Even though it's never stated as such, I'd always assumed that the "Southern Folk" (accompanied by their 'oiliphants') were the ancestors of what's become black African.
Yoyo is quite right in stating that there are what seems to you to be gaping holes in the story... ...mainly because The Lord of the Rings is still only a fragment of the Epic Saga of Middle Earth.
The Silmarilian describes the world as it was before the Age of Man...even before Wizards. It fleshes out the mere glimpses of their Mythology, you catch hints of sprinkled throughout all four books.
It tells their Creation Mythology, of ancient wars & alliances, ...Wars between 'Good & Evil", including the story of how the Dark Lord made the RingS of Power that he tricked the Kings of every other Race of Being into accepting & wearing... about how THE One Ring was forged in secret, to bring them all together under HIS Domination.............
I meant the addition of a 'ladyfriend' for Legolas.
It had never occurred to me that Eowyn, 'wanted-to-be-man' as wanting to "As-Good" as a Man...worthy of being the King's Ward. But as "A Shield-Maiden" which is seen as acceptable & honorable among the Nordic races, ..which (to her mind) would be seen as desirable to Aragorn (since she had no idea of his preference for the hyper-lady-like Arwen Evenstar.)
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