Why East Africa is considered the cradle of humankind

East Africa is among the most fertile regions in the world endowed with well-drained fertile soils, both season rivers lakes, dams and oceans such that it is easy for both animals and plants to survive in East Africa. Endowed with the warm climatic conditions and plenty of Flora which are plants and fauna which are animals, east Africa is the best region for any living thing to survive because the climate is favorable and there is plenty of food from flora and fauna.

Availability of all seasonal rivers and plenty of water bodies

These rivers and water bodies were a significant source of water to the hominids as they needed water which is essential for the survival of mankind. Thus rivers such as River Tana were very useful to the hominids which occupied the eastern part of Africa since they could easily get water to drink whenever they needed it. Lake Victoria also is the second largest freshwater lake also played a more significant role in providing water for the hominids whenever they were in need, hence making it easier and more comfortable for the hominids to survive and evolve in the Eastern part of Africa. Hence East Africa is proved to be the cradle of human kind. There is also growing geological evidence of springs associated with stone tools and hominin fossils in the East African Rift system during a critical period for hominin evolution.

Human fossils discoveries in the last few decades have shown that humans evolved in Africa and then migrated in waves to other parts of the world, both marine and terrestrial to progressive rifting in East Africa and associated tectonic uplift. Streams which originate in arid and semi-arid areas are ephemeral in nature, perennial flows are only possible in large catchments where humid source areas upstream contribute consistently in floors via runoff and groundwater base flow. Ground water is protected from evaporation and thus potentially provides a key alternative potable resource for sustaining life through drought periods in areas with variable rainfall. Hence, springs and groundwater-fed habitats could have played a decisive role in the survival and dispersal of hominins during these times of unknown climate variability.

Presence of the Savannah woodlands and grasslands in East Africa

This was also very essential in the evolution and survival of early man in East Africa. The Savannah woodlands and grasslands provided very warm shelter for the hominids whenever they were faced with danger; they could just lie in the grass since they were tall and also during the night, the hominids had no problem keeping the shelter in the grasslands. The Savannah also provided a very suitable warm climate for the hominids and a comfortable environment to live in due to the plenty of trees and a lot if other flora such as the grass itself for the hominids to feed on and also the Savannah was very important to the hominids since this is where most of them could stop walking on four limbs, that is the quadrapedal movement and learn how to walk on two limbs that is the bipedal movement, thus man stopped living like other animals and began living like humankids and even made stone tools to use fod hunting, painting and other activities. This just provides evidence for the existence and evolution of early humankind in East Africa and marks it indeed as the cradle of humankind.

Fossils and artifacts found in East Africa

Fossils are materials remains left behind by early man. These remains are such as early stone tools, painted stones and caves, charcoal and charred trees and ash. It is believed that human beings originated from homo habilis whose tools named Oldowan tools after the Olduvai Gorge in Kenya where they were first discovered here in East Africa, were simple chopping and cutting tools, made by chopping flakes off a volcanic pebble to form a sharp edge. The final shape of the tool, however, were determined by the structure of the stone. Next to evolve was homo erectus who is famously known for making the hand axe named Acheulian tools which have been vastly discovered in East Africa. The hand axe was a tough,sharp,heavy tool,chipped on both sides and shaped to a deliberate point. Despite the origin of the name,the largest number of acheulian tools have been found in East Africa.

Homo erectus were also the first hominids to learn how to learn how to use fire for roasting meat and probably keeping warm,hence there were discoveries of ash,charcoal and charred trees.The Homo Sapiens were Third to evolve and this occurred in the Savannah woodlands of East Africa.They were original pioneers in the development of human thought,philosophy, religion and technology since they had the capacity and ability to think as modern beings. They made tools known as microliths and these are Axe and arrowheads,decorated bored stone for weighting a digging stick,and bone harpoon heads.Furthermore, there is evidence of considerable artistic development from eggshell beads to adorn the person to the great works of rock painting and engraving found across many parts of East Africa,hence building up the proof that East Africa is indeed the cradle of mankind

Availability of plenty of archaeological sites in East Africa

East Africa is majorly considered by many anthropologists to be the cradle of mankind and the many archaeological sites in the East African countries prove enough for this claim. Kenya, a country in East Africa is known for its sites depicting the life of early man, with many archaeological sites showcasing the various stages of the development and evolution of early man. Although not as famous as the legendary Olduvai Gorge on the plains of Tanzania, the sites in Kenya are as numerous as anywhere else in East Africa. The numerous archaeological sites found in Kenya are such as Hyrax hill which is a prehistoric site near Nakuru.

It is considered one of the country’s most important Neolithic excavation sites and was discovered by Louis and Mary Leakey in 1926. Koobi Fora is another archaeological site in Kenya and is a source of hominin fossils shedding light on the evolution of man over the previous 4.2 million years, Pate island also, found in the Kenyan north coast, human activity dating back from the seventh century has been found here.Kariandusi near lake Elementaita,a site of the hand axe man was discovered in 1928.A rise in the lake level drove prehistoric men from their lakeside home and buried everything that was left behind.Olorgesailie is another,found on Eastern Rift valley about 70 km south of Nairobi,this site is significant for geology,palaeontology as well as archeology. Here volcano ash helped to preserve plenty of hominid fossils as well as some now extinct animals. Here were also discovered many hand axes.The very first human fossil,the skull of the Homo erectus was unearthed here.There are so many other sites in several countries in the East Africa such as Laetoli in Tanzania,Ghandi’s shrine in Uganda,Ntusi and Bigo also from Uganda.

Warm climatic conditions in East Africa

A lot of evidence suggests that all of the major events in hominid evolution has taken place in East Africa.There has been great efforts undertaken to try and understand African palaeoclimate and tectonics in order to compile a comprehensive picture of how the environment of East Africa has varied from the past.The landscape of East Africa has changed from a relatively flat,homogeneous region covered by mixed tropical forests to a varied environment, with mountains over 4km high and numerous vegetation ranging from desert and semi arid regions to cloud forest ones.The continuous and progressive rifting of the East Africa has also generated numerous lake basins,which are highly sensitive to changes in the local precipitation-evaporation process.

There is evidence that several occurrences in the East African region such as precession-driven,ephemeral deep-water lakes in East Africa were concurrent with major events in the hominid evolution.It seems the unusual geology and climate of East Africa created periods of relatively high variable local climate which as it has been suggested could have driven hominid specialization. It has been suggested that the long term drying trend in East Africa was punctuated by episodes of short ,alternating periods of extreme humidity and aridity.It is clear that to understand clearly how evolution took place in East Africa,one has to understand the different climatic changes and seasons that take place in East Africa.

The East African warm climate was very suitable to the hominids as they could not be burnt by direct sun rays which were harsh to their skin and it also helped them in that they could not totally freeze out in cold weather,hence the climate was favorable to them,making it very comfortable and friendly for the evolution of mankind to take place in East Africa.Hence this helps to add proof and confirm that East Africa is indeed the ideal cradle of mankind.

The existence of man’s relatives, the apes and chimpanzees in East Africa

Our closest apes relatives who are the gorillas and chimpanzees originated and exist only in East Africa and scientific research also shows that our last common ancestors lived around eight to twelve million years ago.The famous historical scientist ,Charles Darwin in his book”The Descent of Man” written in the year 1871,speculated that there are high chances that East Africa might indeed be the cradle of humankind. This is because of the striking resemblance between humans and our closest relatives the apes,gorillas and chimpanzees, who occupied the region of East Africa.Charles Darwin confirmed that a large ape once lived in East Africa but is now extinct.

Kenya is famous for its numerous ape sites particularly in western Kenya region,which shows and proves the existence of early man in East Africa.Ethiopia is also known for its vast ape sites which show man’s evolution and transition from ape like structures to modern man.This transition took place six million years ago.The aquatic ape theory further explains how the origin of humankind and its transition took place since it explains how we evolved from hairless streamlined bodies to bipedal creatures, that is movement by two legs.This bipedal movement is what made it possible and quite easier for our ancestors to now migrate from the woodland Savannah to now open grasslands and began living a much more settled and even began having a social life by developing the art of speech.

Availability of flora and fauna in East Africa

East Africa,particularly the area between the two branches of the Rift valley,is relatively rich in lakes and bogs which have been cored for pollen analysis since the 1960s.Ethnographic studies of hunters and gatherers have found that they know and use a broad range of plants which refer to flora,but generally subsist on a small number of productive,reliable staples,which was very necessary for the hominids who majorly survived and derived their food from hunting and gathering. The broad base of plants in East Africa though not fully exploited, is important as it provides an essential margin of safety during lean periods.

The antiquity of this pattern is not known but one might expect to see a wide range of back up foods in environments where there are stressful periods with marked food shortages. Staples might likewise be expected where a small number of foods can efficiently and adequately meet the needs of a community. However, humans clearly do not live on starch staples a lone,and the broad spectrum of plant species consumed in small quantities by recent hunters and gatherers have possibly played a critical role in providing essential components now known to be important to all round health.

East Africa is endowed with numerous vegetations ranging from wild berries to other indigenous plants which were very essential in the production of food to the hominids and some plants even acted as medicine to cure their wounds.The plants in East Africa served a great deal in supplementing the meat hunted and gathered by the hominids,hence there was no lack of food,making East Africa a very comfortable place for human evolution to take place.Fauna was a very essential need to mankind also during the hominid evolution as they helped early man a great deal.Hence their availability in the East African region made man very comfortable and made man to make East Africa their home.Fauna was very necessary as it was useful in the provision of food,since the hominids mostly obtained their food from hunting and gathering. The availability of numerous animals in East Africa which are called fauna,was greatly advantageous to early man.
There were animals such as gazelles, antelopes, zebra,donkeys,and many other animals which whenever hungry,man could hunt down for them and obtain food from them.The fauna also helped in providing man with skin to lie down on and rest during the night and also to cover themselves with during very cold weather.Fauna helped a great deal in providing nutrients which were essential during evolution,as man needed so much energy in the joints and stronger bones which were needed during evolution. Hence when man obtained nutrients from fauna he developed stronger bones,muscles, limbs and backbone which now enabled him to begin standing on two feet and plucking fruits from trees instead of just standing on four legs then gradually by several attempts and practice man began learning to hold things with the fore limbs which are the hands and slowly man eventually began walking on two limbs that is bi-pedalism and stopped walking on four limbs.

Man was found roaming in East Africa before formation of the great Rift valley

The skeletal evidence suggests that a type of modern man distinct from one Caucasoids of Asia,Europe and northern Africa,and especially adapted to the conditions of the East African tropics appeared in East Africa by about 50,000 BC,and that over about 20,000 years this type have evolved in East Africa by natural selection whereby one if naturally capable to survive in the environment will live but if not strong enough to survive in the environment will die.They evolved in two different directions to meet the needs of two different environments one black, the other a variant more suited to the drier grasslands of savanna’s of Eastern and southern Africa.
Also the men who practiced a local culture in the earliest century called the Kenya Caspian in the dry zone of central Kenya and northern Tanzania seem to have been of Caucasoid type while in the same area today,there are islands of remnant people who speak Iraq,who speak Cushitic language and therefore belong to the Afroasiatic family.In Tanganyika,presently known as Tanzania,a skull nicknamed ‘Nutcracker man was found by Dr.L.S.B. Leakey,who found him at Olduvai Gorge in 1959,is perhaps related to Australopithecus. With it were rough stone artifacts since man is a tool maker and the skeleton was strangely gorilla like in aspect.It may have been 600,000 years old,or possibly quite older.

No matter the ultimate scientific judgment of these creatures,there is at least no doubt that a number of later but still very ancient Africans known and identified by the distinctive bones and artifacts fall within human orbit.Half a million years ago,a large diversified human population roamed about East Africa in search of food.They armed themselves with clubs and stone weapons.For example at Olorgesaile about forty miles from Nairobi ,vast numbers ,several thousands of hand axes of chipped stone are still lying about,proofing that indeed East Africa is the region where evolution took place and is the cracker of mankind.

East Africa as the centre of pangaea

East African landscape today are the result of the cumulative effects of climate and land use over millennium time scales.We compile archeology and palaeoenvironment from East Africa to document land cover change, and environmental, subsistence and land use transitions, over the past 6,000 years.There have been a series of relatively rapid and high magnitude environmental shifts characterized by changing hydrological budgets during the mid to late Holocene.Pronounced environmental shifts that manifested themselves as a marked change in the rainfall amount of seasonality and subsequent hydrological budget throughout East Africa occurred around 4,000 radiocarbon years before present year.

The past years have also seen numerous shifts in human interactions with East African ecologies.The first large scale human influences began to occur around four thousand year BC,associated with the introduction of domesticated livestock and the expansion of pastoral communities.The first widespread and intensive forest clearances were associated with the arrival of iron working and using by early farming communities around two thousand five hundred year BC,particularly in productive and easily cleared mid attitudinal areas.As these shifts caused migrations into East Africa,they also enabled the movement of the hominids in and out of East Africa because the shifts and tectonics appearing in East Africa causing the formation of tectonics and shifts also formed a route from Asia to East Africa.

As these took place,it caused an increase in food production which caused an increase in food production which also consistently caused an increase in human population too as man began being active in reproduction. Much of East African tropical forests began to be replaced by sparse woodlands and dry grasslands due to the different climatic changes from time to time.This caused new selective pressures affecting the evolution of mankind.Hence East Africa is grooved to be the cradle of mankind because of the selective pressures stimulating the evolution of man, high food production and so many other facts.

From all the factors explained above,We see East Africa emerging truly as the original homeland of man,or rather the cradled of mankind since compared to other regions,East Africa had all the natural resources man required for his evolution from the great Savannah woodlands to the tropical climate of East Africa,all suitable for the hominid evolution. A lot of facts also support the fact that East Africa is the cradle of mankind such as the existence of the “nut cracker” man in Tanzania in East Africa and the many archaeological sites found in East Africa are also proof enough.



Moses Njoroge is the Senior Editor at Glob Intel, a news and IT service provider company. He has a wide range of experience in freelance writing, Web/System Development and other related IT services.

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