Archive for category 05. I am the alpha

I am the alpha

Image credit: Livescience.com

The hominid evolution from the chimpanzee in central Africa began about six million years ago. Presumably this was a natural evolution from a changing habitat requiring less swinging in trees and more walking on savannahs. Such climate and habitat changes do happen in nature. But they gradually evolve over millions of years so that they do not disrupt the balance of nature. Our own handed down explanation of human creation, the Hebrew bible’s Book of Genesis, tell us of the creation of humans in the Garden of Eden to serve the Supreme God and obey his angels.

According to our latest DNA tracing, our species originated south of the Zambezi River in North-West Botswana, Africa. 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’. As it turns out, Northwest Botswana region is very rich in gold deposits. On the other hand, if our ancestors had relocated westwards to Mozambique then they could well have been in the Zambezi delta where the Zambezi river does divide into four tributaries before flowing to the sea. The river delta would have provided the fertile land to grow the food to support a workforce of slave miners operating throughout the mineral rich lands of Central Africa. As such it is my pick for the location of the Garden of Eden. Even from our own historical records, slavery raids between tribes existed as a normal part of life in Africa thousands of years before the British and Americans became involved in the trade in the 16th to 19th centuries and slavery still exists openly today in the mining industries of Central Africa.

About seventy thousand years ago, for whatever reason, large numbers of our species migrated out of this ’garden’ northwards and westwards through Africa, Europe, Asia and America. Sent out in mass for just getting too smart for our own good, relocated to establish new mining ventures in other parts of earth or just escaped? I don’t know, but the purest living examples of this migration are today found in the deepest, darkest jungles of Africa and South America and in Papua New Guinea and Australia whose aboriginal people, before the arrival of Europeans a few hundred years ago, trace 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 Africa and 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.

But critically, while our physical and mental 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 syndrome. It fits perfectly with Darwin’s study of nature’s ‘survival of the strongest’ model. The domination of the group by the most powerful male who then claimed priority status in the mating process. The medieval European practice of ‘prima nocte’ was evidence of that same practice in humans. 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.

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 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 a politician. Frodo on the other hand relied heavily on aggression and brute strength, he was a 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.

While we share 97% of our dna with chimpanzees, that 3% difference is what has enabled us to create civilisation as we know it today. We have learned, or were taught medicinal use of plants, the sophisticated construction skills and technology to build pyramids to generate free, renewable, and implosive energy plants. We have learned or were taught our knowledge of agriculture, pottery, metallurgy, astronomy, and technology.

About 4-5,000 years ago the emerging civilisations of Greeks, Sumerian and, Egyptians began making primitive written records of their oral stories of the glorious times when the gods lived amongst us. 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.

We had all the skills to continue life in paradise as the Gods intended but, as a social species, we just couldn’t help ourselves. The technology given to us to make tools became technology 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. Donald Trump’s supporters were dominantly the lower ranked males and females who supported his alpha status.

One of humanity’s earliest gifts of the gods was that of creating and controlling fire. As relatively small animals ourselves, we were able to use strategically lit fires to stimulate the movement and control the direction of much larger beasts, usually into a canyon or other trap. Today there are many fires being lit, all at the same time. 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. These ‘Liberal’ movements are, actually, attempts to deny the alpha gene; to achieve a state of pure egalitarianism. No hierarchy, no racial distinction, no gender distinction.

The alpha gene is not exclusive to chimpanzees and humans of course, even the gods and angels of the Bible and Greek legends had their alpha structure, and it could well be argued that the aspirational alpha process is the essence of life itself at the most fundamental atomic level of dna.

The Liberal movement towards the idealistic state of egalitarianism is not new. Egalitarianism was the ideology of the Communist revolutionaries in the 20th century. However, the state of egalitarianism is unnatural and unsustainable and, as history has shown us, inevitably leads to the emergence of a ‘Frodo’ style violent alpha male like Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Pol Pot. The first reality check of egalitarianism is economic collapse. The famine that followed the Russian Communist revolution resulted in 5.5 million deaths by starvation with a further 3 million deaths by execution and state brutality. The Mao revolution in China resulted in 45 million deaths by starvation, overwork, and state brutality. In Cambodia Pol Pot’s genocide resulted in nearly 2 million deaths by starvation and state brutality, over 20% of their population at the time.

Equally, extremism in the anti-egalitarian, supremacist ideology produced Hitler. Following the loss of WW1 and the abdication of Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm, the centre-left Social Democratic party won the election and the Weimar Republic was established. Proportional representation was introduced, and the Weimar Republic government was soon comprised of a coalition of socially liberal political parties. The legal privileges of the aristocracy were abolished in the name of egalitarianism; progressive social liberalism was introduced into schools and prostitution was legitimised, which was all quite radical for Germany at that time. An illegal trade in hard drugs flourished, particularly in Berlin and, with it, organised crime and violence. But the socially liberal factions in government failed to focus on, and resolve, underlying economic hardships. Before the start of WW1 in 1913 the exchange rate was 4 German Marks: 1 US dollar, ten years later it was almost 7 trillion marks: 1US dollar.  A loaf of bread cost 32 billion marks and was rising daily. This inability to manage the post war economic challenges left the egalitarian coalition government vulnerable to extremists from both the left and the right side of politics; the KDP Communist Party now under the control of Stalin and the Nazis under Hitler came into the ring to fight for control of Germany. It was Hitler’s Extreme Right Wing Nazi Party that emerged to take power by brute force and if they were to eliminate the communist threat in Germany, they had to deal to Stalin, the godfather of communism. But the treasury was empty from years of economic chaos. With the murder of six million Jews came the theft of their wealth of gold, diamonds and other valuable assets to replenish the Treasury to fund the war against the Russian communists and its allies.  Like Stalin, Hitler was a Frodo Alpha and Frodo’s do not negotiate. It is a fight to the death. It is academic whether an aspiring leader wears a red shirt or blue shirt, it only matters whether they are a Frodo or a Freud.

Credit: unknown. Slavery in 21st century Africa

Slavery in its various forms is surely the most despicable practices of the Frodo 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 there were targeted kidnapping raids by African slave traders. 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.

The killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 beneath the neck-crushing knee of an American police officer, while three other police officers aided and abetted, has once again globally ignited the democratic world’s protestations under the banner of the “Black Lives Matter” organisation. Whatever the background stories that may be presented during the trial, fundamentally the killer was a white male government official and the victim was an unemployed, drug-addicted black man with a criminal record. So the supremacist attitude of the white race that dates back to the days of African slavery has once again been highlighted as a continuing social injustice 155 years after slavery in the USA was abolished and 55 years after Civil Rights Act was passed.

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. 

In 1607 Britain established its first permanent colony in America at Jamestown, Virginia. Twelve years later they introduced the first African slaves into their new colony. However this was not the first introduction of slavery in the Americas. Long before the Europeans arrived, slavery was common practice in the indigenous Aztec and Mayan societies as well as North American Indian societies. The distinction being that the Indian slavery in America was a consequence of taking prisoners of war and these prisoners being used by the enemy tribe as slaves rather than being traded as chattels. Nonetheless these prisoners of war were still taken by force from their homes and families and forced into slavery, so it is an academic distinction.

The practice of African slavery in America ultimately led to the American Civil War in 1861. Decades prior to that Civil War, in the early part of the nineteenth century, American Quakers had begun to address the treatment of Africans 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 Colonization Society had followed the example of the British anti-slavery movement which had earlier established a freed slave region named Freetown in Sierra Leone. After slavery was made illegal in Britain, 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.

This American colonisation programme in Liberia was effectively shut down by the Republicans in 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.

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 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.

Not surprisingly, given the social and economic devastation of that terrible war, bitter inter-generational resentment between European-Americans and African Americans festered for a further ninety nine years until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed in the midst of violent racial rioting. A further fifty years later Americans of African descent are integrating far more readily amongst Americans of European, Middle Eastern, South American and Asian descent but still remain over-represented in the lower economic groups which is the root of ongoing racial disharmony.

Queen Marico of Sierra Leone, already mentioned, 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 especially 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 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 1200AD 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.

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

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 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.

So 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, bikes, mobility scooters and solar power generators and also in the manufacture of the powerful magnets needed in wind power turbines.

But the global protestors today are not attempting to redress the wrongs from Biblical times nor even the first 1500 years of the AD era. They are not even concerned about modern day slavery still practiced in Africa today. Today’s activists are solely focused on the period between the seventeenth century and nineteenth centuries when the African slave traders began selling their slaves via British traders to America; and more specifically they are focused on what those two countries have been doing to resolve the consequences of this diaspora in the time since slavery was outlawed both in Britain (1833) and in America (1865).

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.

What hypocrisy lies with the activists today using their smartphones and laptops to organise, record and disseminate their “Black Lives Matter” protests? Instead you 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 you an extra 50% for your device, that is the price you should willingly pay for social justice.

So if you are checking your texts or posting a selfie on Instagram, or if you are driving your compact little electric car 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’).

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