AP Interview: Leakey calls Lucy skeleton tour ‘prostitution’ – Associated Press

August 10th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

NAIROBI, Kenya: Ethiopia’s dispatching of the Lucy skeleton on a six-year-tour of the United States is akin to prostituting the fragile, 3.2 million year-old fossil, paleontologist Richard Leakey said Friday. (more…)

NAIROBI, Kenya: Ethiopia’s dispatching of the Lucy skeleton on a six-year-tour of the United States is akin to prostituting the fragile, 3.2 million year-old fossil, paleontologist Richard Leakey said Friday.

The Lucy skeleton — one of the world’s most famous fossils — was quietly flown out of Ethiopia earlier this week for the U.S. tour. Leakey, one of the world’s best-known fossil hunters, is not the first to criticize what some see as a gamble with an irreplaceable relic. The U.S. Smithsonian Institution also has objected to the tour, and the secretive manner in which the remains were sent abroad has raised eyebrows in Ethiopia, where the public has seen the real Lucy fossil only twice.

“It’s a form of prostitution, it’s gross exploitation of the ancestors of humanity and it should not be permitted,” Leakey told The Associated Press in an interview at his Nairobi office.

Ethiopian officials were not immediately available for comment, but have said in the past that proceeds from the tour would be used to upgrade museums in one of the world’s poorest countries. Dirk Van Tuerenhout, the curator of anthropology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where Lucy will be on display from Aug. 31 to April 20, said this week his museum will use “the utmost care.”

Lucy, the fossilized partial skeleton of what was once a 3 1/2-foot-tall adult of an ape-man species, was discovered in 1974 in the remote, desert-like Afar region in northeastern Ethiopia. Lucy is classified as an Australopithecus afarensis, which lived in Africa between about 3 million to 4 million years ago, and is the earliest known hominid.

The U.S. State Department approved the exhibit for temporary importation into the U.S., saying that display of Lucy and the other artifacts is in the national interest because of their “cultural significance.”

Stops beyond Houston have yet to be finalized, but Ethiopian officials have said they include New York, Denver and Chicago.

Leakey said the skeleton will almost certainly get damaged.

“These specimens will get damaged no matter how careful you are and every time she is moved there is a risk,” he said. “A specimen that is that precious and unique shouldn’t be exposed to the threats of damage by travel.”

He also said keeping Lucy in Ethiopia would lure tourists to the country.

“The point is, what is the benefit of taking one of the most iconic examples of the human story from Africa to parade it around in second-level museums in the United States?” he said.

Leakey is one of the world’s most renowned paleontologists. His team unearthed the bones of Turkana Boy — the most complete skeleton of a prehistoric human ever found — in the desolate, far northern reaches of Kenya in 1984.

He is also a conservationist credited with helping end the slaughter of elephants in Kenya during the 1980s.

  1. Dr Nigussie
    | #1

    Dear country men,
    Priminister Meles Zenawi is prepared to distroy what ever he can lay hand on.The sooner we get rid of him the better it is.He has destroyed Ethiopia more than any plague that distroyed the world.He is one of the most sadist person I have ever seen.He is a real malignant cancer that can destroy the nation.He wants more money to suppress democacy and freedom in Ethiopia.Let us unit and get rid of him as soon as we can!!

  2. kelkay
    | #2

    Is there anyone still thinks that meles and Sebhat group give a cent about Ethiopia? Just stop where you are, breath a deep breath and go back for a moment as far as since 1991. What do you see and feel about the TPLF (meles and Sebhat Group) doing against including the very basic interest of Ethiopia?
    Land locking the oldest country in the world and the second biggest in Africa in terms of population. Disrespecting the citizens as worst as terrorising, blackmailing, falsely accusing, imprisoning, disappearances, vote rigging, killing, looting, spreading hate among the citizens and many other inhuman behaviours are the TPLF’s historical criminal records Ethiopia has mainly for the last 17 years. The meles and sebhat group don’t know and like to call even the name Ethiopia unless they have to describe her with hate and destruction. What they know is identifying the nation with Ethnicity rather than with Ethiopian identity. I have to say that from the TPLF members I have heard recently only from one Individual ‘Gebru Asrat’ calling the name Ethiopia with voice and idea sounding he was/is doing it from his heart and with love and worry about her. If there is love, there is always light and forgiveness. For this reason I forgive him about the past he has done knowingly, forcefully and unknowingly. Forgiveness is the only thing we have to correct the past and build the future.

    The meles and sebhat anti Ethiopian group is doing anything to stay in power to continue with their campaign for the destruction of Ethiopia. To the Meles and sebhat group the Ethiopian flag sounds much less than the close they are wearing comes from looted money from her. They have no even a one-time sight love with Ethiopia. They have a constant and deep hate towards her and her children mainly the important ones. I know for meles who is an evil “Dinknesh” (Lucy) could be less than his Eritrean mother, Banda father and grandfathers from both sides. So, what do you expect from this kind of evil comes from evil family back ground and he is still practising it.

    We have to be careful. Meles and Sebhat group is not representing Ethiopians Living in Tigry either. For this reason we have to consider Ethiopians with Tigry origin victims as the rest of Ethiopia do although the level of the punishment comes not the same way. Tigrians are getting punishments with relate and the kind of family approaches while the rest of Ethiopians are getting with hostility and deep hate. At the end we all are victims of the Meles and Sebhat group that has very limited ability to stay in power if we all Ethiopians confront them with united mind and mussels.

    Dinknesh (Lucy) is found in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is her home. But belongs to the world. She is the world common heritage and treasure. She is the world. The worry about her must not be only for Ethiopians but the world, mainly to the scientists working and living studying and finding her and her likes.

  3. Addis
    | #3

    The scam of Woyane is a lot more than what we see. Any thing that makes them quick hard cash is sold and exchanged. Who are the conspirators here in the US is as important as the robbers in Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian American trade and Investment council, http://www.eatic.orr is one of the front for an ethical Woyane business and the main player to the exhibition and they have a close relationship with some of the Huston city councilpersons. They never return a call to their role nor no one knows what they excatly doing, who fund them and what kind of business they are running in and out of the country.

    It is criminal to fly a delicate Skelton far distance before they even secure the museums except Huston. All Museums should be petitioned to refuse. And the government should also make public how much the deal is for and be accountable.

  4. Jyigzaw
    | #4

    Meles zenawi “the vicious criminal”… You days are numbered not in days or months but it is numbered in a nanosecond.You will face justice in the near future.

  5. dinka
    | #5

    Yes this is political prostitution and Melles is the pimp.We should not sit and wait for this boy when he is selling the soul of our mother Ethiopia.Let us bring him down!!!!!

  6. kendie
    | #6

    There is nothing surprising or unusual any more on the Wayane Government led by Ato Melesse. Every thing is OK for quick cash gain no matter how it can affect the country’s dignity, safety, integrity. What’s the big deal as to shipping one small human remain called Lucy, for Ato Melesse he already slashing the country and a sale sign is posted every where in the market place.
    - Eritrea is cut off from Ethiopia thanks to Ato Melesse
    - Afar region is cut off from Ethiopia thanks to Ato Melesse this again against the will and the outcry of the inhabitant, Afar population, well known to be an ardent Nationalist Ethiopian.
    - We went to war for Badme Tigray just to teach a lesson to his old body and compatriot Ato Issayas of Eritrea, 70 thousands Ethiopian lost their life, afterward, one morning His Imperial, His excellency King of kings Ato melesse Legesse Zenawi awarded the Badme Tigray to Eritrea. What?… It’s only 70 thousands of those…. its nothing more, we have plenty of them, we can afford it, thanks to Ato Melesse
    - For the first time in Ethiopian long history, we went to war to invade another sovereign neighborly state Somalia, thanks to His Imperial Legesse/Melesse
    - Recently His Imperial closed a sale contract with Sudan through his sale agents for a mass of Ethiopian Northern land, thanks to Ato Melesse.

    What the hell… of one, the oldest human remain called Lucy, well the highest bidder will get it, may be a replica of Lucy will go back to Africa Ethiopia. What a shame Ato melesse, if your are not an Ethiopian at least you are for sure an African, I don’t think the Great Britain will consider you as one of its subject, you lost an opportunity while Mr. Blaire was in office. It’s a shameful for the whole of Africa; you don’t have any right to ship this African treasure by the back door without the people’s knowledge.
    Mr. Melesse this is what treason is about, even your rubber stamp parliament was not informed.
    Lucy should remain in Africa / Ethiopia, this is the most degrading way to make quick money, yes Lucy could have greatly benefited Africa / Ethiopia by remaining there in its respected place and attracting tourists from all over the world

  7. | #7

    He sold Eritrea too.

  8. Melaku
    | #8

    As Christian Orthodox I do not believe in evolution. This must be clear, you can lose money but if you lose faith that is the end, I do not worship her like the Darwinian Aba Pawlos as Eve, she is a miss link, take care this might be manipulation of Ethiopian’s psychology to detach as from our religion.

    However, I consider Lucy one of the most prestigious physical treasure on the planet as it is the oldest. It should not have left Ethiopia. I think she is not happy she might request asylum, like all other Ethiopians.

    The pretext of the government is it had been in USA before, but we do not know if the Americans will return the original Lucy, it is lost adios! It is smuggled like the other treasures, now they are also in preparation to excavate in Axum to smuggle treasures, it is a business profitable than mining, after 100 years of archeological research very few artifacts exist and there is no museum they are planning to build condominium. In Ethiopia we do not have the capacity to confirm. He sold it for cheap money; the deal was with former US Ambassador to Ethiopia Tibour Nagger (who is lecturing in Texas now). Ethiopia Name can not be renewed by sending treasure or promotion of truism on TV. The west knows in their heart. The only way to renew Ethiopia is through commitment, handwork, and self confidence of its people. No body was consulted this proofs how the regime in Addis is authoritarian they send you to war, they fire you from job, they kill you on street, they burn you flag, destroy your treasure they are the Millennium “Youdit Gudit the II” This is really prostitution well said Leakey, Thank you

  9. | #9

    For TPLF/Melles and his associates, Lucy is nothing. He is gonna to sell the entire country. Look concrete evidences here. Under the leadership of Mr. Melles, TPLF minority group: 1. He sold Eritrea without getting a single conformity from our people. 2. He is preparing to sell Badimae, which cost the life of 70,000 citizens. 3. Recently, TPLF minority group is also ready to sell land for Sudan’s government. For the past 17 years, we can count so many tragedies that have been committed by TPLF: Such as: Corruption – from TPLF owned companies and others, Ethnocentrism politics, which devastate the unity of the country, Mismanagement and Poor governance, unrestricted power including on judiciary system by Melles+ Sebhat + Bereket and Mesfin, Killing and arresting (approx. 40,000 citizens for their political views: in Deddessa, Tolai, Shewa-Robit, Bir-Sheleko etc….), Any way, let historians to go thoroughly. Ethiopian people will win soon. Yes it is really, “Prostitution”.

    ”All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field”. Albert Einstein

    God bless Ethiopia

    Nahom(TD)

  10. new time
    | #10

    HE will sall his kides,wife any bady to stay in power.

  11. fasika
    | #11

    Oh Guys,

    Didn’t you know that Lucy is found to be member of Kenjit? Let me tell you the secrete. The prosecutor, Kemal presented a vido, computer documents and communication that shows Lucy was conspiring to undertake genocide and toppling the government. The federal court of Ethiopia, after considering the document, found Lucy guilty (please! don’t laugh). And the court decided Lucy should be shot dead at head (even the judges do not know that Lucy is dead). But, Meles, our benevolent leader changed the decision to destory her systematically through travel unless she asks for a pardon and admiting a full responsibility for June and November demonstration. AFP reported that, she might go for the pardon as she don’t want to leave in exile.
    The poor Lucy

    (please, don’t larilliant leader of our time, y.

  12. fasika
    | #12

    Oh Guys,

    Didn’t you know that Lucy is found to be member of Kenjit? Let me tell you the secrete. The prosecutor, Kemal presented a vido, computer documents and communication that shows Lucy was conspiring to undertake genocide and toppling the government. The federal court of Ethiopia, after considering the document, found Lucy guilty (please! don’t laugh). And the court decided Lucy should be shot dead at head (even the judges do not know that Lucy is dead). But, Meles, our benevolent leader changed the decision to destory her systematically through travel unless she asks for a pardon and admiting a full responsibility for June and November demonstration. AFP reported that, she might go for the pardon as she don’t want to leave in exile.
    The poor Lucy

  13. | #13

    Nice read!. Your topic about AP Interview: Leakey calls Lucy skeleton tour ‘prostitution’ needs more comments. I\’d like to spend me Sunday nights reading about texas department of public safety

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