A Short History of Migration

Friday 27th May

Now now children, sit still and listen to teacher.  Yes, even you ‘Noisy Nigel’ at the back, stop talking; sit down and sip your beer like a good boy.

The subject for today is human migration.  Now then, things were different many years ago, not that many records were kept and we are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, but it is something like this.

We all started in Africa, probably in the Rift Valley in East Africa.  We know this because our DNA can be traced right back there. There were only a few thousand of the first humans and being inquisitive they soon moved out of their home trees and started wandering all over Africa and into what we now call the Middle East and then to Europe and Asia and even over to America and Australia, and actually there is barely an island in the vast Pacific Ocean which is not populated by Human Beings.

For most of the first few million years people were moving around, following herds of animals and eating whatever they found, but around ten thousand years ago they started farming and settled down in one spot waiting for the crops to ripen.  This was called Civilisation and created the concept of Ownership, both of things and food and land; before that people more or less shared stuff.  But if you think that this settling down stopped people moving about you couldn’t be more mistaken.  Moving about or ‘Migration’ as it is now called has always been with us.  The records from Greek and Roman times show huge flows of people, as Cities rose and fell people followed for work or wealth, or sometimes just as slaves.

Then in what has wrongly been termed ‘The Dark Ages’ people continued moving from one bit of land to another, raping and pillaging aside it was often to find a better piece of land, in other words – The Vikings and Saxons and even the Normans were simply economic migrants.

About five hundred years ago Europeans ‘discovered’ America, and even though there were numerous tribes of indigenous people already there the uneducated Europeans decided to conquer these savage lands.  Wave after wave of people from Europe, often poor and dispossessed, crossed the Atlantic and settled in what is now America.  And guess what children; they made it the richest country on earth.  And that has been the story of migration through the ages, it almost always enriches the country people move to.

Now, in the last Century things got a bit more complicated and we started counting the numbers of people moving from one country to another, something we really hadn’t bothered doing too well before.   And people are getting all hot and bothered about the numbers.  Those who have lived in one country all their life sometimes think that anyone not born there shouldn’t be able to come and live and work in ‘their’ country.  But most of these people actually came from somewhere else, if you go back far enough.  We are all Migrants on this planet – that is the simple truth.  And nothing will stop these migrations, in fact with the Internet and better education more and more young people all over the world are deciding to go and live somewhere else.  And leaving the European Union will not stop this happening, and actually most of the new people arriving in our own country have come from other places not from Europe.

Nigel, did you hear all that?  Can you please wipe that ridiculous smile off your face and answer me?  Honestly sometimes it is like talking to a brick wall.  And Boris, leave that pretty girl alone and pay attention too, sometimes I think you are never going to grow up.

That is all for today children, time for lunch – ooh Curry and Chips today, I can’t wait.