Saturday, 6 December 2014


                                                                My great grandmother

                                  Makushi's weighing a Black Caiman at Yupukari in Guyana

                                          Two Emerald Tree Boas

Me at far left with eldest son Hatuey (2nd from left), second son Tecumseh Shawandase (middle), eldest daughter Sabantho Aderi (2nd from right) and youngest daughter Laliwa Hadali (at far right).

                                                   My wife Shirling in traditional attire

                                        Me in traditional attire on the tribal lands in Guyana.

We are proof that you CAN live in the modern world and maintain your ancestral culture, we call it - having the best of both need to abandon one for the other... hold on to the past with your left hand (nearest to heart) while embracing the future with your right hand - as you live in the present connecting the two.  

My parenting style is quite different, at times my kids might not realise it - if they compare me to their friends parents (who set them no chores - thereby teaching them nothing about responsibility to others and the surroundings in which they live - and the value of team work),  but I have a responsibility to raise my now urban indigenous children - to always be able to fit back into their tribe (and the tribe does not look favourably on weakness, strength of mind, body or spirit is expected of all), because every single one of the 1700 Lokono-Arawaks on Pakuri Territory in Guyana are their blood relatives if you track down the ancestors of each person there you will find blood ties through marital unions, just today my youngest Laliwa Hadali ('Yellow Butterfly of the Sun') asked me how the O'selmo Clan are her cousins? Because granny Charlotte  O'Selmo is your grandad Simon's mother's youngest sister - that is how....and as a matter of fact EVERY member of the tribe is related to you by blood going right down to the degree of ninth cousins (which is the furthest degree that exists there). My kids MUST understand, respect and appreciate the FACT that of the 2,000 blood relatives they have in this life IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, 1700 are on the reservation in Guyana, 100 are in Barbados, 100 are in the UK, about 66 are in Cuba, and about 20 in the USA & Canada, 10 in Venezuela, and 4 in Australia....they have a responsibility as members of the Lokono-Arawak tribe that are not incumbent on others who exist outside of the tribal context.

Though all in the diaspora who share the blood of Great grandmother Marian - also share with me the 400 years of hereditary leadership ancestry that produced her, only I made the 4 steps Great Great grandfather prescribed over 100 years ago for his future heir, and our last and eldest descendant faithkeeper Grandfather David gave his blessing only to me - because of what I had fulfilled....and my responsibilities will not die with me...but will continue through my children - and they must always be cognizant of is a very serious matter, they cannot simply decide they are 'not interested' ...the responsibility is in our DNA...where will you go - and how far will you run - to escape from yourself?    

Outside of the tribe, non-native ideas and philosophies are rampant (I say 'corrosive'), not all off-reservation relatives know or have the desire to know - about our tribal roots and relatives to the degree or extent as I do, and whether they ever do or not - is irrelevant to the moral responsibility of MY children, an entire revived traditionalist movement within the tribe looks to me (and THEM) the same way I look to my ancestors who were Chiefs for 400 years before me...OUR responsibility is to the tribe as much as it is to our parents, our spouses, and our children.....we must always be willing to serve the needs of all of our people equally - albeit in different ways....and we must always be willing to DIE for all of them - if that is required of us - as our noble ancestors before us did....and our descendants after us must also do....anyone who has inherited such a responsibility only to abandon it for personal and selfish reasons - has brought an eternal shame and disgrace to the honor of the bloodline...and by this I refer to myself - as the 'task completer'..and my children - who must continue to promote & preserve what I have breathed life back into.

I love all my relatives in the diaspora, but I cannot remember any of them literally risking their life for me or literally saving my life...yet among the 1700 on the reservation - every  dangerous task I decide to undertake because I think it is necessary for the greater good of the people (whether it is confronting illegal loggers or narco-traffickers on reservation borderlands,etc.) - finds willing volunteers among them (some have saved my life), and I will never forget that sense of loyalty and self-sacrifice, so it is only natural that I - if I must choose a place to end my days in service and defence of others - it will be on the reservation, I will make room for any in the diaspora and those others who are family to me whether by blood, marriage or spirit only - to join me there if they so desire, and benefit from the security my social paradigm can afford them....but one thing they must all be willing to live by - is the code of honor that we willingly face every danger or crisis together...if you are unwilling to face danger head on with like-minded souls...stay and die in fear where you are right now.....for you will find no welcome from me.  

My eldest son Hatuey ('Soldier Ants') did not know at the time, but when I took him to visit our Makushi allies years ago, an old man was killed in a vehicle accident 500 feet away from where we had tied our hammocks, we walked to the scene, and saw the 60 year old grandfather freshly dead in the grass, blood still coming out of his nose and ears, I told my eldest son to help me lift the dead body (my son's first hands-on experience with a corpse) and we put the grandfather in a vehicle to be taken from the son did not have nightmares, and I do not hide reality's sadness from my teenaged children, if I was somewhere and asked to help deliver a baby - I would ask my child to assist me and get a valuable life lesson in happiness as well.
On that same trip my eldest son went (without me) hunting a Black Caiman (largest and only proven 'man-eater' Crocodilian species in Amazonia - with some Makushi warriors, my son could have been killed - because he jumped into the knee high water and was pulling the Caiman out by the tail to the astonishment of the Makushis BEFORE they decided to shoot it with arrows. I only knew about it when they returned to the village and came to me laughing about it praising me for having such a brave son (he earned their respect for life that day)  .....before that his only experience that was kind of similar - was when he and his younger brother shaked an Emerald Tree Boa out of a tree into the river on our reservation - then dived into the river and grabbed it bare-handed to bring it out and proudly show me.

It is not easy to live between two worlds, as young people mature much faster on the reservation than they do in urban environments, I never saw a 13 year old girl on the reservation who still played with toys, or could not cook an entire meal on her own, fish on her own, or plant a farm on her own, or take care of younger siblings from infants to adolescents - all by herself, or wash a tub of clothes by hand, is still normal for girls on the reservation to be married by 16 and be mothers by 17....not saying I want my two daughters to marry so young, because the circumstances for my daughters are different - whether we live in a city or on the reservation the 'need' to marry in the absence of alternatives is not a factor for them, but I am saying that my daughters and sons are viewed one way off the reservation and another way ON the reservation, in Barbados my 2nd son Tecumseh Shawandase ('Panther's Eye that shines in the night - of the people of the South wind')  is just an 18 year old boy (who sometimes does childish things in urban life I must admit), but on the reservation he is viewed as an 18 year old young man (and I see him doing more manly things there...makes me wonder if urban life is not responsible for the lingering childish ways in urban youth) - and he could marry someone tomorrow if he wanted (I know several boys on the Rez who married at 16)....and I have a long list of parents who let me know they would like to have him marry their daughters already....and some of their daughters I consider great wife material for my son for every positive reason imaginable...but it is up to my son, if he wants to marry and live among his people I will support him, if he wants to wait and complete his studies before deciding - I will support him to do that long as he remembers how much easier reservation life is compared to urban life (no taxes, no Town & country planning to build a house (and you can build a big house for 5% of the cost of doing so in most urban settings, I could for example give my child a fully furnished 4 bedroom concrete walled house on the reservation as a wedding present - for the cost of a luxury Doll house in Barbados), no pressure there to be at a certain socio-economic level before you can even think about marriage - because in urban life you have to own certain things (house, car, land etc). to be considered worthy of someone's daughter's hand in marriage as life's demands are far more expensive in any urban setting, on the reservation land is free, water is free, food is free if you farm & fish, etc. and a little money (by comparison) takes you a long way his marital life will be much more stress free as well....not to mention adventurous, I know no urban person who leads a more exciting a freedom filled life than me.

When it comes to sickness for example, my children learn that in case of an emergency - your sickness is no excuse (unless you are deathly ill), someone is lurking outside our home trying to break in - you HAVE to join everyone else to help defend the family (whether that be taking your youngest sister - because my eldest daughter Sabantho Aderi ('Beautiful Little Dove') can defend herself - and my aging parents to the appointed place of defendable safety and placing yourself at the ready with your weapons in hand - between them and danger... or joining me with weapons in hand to repel the intruder as the first line of Defense), whether you have a cold, the flu, fever, etc.....more than once I have told them - "You HAVE to help, I know you can do it - and if you drop dead from helping - i'll accept responsibility for you". Sounds heartless, but I have just shown them the power of mind over matter...if you tell yourself you are too sick to help - you WILL be.....then if one day you are required to cast aside illness to save others - you will not use 'illness' as an excuse...for in emergencies the task at hand takes precedence over your current non-critical physical condition. The future will absolve me of anything I do that my children do not understand yet...but they are beginning to see the same future in their dreams that I have been seeing all my life - so they now see the benefit to how I am raising them, they do not fear the inevitable, rather - they are now telling me that they are glad to see what is coming, and they are mentally prepared for any scenario....which is the first prerequisite for survival.

The more my children master survival skills - the more other people's lives (and each other's) they will be able to help me save when the time comes.                  


No comments:

Post a Comment