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DID OUR ANCESTORS REALLY LIVE LONG(ER) LIVES?

You know the saying or belief that our forefathers lived longer than us in this generation, I think it’s a myth.

I may be wrong though.

But I think so. On what grounds exactly do we believe that, if I may ask?

There are hardly records to affirm that, or “disaffirm” it, anyway. Afterall, most births in past generations were hardly recorded.

Or are we misled by the sight of old people in the village or the few we see around?

Keep in mind that some of them may just be “old-looking, ” they may not actually be “old” in the real sense of i. A 63 year old who was worn out by physical labour, ill-health or unhealthy lifestyle – drinking, smoking, etc, who passes for an 81- year old is enough to give the illusion of an exaggerated pool of “old people.”

Another misleading factor could be the number of living generations a person may have. Some people met their great-grand-mothers, more met their grandparents. It’s important we keep in mind that people in past generations married at early ages, both men and women.

So that your “old” grandmother may have just been a 54-year old who had your parent in his teenage years. Your parent, let’s say your mother, may have had you in her teenage years as well or in her early 20s. If you buckle up, you may even make your grand-mother a great-grand-mother(or even twice so: great – great-grandmother), God willing, and your darling grand-mother may just be in her 80s,with a string of 4,5 generations under her belt.

And that is just about when she rightfully falls into the category of “old people.”

We all know this is hardly the norm.

Come to think of it, how many of our parents knew their both parents – met them alive, I mean? Some people had only one living parent, with the other having died earlier. How many of our grandparents died when we were teenagers? They may have just been in their 50s or 60s,and that’s hardly old by any standard.

This myth – a long(er) living ancestors – bears this undertone that our generation must be living carelessly, and consequently, cutting short our lives. As though we are doing something wrong and are deserving of the early death that seems to be bequeathing us.

Some say it’s our food – genetically modified, fast food, that we are addicted to that is killing us. Having abandoned the “pro-life” menu our forefathers lived on that contained some portion of “Methuselah serum.

Undeniably, we’re guilty as charged on the grounds of eating quick-serving meals.

That’s okay. But will anyone care to evaluate how healthy our “ofe akwu,” heap of eba, mould of akpu, cocoyam thickened bitter leaf soup, etc. And no, the concept of” portion control” had not been conceptualized at that time. So everyone; men, women, boys, girls and even toddlers, ate to their fill, with no care whatsoever as to the carb, calorie content of the meals. This was a generation that extolled obesity as a status symbol. Of course, who knew of balanced diet at that time.

Let no one fool you, people died from this and other diet – related causes. Just as people are dying of same today.

Some argue that modern day lifestyles may be predisposing us to early grave. Well, whatever we lose in sedentary lifestyle, our ancestors overdid by straining themselves to death in labour. Moreover, we have modern medicine on our side, salvaging us from what otherwise would have killed our forefathers.

Another major “misleader” is the indiscriminate age people tag on Obituaries. Even till date, we still have illiterate parents who have no regard for birth registration. How much more pre-colonial parents and record keeping.

My point is that no generation is actually dying sooner. Death has been unflinching in its “non-age” bias decimation. It has consistently proven that it’s no respecter of age. It cuts short life even in the womb, not allowing these precious souls to even draw breath, once. It goes after young boys and girls even before they blossom. It has no regard for those in their prime. In all these, there seem to be people who have lived long enough that they have gotten tired of living. And every morning they survive, they curse their god, asking why he(or she) is keeping them from joining their peers.

Advances in medicine and science has not completely contained death and dying to when “desired, ” so people continue to die, just as has been the case since the inception of human history. Life is for the living, sadly, so also is death and dying – for the living.

Think about it, ain’t we even the longer living generation? At least we know when we were born, it’s easier to calculate how long we lived? We have more options of prolonging life. Some of our deaths can be explained, hence, preventing it in others. So really, are we really living shorter lives today?

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