Saturday, June 4, 2011

Macushi Lecture

Interesting snippets of information given  by a Brazilian student about the Macushi (one of the nine indigenous tribes of Guyana)- shame it couldn't have been a Guyanese student, but the anthropology associate course at UG doesn't look like it'll even get off the ground.
He started by giving the historical background that Montaigne so detested-- 16th century Europeans considering the lands occupied by the Indians as vacant as only Christians were considered legitimate people. Spain and Portugal created a treaty to divvy-up the world including the northern part of South American. Thanks to the machinations of the English, who moved their Protestant missionaries in, we were able to claim part of Roraima as Guiana in front of Italian judges back in the day.
The Macushi's legend of their formation is that Makonaima, the first being, noticed a forest animal sleeping with the remains of strange fruits in his mouth. So he follows it secretly to the Tree of Life which has all the  fruits growing on it limbs-- sort of Magic Far-away tree (see Enid Blyton). And what do you think he does next?? --- bearing in mind this is back in the day when men were macho alpha dogs, not the namby-pamby, save-the-tree, look-I'm-a-New-Man-but I'm-not-doing-any-Housework-being --- yep-- chops it down! So THAT's why boys and girls Mount Roraima looks like a tree stump and the area above the Rupununi is so forested cos it represents the canopy of the 'tree'.  After wukkin' up an appetite, he then makes a 'clay' woman, but unlike the Japanese blow-up 'comfort' doll, this one produces the Macushi tribe.  Are we sure we want to hand over Forest Management to these people?
I was amused that the student reported that they looked down on the White Man as being physically weaker, but with stronger weapons (see Guns, Germs and Steel) and where the Macushi take poisoned food and turn it edible, White People( and I suppose the others aping him) take edible food and turn it to poison! Very apt considering my previous Blog.

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