Kenya Bishop Demands Removal of Apeman Bones in Museum

Senior clergy have demanded that the bones and skulls of an apeman currently exhibited in Nairobi's National Museum of Kenya be removed from display to prevent young Africans from being corrupted.

"It's creating a big weapon against Christians that's killing our faith," said Bishop Boniface Adoyo, who is leading the hide-the-bones campaign. "When children go to museums they'll start believing we evolved from these apes."

On the other hand, the bishop's remarks have stunned scientists who consider the museum's collection to be unrivalled anywhere else in the world, its fossils including those of the 4 million-year-old apeman, Australopithecus anamensis, the 1.5 million-year-old remains of the Nariokotome boy, the most complete skeleton of an ancient human ever found, and a series of other bones that highlight crucial phases of our evolutionary past.

Many of these fossils were discovered by palaeontologists Louis and Mary Leakey in areas around Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana and are generally regarded as providing stark demonstrations of how our species was shaped by natural selection.

"The church is being ridiculous," said Richard Leakey, the palaeontologists' son. "Its leaders are out of step. Evolution theory is accepted across the world. This is scientific history and Kenya has the best of this evolutional history. Globally, few can match that claim to fame."

The National Museum of Kenya is currently preparing to reopen next year after completing massive EU-funded renovations. As part of that work a special exhibit, The Origins Of Man, which displays the key finds around Africa's Great Rift Valley - considered by many the cradle of humanity - is now being set up.

However, it is this display that African evangelicals say they find offensive, because it promotes Darwin's theory of evolution. As a result, they are demanding that the display be removed or at least shunted to a less prominent location.

"When museums put it out there that man evolved from apes, theologically they are affecting many people who are Christians, who believe God created us," says Bishop Adoyo, the chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, which claims to represent churches of 35 denominations with nine million members.