Colonisers vs. folks back home

My closest friend, an English migrant, had been taught in school that the British were in all of those places on the world map coloured pink in order to teach the natives how to govern themselves. In reality, they (like all European colonisers) were exploiting the land, undermining local cultures and the associated religions through enthusiastic missionaries collecting coloured souls to the bosom of a coloured Christ (although he looked a little pale in various depictions), and damaging the local economy.

Imported goods from Britain replaced locally-produced goods. What was now grown locally was needed back home, or to enhance trade with other places. Disgustingly, opium was grown in India to be ‘shoved down the necks’ of the Chinese people (to coin a phrase)! The colonial mentality was neither Christian nor moral. This encapsulates the slave trade.

One might wonder at the grand homes ‘back home.’ How many of these were built from the proceeds of piracy, slavery, and colonial rapacity?

Fortunately for mankind, the ordinary people back home seemed untouched by all that immoral behaviour. My sisters and other relatives found them, by and large, to be ordinarily nice people. The descendants of the buccaneers, not all of whom would have become wealthy, may have been the exceptions.

Indeed, in White Australia, I found some ‘common-garden’ people of British stock strangely rude about my religion (primarily), my culture (communal values, food), and accent. They seemed to have a great need to express their assumed superiority – an attitude of the ignorant coloniser or invader of an imagined ‘terra nullius’ Australia.

Strangely, a couple of retired colonial officials I met were quite discomfited when I told them that we colonial subjects were not grateful for the intrusion of foreigners in our lives. I was accused by one of them of being ‘prejudiced’!  How could any self-respecting person not be prejudiced about foreign control.

Against that, all former colonial officials I have known (a couple and their wives as friends) were indeed nice people. This would suggest that those my elders described as ‘upstarts’ might have belonged to the lowest echelon. I guess that humanity is the same everywhere; and that power can corrupt.

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There are no human races

The Oxford Dictionary, no doubt reflecting usage in a now-historical period, defines race as reflecting common descent. Today, in any modern nation in the world, in any large metropolis, what are the chances of finding closely-bonded communities of common descent? Are we not all happily jumbled up?

In East Asia, apart possibly for the people of Japan, would there not be a substantial conglomeration of Korean, Manchurian, Mongolian, and other ethnic peoples all genetically blended with the Chinese over the millennia?

If shared origins are relevant (for whom?), why not use the nation of birth as a defining characteristic? Indeed, what is the difficulty in defining peoples by their specific ethnicity, by their tribal roots, if these have not been modified by inter-marriage? In truth, who amongst us can claim to be of pure genetic origin?

The Oxford Dictionary also refers to a race of nobles, Orientals, poets, and such-like – such imprecision! Does common usage, that is, loose language, warrant inclusion in a book of reference? Imagine sanctifying the innovative phraseology of real estate agents and sports commentators!

My recent post Race – genetic or cultural was triggered by an article sent to me by a friend, which speculated about the genetic or social bases of the concept of race. Has anyone found a genetic basis of defining race?

In the immediate post-Second World War Two period, when the U.N. and its agencies began to gird their loins, there was a valiant effort to classify humanity thus: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. What was the basis of this? Geography, associated with skin colour? How scientific was this? I am not aware of any societal basis for ‘race.’

As a descendant of the ‘Caucasians,’ I know that, when our colouration is washed out, many of us would fit into some part of Europe. Indeed, when people sharing my ethno-cultural heritage marry white people, the offspring tend to lose their colour. What a terrible loss! (Heh, heh!). Fancy adding to the population of ‘palefaces.’

The description ‘race’ is a misnomer. There is no place for it in our lexicon.

Racial distinctions – genetic or cultural?

Neither! ‘Race’ was a political construct. Europeans who went out to dominate all mankind about 5 centuries ago disported a coppery tinge to a whitish skin colour. They were deficient in the production of melanin.

Since about 85% of the human population on the globe was once said to be coloured, how did the Europeans miss out? It appears that, about 40,000 years ago, a blast of cosmic radiation bathed the people around the Tropic of Cancer, destroying their capacity to produce melanin.

This will explain why the East Asians, once described by the militarily-superior white people as ‘yellow,’ are more cleanly white than the northern Europeans. Are all humans now ‘coloured’?

West of East Asia are whitish people spread in a ring around the globe who are slightly tanned. The  Mediterranean peoples are comparable to the Caucasians and to those further east on the same global parallels.

Some of my own extended family are very lightly tanned. While our tribal origin is Ceylon, it appears that the Dravidian peoples (including Ceylon Tamils) may have originated in the north of the Indian subcontinent. Skin colour enhances the probability of this origin.

Is there any evidence of tribes fighting one another purely on the basis of skin colour? On the contrary, it was the European colonisers who coined the concept of race, with the ‘white race’ being claimed to be genetically superior to all other ‘races.’ What puffery! On-going miscegenation (for all manner of reasons) rules; no skin can claim to be superior.

I had expected that once these former superior Europeans had returned to normality, we would all mind our own business. I was wrong! The whole colonial gang has rushed back together into Asia to re-arrange borders and rulers, as once they had as individual nations. Now, it is all overtly political, not resource-related.

‘Race’ is no more. Now, culture wars, based on who has the better god, are destroying millions of innocent civilians. Human rights, anyone?

 

Buccaneers and pirates

When, as a schoolboy, I read that a government in England had bestowed a knighthood upon the admiral of a fleet which had persistently robbed Spanish ships on the high seas, I was intrigued. Was that not piracy? The Spanish ships had been carrying the loot from the cultures of Central and South America.

The British did carry out their own looting, especially from the wealthy princes of India. Looting was obviously a cheap form of expropriation. I have read that many a crown in Britain carries most impressively large precious stones (no doubt ‘gifted’). This reminds me that, while honourable men like Nehru had been jailed for seeking independence for India, the Viceroy of India (an Englishman) had donated a very large sum of money to the Kaiser of India (the King of England) to help in the war effort against Hitler.

Whether the buccaneers from other, equally small, colonising European nations reaped comparatively large amounts of decorative wealth, I do not know.

However, I do remember my elders speaking about the brutality of European colonisers in Asia. Yet, I remember being taught (from a British curriculum) how some nice English people had been killed by brutal Indians in the Black Hole of Calcutta, an event denied by the Indians. Nehru then reminded us (in his “Glimpses of World History”) about the massacre by General Dyer of Indians protesting peacefully for independence. Remarkably, we were also taught that the Indians lived on the ‘smell of an oily rag.’

The main purpose in sailing onto dangerous seas in necessarily small ships manned by courageous men is trade. Indian traders, followed later by Arab traders, reportedly sailed (using the so-called trade winds) all along the coast, allegedly all the way to Europe. I think that it was Nehru who wrote that Vasco da Gama had been shown the route around the southern tip of Africa by Indian sailors he had met in Lisbon.

Did the Indians, Arabs, Chinese and African traders set up trading posts in the lands of other peoples (as did the European traders), expand into fortresses, and then proceed to conquer adjacent lands, and dominate – ‘lord it’ – over the ‘native’ peoples?

With the powerful armaments available, did not the Europeans ‘progress’ from trader to buccaneer, to coloniser? The agents of the East India Companies in situ apparently did well as buccaneering colonisers. I remember reading that the tinted sons of the more successful of the buccaneers sent their sons to good schools in England; and that there then arose such quaint phrases as ‘ having a touch of tar’ and there being ‘a nigger in the woodpile.’ And the great Churchill was reported to have described Gandhi as ‘that nigger’ when the latter was negotiating for independence.

Most strangely, during my first month in Australia, apart from asking me whether we sat on furniture, and other question of like intent, a fellow student, who spoke with a ‘plum in his mouth,’ said to one all that the ‘nigger Gandhi ought to be shot’! No one responded.

He was only the son of an Irish-Australian surgeon. How pretentious could one be, even to a former colonial subject?

Did colonialism benefit or harm Africa?

Did Colonialism benefit or harm Africa?

Emmanuel Francis says ‘Harm’ in the website ‘Quora’

“You may have heard that the coming of the colonialists put an end to the death of twins and human sacrifice, that is true in the handful of civilizations across Africa that practiced it, to others the colonizers’s arrival set back political institutions, female rights and human rights in general.

The colonizers brought with them, their religions of Islam and Christianity, this has all but destroyed African culture as various cultural artifacts were destroyed in their wake. African names, dresses, even hair were considered inferior and barbaric, even worse that colonial mentality of African inferiority still persists in Sub-Saharan Africa today.

Thirdly, I can’t emphasise this enough for my fellow Africans who have the misguided idea that the colonisers brought improved government systems to Africa, it is a myth! African political institutions were equal to any to be found in the world at the time. The Egyptian/Aksum civilizations are more popular, but let us move it to the 19th century which in my opinion is the high-point of African civilization, even now we’re yet to surpass them.

In Northern Africa, you had Muhammad Ali’s Egypt holding sway across the middle-east, from the Sudan to the very gates of Constantinople, he was able to organise a bureaucracy that effectively taxed his populace, was the world’s leading exporter of cotton(due to the American Civil War) and was able to lead an army of 80,000 on wars of conquest in the Sudan, Greece and Syria.

In the East you have Ethiopia, who after Tewodros(Theodore) II’s reforms was able not only to conduct the first massive road construction projects in East Africa but later under Johannes IV muster an army of 200,000 to stop Egyptian and Mahdist invasions, but famously defeat the Italians at Adwa, you also had Sayyid Said’s Zanzibar who controlled both Oman the Eastern African coastline which in turn made Zanzibar the Indian trade’s premier port, in the South you had Shaka’s famous war machine and the various political and social changes of the Mfecane, you also had the Buganda where a young Captain Lugard was to get his ideas of indirect rule from.

In Western Africa( a bit biased here) you had the greatest of all African civilizations, from the ancient kingdom’s of Borno. Mali, Ghana and ofcourse Songhai(of Mansa Musa fame) to the Oyo and the Benin Empires. In the 19th century you had the theocratic states of Sokoto and Masina. You also had my vote for West African of all times, Samori Toure who was able to craft a bureaucracy that could create a second empire while holding off French imperialism, manufacture his own arms for defense and lay out a plan for successful resistance of colonizers.

You had the Asante who not only defeated the British multiple times but were a confederacy who successfully disproved 300 years ago the current idiotic theory some of our present politicians have that myriad nations can not be forged into one! You had the Dahomey who despite being vassals of Oyo and later militarily dominated by Abeokuta still managed to craft a richer. more successful state than their successor states of Benin and Togo have managed so far to do.

In mentioning empires and kingdoms, I don’t give enough credit to the more decentralised states like the Igbo!, the Ibibio who practiced and evolved their forms of direct democracy and successfully created systems of war, diplomacy, art, societal norms, literature and trade with their neighbours at a time when their would be colonizers languished in a period they would call “the dark ages”.

Do all of the above look like people who needed the “civilizing influence of outsiders”? Colonization’s equivalent would have been European states attacking America after 1776 and sending into slavery while extracting all the resources of the Americas not for the benefit of the owners but for that of the colonizers for more than a century. P.S I avoided mentions of the various civilizations such as Kongo and the Zimbabwean kingdoms(not my field).”

A view of African history

Impressed with the wisdom of African cultures, I sought the presentation of African history from the perspectives of African writers. I am deeply aware, as a former colonial subject, of the distortion of Asian history by Europeans of the colonial kind.

The extracts below are from an article dated November 2014 on the website Silicon Africa by Mawuna Remarque Kutonin. Its title is ‘100 African Cities Destroyed By Europeans: WHY there are seldom historical buildings and monuments in sub-Saharian Africa!’

 

“When tourists visit sub-Saharan Africa, they often wonder “Why there are no historical buildings or monuments?”

The reason is simple. Europeans have destroyed most of them. We have only left drawings and descriptions by travelers who have visited the places before the destructions. In some places, ruins are still visible. Many cities have been abandoned into ruin when Europeans brought exotic diseases (smallpox and influenza) which started spreading and killing people. The ruins of those cities are still hidden. In fact the biggest part of Africa history is still under the ground.” …

“The collection of facts regarding the state of african cities before their destruction is done by Robin Walker, a distinguished panafricanist and historian who has written the book ‘When We Ruled’, and by PD Lawton, another great panafricanist, who has an upcoming book titled “African Agenda”. …

“Many drawings are from the book African Cities and Towns Before the European Conquest by Richard W. Hull, published in 1976. That book alone dispels the stereotypical view of Africans living in simple, primitive, look-alike agglomerations, scattered without any appreciation for planning and design.

In fact, at the end of the 13th century, when a european traveler encountered the great Benin City in West Africa (present Nigeria, Edo State), he wrote as follows:

“The town seems to be very great. When you enter into it, you go into a great broad street, not paved, which seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes street in Amsterdam…The Kings palace is a collection of buildings which occupy as much space as the town of Harlem, and which is enclosed with walls. There are numerous apartments for the Prince`s ministers and fine galleries, most of which are as big as those on the Exchange at Amsterdam. They are supported by wooden pillars encased with copper, where their victories are depicted, and which are carefully kept very clean. The town is composed of thirty main streets, very straight and 120 feet wide, apart from an infinity of small intersecting streets. The houses are close to one another, arranged in good order. These people are in no way inferior to the Dutch as regards cleanliness; they wash and scrub their houses so well that they are polished and shining like a looking glass.” (Source: Walter Rodney, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, pg. 69)” … …

“Sadly, in 1897, Benin City was destroyed by British forces under Admiral Harry Rawson. The city was looted, blown up and burnt to the ground. A collection of the famous Benin Bronzes are now in the British Museum in London. Part of the 700 stolen bronzes by the British troops were sold back to Nigeria in 1972.

Here is another account of the great Benin City regarding the city walls “They extend for some 16 000 kilometres in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They cover 6500 square kilometres and were all dug by the Edo people. In all, they are four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. They took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.” Source: Wikipedia, Architecture of Africa.” Fred Pearce the New Scientist 11/09/99.”

(Comment: Quite a different perspective from the history taught to us. What I find interesting is that the rapacious colonial peoples came from small countries of no consequence, in human terms, before and after colonialism.)

 

 

 

The drivers of Destiny

Anxiety is the underlying, basal level of human consciousness (or awareness of being alive) on Earth. Is it not a Destiny-driven imperative? Being pushed out of the security-surrounds of the womb into a glare of light and noise, and being handled by many hands, would instill the anxiety required by Nature for survival.

Reincarnation, or re-birth of a soul, would involve (according to Hinduism) leaving the peaceful ambience of the Afterlife to experience another life on Earth. This process would have been established by our Creator.

The imperative of reincarnation is explicable. A freshly-created soul would be polished, through multiple Earth-experiences, to its moral potential. The soul would eventually return to the Ocean of Consciousness (or the all-pervasive aether of existence). Is this process also not one of the drivers of human Destiny?

I do not believe that this conceptual framework contradicts the teachings of mankind’s great religious teachers. Devoid of the diverse and divisive dogma constructed after their demise, their teachings share two core guiding principles: that there is only one god for all creation; and that, as co-created, we humans are morally bonded to one another. We arise from the one source and return to that source. Is this not another driver of Destiny?

A significant driver of Destiny would be the submerged memory of past lives embedded in human souls. These must instinctively influence the way we paddle, as we are carried by our individual Destiny streams, and as these intersect and interact with the Destiny streams of others. I suspect that, just as there are nested fields of force in the realm of physics, there are nested Destiny streams covering all of mankind.

Just as we respond unconsciously to the streams of cosmic radiation buffeting us, and react consciously to the pressures of society, we would relate to the influences of intersecting past-life Destiny streams subconsciously. We do not need to remind ourselves that all life is inter-connected. Subtle past-life links will manifest themselves. I write from experience.

The major driver of human progress is indubitably the learning acquired through the progression of personal destinies through repeated reincarnation. The ubiquitous law of cause and effect enables each of us to determine our future lives through each past life. In each life, we are, through free will, free to benefit from the opportunity to learn (or not)!

Regrettably, there is no evidence that there is much of this learning taking place. Does this reflect a global, or even a cosmic, Destiny?

Is that most challenging cosmology, Hindu cosmology, correct – or even indicative? If relevant, what drives those cycles of Destiny, the all-encompassing cycle covering 3.11 trillion years?