"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Friday, 14 August 2009

The West Must Continue to Apologise for its History

The following story beggars belief in its simpering tone and purely one-sided judgment:

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The descendants of an African chief who was hanged and decapitated by a Dutch general 171 years ago reluctantly accepted the return of his severed head Thursday, still angry even as the Dutch tried to right a historic wrong.

The head of King Badu Bonsu II was discovered last year in a jar of formaldehyde gathering dust in the anatomical collection of the Leiden University Medical Center. The Dutch government agreed to Ghanaian demands that the relic be returned.

On Thursday, members of the king's Ahanta tribe, dressed in dark robes and wearing red sashes, took part in the hand-over ceremony, honoring his spirit by toasting with Dutch gin and then sprinkling the drink over the floor at the Dutch Foreign Ministry.

But descendants of the chief said they were not consoled.

"I am hurt, angry. My grandfather has been killed," said Joseph Jones Amoah, the great, great grandson of the chief.

The chief's head was stored elsewhere at the ministry and was not displayed during the ceremony. It is expected to be flown with the tribe members back to Ghana on Friday.

Tribal elders said after the hand-over that they were also angry because they had been sent by their current chief only to identify the head, not retrieve it. Taking it back without first reporting to the chief would be a breach of protocol, they said.

"We, the Ahanta, are not happy at all," said Nana Etsin Kofi II.

The head was taken by Maj. Gen. Jan Verveer in 1838 in retaliation for Bonsu's killing of two Dutch emissaries, whose heads were displayed as trophies on Bonsu's throne, said Arthur Japin, a Dutch author who discovered the king's head when he was working on a historical novel.

The elders demanded the Dutch government provide aid to their tribe to appease the slain chief.

Nana Kwekwe Darko III, who tipped the gin on the floor in a Ghanaian tradition of respect for the dead, dabbed tears from his eyes afterward and said he wanted the Dutch to build schools and hospitals for his people.

Ministry spokesman Bart Rijs said that 10 who came from Ghana had agreed before the ceremony to take the head home. The official transfer was between the two countries' governments, he said.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen used the ceremony to apologize for Dutch involvement in the slave trade. Ghana, then known as Gold Coast, was a base for Dutch slave traders.

"We are also here because of our mutual desire to lay to rest episodes in ... history that were unfortunate and shameful," Verhagen said. "Our common past also includes the infamous slave trade, which our traders engaged in and sustained and which inflicted so much harm on so many people in so many parts of the world."

Ghana has lobbied for the head's return since it was discovered.

"Without burial of the head, the deceased will be hunted in the afterlife. He's incomplete," Eric Odoi-Anim, a Ghanaian diplomat in the Netherlands said after the discovery. "It's also a stigma on his clan, on his kinsmen, and him being a (high-ranking) chief — this is even more serious."

It was unclear what would become of it once it reaches Ghana.

Berima Asamoah Kofi IV, a traditional chief who now lives in the Netherlands, said the Ahanta chief would ultimately decide its fate.

"Whatever he says, we are going to do," he told The Associated Press.

A few points immediately spring to mind; we can overlook the parts about one of the chiefs now living (no doubt very well indeed) in the country of evil racists his people are so angry with, and the attempts to blackmail the Dutch for more aid; those things are pretty standard, unfortunately.

What struck me the most was how the reason the chief was beheaded was not mentioned until the writer had attempted to garner sympathy for the Ahanta; he beheaded two *missionaries, and displayed their heads on poles.

Presumably the missionaries were there to spread Christianity, and er, build schools and hospitals, as they did in so many parts of Africa and what is now the Third World?

But let's not let a little thing like objective reality get in the way of self-flagellation.

I'll bet whoever that Dutch General was, he'd rather be dead than see what has become of the country he served, simpering to backwards tribesmen and crying over history, whilst refusing to look at the where the true evil in the world lies at this very moment.

*The text actually says emissaries - my mistake. I suppose you could argue that makes it even worse; emissaries are simply there to make contact and convey messages between rulers, rather than spread their own ideas and culture.


Anonymous said...

The head was taken by Maj. Gen. Jan Verveer in 1838 in retaliation for Bonsu's killing of two Dutch emissaries, whose heads were displayed as trophies on Bonsu's throne.

I am of the Angle tribe and part of the greater European tribe. I am angry and DEMAND that the people who took two heads of Europeans return them immediately! As recompense I demand that the tribe responsible build hospitals in England!

heather said...

If they don't have the money to build hospitals for our European tribe, they can at least offer to do 500 hours community service to make amends for their dastardly deeds!

Anonymous said...

You guys are pathetic. The Dutch were colonialists and slave-traders in Ghana; those emissaries deserve what happened to them.

The fact that you demand their heads back implies that you identify yourself with colonialism and the slave trade, which tells us all we need to know about you.

The West must not only apologize for its history, but for continuing to produce racists like yourselves.