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Always marry a farmer's daughter


Cultural differences and similarities with South America and Africa
Redmond O'Hanlon Writer
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South America. All those people feel very, very different, and of course, especially in South America, the Yanomami. They, like we all do, left Africa at the very, very most, 200,000 years ago, so probably 10, 000, 70,000, spread out. So the ancestors of the Yanomami go out of Africa, turn right, go right up, and then they go north, they get over the land bridge, they come right the way down to the middle of South America. So all those different geographical pressures, it's hardly surprising that, when they look at you in that impassive way, you really have no idea what they're thinking. There is a big, big theological gap. In fact, their creation myths, they do fit into the same kind of layers as the Christian creation myth, but you've got to learn it. You have to learn it all. Whereas, in the Congo, absolutely everything feels deeply and spookily familiar. You seem to know why people are laughing in that uneasy way. You respond at once, unconscious, in full power, to this huge, deep drumming. This... this tremendous assertion of real power and life and sex and the drums, God. They're taller than this room, some of them. And sorcery needs no theological introduction. We all know what it means to put a spell on somebody. And of course, because we've only just come a few miles north. You know, it's no journey at all to get here out of Africa. You go back there, you feel everything's familiar. It's just terrifying.

British author Redmond O’Hanlon writes about his journeys into some of the wildest places in the world. His travels have taken him into the jungles of the Congo and the Amazon, he has faced some of the toughest tribes alive today, and has sailed in the hurricane season on a trawler in the North Atlantic. In all of this, he explores the extremes of human existence with passion, wit and erudition.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: South America, Africa, Europe, Congo

Duration: 2 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: July - September 2008

Date story went live: 11 August 2009