FARE THEE WELL OWONGO, ETC
Where did we come from? What manner of hominid preceded us as we started the path to homo sapiens and modern man and woman? And why was evolution so intent on creating intelligence? Is the drive for intelligence and sentience the main function of all life, even single cell stuff that certainly never had a thought in its brief being?
Why, when we couldn't explain beginnings due to a lack of knowledge, did we have to make up stories about them? Is there something innate in intelligence that makes those who possess it have to search for beginnings?
And endings. We seem to need to seek out alternatives to the obvious â€œconsumed by wormsâ€ ending. As a species we created our gods, and then proceeded to believe in them. Temples, synagogues, mosques, churches, cathedrals, all and more were built (and are still being built) to the greater glory of our creations. They are surrounded by graveyards where the faithful are interred, to be closer, my god, to thee.
At the moment, in this tiny portion of human history, the dominant religions appear to be branches of the same simple faith system that evolved between three and four thousand years ago (that's no time at all in terms of life on Earth). Early chapters of what has become known as the Old Testament and the Qur'an (spell it as you like) are pretty much the same and recount the same home-spun theories about the beginning of things, but the writers or thinkers, philosophers, star-gazers, whatever they were, tended to forget there was a time before their Adam and Eve. Even then there would have been masses of evidence in the shape of fossils that maybe the Earth is older than a few generations. It had been an age since the mountains were thrust by gigantic subterranean tectonic forces high towards the heavens. Evidence of that thrusting was as obvious then as it is now. The Earth, in fact, was already old when Eve apparently succumbed to the temptation of a piece of forbidden fruit.
But there were religions, too, back then. Gods didn't suddenly appear with the One God of the Qur'an and Old Testament fame. The Egyptians and before then, long before then, the Sumerian City States had their gods (and marvellous gods they were, too, and long-lasting, much longer lasting than the Jewish Jehovah has been to date.) There have been smaller, more intimate religions, too: faith in this or that governance of nature, deities that packed the fields and rivers, trees and lakes, and rolled with the teeming seas. And everyone born to a society that opted for particular gods was expected to believe implicitly in those gods.
All this is a longish prelude to my conclusion to the Owongo yarns I have shared with you for this past couple of months or so. They were set in Africa before the dawn of mankind as we know him and illustrate (in part) how the simplest, most primitive religions may have evolved. I call him an ancient ancestor of mine because there's a strong chance he was (work it out, going backwards, with two children per generation in any imaginary family, a thousand years is sufficient for their own number of ancestors to exceed the total number of humans who have ever been born, so Owongo or his clones were certainly among them). But Owongo would never have had a religion shoe-horned into his brain during his infancy like we have. If he needed one he would have created it for himself. And if he needed gods he would have forged them, mentally, possibly in his own image or possibly in the image of cowslips or raging rivers. And having created them he would have talked himself into believing in them, lock, stock and pre-armament barrel! The next generation would have been easy. After all, we all accept as absolute truth what we are taught when we are tiny, and so we all believe in the mantras of the dominant faith in the societies where we live. It's a powerful thing, too. Men and women have died for their faith, many were burnt at the stake in medieval and Tudor Britain when a simple recant of their words might have saved them. Today, Islamic terrorists see nothing wrong with blowing themselves to Kingdom Come in the name of their god, possibly forgetting or not taught that the god they put so much faith in originated as the same god as that of their intended victims. It's a mess.
Blame Owongo, that's what I say. But before you blame him, here is a complete list of the stories I have written recently concerning his inventions and philosophies. I doubt that there'll be any more, though I never say definitely never. After all, he was given birth in a novel I started in the eighties. A different Owongo, a later incarnation of the man, with a different life, though his wife was also called Mirumda! There's a link to details of that here, too.
And Finally (or not, as the case may be)
Â© Peter Rogerson 21.05.12