Homo Africanus: Time To Admit That We’re ALL Africans?

How humans left Africa and populated our world. Map reproduced from The Human Story © 2004 by James C. Davis (published by Harper Collins)

In the course of all the research I have done into “Reading”, it became obvious that “Reading and Writing” were “learned activities” which were built on top of the human visual perception system, and especially the way it works in the environment in which it developed – the wild.

Over the past few decades, researchers have answered the mysteries of where the human race came from, and how we managed to spread across the entire globe. Interestingly, geneticists such as Spencer Wells and others have used DNA tracing to confirm earlier theories.

Humans came out of Africa only about 160,000 years ago, and spread across the face of the world in the manner shown in the map at the top of this post. DNA tracing has confirmed the “branching” shown in the map (for more detail, read Wells’ excellent book The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey).

With our typical human arrogance, when we first began to research human origins we called ourselves Homo sapiens, or Wise Men, to distinguish modern man from ancestors such as Homo erectus (Upright Man), whom we replaced.

Human history has shown that we’re really not that wise at all.

We all originated in Africa, but just as soon as different branches of humans began to develop external differences in response to their new environments (dark skin turning pale in colder climates to ensure we could absorb enough Vitamin D from the weaker sunlight, for instance), we began to seize on these as “racial differences”, and use them as excuses for conquest, conflict and persecution.

We began to view those with a different “environmental adaptations” to our own as inferior. Later, we added cultural and religious criteria to our categories of discrimination.

It’s a human tendency which has been well exploited by power-seekers, and the process is seen at its starkest in the genocidal measures instigated by Nazi Germany in the years leading up to and including the Second World War.

First, begin a campaign to stir up feelings against an identifiable group with visible “racial differences” (Jews, most notably). Gradually step up the racist hate campaign until you can get your target audience to accept the notion that a particular racial group is somehow “sub-human”. Once you have done that, you can treat them in the same horrible ways you treat animals. (a whole other topic…)

From that point on, as the Nazis proved, genocide is a simple matter of logistics – IBM punch cards, brutal “herders”, railway timetables, and mercilessly efficient slaughterhouses for humans.

It’s easy to point the finger at Nazi Germany. But the British settlers who landed on the island of Tasmania off Australia in the 18th Century were no better; they embarked on a successful campaign to exterminate the native Tasmanians, who were still living in the Stone Age (called The Black Wars).

The “we’re superior – they’re inferior!” rationale was used to build the British Empire, by Japan to enslave Korea and Manchuria, and so on – the list of examples is both exhaustive and depressing, down through the millenia and including both Ancient Greece and (especially )Rome.

The lamentable history of black slavery and discrimination in many different parts of the world (including the USA, of course) is another stark example.

Racial discrimination is still going on in many parts of the world today.

I know this is a simplistic step – and it can’t possibly make racism and racism persecution go away by itself – but don’t you think it would be at least making a start to get rid of the term, Homo sapiens, and replace it with Homo Africanus?


7 thoughts on “Homo Africanus: Time To Admit That We’re ALL Africans?

  1. Kevin Larson

    I suspect that your 160,000 year figure is off by a 0? My understanding is that there are fossils of homo erectus that are over a million years old found in both Europe and East Asia.While I support the political gesture you’re making, I don’t think it makes sense to tie our species name to a geography that doesn’t describe our current geography. How would we differentiate between the various homo species that existed outside of Africa: homo erectus, homo antecessor, homo heidelbergensis, homo nethanderthalensis, and homo sapien. They could all be called homo africanus.

  2. Richard Fink

    You, me, and Kevin Larson (hey, Kevlar) all share a common ancestor with the banana and the fruit fly.Evolutionary biology has changed my conception of what it means to be human. Differences are an illusion.

  3. dan

    Bill, well said. I agree, a new term would be better, and Home Africanus fits the bill perfectly. We are one people, one Earth, different genepools, that's all, but yes, we are all started off on the same, er, foot. Sure.And not need to divide the world into races anymore or color schemes. There are no black people and there are no white people. There are no races. Just one race, the human race.Wayne LaMontagne likes a new name for a future species of humankind, saying: "homo geosapiens (man earth wise) seems apropos."But I think you are right, Bill. We are not wise yet, and were not wise then. Homo Africanus makes sense.Yes!

  4. Ken Nickerson

    An interesting post. You might enjoy reading William Calvin's books ( http://williamcalvin.com/ ). In particular, I'd recommend the incredibly entertaining "The River That Flows Uphill" and possibly "The Throwing Madonna". These are wonderful books to help understand how and why we migrated as the mind developed during this transition.The River That Flows Uphill is like the Godel, Escher, Bach for thinking about… well the development of thinking during this period. It reads like a novel and is literally a "page turner".Thanks for the great post, very interesting blog and look forward to following you here and your group on FB.Thanks, kenn


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