I am the alpha

Image credit: Livescience.com

When men seek political leadership in today’s world, they usually do so with claims of altruistic intent for the challenges faced by ordinary people in their tribe. The truth, with few exceptions that I can recall, is that they actually seek leadership for an endless supply of bananas that they don’t have to pick and for the unchallenged mating rights with whichever female to whom they choose to cock an eyebrow.

The hominid evolution from the chimpanzee in central Africa began about six million years ago. The highest-ranking chimpanzee in a group is the alpha-male. These alpha-males operate differently, according to their personality, but the objective is the same: to command the subservience of other males and the sexual attraction of the females. Dr Jane Goodall became the leading expert on chimpanzees after living with and studying them in Gombe, Tanzania. She learned that chimpanzees have a complex social structure very similar to humans involving friends, enemies and, most critically, battles for power. Dr Goodall observed two alpha males in her study who she named Freud and Frodo. They were brothers but each had a very different leadership style. Freud controlled through fostering strong alliances and grooming those he wanted to keep under his command, he was the politician. Frodo on the other hand relied heavily on aggression and brute strength, he was the gangster. Below the alpha are several other males with whom the alpha may have complicated relationships. The alpha will have allies in his coalition but also competitors, aspirants to his position who need to be managed and isolated. Females also have a hierarchy led by the alpha-female. The alpha-female is not as likely to obtain rule through aggression and violence as a male, but rather through manipulating relationships, including with the alpha male.

The alpha of the chimpanzees is constantly under threat as there will always be a chimpanzee or a coalition of chimpanzees who want to overthrow the alpha and install a new chimpanzee in his or her place. But chimpanzee conflict goes beyond group infighting, it also extends to inter community fighting over territorial and mating rights. Dr Goodall reported on a four-year war between two chimpanzee communities in Gombe. During this conflict, eight adult males from one group killed all six males in the other and occupied their territory to mate with their females. In their warfare chimpanzees have been observed using primitive weapons of projectiles, weapons and even spears.

The development of the human species was a natural evolution resulting from a changing habitat requiring less swinging in trees and more walking on savannahs. Such climate and habitat changes do happen in nature, evolving over millennia so that they do not disrupt the balance of nature. Today we still share 97% of our dna with chimpanzees, but that 3% difference is what has enabled us to create civilisation as we know it today. We have learned, or were taught, the domestication skills for the creation of fire, development of agriculture and medicinal use of plants; the technologies of pottery and metallurgy; engineering, construction skills and transport methods; astronomy and digital technology.

Western civilisation’s recorded explanation of human creation, the Hebrew bible’s Book of Genesis, tells us of the creation of humans in the Garden of Eden to serve the Supreme God and obey his angels. According to Genesis this was more specifically ‘where a river departed from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and became four tributaries. The name of the first is Pishon, which is the circumnavigator of the land of Havilah where there is gold’.

This is generally thought by historians to be the region of the middle east where the two rivers Euphrates and Tigris plus the two tributaries Greater and lesser Zap flow down to the Persian Gulf. This region was the familiar land of those who first started recording myths of the creation of humans; however, according to our latest DNA tracing, our species originated south of the Zambezi River in North-West Botswana, Africa. The northwest Botswana region is very rich in gold deposits and if our very original ancestors had started life in this gold rich region and then relocated westwards to Mozambique then they would have been in the Zambezi delta where the Zambezi river does divide into four tributaries before flowing to the sea. That river delta would have provided the fertile land to farm and as such it is a real contender for the location of the original Garden of Eden. Perhaps the confusion with the Euphrates/Tigris location was due to a subsequent migration there which the descended inhabitants thousands of years later believed to be the original location of creation.

About seventy thousand years ago, for whatever reason, large numbers of our species migrated out of this ’heavenly garden’ northwards and westwards through Africa, Europe, Asia and America. Whether they migrated for natural climatic reasons or were, as the Jewish Bible relates, forcibly ejected from the farming lifestyle of the garden of Eden to live as nomads, we don’t precisely know. But the purest living examples of this migration are today found in the deepest, darkest jungles of South America, Papua New Guinea and the great southern continent of Australia whose aboriginal people, before the arrival of Europeans a few hundred years ago, traced an uncontaminated race for nearly 60,000 years. Throughout most of the rest of the world we are hybrids; different blends of evolved cultures and skin colours as white skins mated with dark skins. However, having emerged from the identical source as all other humans, the aboriginals of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the jungles of South America are the clear evidence of how all humans would have evolved today had there not been an intervention of major significance to turn black skins white and to teach a level of technology that is beyond the natural evolution of humans in only a few thousand years. Somehow that fast track evolution happened in the northern hemisphere and those northern humans created an entirely different, urbanised civilisation.

About 4-5,000 years ago the emerging civilisations of Greeks, Sumerians and Egyptians began making primitive written records of their ancient oral legends of the glorious times when the Gods lived amongst them. During the previous 5,000 years the seas had risen some 140 metres due to the warming of the planet and consequential melting of the ice caps and, at some point in time, the city of the Gods, Atlantis, had disappeared under water. With that loss of Atlantis, the records seem to indicate that the Gods were now only visitors not residents. Now we were largely left to our own initiatives with just check-up visits from the Gods from time to time.

While our physical and rational DNA adapted to this new state of civilisation, what remained deep in our core was still the social DNA of the ape. Our social structure was still constructed around the alpha male domination. It fits perfectly with Darwin’s study of nature’s ‘survival of the strongest’ model. The domination of the group by the most powerful alpha male who then claimed priority status in the mating process and the more males under his control, the greater the land and food resources he controlled. But left to our own devices, without supervision by our creators, the technology given to us to make tools became technology for us to make weapons. Where chimpanzees used sticks and stones, our most senior alpha-males now control ballistic missiles. But at our essence, we still have the social gene of a chimpanzee. The alpha-male gene is both our human strength and our greatest threat; it could destroy us all in a heartbeat of madness.

But as our population grew exponentially, from less than half a billion a thousand years ago to one billion by the early 19th century and to 2.5 billion by the mid 20th century, political management structures evolved to adapt to large urbanised societies. The ultimate authority of kings came under pressure. Liberal Democracy was first conceived in ancient Athens by Cleisthenes which gave the common citizen (although initially this did not include slaves) the right to both elect and dismiss their ruler. But in Western European politics the serious moves towards a democratic Parliament in Britain really began over 2000 years later with the English Civil war of 1642-1651 when Oliver Cromwell, an English general and statesman, led armies of the Parliament of England against King Charles I. Political chaos ensued after Cromwell’s son, Richard, failed to maintain control and in 1660 the ‘Royalist Cavaliers’ restored the exiled Charles 2nd, brother to Charles 1, to the throne. However the royals were forced to begin sharing power with the Commons and the Parliament became more and more ‘democratic’ over the next century, in 1801 the House of Lords was created to house the traditional nobility to oversee the House of the common people. In 1830, the Liberal Whig, the Earl Grey, beacme Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Economically, Liberalism was an expansive ideology to promote global trading and an end to tribal protectionism; giving the freedom to commoners, not of royal birth, to create their own wealth from industry. Imperialism and globalisation, manifested in global enterprises from Earl Grey tea made by English from tea leaf grown in India to McDonalds Hamburgers taking American fast food culture from a small Californian town to 120 countries, were the economic concepts of the Liberal movement. But the Liberal democratic movement was also founded on social principles of freedom of common people from oppression. In 1607 Britain had established its first permanent colony in America at Jamestown, Virginia. Twelve years later they introduced the first African slaves into their new colony. The southern states of America were populated by the Royalists of England migrating away from the rising influence of the Liberal Parliamentarians in England which led to the civil war. Slavery was therefore very much a practice of the royalists on their great estates. But in 1833, under the first Liberal Prime Minister, the Earl Grey, Great Britain passed the Abolition of Slavery Act. The British established a freed slave region named Freetown in Sierra Leone in West Africa and a British naval fleet was stationed there specifically to combat the slave trade. Freed slaves were returned to Freetown, Sierra Leone from Britain, South Africa, Nova Scotia and Jamaica.

American Quakers had also begun to address the treatment of Africans in the United States with a programme of repatriating freed slaves back to West Africa. Both Presidents James Monroe, from Virginia, and Andrew Jackson, from a poor white background in Tennessee, had been members of the American Colonization Society. The Society bought land from a ‘King Peter’ at Cape Mesurado, Western Africa, in 1821 for 500 bars of tobacco, three barrels of rum, five casks of powder, five umbrellas, ten iron posts and ten pairs of shoes. The land they purchased was just 60 kilometres in length and 5 kilometres width. In 1847 this strip of land declared its independence and became the new nation of Liberia populated by about 13,000 freed slaves from America whose repatriation was sponsored by the Society.

This American colonisation programme in Liberia was effectively shut down by the Liberals of the Norhern states of America who opposed the phasing out of slavery in favour of total abolition and who opposed repatriation in favour of integration within America as free men. The practice of African slavery in America ultimately led to the American Civil War in 1861 between the North and the South. This American civil war officially ended in 1865 after the death of 600,000 Americans from a population of 30 million. Scaled to their current population that would be equivalent of 6.3 million deaths today. Having won that war Abraham Lincoln immediately released four million ill-prepared Africans onto the streets of the towns and cities of the South. Into an economy that had been totally crippled by four years of civil warfare. Into a hostile environment where every single Southern family would have known tragedy, trauma and death at the hands of the northern liberals on behalf of these Africans.

Ever since the migration of our species out of Africa, the practice of slavery experienced from the first Zambezi mines and gardens travelled with us as part of our DNA. Slavery is the ultimate control by the alpha. Slavery as a practice goes back as far as historical records reach throughout Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean. In the Bible as well as in the historical records of the Greek and Roman empires, slave trading was a common form of existence for the poor, socially disadvantaged and victims of war. Indigenous slavery in Africa was practised in various forms. Impoverished African families felt compelled to sell their children; captured enemies from tribal warfare were held as slaves and targeted kidnapping raids by African slave traders were commonplace. Enslaved individuals could then be sold on to other communities in need of labor. African slave traders would also hold hundreds of captured slaves near the coastline to meet up with Arab or European slave traders.

But in Africa another social change emerged. Whereas in the world of chimpanzees the alpha male always dominates the alpha female, in Africa the alpha females began to establish a level of dominance in society and it evolved that now the alpha could equally be male or female. The history of slave trading out of the West and Central African region into Britain and America traces its origins back to the African Queen Marico, who had led her Manneh tribe from East Africa on a series of colonisation raids of West African tribes between 1545 and 1560. Queen Marico then took over trading arrangements with the Portugese who had already established trade links in this region that they named, Serra Lyoa (Lion Mountain), later corrupted to Sierra Leone. It was at this time that Britain followed the example of the Portuguese and began trading for, amongst other things, slaves who had been captured from tribes in West Africa and the Congo for the purpose of being traded. The British slave trade business was started by Sir John Hawkins with the support and investment of Elizabeth I in 1573. 

Queen Marico of Sierra Leone was not an isolated example of an African warrior queen. In the research for her book “Gender and Power in Sierra Leone”, author Lynda Day found there were many women leaders amongst the 13 Kingdoms and 200+ Principalities in both pre-colonial and modern Sierra Leone. In 1808, the British signed a treaty with Queen Yammacouba to establish Freetown for the repatriation of freed slaves. A few years later the 1825 treaty with British Governor Turner was signed by Queen Ya Kumba who exercised great power over that region in southern Sierra Leone. Later treaties include the 1885 treaty signed by Queen Messe of Massah in the Krim country. There were a number of other women of power mentioned in dispatches including Yoko who was Queen of Senehu and Ella Koblo Gulama, Paramount Chief of the Kaoyamba chiefdom.

You will recall the legendary Queen of Sheba and probably presume she was an historical, possibly mythical, woman of enormous wealth and power. You may be surprised to know that the Queen of Sheba is alive and well today. Her Imperial Majesty, the Nubia-Sheba, Empress of the African Royal Kingdoms, the Queen of Sheba, Queen Shebah III is the descendant of the oldest matriarchal throne in Africa which originated in Kush, present-day South Sudan. Kush was once one of the great African empires for over 1,000 years and was an economic centre that operated a lucrative market in ivory, incense, iron and gold. The kingdom was both a trading partner with, and a military rival of, Egypt, even ruling Egypt as the 25th Dynasty. Queen Shebah III now lives in Trinidad and Tobago, by choice, and is currently the Vice-President of the Arab-African Supreme Council for African Affairs which is headquartered in Egypt. The council is an organisation of high level professional Arab and African business people. She also heads the African Kingdoms Federation, an organisation that seeks to restore the federation of African kingdoms. Africa has a long history of wealthy and powerful kingdoms.

The Kingdom of Aksum, now Ethiopia was a powerful and wealthy trading superpower for 500 years, from the 2nd century. Its gold and ivory made it a vital link between ancient Europe and the Far East. In more recent times the Mali Empire, created around 1200 ce by Sundiata Keita (the ‘Lion King’), was an enormously wealthy and powerful West African empire lasting to the 15th century. Legend tells that one of its emperors, Mansa Musa, while on a pilgrimage to Mecca in the 14th century, stopped en route in Egypt and spent so much in gold during his visit that its value plummeted in Egyptian markets for many years.

One of the largest empires in African history was the Songhai Empire which was formed in the 15th century from some of the former regions of the Mali Empire. This West African kingdom was larger than Western Europe and enjoyed a period of great prosperity thanks to a highly professional, decentralised bureaucracy and aggressive, co-operative trade policies. It reached its peak in the early 16th century under the rule of the devout King Muhammad I Askia, who conquered new lands and forged an alliance with Egypt’s Muslim Caliph. However internal tribal conflict eventually led to the collapse of this empire in the late sixteenth century. Tribalism was the force that undermined the prosperity of these once powerful and wealthy empires which should serve as a warning to social movements reverting to tribalism today.

Tribal conflict is the primary reason why the powerful economic empires of Africa collapsed into their current state of economic poverty. Social injustice in Africa has become a way of life as a consequence of this tribalism and is manifested in practices of abduction, forced labour under armed guard, the confiscation of identity papers and passports and child labour. The diamond mines of Sierra Leone and Liberia and the Cobalt mines of the Dominion Republic of Congo (DRC) are today dependent on slave labour. The DRC Cobalt mines were, in 2016, estimated by the Global Slavery Index to have had nearly 900,000 slaves including children as young as seven.

Traders are traders, they buy and sell at a profit. It was no different in the slave trade in the United States. The British and American traders were the buyers and sellers, but the African slaves were captured for sale by Africans under the orders of African Queens, Kings and Paramount Chieftains. The plantation owners who bought slaves did not do so purely for the desire of owning household slaves but far more so as a commercial decision to enable them to most profitably supply tobacco and cotton from their grand estates in the southern states of America to satisfy the global demand. And it was those ordinary global citizens who could not afford silk but desired the comfort of cotton and those who enjoyed a cigarette or pipe who were the ultimate funders of the slave trade of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

With the Labour/ Communist Parties of the early-mid 20th century dominating the ‘Left’ side of the political arena opposing the Conservatives on the ‘Right’, the Liberal movement became caught in the midddle, no mans land. As the 21st Century dawns the Liberal movement has an identity crisis and was quickly becoming a forgotten and irrelevant political force. In response the Liberal movement stepped up its cause with a range of high profile campaigns promoted largely on social media. The end-is-nigh ‘#extinctionrebellion campaign; the anti-competitive #itsonlyagame movement; the anti-white supremacy #blacklivesmatter movement; the #metoo ‘name & shame the alpha-male’ movement and the gender-denial movement #areyouaboyoragirl?yes. But most disturbingly is that the modern Liberals have created and openly promoted a “Cancel Culture”, denying any debate or tolerance of opposing positions on their ideology and thereby undermining the very ‘freedom of thought and speech’ platform upon which the Liberal movement was founded. But no longer do generals lead soldiers to fight for peace and justice; the Liberals’ weapon in this political and social war is social media.

If the cotton garment wearers and the tobacco smokers in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries funded slavery back then, who today are the funders of the modern slave trade in the DRC? DRC supplies 60% of the world supply of cobalt. Follow the supply chain; the cobalt that is mined by slaves in the DRC is essential for the manufacture of lithium ion batteries that are used to power mobile phones, laptops, electric cars, electric bikes, mobility scooters and solar power generators and also in the manufacture of the powerful magnets needed in wind power turbines.

What hypocrisy lies with the Liberal activists today using their smartphones and laptops to organise, record and disseminate their “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#extinctionrebellion” protests? Instead they should refuse to buy a device from a manufacturer that cannot prove social justice and a living wage for the African miners. If that costs an extra 50% for the device, that is the price a Liberal should willingly pay for social justice. What futility is there in the destruction of the bronze ghosts of traders long dead who once facilitated the demand of the consumers of the day for tobacco and cheap cotton garments, no questions asked? What patronising tokenism in the Manchester City and Arsenal football players and the NBA American basketball players ‘taking the knee’ pre-match in a protest against race-based social inequality? Manchester City players are paid an average of seven million pounds a year, that is a weekly pay of 134,615 pounds; Arsenal a bit less at around five million pounds. American NBA players are paid just under $US8 million, or over $US150,000 per week, all of these are ‘plus sponsorships’. The average weekly wage in the DRC is just under six pounds or $US7. One week’s wage from one player would increase by tenfold the wage of over 2,000 African families. A thousand sport players giving up just one week’s wage would achieve this for two million of the poorest African families. Forget a token, cynical knee-bend; form a trust, show them the money.

So if you are checking your texts or posting a selfie on Instagram or handing your ‘wag’ the keys to the new Maserati, when you suddenly hear the peel of African bells ringing out for social justice, then: “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” (John Donne, ‘No man is an island’).

Politics today is just as it always was, an alternating fight for control of the social group and the resources of the land between the alpha aspirants. Hitler was an extreme right nationalist, Stalin was an extreme left communist. It matters not what colour tie they wear, blue, red, gold or any blend of these, the only thing that matters is whether the alpha is a Freud or a Frodo. World War Two was an alliance of two opposing ideologies; the Liberal West Freud coalition and the Communist East Frodo dictatorship both opposing the German Nationalist Frodo. And when the war was won, the territorial spoils were divided and West/East continued their respective Freud/Frodo styles.

But whether it is the communists of First World War Russia or the nationalists of Second World war Germany, it is the masses who will decide whether to accept a Freud or Frodo as leader. When the significant majority of a population are so desperate about their living conditions that only a fast, fundamental change in the established rule of law is their collective solution, then they know only a Frodo will do the job. At whatever future cost, they accept the ambitions of the most aggressive and brutal leader to conduct a decisive revolution over the established rulers. But history has shown that handing power to the Frodo always has dreadful outcomes for those who put him (or her) into power. Genuine care for the plight of the oppressed is just a fairy tale, there are no white hats and black hats in politics. The law of the jungle applies as much today to humans as it did to our 97% ancestors a million years ago; and it will continue to do so until we morph into a race of cyborgs with digital blockchain interconnectivity that may enable the ancient Athenian ideology of democratic collectivism to emerge as a reality.

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