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Geneticists Expose Racism As Nonsense

  Geneticists Expose Racism As Nonsense

Sunday Times (Johannesburg)

March 30, 2003

Rowan Philp

GENE experts have declared race to be no more than an
accident of geography - and predict the future of
black and white South Africa will probably be more
shades of brown.

Racism is scientifically unfounded, confirmed
Professor Trefor Jenkins, Professor Emeritus at Wits
University, and Dr Himla Soodyall, director of the
Human Genomic Research Unit.
The genetic pool in the country was already so mixed
that supremacists had no hope of a pure lineage, they
said during a series of workshops at the National
Festival of Science, Engineering and Technology in
Grahamstown this week.

Soodyall said that, genetically, all modern humans
were African - and could be described as either
"Africans" or "African exiles".

Her research on the African genome, based on blood
tests from more than 1 000 volunteers, showed South
Africans from different races shared "recent" blood

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    For instance, a quarter of the South African
"Europeans" tested had the same individual male
ancestor - who lived not more than 30 000 years ago -
as a large number of Nama Khoisan people who were

"Given greater social acceptance of mixed marriage in
future, we're likely to see a much higher proportion
of skin shades lighter than dark and darker than
light," Soodyall said.

Her research also found that the majority of all
Southern Africa's nine "Bantu-speaking" communities
descended from the same man, making most Xhosas and
Zulus, for instance, "genetically unusually close ".

She said that gene tests showed that different
physical characteristics between cultural groups were
the result of adaptations to differing conditions and
minor gene mutations.

Jenkins emphasised that modern "race" groups did not
evolve separately, as was once widely believed by
Western scientists.

He said: "Racism has been shown to have no basis in
science . . . We all started off black and brown, and
we'll all end up black and brown."