I was intrigued to read about a local academic claiming that proto-Malays from the Sunda Shelf had fanned out into the world to become the ancestors to the human population.
Read this piece “Proto Malays, the origin of the human race?” in Malaysiakini. My word, forget about Lembah Bujang and all that, this turns history on its head.
But wait a minute, the Indonesians are claiming the same thing in this article published in Vivanews.com over a year ago. They think that Indonesians populated the world! Indeed, the Indonesians even quote the same scientist, Stephen Oppenheimer, who was at the conference in KL today.
It looks as if history is being used to serve a particular nationalist, political or racial agenda.
How does this compare with what has been accepted elsewhere? Read what geneticist Spencer Wells says in this excerpt from a National Geographic report:
By analysing genetic changes in the Y-chromosome of people in all regions of the world, Wells and colleagues concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a single African man.
“We’re all effectively cousins, separated by 2,000 generations,” he said.
In his book, The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, Wells describes the exodus from Africa that began around 60,000 years ago, and the path we took to populate the world.
Following the southern coastline of Asia, the first early travelers crossed about 250 kilometers [155 miles] of sea, and colonized Australia by around 50,000 years ago. The Aborigines of Australia, Wells says, are the descendants of the first wave of migration out of Africa.
A second wave left Africa around 45,000 years ago and settled in the Middle East, with smaller groups going off to India, northern China, and southern China. As the glaciers of the Ice Age began to retreat around 40,000 years ago and temperatures warmed up, humans moved into Central Asia and multiplied quickly.
Small groups left Central Asia around 35,000 years ago for Europe. Around 20,000 years ago, another small group of Central Asians moved farther north, into Siberia and the Arctic Circle.
He and his colleagues’ paper, published in the September 2003 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, added evidence to the debate on the peopling of the Americas.
Eh, National Geographic, why no mention of Southeast Asia as the cradle of global civilisation?!
Anyway, there you have it: we are all off-spring of the human race, and whatever the twists and turns, whatever the forks, branches and twigs, the scientific evidence for now suggests that Africa is where it all began.