Africa is widely recognised as being the Cradle of Humankind, the origin of all human life as we know it today. This theory is largely supported by archaeological findings, including the fossilised remains of our earliest ancestors’ bodies and the tools and implements they used in prehistoric Africa.

However, there are other ways of confirming this continent as being the Cradle of Humankind, and one of these is through the genetic history of the African ancestors. There are two parts of the genetic code of mankind that have not been altered by the widely accepted theory of evolutionary development. These are the MITOCHONDRIAL DNA and the Y CHROMOSOME of any human being. The evolutionary development of humans, by definition, defines each generation, making each one a little more advanced than the last. These two parts of the genes are those that stay constant, regardless of how the rest of the genetic code modifies itself to meet with environmental and social changes. So, this theory asserts that all humans have received their Mitochondrial DNA from one common woman and that all men have received their Y chromosome from a common man. These two ancestors are nicknamed Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam by scientists in favour of this theory. She is believed to have roamed the earth 160 000 years ago while he followed about 100 000 years later.

The San people that once occupied and traversed much of Southern Africa are, as a society, those who display the qualities of being of the same Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup. Likewise, the Eastern African peoples, called the Sandawe, and the Mbuti people display the same genetic code. This haplogroup is known as L0 to scientists. From this group descended the haplogroups L1, L2 and L3. These groups came from the original Adam and Eve, but branched out to form new human “races”, as we would broadly define them today. These “L” groups are, for the most part, confined to Africa, while the M and N groups, which came from the L3 group, usually refer to the human beings outside of this continent.

All Y haplogroups (except A and B) are referred to as belonging to the macro haplogroup CR. Those adaptations and mutations that characterise this group are believed to have happened before these humans began their exodus from the continent, and their habitation of a wider spread area. The descendents of this group are called the DE macro group. This particular group only exists within the continent of Africa. Of all the haplogroups under the CR group, C displays unique mutations, which differentiates it from the groups D onwards. These unique characteristics are believed to have formed 60 000 years ago, just after the migration out of Africa occurred.

Haplogroup F has some mystery around it, as researchers and anthropologists are not entirely in agreement about whether it originated in North Africa or South Asia. As it is believed to have evolved some 45 000 years ago, its origin has a significant bearing on the migratory patterns in Africa. If it was to have originated in North Africa, this would indicate a second migration out of Africa at that time.