The Discovery of Mount Mabu

I was watching the telly recently when a news story came on about the discovery of a forgotten forest, Mount Mabu, in Mozambique. Apparently, it is unspoilt by humans and contains a lot of new species which scientists are excited to explore. This development is good for the world of course, bearing in mind the rate at which we are losing species and permanently altering ecosystems. However, it seems to me that the coverage of this story is missing a rather important aspect: the people who lived near this forest before the scientists discovered it.

I bring this up because it is clear that the indigenes have known of the forest and interacted with it going back a long way. It is said to have provided shelter to people during the time of war in the region. Therefore it is reasonable to think that the scientists did not get to the forest without having some help from these people. Yet there has been scant mention of them so far and nothing about their involvement in this discovery. The way the story has been reported, you would think the scientists dropped in from the sky and happened upon Mount Mabu.

I also wonder what the ‘discovery’of Mount Mabu is going to mean for the future of these people. How will their lives and communities be changed by all the attention and conservation efforts that are sure to follow this discovery? Have the scientists leading this exhibition considered this issue at all? Do they have any thoughts or answers on the matter? I don’t know because the indigenous Mozambiquans do not feature in stories about Mount Mabu. At least, not in any that I’ve seen.

Which brings me to the question: how can scientists have discovered the forest if the indigenes of the area have long known of it? Or does something not offically exist until it has been recorded by an international body, led in this case, by a British scientist?

 

For more on Mount Mabu, visit: http://www.kew.org/science/news/mount-mabu-mozambique.html

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4 responses to “The Discovery of Mount Mabu

  1. White people generally run around the globe claiming to “discover” things that people have always known was there.

    E.g. The River Niger.

    Igbo people ALWAYS knew it was there. In fact, anyone that lived in the general Nigeria area KNEW it was there.

    Then some random ass White dude called Mungo Park started jumping up and down like a cricket going on about how he “discovered” the River Niger.

    Ooooooooooooooooooooookay. O_o

    Anyway, I would like to use this as an opportunity to formally bid farewell to the people of Mount Mabu. Their forest is going to be cut down, roads will cut through their land, they will be killed, persecuted, and robbed of all the natural resources they own until they become unwanted beggars in the cities of their country.

    I’m not wishing them bad luck. I’m just repeating what has happened over and over again, all over Africa.

    • Yeah Sugabelly, the scenario you’ve described is a worrying possibility for these people. At the very least, it is unlikely that they will have much control over what happens to Mount Mabu. The sad thing is if they end up losing out as a result of this, people will just behave as if it was an unfortunate occurrence that was nobody’s fault. Those involved in this project and the government of Mozambique have the chance now to think well about the welfare of these people before any major decisions are taken. I hope they take it.

      Funny you mention Mungo Park, i remember learning about him discovering River Niger in school. Little did i know.

  2. lol @ Sugabelly. I was going to make a similar point in a more P.C. manner, but clearly, she beat me to it.

    I can only hope that Mozambique won’t allow themselves to get ‘played’. They should ensure that they return a level of control over any and all ‘discoveries’ related to the forest and demand intellectual property protection, as well as work/experience for their citizens.

    If they fail to do that, the only ones who will benefit from this ‘discovery’ will be pharmaceutical companies and the wealthy. Oh and maybe some Mozambicans as well. Hopefully.

    Nice post!

    • Perhaps you should be on the planning committee SSD. Jokes aside, everything you said is on point especially about the intellectual property over the contents of the forest. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens but i must confess that i don’t have high hopes about this.

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