European guilt

if we hadn’t raped
Africa — America
most likely would have —
do I feel personally
guilty? — no but Christ I should

Well, this took me by surprise. I like it. It’s not every morning you see suddenly with absolute clarity what a fucked up globe we were already even before global warming. If you were a child, and someone told you a story of a planet with five major land masses (N.America, S.America, Africa, Australia and Eurasia) where, in the space of a couple of hundred years, cultural genocide (and for that matter literal) had been the rule rather than the exception — committed by the fifth against the other four — how would you feel? And then to realise that the rapists were your direct ancestors. Four raped land masses, out of five. Africa is the worst atrocity of all of them. Partly because of slavery, but also because the indigenous culture is less completely oppressed and impoverished, and hence in worse agony. I am reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, and my dream last night seems to have been suggested by a scene in the book where the white missionaries come to a black village and ask to speak with the king. The villagers reply that there is no king. Only chief priests and elders. Last night I dreamed of African chief priests and elders, one of whom was the Dalai Lama.

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