Sat 24 Nov 12:
Today I headed north from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, across the plains of the Serengeti, and yes Mount Kilimanjaro did rise like an empress. Crikey it’s big. Maasai tribes people in their traditional garb trotting along the side of the road, spear in one hand, mobile phone in the order. Welcome to 21st century Africa. I had nothing left to read on this trip, so instead I looked out of the window into my distant past.
In a way this is not just a return for me to this particular dusty corner of Planet Earth, this is a return to where it all began.
The beginning not of my odyssey, but of humanity’s odyssey. Eons ago, a relative of the Australopithecines stood tall on their hind legs, picked up a bone and began a journey. A journey that has taken over 3,000,000 years but now concerns and dominates the fate of every living thing on the planet. And it all started right here. We are all Africans. We know this because science. These plains are where Mitochondrial Eve once walked, possibly talked, hunted for food, definitely got laid. She was your great x 3,500 grandmother. The evidence for this is written into every single cell in your body. And your body is made up of approximately 50 trillion cells. Over the 7 billion humans who inhabit this rock, that’s a metric f—ton of evidence.
You see science doesn’t give two hoots about your ego. It couldn’t care less that we live in a vast godless universe in which terrible things occasionally happen and that there are a million more ways of being dead than being alive. Science cares not what you think, it only cares about what can be proven. Consistently. Repeatedly. Systematically. PROVEN. And how telling is it that the first casualty of war, of totalitarianism, of religion, of corruption, of fundamentalism, of dogma, of politics… is the truth. Conversely lies, propaganda and nonsense are the first casualties of science.
On the poster for The Shawshank Redemption they say that hope will set you free. But, come on, did you actually watch that movie?? Andy didn’t sit there for 20 years praying to some imaginary friend in the sky for deliverance. He dug a goddamn tunnel. But what would, what should, have set him free – in a fair world – is the truth. What brought down Nixon? What felled the Berlin Wall? What gave the families of the Hillsborough victims the vindication they had been pursuing for over twenty years? The Truth.
And the truth is this: racism is not just intolerable, not just embarrassing, not just pig-ignorant, not just a pathetic hankering for a panacea for one’s own shortcomings – it is utterly and completely scientifically incongruous. This is science, the guy who doesn’t care about upsetting people, the guy who tells you the cancer is terminal and yes you’re going to die. If there was any scientific merit in the way the horrible little rat-faced morons in the KKK see the world, science would shrug and say, “yes, I’m sorry but it’s true, some people are just born inferior.” But it doesn’t. Not because science needs to be politically correct (clue: it doesn’t), but because it simply isn’t true. While nations, culture, education and beliefs can play a huge role in the making of an individual, whether you’re a total dick or not is pretty much set at birth.
Yep, WE ARE *ALL* AFRICANS. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Oswald Mosley.
Tomorrow I’ll arrive in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.