This is a true story. My name is Rugendo.
I am a strong, proud leader of my tribe; but I can also be shy and introverted. We live in paradise on a diverse, mostly vegetarian diet consisting of many fruits and vegetables. Wild celery is my favourite food. My tribe is creative and proficient in the art of weaving. We are self sufficient and preserve the land which supports us. We could engage in trade but there is no need.
As I age I plan for my son to take over leadership. Leadership transitions are often smooth although sometimes violent. Our family members form strong, loyal relationships with each other. Young females have the freedom to choose when they leave their family to find their partners and when to engage in sexual relationships.
As the strongest male, I am the polygamous leader of my tribe with many wives and children. Sometimes our tribe practices infanticide. Of course you do not approve, but our resources are limited and I want many of my own children.
I have cousins who are not as strong as me but who possess a tendency towards extreme violence. In most cultures men kill other humans 20 times more often than women do. It is similar with my cousins. They can be greedy, angry and homicidal. They are more like you than us.
These cousins are politically astute. Sometimes weak males hold onto leadership of their tribe by forming alliances with other weaker males who do not desire leadership but act collectively to stop undesirable others from taking over.
Like us, our cousins form closely-knit loyal families who care for each other. Their tribal leaders prefer older female members of the tribe as they make better lovers and better parents. Despite their extreme violence they are clever and have developed a vast array of herbal medicines to cure their sick.
I have another set of cousins who live far away. They are non-violent and extremely sexually promiscuous. The females, who are well known for their bisexuality and enthusiasm for group sex, lead the tribe. Although English is not our first language one of my lowland cousins has a 1000-word vocabulary and communicates easily with his English friend.
This is a true story. My name is Rugendo. I am a gorilla.
I am cousin of the chimpanzee, bonobo and orangutan. We are an-other nation who have lived peacefully and sustainably on Earth for millions of years, developing complex societies in the wild. My tribe lives quietly in peace and harmony and want for nothing more than to be left alone.
In your lifetime we are likely to be confined to zoos.
Geoff Lamberton is a senior lecturer in ethics and sustainability at Southern Cross University.
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