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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Columnist: Sergius, Benjy

Monkeys of Africa - Part 2

Long before western biologist and Europeans encountered chimpanzees,
the people of west Africa knew there is something they have in common
with these apes. These Chimpanzees weren’t Descartes’ or Darwins’
mindless brutes but instead a highly intelligent,co-opera­tive and
violent primate who natured family,adopt orphans,mourn the
dead,practice self medication and wage wars.

In 1607 Andrews Battoli,an English scholar taken prisoner by the
Portuguese in Angola sent home the first report about these apes in
his return to Europe. But his shocking report wasn’t confirmed until
1630 when a live Chimpanzee reached Europe as a gift to the prince of
Orange in Netherlands.

Then in 1699,an English anatomist,Edward Tyson, performed the first
dissection of a Chimpanzee and revealed an anatomy that resembles man
in many parts.

Tyson was good in this field but despite all the facts he came across and knew about this Chimpanzee, also assumed that thinking or talking animal was impossible. Then Tyson invented his paradigm of the mindless ape. He said: "this is the Chimpanzee with human brain but not a single thought in it: with human nervous system but not the slightest emotion: with an apparatus for language but not a thing to communicate”.

A sif it was enough,Tyson preceded and created a view that scientist still cling to-“the Chimpanzee with the physiology of human but the psychology of a lifeless machine: a hairy test tube created for human exploitation”.Ironically Tyson is often called the father of primcetology because his anatomy of the Chimpanzee wasn’t only the worlds’ first but also the most influential for the next two hundred years.

Though Tyson did reveal some facts that connect apes to humans,yet he
updated the doctrines of Plato, Aristotle and Descartes-Chimpanzees
might resemble man physically but not mentally. It was easy and simple
to agree with these western scientists that these honourable
Chimpanzees from Africa have no ability to think;that they’re hairy
test tubes created for the sake of human exploitation.

But wait; when the time came for Americans to explore round the earth
in their own interest, it was these mindless Chimpanzees of Descartes
from Africa that were prepared for the mission. Yeah! I mean Skinners’
brutes of no use from African Jungle that made the first exploitation
around the earth for America.

Why put an American astronaut in danger when they can access the same risk with Tysons’ mindless Chimpanzees? In all 65 Chimpanzees were selected from Africa which they called them Chimponaut for training sessions.

The conditioned means used to train them was “the system of reward and
punishment”.Here the American scientist put the Chimpanzees in a
rocket with different lights and levers(like gear sticks) before them.
Above their heads were banana in a cage. Their arms were free but
their feet were tightened unto a metal pad.

To every blinking light there was a lever to be pressed by the Chimponaut. A correct move attracted a banana from the cage but a wrong move to the blinking light gave an electric shock on their feet that was fastened unto the metal pad. The overall best Chimpanzee completed 7,000 moves with only
20 misses.

On 31st January,1961 the first Chimponaut was shot into space. In a
mercury capsule at 11:55am,Ham the best among his colleague Chimponaut
started his space journey at 5,000 miles per hour. Ham returned as a
hero and now the Americans noticed space was safe for humans.

So it happened that on the 5th May,1961;Alan Sheppard rode the first
manned American rocket beyond the earths’ atmosphere. Though his flight was impressive, just three weeks earlier the Soviet had launched Yurg Gagarion into orbit around the earth aboard VOSTOK 1.

But yet, Americans weren’t satisfied and made another rocket, the
Atlas, but it overall lunch was poor-two successes: two failures. Fed up with human astronaut they turned back to Chimponaut again. Chimpanzees from Africa. Chimpanzees that Descartes and his contemporaries classified as empty minded brutes. This time five and half years old Chimpanzee from west Africa called Enos was chosen after leading his mates at Holloman training grounds through 16 months of psychological and physical training.

On November 29th,1961 at 10:17am; the Atlas rocket blasted off,
sending Enos into a perfect first revolution around the earth.
Everything was perfect but on the second go round, the gas jet stuck
open and started wasting fuel. This was sending Enosto unpleasant
wobble.Then another trouble arose. The banana pellet system went crazy
and started giving Enos electrical shocks for correct responses
instead of banana. This was contradicted to the system Enos knew but
he continued to perform the right task despite the shocks. His third
orbit was cancelled by the scientist for another could have killed

Enos is a Hebrew name meaning MAN and this young Chimpanzee from west
Africa seemed more reasonable than scientist and human race care to
admit. He landed safely and motivated by Hams’ and Enos’ space
exploits, NASA made another rocket; the Friendship 7; the spacecraft
that carried John Godin around the earth three times on February

Enos my hero died of dysentery just a year after his flight. Ham
was shipped to the national Zoo in Washington DC where he lived alone
in a cage for seventeen and half years. From there Ham was sent to a
small Chimpanzee community at the north Cardinal Park in 1980. He died
of heart attack in 1983 at the age of 26; half the life time he might
have had in the jungles of Africa.
This is Ham.
Here is Enos.

Were they really empty minded as proposed by Descartes and his
contemporaries?These are intelligent creatures from Africa;only that
the part of the truth that favoured the scholars were told;yet they
proved beyond their scientific theories that they weren’t just created
for the sake of human exploitation.