Two planes, one snarky flight attendant, and 16 hours later, I had finally begun my descent into the land of flies and famine— just kidding. Although, if your naivety gets the best of you, then for 16 hours you’d probably try stuffing your face with as much plane food those carts can carry. And although admittedly, I did load up on those tasty sandwiches and free wine, that wasn’t the reason. With a combination of what I’ve grown up watching, and what close friends who’ve spent their childhoods and summers there have told me, I wanted to see for myself just how much I could fall in love in with the place.
So just under 13,000 miles later, I had now taken my first, highly anticipated, step onto the land that Kunta Kinte had feverishly called out for in the mini-series Roots. The first step was the sweetest, followed by a second step, which was a hard declaration that there was no holding me back now. By the third step, I was running to the bus with excitement.
And if by now you’ve read pass all the breadcrumbs I’ve laid, and still can’t determine where I had taken my trip, then the answer is Africa—South Africa to be exact. I spent two weeks there with a close group of friends, and strangers, who by the end of the trip, would have no problem getting a seat at the table. Throughout our two week stay, we explored some of South Africa’s most beautiful places and even experienced firsthand some of the countries most controversial troubles. From trips to the local markets, exploring the home where Nelson Mandela raised his family and immersing myself in the local culture, it was quite an experience. Yet, strangely, during one of our many safari trips through the game reserves of the Hluhluwe- Imfolozi Park and Kruger National Park, I found myself not only in awe of the animals in their natural habitats but also perplexed at how they reminded me so much of humans.
For as far as the eye could stretch, there were animals like impalas, zebras, elephants, hyenas, and rhinos all roaming freely…and loving freely. At one point during the game drive, our tour guide casually stopped the van, amongst what seemed like 100 impalas, to mention how a lot of animals will have many partners throughout life. When asked why, he simply stated that once procreation was over, it was just natural to part ways. Basically, there are no hard feelings, just a mutual understanding that it is what it is. And guess what? Their world isn’t threatened. There are no arguments, there’s no fighting, and female animals aren’t doing pop-ups at the watering hole.
It was perplexing and intriguing. I think I was the only person in that van whose mind was spinning. To see animals exhibit behaviors that we as people try to suppress is revolutionary in thought. Sure monogamy is a beautiful concept, but is it realistic? It seems like every other day there’s news of another couple splitting due to infidelity, which leads to the question of why. Are people more likely to step out due to high levels of promiscuity, is money the motive, or is it just incompatibility at its finest?
Well according to an article posted on Greatist, “people with a specific type of dopamine (the pleasure-reward neurotransmitter) receptor gene reported being more sexually promiscuous and were 50 percent more likely to cheat on a spouse.” So if not mistaken, maybe the next time you hear your significant other say, “baby I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me,” it’s worth believing. Plus, there are over seven billion people on planet earth…is it so crazy to believe that someone will cease and desist developing a connection with other people for the remainder of their lives? For instance, Kevin Hart, one of Philly’s renowned funny guys, recently cheated on his wife Eniko Hart. This is a woman that Hart often referred to as his “rib.” Yet, they hadn’t even reached the “seven-year itch”, a slump that people fall into when they are restless or dissatisfied with married life before the wedding vows were broken.
As a society, we see that type of stuff all the time splashed across the front page of newspapers, television screens, and even fall witness to it in our households. It can make you wonder, why so many of us continue to take that chance. With only about 3 percent of the mammal population practicing monogamy, it's interesting to know why they do it. One study shows that “the risk of infanticide by rival males was the driving force that led to monogamy being established in some primates, including humans.” A long time ago, monogamy wasn’t established as a way to declare an everlasting bond with someone, but to establish protection. This means that the men stuck around as way to prevent other male animals from harming their offspring— not an attached feeling for their partner. I guess generations of people have gotten the initial purpose confused. Being that monogamous relationships don’t stem from romanticism, is perhaps why some people find it hard to apply it to their romantic relations. It just isn’t in people’s DNA to stay put with another person.
For years, monogamy has been a topic of discussion amongst groups. And while people have argued the various sides, there’s still a great divide amongst us. And despite my tone, my viewpoint is neither pro or anti the subject. I’m just as torn as the next person. However, the idea that everyone has a wild side makes more sense to me now.