Sunday, May 23, 2010
In the playground with the pygmies
Imagine a windswept and rugged landscape. One with mountains, islands and fjord-like incisions into the land where historically travel by boat was the only real mode of transport. A land that has suffered famine and clearance. Where the natives have been used as cannon fodder by another nation in her wars. Strict and tribalistic religion has shaped society. An ancient language is still spoken despite colonial efforts to beat it out of the natives. Many people still live off the fruits of land and sea - seaweed, shellfish and strange delicacies involving sheeps' stomachs.
Imagine that the year is 2010.
This land is now a plaything for English toffs. With the purchasing power of the colonial British Broadcasting Corporation behind them and a truck load of cameras, the shy and reticent natives are cajoled into 'cooperating' with these dashing toff adventurers. For, an adventure it is.
The white beaches. "I say, this could be Goa".
The mountains. "I remember when i was in Nepal..."
The wild Atlantic. "Back in the school dorms, we would play at being Captain Pugwash."
The natives. "Ever so friendly, they gave me two pigs, 3 turkeys and a traditional Hebridean llama for my new croft."
The language. "Isn't the Gay-lick so beautiful. It sounds like mangled Swahili spoken backward. Fortunately, my grandfatha's generation beat the natives soundly until they learned English. Its great for the economy you know."
The music. "It's called a Kay-lee. Tribal and rhythmic music that almost spirits one away from the raging storm outside and back to the mudflats, from where a primitive lifeform is emerging from the sea..."
And before long, the natives are filmed helping the dashing white adventurer erect wooden poles so that other travellers find that their steps fall easier in this rough terrain. Beads and trinkets are traded for oil and whisky revenue so there is satisfaction all round. And before long, the brave Field Marshal Montgomery Halls and Rear Admiral Benjamin Fogle retire to their native England to write their memoirs.