A journey through Africa takes you back to your true roots. Even though the oldest fossils with human characteristics were excavated in southern Europe last year, there still is more evidence that our success story has begun in Africa. Meaning that the origin of humankind might be here in Ethiopia. With this thought in mind, I wander through Addis Ababa, almost feeling at home in the midst of plastic garbage and potholes.
I expected the human fossils to be exhibited in an aesthetically pleasing museum à la Guggenheim. A facility sponsored by First World Countries, where a mass of school classes and thousands of visitors from all over the world would be storming the gates every day. Instead, I’m walking on a scruffy carpet through a simple concrete building, past information panels that have seen better times. Unlike with Mona Lisa in the Louvre, where I had to stand on tiptoes to catch her mystical smile over the heads of a tourist group, I now stand alone in the National Museum of Ethiopia, in front of just as mystical Lucy.
Lucy is the pop star among the fossils. She is 3.2 million years old - one of our oldest pre-human relatives. She should be worshipped like a female Messiah, because she not only challenges racism, but also the creationist approach of a purely divine creation story. She literally kills two illusions with one skeleton.
The discovery that humans originally came out of Africa and therefore almost all of us are immigrants, should be the killer argument against all forms of racism.
Plus: Here you can see your own ancestors in glass showcases and evolution being explained with real fossils. Even the biggest skeptic of evolution theory would have to scratch his head at this point and admit his relationship with the apes sheepishly.
I didn’t quite expect to develop a fascination for paleontology while visiting Addis Ababa. Especially because I had to google this kind of science first. But paleontologists significantly contribute to the understanding of our origins with ongoing excavations of new fossils. And it’s a bone-grinding job. Literally.
Back outside again, I think of the well-attended, colorfully decorated church I was visiting earlier this morning. The believers prayed and even kissed the church walls. Before I leave I plant a kiss on the walls of the museum, because it unites all human beings in a way no religion could ever do.
Interesting article on this topic: http://www.nationalgeographic.de/geschichte-und-kultur/der-erste-mensch
Funfact: Lucy was named after the Beatles song „Lucy in the sky with diamonds", which in 1974, when Lucy was excavated in today's Ethiopia, was number one in the international charts.