OF THIS AND THAT AND LONG AGO.
There was a time in my ancestry when my forebears were hairier than me, went around naked (or almost so) and needed a good wash. I know it because there's a little bit of it left inside me, a kernel, a snippet, a shadow from an age that dawned when the sun was much younger and men were men.
Nobody alive today was anywhere near alive back then, so I can allow myself to elaborate and nobody has the knowledge or experience to contradict me. It's a cosy position to be in.
So Owongo, my ancestor and young romantic who charged through the forests a hundred thousand years ago, a heck of a long time before the Jewish God created the world, was a noble savage beast and a great deal of that nobility has slithered away during the intervening years.
He was, of course, an African, though that continent hadn't been named back then and he probably defined himself as something different, like an ugg or an ogg, and his world was probably quite confined to the plains between the big river to the south and the hills to the north. He probably didn't travel much further than he could see from his homestead, a cosy cave with a nice double bed for him and his woman. And he was probably too busy providing meat (plentiful some seasons, damned scarce during others) for his best beloved and her growing tribe of ankle-biters to dream of going far.
He may or may not have known what it was that caused his woman to grow fat and produce that aforementioned litter of ankle-biters. He knew there were little pleasantries they enjoyed of a dark evening, but it may well have taken a quantum leap of abstract thought to associate this or that gigantic orgasm with an event of nine months later. All he probably knew was some things are damned nice and he was going to enjoy them, and she didn't seem to mind – therefore all was well.
It was probably during this lengthy period when an understanding of the realities of life were only just being contemplated that either Owongo or one of his buddies asked the question “why?”
Why has my Mirumda grown fat? Where's that ugly little brat come from? Why's it here? Was it anything I did?
And he would probably have concluded of course it wasn't! What can I have done that made her get like that? It's got to be something else... Anyway, where did any of us come from, and why?
Then all the fun he'd had with Mirumda would be forgotten as he invented philosophy. I bet you didn't know one of my ancestors was that clever, did you? I mean, to invent philosophy!
And to cap it all by discovering religion!
There's just got to be a great big bloke somewhere high above us – at the top of a mountain or amongst the clouds or somewhere – who made everything! And even now that great big bloke is waving his magic wand and turning Mirumda fat yet again! I'd best tell her...
And probably that's what Owongo did, told his beloved about the bearded bloke at the top of the distant mountains, the one with a magic wand and a predilection for sending bad weather when he feels grumpy, and too many babies for him to provide for during the lean seasons.
And she probably turned to him with a grin on her face, that superior I know best grin that women evolved sometime back then, and said something along the line of If you're not happy with having a big family there's something you can do about it...
And he probably shuddered when she mentioned the “c” word and shuffled off and complained to the bloke next door that Mirumda was actually thinking of having his balls cut off for no sound reason so far as he could tell.
Because she knew stuff that he didn't, and it was about time he stamped on all that knowledge and got her to prostrate herself in front of that big mountain bloke he'd invented, and beg for mercy. After all, philosophised my ancestor, you can't have women thinking, can you?
© Peter Rogerson 24.02.12