Whether one believes that God created Adam and Eve or that Charles Darwin hit the nail on the head with his theory of Evolution, the common theme amongst all theories about the origin of mankind is that not only one statement is a fact. This topic is subject to being rewritten with every discovery supporting it or proposing an alternative aspect. Another theory that has recently introduced a new narrative is the origin of humanity in Africa.
The story goes that about 200 000 years ago, humans as we know them today (Homo sapiens) evolved from the species Homo erectus; however, the exact origin of our species is still a hotly contested topic. Multiple discoveries confirm the 'out of Africa' model, which proposes that mankind originated in Africa before migrating across the world. This model evokes the debate that only one region in Africa is the home of the first human, with some believing it to be somewhere in Southern Africa and others in the East.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 'multi-regional' model has, in more recent years, propped up against the simpler and more linear 'out of Africa' model. The 'multi-regional' model argues that the evolution of Homo sapiens occurred in multiple regions across Africa as opposed to one specific area. Thus, interactions between ancient populations resulted in the evolved human species we have today over a long period.
Ancient fossils have been discovered in Africa and over time more discoveries are made that support both models mentioned but more specifically, the 'muti-regional' model. For example, South Africa is home to the Florisbad skull, classified as a Homo heidelbergensis and dates back 260 000 years. The 195 000-year-old Omo I and Omo II skullsand the Herto skull, which is 165 000 years old, were found in Ethiopia and are the oldest known remains of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens). However, much more recently, northwest Africa has joined the list of possible origin sites with the discovery of human fossils in the Moroccan cave, Jebel Irhoud.
One of the main arguments in the Multi-regional Hypothesis is that perhaps these fossil discoveries could all fall under Homo sapien classification primarily due to the possibility of our species being more diverse back then than we are now. Differing climates and landscapes caused ancient populations to isolate. Still, the isolation was never fixed, hence the mixing of dominant features still prevalent today and the sharing of ideas from various African regions. This theory is called African Multiregionalism and dispels the notion of lauding one point on the continent as the birthplace of the modern human.
Africans should be proud of all the continent's rich history since the discoveries found on the continent cement that life indeed began here. So many theories back this, and the evidence is palpable. Africa is the cradle of mankind in its entirety, and each region where ancient fossils are found is, under the multi-regional theory, a possible site of origin. This is such an essential piece of African history, and it is something that should be prioritized in schools just as much as ancient European populations are. It is imperative to disseminate such information that shines a light on the historical importance of Africa.
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