Man’s migration out of Africa to populate the world has widely accepted throughout academia. With the onset of White supremacy following colonialism and both the trans-atlantic and trans-sahara slave trades the discourse of man’s explorations has been largely Eurocentric. The idea that civilized man was derived from “the North” is the dominant narrative. Many now hold the idea that while Europe began its “enlightenment” period the rest of the world was still in its dark ages. Despite such wonders as the pyramids, some prefer the explanation of alien forces at work rather than the acknowledgement of advanced civilization before the dominance of European rule.
In one area I challenge this is the migration of the native out of Africa and into the Americas. The Book They Came Before Columbus by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima reveals multiple civilizations throughout today’s Africa and Asia (today’s = this was an imposed name after European conquest not how natives identified their regions) that had known of the Americas and consequently had been traveling back and forth for centuries before columbus “discovered” the land.
In my travels to Vera Cruz, Mexico I was able to visit the museum of the Olmec Heads discovered throughout Central America. The heads were found in astounding condition despite their age and revealed extremely distinct features. The features clearly reflect people groups from throughout regions of the world. Most specifically, the African and Asian features were undeniable. The heads can be nearly 3 meters high, 4.5 meters in circumference, and average around 8 tons in weight. My theory is that these great stone heads were geographical markers for trade. In a time where gps remained allusive and travel times spanned seasons versus afternoons these geographical markers were essential to maintaining connections with distant communities.
The current thought is that these heads reflect Olmec rulers during the period of the Olmec empire. The connection to Africa has been considered unfounded in reference to the indigenous people of the Americas. With even a marginal amount of research the dark skin pigmentation, kinky hair and full lips thought to be confined to the continent of Africa is found in much of the indigenous populations spanning the entire continent. Considering the already known understanding of human’s migration out of the continent of Africa the connection appears simple enough.
The question then arises how did humans first arrive at the Americas? The popular thought is that the first humans traveled from Asia across a land bridge in Northern Europe into Canada. One aspect that sparked my imagination was that during the ice age the water levels of the ocean had massively diminished. This caused me to consider what the land masses of the many islands of the Pacific and Atlantic were during that time. I believe that indigenous peoples were far more likely to have traveled the warm, tropical islands from across the Pacific and even Atlantic far more than across the frozen tundra of Northern Asia and America.
Though Europe may have been the last ones to the show, the party was certainly already going on by the time they arrived. We may need to reconsider our origins from continental or Nationalistic titles to the singular group of indigenous people we’ve always seen but rarely recognized the connection they have represented to us all.