EYEWITNESS: Goodbye Columbus…


…hello the (genocidal) consequences

It seems like only yesterday your Eyewitness was in primary school and he learnt that poem by the Englishman JC Squire about the landing of Columbus on October 12, 1492 – from the perspective of the “Indian” or the Indigenous peoples who he stumbled over. Because this present generation has been exposed to a different perspective on Columbus, he’d like to share the poem in its entirety;

There was an Indian, who had known no change,
Who strayed content along a sunlit beach
Gathering shells. He heard a sudden strange
Commingled noise: looked up; and gasped for speech.
For in the bay, where nothing was before,
Moved on the sea, by magic, huge canoes
With bellying cloths on poles, and not one oar,
And fluttering coloured signs and clambering crews.
And he, in fear, this naked man alone,
His fallen hands forgetting all their shells,
His lips gone pale, knelt low behind a stone,
And stared, and saw, and did not understand,
Columbus’s doom-burdened caravels
Slant to the shore, and all their seaman land.

So here it was, these people had been living on their own terms for thousands and thousands of years but it was all to change after the arrival of what even a member of the English ruling class would call the “doom-burdened caravels”. And doom it was. Columbus had landed on one of the smaller islands in what we now know as The Bahamas. Columbus ironically named it after Christ, “the Saviour) – San Salvador. But the native peoples were anything but “saved” – literally or figuratively.

The “gentle people”, as Columbus described them, along with practically all their other tribes in the Caribbean archipelago from Cuba to Trinidad would be wiped out through the confluence of germs, guns, and steel wielded by the Europeans who followed Columbus. As a contemporary Bartholemew De las Casas wrote, the Indigenous population on Hispaniola, for instance, was reduced from 400,000 to 200 in a few decades. Recently we learnt from news of the hurricane on Dominica, only a few hundred survive there. Elsewhere, they’ve all practically disappeared.

But the destruction and genocidal consequences of those “doomed caravels” didn’t stop there. Today, members of the African Guyanese community are commemorating the genocide inflicted on their ancestors who were hauled across the Atlantic against their will and made to slave on the plantations of the “New World”.

According to Henry Louis Gates, of Harvard University, “Between 1525 and 1866, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America.”
That means at least 1.8 million perished. That’s genocide.

…hello Kafka

Maybe we know the story of Gregor the travelling salesman who wakes up one morning and discovers he’s been transformed into a cockroach? The Metamorphosis. From this new state, of course, Gregor can’t do even the simplest task, much less get on with his life. Which wasn’t much to write home about anyway.

But like anything else, the family adjusted – but not without a fatal dénouement to Gregor. Something “Kafkaesque” like this is playing out with the poor folks of Wales. One morning last December, they woke up and discovered 1700 of their breadwinners were made incapable of earning bread. The country tried to deal with this tragedy – but seems to have now “adjusted”. The Government – following their first horrible act to change the people of Wales from employed to unemployed – is ensuring their death.

The Finance Minister just announced, no job programmes for Wales in their budget but “No new taxes!”
What’s this to the metaphorised folks at Wales, who’ve got no money to be taxed??

…hello loose lips

The Gaming Authority received an application for a casino gambling licence. The confidential info is now in the hands of the AG. But the Gaming Authority head says wasn’t him with the loose lips.
So is he going to just bluster or investigate?


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