Saturday, January 06, 2007

We are all children of Africa

Craddle of Mankind
Anyone who is acquainted with the history of humanity and who follows the pursuit of our knowledge in this field both through archeology and genetics, will have no doubt that the craddle of mankind is Africa. It is out of Africa that – some hundred thousand years ago - small bands of modern humans migrated to other worlds, where they dispersed into populations which we now identify by race and nationality, but which otherwise still represent the same species.

I was reminded of this in a conversation with a friend, a young man of good African birth, who happened to have spent a large part of his adolescence in Europe. But the memories of his childhood are still vivid enough to allow him to recant the songs of Africa that he knew as a child, and to cherish his African – cultural – values.

Manhood vs intellect
One example which I consider striking is the source of his pride for his father. When I think of the memory my father, my pride of him concerns his intellect. My father was my greatest teacher in all things historical, poltical and – let’s say – humanitarian. My sense of pride concerns a man’s popularity with the nation’s intelligentsia.

My African friend however tells about his father in different terms. The greatest source of his pride is not his father’s intellect, but his father’s manhood. The son is proud of a father who is popular with the nation’s women.

These distinct sources of pride reflect fundamental cultural differences.

Allow love to flourish
My African friend then sang a song. I couldn’t understand a word of it. He explained that the song was about (the beauty of) Africa, but also about the beauty of the love between a boy and a girl. He added that the specific message of the song is not simply this beauty but a warning against jealousy. Members of the community should allow love to flourish.

We can all understand this message, can’t we? But can we also say that in our Western world we are equally keen to ban jealousy as, apparently, the African world? Manhood, love, avoidance of jealousy: all of this resounds grassroot values out of which all of humanity is born. But what a differentiation along the way in the course of those tens of thousands of years!

Let's remind ourselves
One might think that we are all children of Africa. But perhaps we have largely forgotten what it really means. And perhaps this is the source of many tragedies in the history – and future – of Mankind.


Blogger lyn said...

Now this is extremely interesting to read! Love the concept of the differences in pride! There can never be enough love in the world, whether it be between people, or for nature and the world in its' whole!
Like you said, if only mankind would realise how far they have strayed from the original path, being unconditional love, then we would be in a very different position today.
Wonderful wisdom!
thanks for posting it.

1:41 AM  

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