Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Guanaguanare: Universal Aboriginality

As some readers already know, I am a fan of a Trinidadian blog that is titled, "Guanaguanare-The Laughing Gull." I recently received an email from that blog, with the following post:

....I have chosen to focus on one aspect of Trinidadian society and culture – the aboriginal presence. I will take the opportunity to think about the amnesia surrrounding aboriginality, whether deliberately induced or happily adopted, as the betrayal of man’s true nature. It is not my intention to write factual accounts about aboriginal peoples in Trinidad and Tobago. I’d be simply repeating what others have written. What I will try to do is to retreat into the cave, the Guacara, to try to remember-by-dreaming what it means to me.

To say that I have aboriginal ancestry is to proclaim that I belong to the human race. Every single one of us is descended from an aboriginal. On the physical level, DNA markers are obsessive recorders and guardians of our genetic roots and meanderings. If, for my survival, due to the introduction of competition or threat, I must lay claim to a particular geographic location or cultural identity, I must also admit to myself that this aboriginality as location is also temporary, not written in stone, not bequeathed for eternity.

Most of us originally came from elsewhere. If the centre of human genesis as we know it thus far, was located in Africa, then according to our logic, African peoples who still occupy their lands are the only genuine aboriginals. Even so, the connection to land, although a source of real comfort and rootedness, does not lock us into infinitely attaching ourselves to one location. There are many original peoples who have over time made voluntary and epic migrations from their “aboriginal” lands. We tend to think of diaspora in terms of specific ethnicities and geographic points. More interesting to me is the psychic diaspora which is part of man's experience over time and for many is remembered only as a bridge irreparably burnt.

I speak of this in order to delink and liberate the concept of aboriginality from physical location. I myself, own no land and feel no desire to reclaim the specific lands that were “taken” from my ancestors. It does not mean that I do not feel the loss but this comes NOT from my not having access to the land of my ancestors. It comes simply from not having access to any land which I feel is the right of every human being who is a citizen of this earth. I do not believe that land should be owned privately and in perpetuity by anyone and that includes myself. I will return to the topic of rights to land at a later point but I mention it here only because that is often the starting point for discussions about aboriginality.

I instead want to put aboriginality before land. I want to put it before everything else by which we allow ourselves to be distracted. Long after religion and philosophy had been trying to convince us of the brotherhood of man, science confirmed that we did in fact all come from the same place, that we had the same parents. That this discovery was not met with greater universal rejoicing is an indication of our amnesia. I want to go back to the Guacara, to remember the place where there was no doubt that we were ONE.

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