Business

Friends & Friction: Only make the move if you have the skills

2019-04-05 08:40

Your mobile phone will tell you how to get there. Put Swartkrans Cradle of Humankind into your map app, and, 30km west of Johannesburg and 40 minutes later, you will be back 1.8 million years.

In last week’s column, we went back in time from the fourth industrial revolution to 10 000 BC, which is considered to be the advent of the agricultural revolution or the neolithic revolution.

We hypothesised about how the cow was domesticated, and made good use of our creative licence to tell the story of our human and economic progress.

We are still in the chronicles of history, and slowly making our way back to the fourth industrial revolution.

Story-telling is the kernel of our journey.

Sometimes we’ll sweeten it a bit, blow the hyperbole out of human proportions, and there will also be times when you have to take the story with a packet of coarse salt, but, in all of that, we will be grounded in science and economic history.

It may take us weeks to get back to our times.

Who knows? We may even arrive after the elections, which may not necessarily be a bad thing. In fact, that could be what we need to hold on to our sanity through these insanely boring and mindless campaigns.

For now, let us imagine the life and times of our human ancestor, Paranthropus robustus, who lived in Swartkrans, Krugersdorp.

Perhaps you will understand why we should never consider work to be a human right. You will probably understand that leisure time is a valuable resource that should not be squandered on mobile phones.

Millennials seem to think time is their right that was stolen at birth, and are always looking to maximise it.

Well, our human ancestors in Swartkrans were happy to live up to 17 years, and by that time they had children.

So sex was never for pleasure, but procreation.

Life was unpredictable and there were many ways of dying — from the predators, including venomous snakes, to deadly diseases.

Scientists who’ve worked in the area say there is evidence that women died far from the caves in which they were born, which suggests that, by age nine, you were making children in a faraway cave, and making as many of them as possible.

Today getting married at the age of nine is considered taboo, and, to the millennials, the idea of working for 40 years is taboo.

There was no Uber Eats then, so our ancestors went out to forage.

There was no Wilkinson Sword either, to help them with the iron tools, so they waited for the warthog to die, and then took its horns to use as knives.

If you’ve been to the cradle of humankind, you would have seen the termite mounds, which they pierced with the warthog horns.

Termites, as many boys would tell you, are tasty.

Imagine eating raw, unpeeled sweet potatoes, or any other kind of tubers and wild nuts. Imagine what that would do to your teeth.

Your jaws would become big and tough.

Adaptation is the key to survival.

Recently, I had a chat with a forty-something man who had left his job to go and find himself.

He knew clearly that he did not want to start his own business. He did not have the temperament for it, and did not enjoy it. He just wanted a job.

He inherited good genes from our Swartkrans ancestors.

He understands that it is easier to change one’s circumstances than to change oneself.

Our ancestors migrated when the environment became too hostile. But they were realistic too.

Since humans do not have fur they needed to stay in places that were warm, until they discovered fire and were able to control it.

So we learnt from our human ancestors that, before making a move, you have to make sure you’ve got the right skills.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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October 13 2019