I can remember watching the TV show Roots in 1977. Apart from Kunta Kinte, whom the story is essentially about, the only (slave) character I can recall is Chicken George, a philanderer with expensive taste and a liking for alcohol. He made being born into slavery seem not that bad and a fine distraction from my homework.
Many years later I visited the Grand Canyon. A visually stunning delight and an experience bordering on mystical. So much so I was able to block out the chatter of hordes of Japanese tourists pouring off their coaches. In the souvenir shop I came across a book called The Indian Givers [Jack Weatherford – 1988] in which he describes the contribution of the peoples of the Americas and how the early Europeans learned to deal with excess. One large mountain, for example, contained 85% of all the silver found (taken) in the Americas. For most of the descendants of those peoples there is little left to scrape.
So for centuries we took people from their homes or visited their homes and took anything worth taking. Fast forward to the 1980’s and Norman Tebbit, a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, famously urges the great unwashed to “get on their bikes,” and go find work. For many it was to be a one way ride, leaving behind their roots and everything they knew. “Home” was to become an almost redundant word to many.
Bit gloomy so far huh ? Don’t worry.Tourism will save us all. Yes, go to any city centre in the developed world and amongst the fountains and shopping meccas and shiney high rise hotels you’ll easily find an authentic local restaurant or two. Just don’t go too far out of town unless you’re a photo journalist with a taste for black and white pseudo industrial landscapes.
Maybe go to Palencia in northern Spain and gorge yourself on mediaeval churches. Actually don’t. By all accounts that’s pretty much all that’s there as many of the people have seemingly got on their bikes and left to find work. Whatever did they used to do for a living ? Tourism might help them but it would surely take their souls in exchange.
We’re close to forming a circle. We continue to plunder and destroy our natural resources and if their is any resistance, we start a war about it. Nationalism is making a comeback. You can come visit us, but you can’t stay. Even if your stay has been 50 years or more. Make sure you spend up large with your silver before you go though.
Chicken George was a distraction from the real issue. Superior beings are probably watching us destroy ourselves by not working together. They’ll step in at the end and polish everything up to make planet Earth a top tourism destination or a place to ride your bike to and make a better life.
A fine distraction.
© Ash Cheyne 2017
Photo Credit – Brazilian native by Joedson Alves
Daily Word Prompt Challenge – Roots