This episode is less history and more geography
Parts of South Africa feature some of the oldest rocks you will find anywhere on the planet. In what is now the Mpumalanga province near Barberton for example where igneous or volcanic rock peeps out from the bottom of the famous escarpment and if you strike it a lusty blow with your trusty geological hammer, you’ll chip bits of 3.5 billion year old sedimentary rock known as the Barberton Greenstone Belt formed in the Archaen age.
History by definition is about humans. But humans live by eating animals and vegetation directly associated with the soil and climate so we must take a quick geological tour around Southern Africa then understand what changes in climate occurred.
How will that work?
Every week I will present an episode which follows the history of South Africa chronologically. Everything that happens follows a time line which makes more sense because that is how time works. So the series will track South African events starting with a broad overview of the geological origin which obviously predates humans by billions of years.
This series won’t necessarily stop at the modern borders of what is South Africa as that’s just a couple of lines on a map. The sub-continent extends the reach of humans both across the land and the sea so we will have to track the past with an eye on what I suppose is more like a satellite image than an old fashioned map.
Blinded by bias
In this series I’ll view events from the perspective of variable shades of black and white. The real truth about history, particularly early South African history, is that its more about brown and pink than black and white.
Those those who think our history is only black and white are simplifying everything blinded by their modern bias which developed inexorably as settlers in the sub-continent tried to differentiate themselves from others.
“Huge swathes of South Africa are now dominated by people who’s skin tone is a delightful caramel…”
Unfortunately this still happens which is rather peculiar since a quick whip around local white DNA shows an awful lot of black mixed into the chromosomes. Don’t tell the ethnic fundamentalists that, it will drive them to extremes of denial. A quick whip around of black DNA does the same. Huge swathes of Southern Africa are now dominated by people who’s skin tone is a delightful caramel. Most try not ask too many questions, particularly if you’re a modern race fundamentalist blindly believing in “purity”.
Too bad for you my friend. If you think you’re “pure” African, think again.
And “pure” white? Sorry for you too. These blind myopics will discover that survivors of Portuguese ship wrecks setup entire clans amongst the Xhosa people before 1600. Their blood is mingled with those of the Pan Africanists of Cofimvaba.
Love and marriage
The marriages between early Boers and Khoekhoe were convenient for both. Later the odour of racism permeated settler logic as they became terrified of being tarred with the Khoesan brush. This was not the initial perception of Portuguese and Dutch who took up carnal relations with Africans of various hues.
A delicate swab at the back of the mouth and all your ancestors will be revealed.
The University of the Witwatersrand Origins Centre is probably the most distinguished in Africa. Take a chance and head off there if you can to discover your past.
My DNA emanates from Eastern Turkey and western Iraq, its Mesopotanian. But its also French, English and Algerian. We humans are a conglomerate of genes, a concoction of loves, a chronology of intermingling.
At times Africans controlled settlers, at other times, British, Dutch and even French administrations rejected white colonials and their politics. It turned into what we see today where judging the past through the politics of the present mutates the truth.
Melanin fades or darkens based on geography and the amount of sun a few generations experience and our world is based on millennia and not a single generation’s limited cognitive awareness of the recent past.
The original people
So our history is tens of thousands of years old, and our human DNA the most diverse on earth. The caves on the South East coast of the continent have middens going back tens of thousands of years before modern humans departure from Africa. Our ancestors walked out of Africa into the Middle East and Europe, South East Asia, Australasia and ultimately the Pacific islands.
And what’s more, genetically its now known that there was someone like Eve. A female progenitor who can be called the Mother of all the Nations.
We must be proud of this. Here in South Africa we are the warehouse of the world’s genetic diversity. The further from Southern Africa you travel, the less diversity is found.
The transhumant journey is now believed to have started around 70 000 years ago and the Pacific Islands were finally colonized by humans only around 1300 AD.
“Themes in one epoch become the laughing stock of the next“
That is a long time to be shuffling about the earth, poking a stick into pools and eating mussels and clams. Then sharpening the stick further and spearing a fish. Then daubing poison on a small stick and shooting a passing Springbok. It is all chronological with the emphasis on LOGICAL. So this is the reason why the podcast series History of South Africa is following time and not themes. Revisionists love to fixate on themes like colonialism, political change, gender. The real world is not sliced and diced like a cheap pizza.
It is full of dead-ends, corners, grey bits. Themes in one epoch become the laughing stock of the next.