My granddaughter asked me once: Why do we need to study boring history? I hesitated. What do I tell her? That we do that in order to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them when we have been doing so for thousands of years? That we learn about other Countries? Politics? Wars? Major Events in our Journey on this Planet in order to become Wiser, Kinder, More Peaceful, Less Bigoted? None of the answers i was thinking of made any sense to me, let alone that they would to a bright young adult who hears every day of individuals targeting others for being ethnically, religiously, sexually, politically, or any “other” differences? Any explanation is bound to sound hypocritical, untrue and vacuous. So I just said: History Exists.
And, yes, History Exists, and, it was always written by the Victors, those who painted themselves as the Gallant, Righteous Knights who only subjugate, discriminate, enslave and kill the Bad Guys in order to save The World for the Good Guys. Simple, huh? And this argument was sold to humanity for thousands of years, and most people bought it until recently! So, what happened? What happened was that some of the World’s Colonized People, who were studying about their history in schools where curricula where set up by the Colonizers, with books written by the Victors, woke up one day and said to themselves: That’s Not What Happened! And so they began Writing and Writing and Writing . . . and they have no intention of stopping! However, some of the Victors decided that the Colonized People’s Version of History was Untrue and they worked themselves up into a frenzy ranting and raving about “Critical Race Theory” and “Cancel Culture” while claiming that the Only Valid History Is Their Version. In doing so, they are attempting to negate the Fact that History Exists, and that their racist and frenzied denials will not and cannot change that.
The latest example of how History Exists is Abdulrazak Gurnah the Tanzanian writer (born in Zanzibar in 1948) who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his articles, essays and books (Paradise was his first; After Lives his latest) addressing Colonization, Diaspora, Exile and how they impacted Africa, its People and the World. Bravo!
This brings me to four books I read recently along Gurnah’s work. The first incredible two: The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate, and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates talk of the experiences of Black Slaves in the United States. They are a Must Read! I have read quite a few novels and historical documentation about this subject, and they never fail to mesmerize me as to how cruel, ruthless, merciless and heartless slavery was, and to how Black People endured all that pain, suffering and dehumanization. This sorry state of affairs lasted well after slaves were declared free in President’s Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, and well after Martin Luther King Junior’s Marches, Speeches and Assassination, as well as after President Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Nota Bene: The Prophet Mohammad called for freeing slaves around the year 613). In fact, not until the Black Lives Matter Movement did many people finally realize that there were grave injustices still being perpetuated, first and foremost being the actual history of Slavery, as well as the massacres of Indigenous People wherever White People were Occupiers and Settlers, not the white-washed version. However, History Exists and Facts Don’t Lie as the three writers mentioned above (as well as many, many others) prove, whether it is through writing novels, or producing movies, or through the plentiful fact-based historical documentation that is available in America’s and the World’s archives.
Whether it is Slavery, or the Separation of Families at our shameful borders, or the Virus Vaccination Process still lagging far behind in most of the Brown/Black world, or Climate Change and its severe effects on the Developing World when it was mainly caused by Industrial Societies, this same horrific story continues to unveil itself, and it is going to require a whole lot of Actionable Reparations and Mea Culpas by Advanced and Wealthy Nations. Not Denials!
The two other books that I was so proud to read were written by two of my friends: The Lebanon I Knew by Bushra Jabre, and Has The World Lost Its Humanity by May Al-Daftari. Both are Memoirs based on the historical facts of how events unfolded in Lebanon and in Iraq. They are interspersed with touching personal stories, anecdotes and experiences. The first book is about the Lebanon that we lived, loved, smelled, tasted, pined for; a beautiful country crushed because it was The Weakest Link, and, therefore, the starting point of the conspiracy to destroy the Middle East. While reading, I felt each chapter transporting me back into time, into nostalgia, heartbreak and rage at those who caused this still ongoing tragedy and suffering of the wonderful Lebanese People. The second memoir is mainly about how merciless the Sanctions, and later on that farce of a “Shock and Awe” War imposed on Iraq; how much suffering, sickness, sadness and heartbreak they caused; about how in order to punish a political leader that the Colonizers – in this case, Bush and his Criminal Gang – wanted to get rid of they punished, starved and sickened millions of innocent humans and their children. History Exists, and these two writers are the Witnesses who lived it, and who wrote about it for all of us and our children.
As for Israel’s ongoing and constant attempts to rewrite the story of Palestine and the Palestinian People and to erase any vestige of our existence, our history, archeological relics (claiming some of them as their own!), cuisine, and culture this, too, is being vociferously countered by an abundance of writers (some of them brave Israelis; others, Jewish people in the US and Europe); documentation; eye-witness accounts; movies and songs that tell our story again, and again, and once again! History Exists, despite the Israeli Government’s denials, lies and Colonist white-washing. Two wonderful books, amongst the hundreds that I read much earlier than the ones mentioned above are: the terrific Golda Slept Here by Suad Amiry and the daring Against The Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa. Both novels brought on my tears, anger, frustration, and a host of other emotions that I share with so many of my Palestinian and Arab friends. History Exists! Not the Victors’ white-washed version of it, but the Facts!
And, finally, let me not get started about that Corrupt Catholic Institution and how Racist and Bigoted it has always been whether we go back to the Crusades, the Inquisition, or Native American Schools in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US where Catholic Racists sought to reprogram kids, Christianize them and white-wash them of their tribal roots in order to make them Acceptable! Criminal! Shutter up that whole corrupt, criminal and pedophilic institution!
So, yes, they began Writing . . . and Writing . . . and Writing . . . and Whistle-blowing . . . and Investigating . . . and Exposing all that had been white-washed and hidden and, they have no intention of ever stopping, nor should they! History Exists!!