Middle Stone Ages (63000 BC): a small procession of a few hundred people migrated out of Africa and began to trudge along the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean coastlines. Carrying flint tool and charred animal bones, they crossed the vast African-Arabian desert and reached the Andaman Islands: roughly 850 miles directly South of where I am right now. While one group pushed on till Australia, Japan and eventually Alaska, many settled here.
Since then, the Great Andamanese Tribes have lived completely isolated from the rest of the world – oblivious to the colonization of Europe, use of fiber for clothing, Sumerians, Egyptians & Pharaohs, Babylonians, Socrates, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, Jesus, Muhammad, the Crusades and the Renaissance. They lived happily, divided into many tribes like ‘Jarawa’, ‘Kari’ and ‘Bo‘. Then, in 1858, the British colonized the archipelago.
Ever since, the Andamanese Tribes have suffered captivity, diseases, colonial warfare and ‘attempts at civilization’. God knows which was worse! The Indian government relocated them away from their home to another island. The Tsunami of 2004 lashed down on them. Still the tribes survived, the ‘Bo’ people survived. And then, in 2010, the last of the ‘Bo’s – Boa Sr passed away, taking one of the world’s earliest languages with her.
I found out about Boa only today: she was the last person on Earth to speak Aka-Bo (or Tongue-Bo). She had spent her last years with no one to talk to as all in her family had passed away. She was the last member of the oldest, surviving human civilization – only if we are willing to concede that they were civilized. She was a history of all of us, where we came from – from the mysteries of East Africa, across the cradle of civilization and finally into old-homes for troublesome aborigines: what a journey it must have been! I wonder what stories and traditions the Bo language had accumulated over 65000 years and what wondrous tales Boa Sr could’ve told us.
The title of this post is inspired by ‘The Man From Earth’ (2007)