IQ measures how clever a person is, nobody dares to challenge this statement. At the same time people living in what used to be British Colonies, keep getting poorer, because they keep getting more stupid, we know because because their falling IQ scores coincides with their falling incomes. I wish to challenge this view and I wish to support my thesis by considering two abilities that people that we consider primitive have, that we cannot explain.
Communicating by Bush Drum
I joined the Cub Scouts at around 1962, we went on several camps throughout the year, something that is still firmly embedded in my memory about camping, is the drums that we heard when we lay in our sleeping bags. I should have mentioned, I grew up in South Africa and I was a member of the Cub Scouts, later big scouts also, that met in the yard of the German Lutheran Church, in Hillbrow Johannesburg.
The church owned a property in the Magaliesberg, which is a range of rolling hills that stretches from the northwest of Johannesburg to the Citrus plantations, to the west of Pretoria and the town of Rustenburg. Needless to say we often camped next to the stream that flowed along this property. Not only here, in the area known as Roodekop, but at many other camping sites as well, the drums were a regular feature.
It would begin by regular beat coming from a nearby hilltop, soon another drum responded from another hilltop and at this stage I must say I can only theorize that they synchronized their beats, as I was a distance away from both drummers, where I lay they would never be in sync. Both drums beat a regular beat for a while, then one of them, I presume the one transmitting the message beat out a different pattern suddenly and the receiver would then repeat the pattern sometimes both parties would repeat the pattern a few times, I presume until the transmitter was satisfied that he heard what he sent, then they would both fall into the regular drum beat, this time for a considerable shorter time than at the beginning and soon another offbeat pattern would be sent and repeated, this could carry on for a long time, at least until I was sleeping.
Drum Legends practical Drum communications
No white man ever learned to use the drum to communicate, we often heard this assertion, some popular authors repeated the same assertion. There are white Sangomas(witch doctors), but actually I have never heard of a white drummer which does not prove that none existed, but if they did exist, they are certainly very rare. Another strange thing about drum communication is its rather sudden disappearance. Exactly when it was and how long it took I cannot tell, but by the mid 70`s you never heard anybody drumming into the night any more.
Another legend I heard at least twice, once by an elderly teacher at the German school Johannesburg, that I attended up to grade 5 and once, also by an elderly teacher in English Primary school, that I attended afterwards. It concerns the birth of Queen Elizabeth, at the time daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York as she only became the Heir presumptive at the abdication of her uncle, King Edward 8.
The undersea cable between South Africa and Portugal was only laid in the mid 60’s, before that Shortwave Radio served as a means of communicating between the continents. Before radio became a practical option, people had to wait for the Mail ship, that called in Cape Town once a week and brought, among other things, London newspapers, before it continued to Port Elizabeth and then Durban and returned to Southampton. Of course the newborn princess was great news in the colonies, but not everybody had to wait that long.
The story we heard from our teachers in both cases was a childhood memory and in both cases the teachers were told by somebody on their farm that a lovely princess had just been born. I like to think her name and her parents were also transmitted, by Drum Power, but I presume, news coming from England regularly, even if delayed, would make it obvious to the admiring colonists, who this princess was. recalling childhood memories of other people, is not an exact science, but it dovetails with many, shall we say familiar urban legends of the time.
Looking at a map of Africa, it seems that for these messages to travel across it, they would have to cross 10 borders, require the co-operation of more than 2.000 people, if we assume they speak 50 different languages, none of which have a written tradition, that would be very conservative estimate, how the hell did they do it? Why should no white person ever have learned to do it and why did this centuries old tradition suddenly disappear?
Our culture embodies more than our traditions, art,and language, and basically all that defines us for what we are, it also gives us a paradigm by which we understand the world we live in and also gives us a tool to understand and to manipulate our environment to learn and to achieve what we need to achieve. I use the word as defined in option 3 in the free dictionary: “3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline”.
Now we come to the last point, why did the art of communicating by drum disappear so quickly? Here I blame the South African government which had started a major effort to greatly improve the literacy rate among the Bantu. In order to do that, their children first had to accept our paradigm, that does not allow for the possibility to communicate across long distances, without a written language and across language barriers, therefore such a thing is impossible for us and those that have been educated in our schools. Why has no white ever learned to communicate by drum? Obviously, same reason, our paradigm does not allow for it.
Paradigm of the Bushmen
Today you have to say San, Bushmen is politically incorrect, so is Hottentot, they are the Khoi and the original People occupying the Cape were the Khoisan, by this wonderful stroke of intellectual genius, politically super correct academics describe the original people of the Cape by combining the names of the two totally different people that originally lived, or in the case of the Khoi still live there.
Back to the Bushmen, when South Africans were at war against Cuba, across the northern border of what today is Namibia, they recruited Bushmen for their incredible tracking ability and soon soldiers that were coming back from the border were telling stories that sounded as if we had allied ourselves to a nation of magicians. For this reason I am glad that our MD shared his hunting experience with us, obviously also telling tales of the Bushmen, but he hat the habit of recounting his stories with precision and detail.
First he recalled how they were on the way to the hunt, another director of our company, Allister and Baas Piet as our MD liked to be called were sitting in the cabin of the “Bakkie”, which is the local term referring to a small truck and the two Bushmen were sitting in the back in the load area, they had to cover a few hundred miles dust road until they came to the area where they planned to hunt Buffalo. At some time, Allister offered cigarettes out back and the two passengers each took one, but unfortunately, one of them dropped his on the road.
Two days later they were on their way back when suddenly, one of the San banged his hand on the cab as a sign to stop. They stopped, he got of the truck, walked a few feet down the street and picked up the cigarette he had dropped two days earlier. Imagine you wanted to tell somebody, where along a few hundred mile long road to look for a cigarette, how would you do it? especially considering Bushmen cant count, you cannot say, count 486 thorn bushes, then it is lying on the other side of the road. Bushmen count one, two, then many and there it stops. Again the question begs to be answered, how the hell did he do that?
When the Buffalo hunt started, it seems the first shots missed and the herd ran off in all directions. The two trackers ran after them for a while, then they repeatedly threw sand into the air and referred to the sun, while they were shouting a conversation between them, eventually they came to the spot where the herd would re-form and they fled up a tree nearby, hunting Buffalo is a risky business, but obviously, they could work out where the herd would regroup and they somehow could not communicate this information. Allister spoke their language and they could speak Afrikaans, obviously there was no language barrier between them and the whites, but how they did it could somehow not be communicated. Again I venture that we do not have the necessary concepts in our paradigm that they could refer to, when explaining how to spot were you dropped your cigarette, within a few feet, along a road that is a few hundred miles long.They can also not explain how Buffalo’s think and how they work out where the herd will meet again.
Our Paradigm is not the only one possible
I believe our grandchildren will modify the model in our head that we passed to them, in order to deal with many concepts that we cannot teach them and they are yet to learn, but that will nevertheless be important in order to deal with the world that is still to form. By the same token other people have build different paradigm`s that do not necessary deal with our view of the world, they may not have learned to deal with finance yet, yet they are better adapted to their environment, or one they recently had, than we could ever understand. Even if our IQ tests do not rate them very high, that does not mean they are not clever, it means they have not learned our ways yet. To make a point, IQ tests cannot be made independent of our paradigm. The same is true of the ability to understand finance. With the memory of colonial rule fading in many African states, both their IQ`s and their ability to understand finance fades, but both observations are due to a third factor, the culture. IQ and understanding finance, are not related in that one is a measure of the other, both are the effect of a third, until now seldom discussed factor. Here is something to consider, after the Roman Empire finally ended, it took most of Europe about three centuries to regain the wealth they enjoyed as a vassal state of Rome. Expecting a similar recovery in about fifty years, is somewhat optimistic.