We are all children of Africa. Our species evolved from the Rift Valley in Ethiopia. We have a common ancestor with the Chimpanzees and Gorillas with who we share 99% of our genes.
There used to be a number of different species of hominids but unfortunately only two survived to recent times and our close relatives, the Neanderthals, didn’t make it. We are alone.
We nearly didn’t either. At one point it appears that our numbers got so perilously low that extinction was the more likely option. We prevailed.
Now we are present in teeming numbers (7 billion and counting) and are changing the very eco-structure and climate of the planet.
We appear to be so different yet we are not. I look at Asian, African, Australian and European and I see differences. Under the skin, aside from the cosmetics of appearance, we are the same. Incredibly there is more genetic variation within groups than between groups. We can all be traced back to the same mother.
I wonder. I can imagine her sitting on her haunches in that African valley, cradling her first born, surveying the landscape, watching the rest of her troupe, and wondering. She could have had no idea.
At first our skin was black; full of the pigment melanin. That black pigment gave us protection against the strong UV light of the African sun. That sun gave us Vitamin D but it also gave us melanoma. With our hairless bodies we need protection.
When we migrated out of Africa to more temperate regions we underwent minor mutations. They gave us our body shapes, our facial characteristics and our skin colours. The different races of mankind were born.
We were all black once.
In terms of skin colour the reasons are simple. We need Vitamin D to keep us healthy and give us strong bones. We need protection against UV Light to prevent skin cancer. It is a balance. In the tropical sun the skin needs to be black. In the temperate regions white. And in the between regions shades of brown.
Our skin colour is the result of minor mutations to balance protection from the UV rays and the production of vitamins.
Now we settle in various parts of the world there are certain lessons we need to learn. If you are black and living in Norway then take some vitamin supplement and get out in the sun as much as possible. If you are white and living in Africa then cover up and use strong sun shield.
Incredible to think that such pragmatic evolution should have resulted in such prejudice, discrimination, racism and hatred.
Human beings are a recent evolutionary invention. We are not yet civilised. We have much to learn. We are still cruel, tribal and incredibly stupid.
It is our mother’s birthday! We should all celebrate.