The Spitfire's Grill
Regular Rants from a Pragmatic Liberal
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Sort of Off Topic
I was going to post something about the broadcast flag today (something I studied while in college), but I came across a utterly fascinating post by Juan Cole. Cole, a Professor of History at UMich usually dedicates his blog to the Middle East and mostly Iraq. His post, titled "History and Genetics in Madagascar" is slightly off his usual subject matter, and far off mine, but quite interesting. For those of you only interested in US Politics, there are still political implications involving the positions of the far Right-wing social conservatives, so its an interesting read either way. Here's a tidbit:
Genetics and history have joined forces to explain the origins of the people of Madagascar (the world's fourth largest island, off the coast of East Africa). Early Muslim chronicles speak of the peopling of Madagascar from the islands to its far east, i.e., Indonesia. Geneticists have found that about half of the island's people have Y chromosomes or mitochondrial DNA that most resemble that of the people of Borneo. Note that all the people in Madagascar by now have Indonesian ancestors and lots of genes from there. The other half of the markers go to East Africa. There must, however, also be an Arab heritage. Some 7 percent of the inhabitants of Madagascar are Muslim, and Muslim chronicles speak of several waves of immigration from places like Yemen.
Madagascar is a fascinating island in many ways, including culturally. I've always wondered how its population is so unqiue from that of mainland Africa. Before I read anything on the subject, I figured it was from generations of separation from the mainland. But after I little studied it a little more I learned it was the opposite, a curious melting pot from far away lands. Really pretty cool.
The whole story, of course, is that we all go back to a common origin in South Africa only about 100,000 years ago; we're a very young species and haven't had time to differentiate much except with regard to stupid little things like amount of melanin in our skin.
The post illustrates that both race and language are silly things to use as dividers, yet we see it every day, unfortunately.

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