Saturday, September 24, 2005

Africa

The September issue of National Geographic is devoted to Africa. It is nice to have a theme for an entire issue, covering many topics concerning Africa, including a series of aerial photographs, description of Nairobi, oil production in Africa, AIDS problem, conservation of tropical forest, situation in Zambia, and of course wildlife. It gives a focus to the magazine and provides better breadth and depth to its content.

Here is a aerial photograph of a village in northern Kenya, called gobs, built by nomadic Rendille herders, where livestock is protected in circular pens in the middle surrounded by houses.



There is an interesting column in the magazine on human history and the effect of the geography of Africa. It is today's view of the scientific community. You know how science changes daily with new discoveries and theories.

Human history in Africa -
Scientists said that the evolutionary lines of apes and protohumans diverged about seven million years ago in Africa. Such protohumans lived only in Africa for five million years. Around two million years ago, Homo erectus expanded out of Africa into Europe and Asia. During the next 1.5 million years, population in the three continents evolved separately into different species: in Europe, the Neanderthals, in Asia, remaining to be Homo erectus, while in Africa, evolved into Homo sapiens. Between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago, Homo sapiens in Africa underwent further profound change. It could be the development of complex speech, or some changes in the brain, or they were given the consciousness by someone supernatural or alien. No matter what, it transformed early Homo sapiens into "behaviourally modern" Homo sapiens. They expanded again into Europe and Asia, and exterminated, replaced or interbred with Neanderthals and Asia's hominids and became the dominant human species throughout the world.

Geography of Africa -
While Africa is the cradle of human, it lagged behind in the development of civilization. Human civilizations started about 10,000 years ago with the coming of agriculture. The domestication of crops and livestock allowed people to settle in permanent villages, to increase populations, to feed specialists such as inventors, soldiers and kings, and to develop metal tools, writing and state societies. However, early agriculture occurred only in limited places with a few types of domesticated crops, mainly in southwestern Asia. Agriculture eventually spread east and west along latitude of similar climate into Europe and Asia, and also the Nile delta. However, the north south orientation of Africa and the difference in climate created a barrier for the domesticated crops to move southwards. It was only after many thousand years that agriculture flourished in southern Africa, but with mostly northern temperate crops brought by European colonists.

In any case, Africa is catching up with its huge resources, in particular its rich oil reserve off the west coast.

2 comments:

  1. Hmmmmmm? gonna keep this short...

    Well,a awful lot of the "Facts",you allude to in your post,are not facts at all.
    Just,well scuplted conjecture,and wishful thinking.
    spanning a few hundred years of deplorable"scientism",
    structured to justify,"western"conceptions of:development,linear progression,civilization.
    Which are showing sign's on a very grandscale of,having been built,top to bottom,on schizoid foundations.

    "western civilization?..soundslike a good idea"-gandhi

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  2. Yes. Very western concept it is. Most of the "facts" are quoted from National Geographic, which is a western magazine. If there is other theory (not western perhaps), I shall be very glad to learn. Recommended readings are welcome.

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