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Oldest human burial in Africa found – a child laid to rest with pillow 78,000 yrs ago

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file photo: An artist’s impression of the burial of the child.

Nearly 80,000 years ago, a three-year-old child was carefully laid to rest in a small pit at the entrance of Panga ya Saidi, a cave in eastern Kenya.

Locals folded the child’s knees up to the chest and wrapped the body in a shroud. The child’s body was then placed on its right side in the small pit. Locals made it lie on its head on a supportive pillow before scattering soil collected from the nearby cave floor over the body.

For thousands of years, the burial site had not been touched. Now, a team of archaeologists has found that the child’s remains represent the oldest known modern human burial in Africa, according to a study published in Nature.

The discovery gives insight into how people from over 78,000 years ago treated their dead.

Researchers first came across some of the child’s bones in 2013 while doing excavations at the Panga ya Saidi cave site. It wasn’t until four years later that researchers fully uncovered the pit and found the skeleton of the child, who was later nicknamed “Mtoto,” meaning “child” in Swahili.

The skeleton, tightly curled up, was found in a shallow, circular pit about 3 meters deep. Remains that were intact included parts of the skull, face, and lower jawbone, five teeth, the spine and ribs, the right collarbone and left upper arm bone.

The decomposed bones were too fragile for researchers to analyze on-site. Thus, they were covered with plaster and were analyzed at labs at the National Research Centre on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain.

The researchers, after analyzing the teeth, confirmed that the remains were those of a human child who died at about three years old.

They also discovered that the body had been buried deliberately, rather than by natural processes. The position of the skull suggests that it once laid on a pillow that had perished over time. “This type of movement of the head is usually found in those burials where the head is resting over a pillow or perishable support — the moment that support disappears, disintegrates, decays, it creates a space below the head and because of gravity the head tilts,” said study author María Martinón-Torres, director at the National Research Center on Human Evolution (CENIEH) in Burgos, Spain.

“We could infer this child… was really put there in a specific position with a pillow under his head. This respect, this care, this tenderness — putting a child lying in an almost a sleeping position: I really think it’s one of most important — the earliest evidence in Africa — of humans living in the physical and the symbolic world,” Martinón-Torres said in a news briefing.

Researchers also found that the microscopic features of the bones, as well as the chemical composition of the soil that surrounded the bones, suggested that the child’s body was “fresh” when it was buried and decomposed in the grave, CNN reported.

The evidence found further suggests that the mortuary behaviors of humans in Africa were entirely different from those of Neanderthals and early humans in Eurasia, who largely buried their dead in residential sites.

While archaeologists have found older human burial sites outside Africa that are between 90,000 and 130,000 years old, the child’s skeleton represents the “earliest evidence of intentional burial in Africa.”

At the moment, only a few ancient human burial sites have been found in Africa, and this has been attributed to poor preservation conditions and lack of fieldwork. “Archaeologists have been very busy in the Near East and Europe for 150 years, with continuous excavations. If the same amount of work happened in Africa, we might find more and older burials,” said Michael Petraglia, coauthor of the study and a professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

Source: face2faceafrica.com

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WATCH: Frail Gbagbo attends church in first public appearance since his return

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Laurent Gbagbo attended church on Sunday June 20

Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo attended mass in Abidjan on Sunday, one of his first public appearances since returning home after nearly a decade in exile.

To the surprise of churchgoers, Gbagbo showed up at St. Paul Cathedral, where he was greeted by Cardinal Jean Pierre Kutwa.

The former leader appeared weak as he made his way to the altar before exchanging greetings with the presiding priest and subsequently taking a front row seat.

He wore an African print and was wearing his face mask throughout the service.

“The ceremony has been wonderful, his (Gbagbo) visit to the cathedral was a surprise for us, we did not know about his visit. So, we are happy. It’s happiness for Africa and for Ivory Coast.

“(I hope) that peace comes back in Ivory Coast and that God puts his hands on Ivory Coast, that he blesses the families of Ivory Coast” said priest Henri Akredizon.

“We have finished our conference, and we have come this morning for the closure of the conference, and it was a coincidence that we have found former president Laurent Gbagbo in church. I think it’s a matter of peace, we work for peace so everybody must go on the same line of peace.

“So, what we demand of the head of the state is peace in Ivory Coast and in the entire world,” stressed Jeanette Toure, president of National Association of Women of the Catholic Church in Ivory Coast.

The ex-president finally returned to Ivory Coast on Thursday after the ICC upheld his acquittal on charges related to the post-electoral violence that engulfed Ivory Coast after its 2010 president election.

While thousands celebrated his return, his opponents maintain he should be jailed in Ivory Coast, not given a statesman’s welcome.

Source: africanews.com

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Are you honourable members or horrible members? – Lumumba to Nigerian lawmakers

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Anti-corruption advocate, Patrick Lumumba

An anti-corruption advocate told federal lawmakers on Wednesday, June 16 that Nigeria’s development has been slow for far too long, owing to a lack of visionary leadership.

Patrick Lumumba, a former director of Kenya’s anti-corruption commission, also asked the Nigerian legislators whether they are “honourable members” or “horrible members.”

He asked of the legacies of late nationalists Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikwe and how much of their legacies had been preserved as he referred the lawmakers to them.

He said the clarity of vision and the instinct to marshal people is the antidote to tackle Nigeria’s many challenges, as this was what worked for the nation’s founding fathers.

The don who is also the Director, Kenya School of Laws, spoke at the launch of the House of Representatives Green Chamber magazine Wednesday, June 16 in Abuja.

“Nigeria has been becoming great for too long,” Mr Lumumba said in his speech.
“The time is now that Nigeria must be great. In fact, Nigeria should be in the same space economically as Germany is; Nigeria should be in the same space politically as the United States is.”

“You are the successors of Nigeria’s great leaders. The question that you must ask yourself now that you have been given the honour and privilege of serving Nigeria, you should ask yourself, are you honourable members or horrible members?” he asked amidst laughter from his audience.

According to him, whether members are “honourable” or “horrible” is determined by the kind of service they provide to Nigerians. He urged lawmakers to be servants of the people rather than masters, with the primary purpose of delivering the common good to Nigerians.

“Now that Nigerians have given you the opportunity to think for them, the question is: are you midwives of the good things of Nigeria, or are you midwives that kill the children of the creator.”

Source: www.mynigeria.com

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Africa’s 10 most peacful countries, Mauritius leads the pack – 2021 Peace Index Report

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Island nation of Mauritius is known for its pristine beaches

Mauritius has been ranked Africa’s most peaceful country according to the 2021 Global Peace Index, GPI, report released last week.

The island nation ranked first on the continent and 28th most peaceful country in the world according to a ranking of 163 nations.

Mauritius garnered 1.592 overall score which was 10 steps away from that of Africa’s second most peaceful country, Ghana, which ranked 378th on global ladder with 1.712 overall score.

Completing the top five most peaceful nations in sub-Saharan Africa are Botswana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.

The sixth to tenth slots are occupied by Senegal, Tanzania, Malawi, Equatorial Guinea and Namibia respectively.

It means West Africa has dominated the top 10 countries with four countries in the top ranks – Ghana, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Senegal.

The GPI is an annual report produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

It measures the state of peace in countries whiles assessing the countries in three domains: the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation.

Some key development indicators about Mauritius
Mauritius is the only African country to be in the “very high” category on the Human Development Index.

According to the World Bank, the country is classified as a high-income economy.

Mauritius is also ranked as the most competitive, and one of the most developed economies in the African region.

The country is a welfare state where government provides free universal health care, free education up through the tertiary level and free public transportation for students, senior citizens, and the disabled.

In 2019 and 2020, Mauritius was ranked the most peaceful African country by the Global Peace Index.

About the 2021 GPI

The 15th edition of the GPI also measured the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on peace.

This looked especially at the impact of the pandemic, and in particular, how its economic consequences will increase the risk of severe deteriorations in peace over the next few years.

Civil unrest rose 10 per cent globally, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, the GPI report added.

There were 14,871 violent demonstrations, protests and riots recorded globally in 2020.

The report said COVID-19 was a “multiplying force” in future political instability and civil unrest.

It added the level of this unrest going forward is likely to hinge on the speed and effectiveness of economic recovery. Countries with less debt and higher levels of positive peace were more likely to recover faster.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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