Yakhanda 1: Yaka Sinks Columbus


As any Yakini worth her weaves will tell you, imperialists have long long long salivated after this country so crucial to the vast ocean they deem Indian.

Writing in/for the media is a monumental act of amnesia: Writing to be forgotten. Yet I wish words to evoke eternal love at first sight. Even if it’s a blind date. For though I can’t see you and you can’t see me, I hope you give a ‘hear’ to my sweet words. I want you to love this column – but please, don’t just take my words for truth either.

For here is a first official English column dedicated to Yaka thoughts and sounds – something to make sense of yourself. There’s Yakbera – those haunting drums that grooved the basic rhythms of work and war, and Yakdehi – those who invoke the Yakas to do their thing! But this: is Yakhanda (Siren of the Yakas), to commune with the serene vibes of truth within and without this land.

Deities and demons – Yakini and Yaka are so maligned. Yet, they – go ask even a two-bit anthro-apologist – are some of our most revered ancestors. Truly, “Roots people!” – Nae Yakku! In the 19thC, after 1815 during the English onslaughts, Yakas who were deities were turned into demons. The unqualified ‘In-Greasy’ Yakas were deified, for instance. The impossible to damn, because they were loved too much became ‘deo,’ such as Saman Yaka, guardian of Samanalakandha and beyond, who’s now called Saman Dheiyo.

So in this topsy turvy world, what’s a Yaka to do?

  1. Columbus Day – I inaugurated this essay on October 12, that Europe and its settlers in the Amerikas are still celebrating as ‘Columbus Day!’

First let’s get this out of the way: Colombo has no relationship to that Genoan carpetbagger who landed in Hispaniola, inaugurating the massacre of the Americas’ millions – From what I’ve heard, the city was named after a Green Mango at the Kelani Delta.

In 1992, on October 12th, on the 500th anniversary of the European invasion of the Americas, we joined ‘original peoples,’ – Red Peoples – on that besieged island of media and other corporate monopolies – Manhattan. In front of the UN, we called on that insistently white-supremacist body to declare October 12 as a day of true American resistance to genocide. Did they listen?

I most remember a Hawaiian, in go-go boots, stamping the sidewalk. She yelled “Do you know why there’s no ‘Cook’s Day’ in Hawaii?’ She then quipped, “Cos we cooked Cap’n Cook!”

We learn lots on picket lines. Another fellow pavement strider noted that New York was exchanged by the Dutch for English-held Indonesia, in one of those dizzying imperial swaps. A few years before that, Napoleon had tried to sell Lanka off to the English. He later said, the shortest route from Paris to London was through Galle.

Another picketer told me that the English wanted to exchange all of Canada for the then-sugar-capital of the world, Guadeloupe, a volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean. But the French had rejected it: Voltaire called Canada, “A few acres of snow.” See how the so-called ‘founding fathers’ of Canada view ‘their’ colony.

Two years before, in 1990, Haitians elected as their President Jean Bertrand Aristide, shunning the dictator Baby Doc Duvalier, who with father Papa Doc, was imposed by the USA (aka United Settlers/Slaves of the Amerikas)

Joyful Haitians then cascaded down the capital Port Au Prince’s main drag, Harry S. Truman Boulevard (named after the US president who genocidally attacked Hiroshima). They pushed the statue of Columbus that crowned the road, into the Canal de Sud, into the Atlantic Ocean. One of the topplers was asked, why? She responded, “Cos Columbus was the first terrorist!”

True to form, in 1991, US, French and Canadian troops kidnapped Haiti’s first elected President Aristide on behalf of Canadian mining giant Falconbridge and detained him in the Central African Republic. There were no headlines from AP and Reuter, CNN and BBC. Nor did the UN Human Rights Commission veto it.

This kidnapping was an eerie echo of 200 years before when Napoleon invited Toussaint L’Overture, Haiti’s first President, for peace talks on a ship, and kidnapped him to a dungeon in France. What was L’Overture’s crime? Haiti was the first in the Americas to fully drive out three colonial armies, the English, the Spanish and the French, in one year! Europeans, believing Africans could not organise so well, called it black magic aka vodun aka voodoo aka huniyam, the province of the Yaka!

France then blockaded and forced Haiti to pay reparations. In 1915, US marines grabbed all the gold in Haiti’s national bank and ferreted it to the troves of New York’s Citibank! So now, Reuters et al, tag Haiti the poorest in the world! But yet they keep invading Haiti by hook or by the UN, it seems. Still, the Haitians, considered among the most cultured peoples in the Americas, watch and bide their time. For time is on our side!

  1. Lessons in humanity – In 1492, Lanka was 13 years away from our first ‘terrorist’ encounter of the Columbine kind. Nobody dares say Portuguese pirate Lourenco de Almeida ‘discovered’ us in 1505 or 1506. At their stupidest they say a chance wind – no Kamikaze (Divine Wind) that – blew him in. But we know better than to believe such bull.

Columbus too was said to have not known where he was going when he started, not known where he was when he got there, and not known where he’d been when he left.

But certainly not so with us. As any Yakini worth her weaves will tell you, imperialists have long long long salivated after this country so crucial to the vast ocean they deem Indian.

Why the US, Canada, et al, still honor a pioneering genocidalist should be no surprise. What is surprising is, they who still extol Columbus so, wish to give us lessons in humanity.

This is the month of trillion-dollar Pentagon budgets and its attendant CNN/BBC-Al Jazeera ‘plots,’ and outrages such as the murder of Libya’s Qadafi. Let us see in our next columns, what our Yaka ancestors would have to say about all of this. For in 2020, as in 1492 and 1505, we still face the same challenges our forebears have had to face most squarely. Nuttin’ New!

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