Are William Ruto and Richard Leakey related to the Apes? I Am Not!

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When William Ruto visited the Turkana Basin Institute, it was to celebrate Kenya’s recognized position within the world of Anthropology as one of the places that humankind began. During Kenya’s Presidential inauguration, the Deputy President argued that Kenya is an important place for tourists to come because of this historical fact. I have always admired William Ruto for his consistency within argument. Even when he is wrong, he makes his case logically. (See his opposition to the New Constitution.)

On the issue of human origins, he is wrong to base his theory on the findings of Richard Leakey and his family. In my study of Anthropology, I have always been fascinated by the conclusions reached by researchers in matters relating to human origins. But as a Kenyan, and therefore an African, I am always intrigued by the suggestion that man originated on the Continent of Africa. As one who was born in Kijabe on the slopes of the Escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley, I am flattered by Richard Leakey’s suggestion that humankind’s first habitat (or ‘Garden of Eden’) was somewhere along the Rift Valley. As a believer in the Biblical Genesis narrative, I am flattered by his suggestion since that would mean that Adam may have been from near my own home!

A few years ago, scientific Anthropologists declared: “A new species of early man that dates back almost 2 million years has been discovered in the cradle of humankind world heritage site about 170 miles northeast of Johannesburg” (Environmental News Service, April 8, 2010). I thought of the previous discoveries with similar claims. The first one to point to an apelike creature as the predecessor of humans was of course Charles Darwin. Darwin speculated in his 1871 publication that fossils of the earliest humans and their primate ancestors ultimately would be found somewhere in Africa. His argument was based upon his speculation that the neutral range of our nearest living relatives, Chimpanzees and Gorillas, is limited to Africa. Then in 1924, Raymond Dart, an Australian anatomy professor at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, found a fossil that he called Australopithecus africanus (“Southern Ape from Africa”).

Robert Broom followed in Dart’s footsteps and discovered other related fossils in 1938. These he named Paranthropus robustus (meaning, “parallel to man”). Then Louis and Mary Leakey in 1959 found the popular Zinjanthropus boisei (“East African man”) which is now commonly associated with the Australopithecus. Then in 1974 Donald Johanson and his team found Australopithecus afarensis. This apelike creature was given the name of “LUCY”. Later, the son of Louis and Mary Leakey, who is a fellow Kenyan—Richard Leakey— and his wife continued the search discovering creatures such as Australopithecus aethiopicus. Less than a decade later, an American by the name of Alan Walker discovered Australopithecus aethiopicus (“the Ethiopian man”) in the 1980s. Then in 1995, Meave Leakey, wife of Richard Leakey discovered Australopithecus anamensis (“The man from Lake Turkana”). The next year, 1996, Berhane Asfaw found what he called

Australopithecus garhi.

One year after the new Millennium began, in 2001 Meave Leakey discovered Kenyanthropus platyops (“flat-faced man of Kenya”). More recently, in 2006, Tim White discovered eight Australopithecus anamensis fossils. And now Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg has taken us back to where the first of these strange creatures were discovered in South Africa. His son was walking with and picked up a skull, brought it to his Papa, and his father immediately as if by revelation proclaimed: “Eureka, Eureka….. the first Adam. I will name this character Australopithecus sediba,” (by the way sediba means ‘fountain’ or ‘wellspring’ in the Sesotho language of South Africa). According to his report on the CBS program “60 Minutes” (Sunday, April 11), “The new species may be descended from Australopithecus africanus and could be one of the last links in evolutionary line between the Australopithecines and our

Genus, Homo!

In all these discoveries, I am made to think someone is lying to me. Most scientific discoveries arise from a hypothesis. This search arose from the hypothesis and speculation of Charles Darwin. My question in all this has always centered on the Biblical narrative that suggests to me that when God created the heavens and the earth and created man in his own image, all these were mature. Therefore if Leakey would have been in Africa a few years after the fall, he could have discovered the same kinds of bones and concluded that they were more than 2 million years old. Why? Because God’s narrative suggests that when they appeared at the dawn of creation, all things were as if they had been there for years. Given this, I wonder whether Leakey was trying to justify the Western concept that suggests that Africans are akin to apes? Remember in the United States, some historically did not believe Africans to be human, but descendants of monkeys!

Personally, I am going to hold on the idea that God made all men in his own image and that the founders of the American Republic were right when they proclaimed for all to hear that all men were CREATED equal!

You see if Leakey (a self proclaimed atheist) and his colleagues are given the final word, then all those who have historically adopted the Biblical narrative as an authentic representation of the Divine intention have lied to us and have declared God to be a liar! As a believer in Christ and an African, William Ruto is making a mistake for not qualifying his support of Anthropology with a disclaimer. We Africans must never forget that historically some Westerners have claimed that we are Apes. Therefore, as our Deputy President he must be careful that he does not suggest to our young people that they were not also created in the image of God. Scientific education is important. But it is not absolute! God is.

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD), SYR Radio/TV, Director International Desk. Imanisha

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