Tag Archives: native americans

Poem: Whose Myth is True?

After hundreds

Of thousands

Of millions of years

We have evolved to Homo de spirituali dominus

– Man, master of spirituality!

We got more than one good book:

Qur’an, Vedas and Guru Granth Sahib,

Tripitaka and Torah

As well as the Bible

To spell out the will of God

In six different shades of black & white,

Save us from the scary black darkness,

Keep us in the pwetty white light.

Walk toward and into the light,

And death is guaranteed to be better

Than this Devil’s Domain called

Life.

But!

Backtrack to the days of BC – Before Clerics

Were afraid of their religions’ origins,

Before pagan was redefined from local & home-grown to

Spiritual Atavism To All Nations,

The world believed in different myths:

Before heaven & hell were spiritual destinations for the dead

One was the searing red ocean beneath the land,

The other the vast blue roof where birds flirted with clouds.

Blue was a foreign colour to most tongues, anthropologists believe

But I think people were smarter than that.

On the far East side we had guardian dragons

Raining good fortune and education on us from above,

While angels’ Assyrian ancestors hunted us like birds of prey.

The skies of Zambia, Angola & Congo are windows to prehistory

Because they still see pterodactyls!

Ala was an Igbo goddess as well as an Arab god,

At the tip of Africa’s horn the world was balanced on the horns of a bull

Tethered in front of the cow he loved –

Maybe the common ancestor of the Egyptian sky-cow,

As Somalis & Ethiopians were the common ancestors of Egyptians?

The Slavic sun is too lazy to inhabit the sky,

She lives on an island served by the 4 winds,

Long before Avraham preached fear of God

Inuktitut (Eskimos) preached fear of everything!

Kaluli women are the mothers of Mother Nature,

Men only have supremacy because

A male snake ate an Aboriginal goddess’s daughters,

But Chinese emperors were legally required

REQUIRED

To sexually satisfy 121 women in 15 nights!

Modern Indians caste their devotion toward fair skin

When they used to believe darker = holier.

Asian Indians meant their own skins,

American “Indians” meant that of Africans

But both stopped once pale-skins

Installed themselves in positions of superiority.

Complex, I know.

The disciples had never heard of Jesus,

Their messiah’s name was Ieshua,

Freedom fighter to them, to Roman powers terrorist.

Science and maths hadn’t yet tested the theory that

Virginity + pregnancy = impossibility,

But we had the Greek intelligence to know daemons could be

Good, evil or don’t give a shit

And the Judean intelligence to know Satan was just doing his God-given job

– But given by which God?

The New Testament one who so loved the world

He agreed with Caiaphas that

It’s better for one man to perish in place of the nation,

Sent his Judean heir to die for Gentiles’ royal screw-ups?

Or the Old Testament one who smote the world

Then remembered to keep Noah alive,

Knows idols can’t hurt him but admits

I am a jealous god?

Whose god is true?

Whose myth is true?

© One Tawny Stranger, July 2015

More properly called slaves, part 3

This post may seem insignificant in the greater picture of the TAST, but I feel it goes a long way to setting the scene of the early slaves in north America. It’s basically the story of Fort St George (the American one, not the Indian one), built in 1607 by some of these enslaved Englishmen.

What’s so important about this fort? It was one of the most hated features of English rule in America, and for good reason as you’ll read below.

Judging from the blueprints left behind it would’ve been a really sturdy powerful edifice – but it was deserted and left to crumble well before completion!

Why?

In the early 1600s England was realising that allowing individual entrepreneurs to try their luck in the ‘New World’ was a mistake. They all got too greedy and ultimately failed. The solution was to use the newly-invented concept of joint stock companies; that way there’d be more benefit for more people and less chance of failure. Thus colonialism was reignited in 1602 by

Bartholomew Gosnold, a good friend of both Richard Hakluyt and Walter Raleigh. At this point England hadn’t yet worked out that they wouldn’t find gold in north America, despite Gosnold’s expeditions not uncovering a scrap of evidence for the existence of a single mine! Somehow his expeditions still sparked in the popular imagination legends of cities made of gold and the Spanish El Dorado (golden man)!

Huh? I thought El Dorado was a place!?!

Then came along Sir John Popham (remember him at the end of the last post?). He was the principal investor in the northern Plymouth division of the Virginia company, while his rival Thomas Smythe was the treasurer of the southern London division. Popham came from money; he was born into an affluent family in Somerset, read law at Balliol College in Oxford and was called to the Bar!

Regardless, in his 20s he was a heavy gambler, alcoholic and HIGHWAYMAN – yes, a common robber! One rumour of the day claimed he was also a garrotter, someone who murders by strangulation/ breaking the neck. And somehow he was NEVER caught! Then in his 30s he decided that he could make just as much money legally and put his law education to use. That’s when he gained the attention of Queen Lizzy; she made him Speaker of the House, then Attorney General, then Lord Chief Justice.

He was just as barbaric as a judge as he’d been as a highwayman. He was the one who sentenced our boy Raleigh to death, was involved in the trial of Mary Queen of Scots AND had Guy Fawkes hanged! In fact he loved hanging people, so much he became known as the hanging judge – except women, they’d be crushed or strangled then burnt at the stake. He hung damn near everybody, including Jesuits, Puritans, Catholic priests and other highwaymen! People feared him, not just for his mercilessness but also for his face – he was a big ugly fucker, with coldness pouring from his bullying eyes.

Just because he’d turned to the side of the law didn’t make him virtuous by any means though. Like all other Elizabethan judges, if the price was right he was willing to let a few minor – and major – crimes slide. Perhaps the best example is one of his cases; a midwife had gone to a client’s house to deliver a baby when a masked man burst into the house, grabbed the newborn baby and threw it into the fireplace! The masked man was caught and identified, but he got away with it scot-free because he gave Popham his mansion – Littlecote House, Wiltshire!

But despite his otherwise ruthless methods of execution and reputation he never managed to eliminate crime, so in his late 50s he focused his attention on colonisation of the Americas. In 1597 he pushed through a new Vagrancy Act (see previous post) to have persistent criminals banished, but it was only in 1602 that he drew up an order stating where to banish them to! They were to be dumped in

“Newfoundland, East and West Indies, France, Germany, Spain and the Low Countries or any of them.”

In short, everywhere away from us.

Some time later he added Virginia to the list. In 1605-06 Popham came up to then Attorney General Sir Edward Coke and proposed using America as a dustbin for England’s unwanted. Coke agreed. However the Spanish Ambassador to London, Don Pedro de Zúñiga, was scared it could threaten Spain’s interests in America.

Stay offa ma property!!!

He was promptly reassured it wouldn’t happen, the order was just to get rid of England’s crooks.

In 1606, Popham and his friend Ferdinando Gorges (who was English, despite his Spanish name) did a trial voyage. They used 29 prisoners and 2 captured native Americans as guides. The voyage flopped, mainly because the captain Henry Challons went the “safe” traditional route – south along the west African coast then veering westward* instead of directly west as Popham ordered. They ran into a Spanish fleet, the ship was captured, and the whole crew were turned into galley slaves. (Un)luckily, Popham & Gorges were never aboard the ship and weren’t affected by the mishap. Of course Popham made no attempt to get them back; like he’d really go out of his way to rescue a bunch of criminals!

* It was pretty common knowledge back then, especially to west Africans, that you could reach America from west Africa – either on purpose or by accident since the westward currents were so strong and predictable. See Ivan Van Sertima’s They came before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America for clarification, ISBN 9780812968170. 

The next year they did a second trial voyage, this time with 120 men and 2 ships. Again Popham and Gorges were absent. Popham had given special instructions to the ships’ captains, only to be revealed upon landing. Once they landed and gave thanks to God, those secret instructions were given –

Find gold or your white asses are banished in Virginia!!! (or something to that effect)

The prisoners were set to work on the fort as well. At this point it makes sense to name the ships’ captains: Humphrey Gilbert’s son Raleigh Gilbert, and John Popham’s nephew George Popham. While nowhere near as deadly as his uncle (some reckoned he was quite timid) no-one dared refuse; just the name Popham was enough to send waves of terror tearing through their bones like earthquakes! Their only alternative was to go back to England to be hanged, or re-imprisoned then hanged. After weeks of failure and setbacks* they finally got a report from Abenake natives claiming there was a huge stretch of water only a week’s walk away.

* Much of which was the colonists’ own fault. After an incident where 4 native men were dragged on board one of the ships by their hair, their compatriots attacked. Unsurprisingly.

This turned out to be bollocks. The natives knew these invaders were so stupid they’d scurry like bloodhounds at the faintest mention of gold.

Just point south, say gold and they run like dogs! LOL

At some point during this scurry George died, fully believing he’d finally secured the English presence in America. Raleigh then took over the project temporarily, but suddenly packed up his stuff and went home! WHY? Because he’d received news that his brother John had died and left him his estate!!! Then news came that John Popham himself had also died, at which point EVERYONE packed up and went home! Whatever of the fort had been built was left to crumble.

And that’s the story of how Fort St George never got completed.

However, that’s not the end of the ‘white’ slavery story. That was just the northern Plymouth division. The southern London division had a different fate…

Back to Part 2

On to Part 4

Solitary Victory

(Apologies for such a long gap since my last post. Hope this new story makes up for it! Also available at: http://www.wattpad.com/86363587-solitary-victory?d=ud)

A rat sprinted across the floor as the young woman lay on the mouldy mattress mulling over her predicament. Moonlight cascaded into the cell. Normally this would comfort her.

But not today.

Today she wanted the shadows to envelop her, to clothe and protect her from reality.

Her imprisonment was yesterday and it stuck in her mind’s eye as fresh as if it were still happening. Justice Pooterledge’s sentence rang like church bells:

“Mrs. Nikopolis, you have been found guilty as charged of the crimes of:

  • interrupting the executions of several hundred enemies of the Law,
  • consistent refusal to pay citizenship tax,
  • non-satirical ridicule and criticism of His Holy Excellency Majesty Carters,
  • and claiming the existence of a social order superior to ours,

all of which contravene the Pan-American Anti-Terrorism Act of 2056, dictum 1043.1. I hereby sentence you to death by flaming crucifixion at noon, December 24th 2099.”

“Tomorrow,” she whispered to herself, tears hanging suspended from her lower eyelids. She untied her headwrap and dabbed them away, which only served to send them cascading down her auburn cheeks. Try as she might, she could no longer hold the full torrent of recent events out of her memory. Husband and all three children shot dead by police, and house burnt down by an angry mob convinced she was the enemy of Pan-America.

And she didn’t want to die, not like this! Not when so many fellow Afro- and native American citizens were being subjected to her fate daily and she was still alive to stop it! But how could she stop it now?!?

After some hours of manic sorrow and subdued rage, the tears dried out. She unfurled and hoisted herself off the mouldy mattress, and her usual gentle unthreatening face she disposed of. She forced herself to the bars of the cell door, her gaze piercing the hinges and walls for any structural weaknesses. Nothing. And the bars were too close together to let her slip through.

Gaze pierced the window. Nothing.

Floor. Nothing.

Ceiling. Nothing.

Walls again. Nothing!

“What the hell?” she screamed. Her blood buzzed with desperation and indignation, her limbs began to quiver and her newfound scowl tightened.  Her hands ached to grab something, to seize control of this hellish environment, seize control of her life.

Nothing!

Except the bed…

Good enough! She tore away the mattress, hoisted the solid metal frame into her arms, and with Herculean strength she swung the frame at the bars.

BANG!

Steel reverberated against steel, the clang was deafening! She dragged the bedframe back into her arms and hammered the bars with it again, silently thanking God she was in solitary confinement and the guards had all gone home.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

Another hour or so passed. The noise was muted in her ears and her arms numb to the vibrations so she powered on. The bedframe, however, wasn’t faring so well. It crumpled under the punishment but she couldn’t afford to care.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

The cell bars weren’t looking any worse for wear.

BANG! BANG!

Her arms were finally starting to tire.

BANG!

“No! It can’t end like this! Matoaka, come on!”

BANG!

The bars stood scratched but totally unmoved. The young woman collapsed, the bedframe fell into mangled pieces. Scowl giving way to tears once more, she dragged herself to the bars and against her own better judgment pounded at the bars bare-handed. This barely rattled the bars but she persisted. How much time had passed could not be known. How many times she pounded and pounded away to no avail could not be known. How many pints of sweat, tears and eventually blood she’d shed could not be known.

Yet the bars still stood.

Moonlight was no longer shining through the window as clouds hid the moon from view. She yawned, her beating quickly reducing to mere tapping, head bobbing back and forth from weariness until at last she – Matoaka Nikopolis, who’d never before known the meaning of quit – was finally ready to give up. She fell forward, her forehead clanging hard on the bars, and

CRRRREEEEEEEEAK!

She snapped back to life just in time to see the lock fall out of the wall – and the door open! Exhausted as she was, she clambered to her feet and wrapped her sweaty bloodied crown of curly black locks under the soggy headwrap.

Then an idea came. She turned back to the bedframe and snatched two detached bedposts, which her hammering had conveniently reshaped into stakes, and hobbled out.

As she made it to the endless winding staircase, an eerily familiar voice – Dad’s – whispered, “You’ve devoted so much to your cause, and for what? You’ve roused the wrath of the King of Pan-America, alienated your kith and kin, and become wanted as a terrorist! Why, just because Afro- and native American lives are inferiorised? We’ve survived for centuries by enduring; why risk OUR lives for the remote chance of victory over injustice? I mean, what does victory mean to you?”

She furrowed her brow briefly before a giggle bubbled up from her chest. At the empty darkness she panted, “This.”