monogenetic lineage taking us all way back to the Rift Valley zone in Africa. So when in fact I say sisters and brothers I actually do mean it. We are actually all sisters and brothers. 

And science has proven that and I think that’s important, that if people were to acknowledge that the world would be so much, a much, much better place. And if we can’t do it in our lifetimes, we hope that the younger generation will have a better shot at it. 

So now let me take a leap forward from this prehistoric scenario I just went through, which I believe was very critical particularly to many that are not familiar with this since it is not widely taught and for obvious reasons too. If the establishment and powers that be want to maintain a certain narrative of having Europeans and then the “others,” and the “others,” can be Africans, the “others,” can be Asians, the “others,” can be Latinx, then of course we can understand why this kind of knowledge and information is not widely taught or disseminated or even discussed in popular media. 

But now let me move to another stage as we continue our narrative of the African story. Let’s go to 10,000 years ago when one of the most important revolutionary events in human history occurred, and that was of course the beginning of agriculture, agriculture now allowed settlements to start forming because womankind and mankind are no longer spending too much time hunting and gathering. They are sowing seeds and reaping the fruits of the harvest. So communal settlements, multiple small settlements, and even well-organized states and empires flourished alongside or near each other throughout Africa. And we will look at a few of them because we cannot look at all of them. But by looking at a few we will get a better understanding of the Africa that existed prior to contact with Europeans and European enslavement and much later on European colonial conquest of Africa. And some of these strong states and empires formed alongside the great rivers in Africa, such as the Nile or the Niger. Now in terms of Egypt, we will leave that for a future podcast when I examine Egypt I would like to do it in conjunction with Nubia, in conjunction with Axum, in conjunction with Ethiopia. 

Today we will look at some of the West African empires. And primarily the ones that flourished and became very powerful include Ghana, include Mali, include Songhai, include Kanem. So let’s look at mali for instance. Mali as with the others that I just mentioned, Ghana, Songhai and Kanem was famous for the level of scholarship and participation is scholarship, for agriculture, where step terracing was practiced, where land rotation and crop rotation was practiced, showing knowledge on how to preserve the quality of the soil, where trade was a major industry, particularly trade in gold. These kingdoms maintained their influence and power for at least 12 centuries. 

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