Journeys Among the Forgotten
Riccardo Orizio’s Lost White Tribes
Lost White Tribes
Trans. Avril Bardoni
London: Secker & Warburg, 2000
The history of the past century is a tale of subversion, retreat, and collapse. Everything continuously shrinks. Subversion at the center was critical to the process from the start, but externally it was observable in the swift crumbling of white geographical power from the periphery inward.
First came the fierce ideological and political attacks upon “colonialism,” and the ensuing ignominious retreat from empire. This occurred with tremendous speed, an Insider movement involving elite subversion from within and revolutionary subversion from without.
Whites in every imperial capital and every colony from India to southern Africa, from Portugal to French Algeria who fought this juggernaut had the correct political instinct. It does not matter whether colonialism is deemed good or bad, wise or unwise, just or unjust. Racially, anti-colonialism was one phase in a crusade of extermination. Its proponents at home knew it, and its foes, the healthiest members of our race, instinctively sensed it as well.
The next phase was the takeover of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), South West Africa (Namibia), and South Africa. The destruction of these First World nations—one of which had nuclear weapons—was a prelude to the destruction of all white homelands now in progress. Watching the takeover of South Africa was like watching a slow motion train wreck. (“Slow motion” to the observer; historically it occurred in the blink of an eye.)
Exactly the same process is now unfolding in the last bastions, the white homelands themselves. As in South Africa, the process is impossible not to see. The lack of any meaningful, revolutionary response to yet another massive Third World immigration bill in the US is eloquent proof of the fanaticism, extremism, and hegemony of the anti-white power structure.
Riccardo Orizio’s Lost White Tribes provides a glimpse into the near-future of whites everywhere if revolutionary action is not taken.
Orizio, an Italian Catholic ex-foreign correspondent for the Italian daily newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, and for CNN, is the proprietor with his Anglican English wife, pediatrician Pia-Sophie Wool, of an exclusive retreat in Kenya offering safaris to the global rich. As one of their ads put it, “the thrill of a real African adventure lived in harmony with the Masai warriors coupled with high standards of style and comfort. The tents are furnished with colonial antiques, Persian carpets and African art. The atmosphere at the camp is informal but elegant.” Orizio and Wool (who “will work with the Maasai communities on different health projects”) described themselves as “a cosmopolitan, multilingual European couple, a writer and a doctor.”
Orizio, obviously, is a member of the Establishment, not a white nationalist. On his website he prominently displays Polish Communist journalist and secret police informant Ryszard Kapuscinski’s endorsement of Lost White Tribes: “A humanistic book, revolving around tales of dying places and dying communities, around people who live surrounded by old furniture, old verandah, old books . . . The lost white tribes are individuals living a chapter of history that for the rest of the mankind is forever closed. Which is why, despite Riccardo Orizio’s sympathy with these obscure heroes, his is nevertheless an anti-colonial book.”
Lost White Tribes was first published in London in 2000. Dutch, Italian, American and Turkish editions followed. Whereas the subtitle of the English edition was “Journeys Among the Forgotten,” New York’s The Free Press gloatingly subtitled its 2001 American edition “The End of Privilege and the Last Colonials.”
The Dutch Burghers of Ceylon
At a small hotel in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), author Orizio is served by a young white waiter. “He’s a Sri Lankan like me,” Orizio’s dark Sinhalese companion states matter-of-factly. “Hear how he speaks the language? He’s only a Dutch Burgher . . . Strange people. Dutch, or something of the sort. Maybe Portuguese. Some of them live in crumbling old houses. Nothing to cook with, roof falling in, but that’s where they like to live. As if this were still the 18th century. Perhaps, though they’re trash, they think they’re better than we are.”
With this grim sketch, proving once again that no matter how much we surrender or have taken from us we’ll always be hated for who we are, Orizio begins his slight but revealing account of six obscure, geographically dispersed “lost white tribes”: the Dutch Burghers of Ceylon, the German slaves of Jamaica, the Confederates of Brazil, the Poles of Haiti, the Basters (or Bastards) of Reheboth, Namibia (South West Africa), and the Blancs Matignon of Guadeloupe, a Leeward Island in the Caribbean Ocean. The people he describes are the remnants—some white, but many hybrid descendants of whites—who stayed behind when colonialism beat a shamefaced retreat before the rising tide of color against white world-supremacy.
The Dutch Burghers of Ceylon are the descendants of the Europeans who first arrived with the Dutch East India Company in the 1600s. They are mostly Dutch, but with an admixture of Portuguese, English, and other European nationalities whose members participated in the settlement and building of colonial Ceylon over the centuries.
In former times, the Dutch Burgher elite of Ceylon regarded the South African Boers, also of Dutch descent, as blood brothers. Contact between the two groups occurred after the English brought Boer POWs to Ceylon during the Boer War. Many Boer POWs married Dutch Burgher women. Burghers also served as combatants in that war, but on the English side because they were British subjects. (Ceylon was a British crown colony from 1798 to 1948.)
In recent years—as is true of all the groups described in the book—there has been a serious breakdown of racial barriers and greatly accelerated admixture between surviving Europeans and dark-skinned natives. For example, Michael Ondaatje, the author of the novel upon which the Academy Award-winning movie The English Patient was based, was born into the Dutch Burgher community, though his racial heritage is predominantly Tamil rather than European according Orizio’s interviewees. His surname “Ondaatje,” though, came from his Dutch ancestors.
In poignant counterpoint to the condescension and contempt displayed toward the impoverished white waiter by the black-skinned Sinhalese at the hotel, an elderly Dutch Burgher woman told Orizio, “We Burghers have become strangers in our own land. We have given so much, created so much. And now that I’m old, it sometimes happens at a reception that someone will ask me where I come from and how long have I lived in their beautiful country. They take me for a tourist, or a missionary. I tell them that my ancestors have probably been here longer than theirs. But the old times are gone forever. My parents and their friends would go horse-racing, then on to dinner, then dance until dawn. Then they would jump in their cars and dash down to the beach for a swim . . .”
The Germans of Jamaica
These people are the descendants of German indentured servants lured to the Caribbean island in the 1830s, probably under false pretenses. In return for working as virtual slaves on plantations for an agreed-upon number of years the newcomers were promised their freedom and a small plot of land.
After the completion of their service, however, they were given poor, agriculturally worthless land in the remote interior of the island around SeafordTown. There they have lived in poverty and isolation for 170 years. Orizio says there are now about 50 real Germans left, while the rest are hybrids.
One interviewee, Tony Wedemeyer, known as the “White Rastafarian,” had light skin and eyes and blond hair worn in dreadlocks; his brother was a Negro. Wedemeyer had had a series of blonde German lovers, young girls who traveled to Jamaica specifically to mate with black Rastafarians.
He told the author: “For centuries, Jamaicans have been a mixture of white, black, Chinese, Arab. Yet class distinctions still exist, and how! All based on the colour of your skin. If you’re Indian or Chinese, your class is defined automatically. We have seventeen different definitions for seventeen different shades of skin, from white white to black black. Each shade has its own name: Quadroon, Quintroon, Octoroon, etc. And the destiny of each is pre-determined.”
The Confederados of Brazil
The Brazilian Confederates are the descendants of southern veterans of the Civil War who migrated to Brazil between 1865 and 1885 to establish new plantations. (The Sons of Confederate Veterans established a Brazilian auxiliary, SCV Camp 1653, “Os Confederados” in 1994.) Some 10,000-20,000 emigrated, but many eventually returned to the US. Those who remained settled throughout Brazil, but the most stable group exists in and around Santa Barbara d’Oeste, in the country’s interior. There, descendants from all over the nation still gather at the Confederate cemetery (the tombstones are engraved in English) for an annual celebration.
Lost White Tribes features sixteen exceptionally clear color photographs taken by Orizio and Wool (who accompanied her husband on several of his journeys). Four of the photos are of Brazilian Confederates. One depicts a young Confederate girl with dark hair, skin, and eyes and non-white facial features, highlighting the intermarriage that has occurred. In vivid contrast, another photo shows a small Confederate lad wearing a gray uniform with a yellow sash and small gray cap. The boy is as handsomely Nordic in coloration and features as any of his unspoiled white American or European contemporaries. A third photo depicts a young Nordic Confederate couple in striking period costume.
The Basters of Namibia
Of all the groups described by Orizio, the Basters (or Bastards) of South West Africa (Namibia), a wholly hybrid people, come across as the most likable. They are a cross between Dutch Boers and Hottentots (Khoikhoi), and live scattered across the vast, arid central plateau of South West Africa. Their unofficial capital is Reheboth, and they number between 30,000 and 45,000.
The Basters are descended from unions between Dutch pioneers and Hottentot or Nama women, resulting in a genetic and cultural mix that exists nowhere else in Africa. For three centuries they have been an ethnic entity in the truest sense, a tribe that came into being as a result of historical accident but has since developed a sturdy self-sufficiency and an identity distinct, both psychologically and genetically, from the peoples who founded it.
To English eyes, the Boers were guilty of two unforgivable sins: they used slaves as labourers on their farms, and they procreated children with these same slaves, Hottentot and Bushmen who expressed themselves in a language of clicks and snapping noises.
German physician and anthropologist Eugen Fischer, a prominent scientist in the Third Reich, wrote a famous early account of the Basters, unmentioned by Orizio, Die Rehobother Bastards und das Bastardierungsproblem beim Menschen (1913) (The Rehoboth Bastards and the Problem of Miscegenation Among Humans), a field study of interbreeding between two very different human races in a small population of 3,000 individuals whose family histories were known. Fischer concluded that interbreeding did not result in a new, intermediate race that was reproductively stable, but followed Mendelian laws according to which each generation would produce throw-backs to the original parent races as well as individuals of intermediate type.
The Basters, many of whom have Dutch or German names, are devout Calvinists. Their unofficial leader is designated “the Kaptein.” The charismatic Hans Diergaardt was the Kaptein interviewed by Orizio, though he died in 1999.
In the Baster aristocracy the most highly regarded and wealthiest families are those who “have the whitest skin and the surnames of the original Trekkers who came from the Cape in their ox-drawn wagons.” The Baster Great Trek from Cape Province across all of South West Africa as far north as Angola occurred in 1866–1870. The Basters overcame many hardships and hazards along the way.
Fierce anti-Communists, the Basters were bitterly opposed to the Namibian government controlled by the Negro Ovambo of SWAPO. In 1991, SWAPO confiscated the Baster farmlands; its long-range goal is the destruction of the Basters as an ethnic group. The Ovambo regard Basters as “racists.”
Although Orizio does not mention it, in March 1990 shocked Western journalists reported: “Hans Diergaardt holds a press conference with members of a white neo-nazi organization from South Africa. Both are opposed to black rule in their respective countries. Diergaardt says the Baster community does not acknowledge Namibia’s new constitution. On 19 March, Diergaardt declares Reheboth autonomous and says the Basters will return to the rule of their forefatherly law of 1872. He will hold a referendum to decide on independence for the region.”
Unfortunately, the separatist effort failed, and the following year black Communists seized the Baster farmlands.
The Blancs Matignon of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is a French possession in the Leeward Islands, West Indies, discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, abandoned by Spain in 1604, and settled by France in 1635. (The English contested French possession until 1815.)
The Blancs Matignon who live there—“Blancs” (white) from the color of their skin, “Matignon” from the most common surname of the group’s members, the name of the aristocratic French clan from which they claim descent, and the name of their village—today numbering around 400, are the obscure, poverty-stricken descendants of early French settlers who in Napoleon’s time abandoned the coastal areas to seek their fortune in the furthest corner of the island, the region today known as the Grands Fonds.
An online source states that the Grands Fonds region was the refuge of aristocrats who fled the massacres of the French Revolution. Blancs Matignon, the name of their first settlement, still has a small farming community that has survived consanguineously.
Unfortunately, the economy of the back country has remained poor. The Matignon are despised by both the Negroes and the coastal Béké—“the wealthy, respectable whites, the tiny elite that studies, accumulates, and governs, maintaining strong ties with France.”
Due to their extreme geographical isolation, poverty, aloofness, and generations of intermarriage to avoid miscegenation with the surrounding Negroes, the Matignon are described much like the poor Southern whites shown in the movie Deliverance. They bear the brunt of ugly gossip and rumors of incest and deformed children supposedly hidden away from the eyes of the world. And yet, Orizio mentions seeing only one physically deformed person.
Today, Matignon intermarriage with Negroes is increasingly common and more and more children are coffee-colored Creoles or mulattos. Emigration to Canada, Australia, and France has also pushed the group to the verge of extinction.
In Orizio’s commonsense view, the solution is intermarriage with the Santois, a group of 1,500 rugged and fiercely independent fishermen of Norman and Breton descent who live a few miles away on Les Saintes, an archipelago of eight small islands. Unfortunately, the two groups do not get along (!).
Although the Matignon refused to be photographed by Orizio, he did manage to obtain three dazzling color photographs of the Santois (who were even more standoffish and uncooperative than the Matignon), showing two fishermen and a small blond child. These three individuals, all with striking good looks, are the most Nordic-looking of all the subjects whose photographs appear in the book.
Orizio’s ultimate assessment of the Blancs Matignon population is that it is “dying in this corner of the Caribbean in exactly the same way that it had lived, in silence, almost in secret, peering at the rest of the world through a keyhole.”
In view of ongoing anti-white repression and Third World inundation of all European homelands, the question unintentionally posed by the author is: Does the genetic, economic, social, and cultural devolution depicted here foreshadow the collective fate of Western man and the civilization he created? None of the groups studied has retained its racial or cultural integrity; all are in a state of steep decline. Is Lost White Tribes a prophetic journey into our own collective future?
Most of the groups maintained effective barriers for long periods of time—centuries, in some cases. And yet, today interracial sex and marriage are commonplace, and mixed race couples and their offspring frequently live in conditions of squalor, ignorance, and poverty no different from the debased people around them. It appears that this downhill slide accelerated markedly after World War II, and even since the 1960s. Why?
The collapse of colonialism eliminated white privilege, including a sense of pride and apartness. In many cases the non-white majority treated the remaining whites with contempt. Modern transportation and communications destroyed conditions of geographic and social isolation that formerly kept people apart.
While a handful of whites encountered in these pages possess pride and a weak sense of racial identity, the vast majority do not. A remarkable number of them, regardless of their geographic remoteness, know little about their European heritage and care less. Their “beliefs” are trendily anti-white. Some are filled with self-loathing and are hostile toward their own self-kind.
In fact, there is a striking homogeneity of views about this among whites in every corner of the planet. Wherever Orizio traveled he was greeted time and again by the refrain, “We’re not racist.” Only occasionally does the author mention his subjects watching television; but even those living in the most remote and poverty-stricken areas seem to do so.
Not one European nation or homeland—not one—is being spared the fate of these people. Based upon the stories in the book, there is nothing inherent in our nature that will automatically halt the process of racial devolution and genocide.
Instead, it will be necessary to summon the will from within to halt the trend and ruthlessly eliminate the tyrants who are murdering us.
The Poles of Haiti
In Lost White Tribes, the Poles of Haiti are the limiting case, exemplifying the logical culmination of current racial trends and forces—namely, the complete eradication of whites physically, culturally, and spiritually.
These sad people derive from Polish soldiers sent to the French colony of Saint-Domingue by Napoleon at the beginning of the 1800s to aid French troops in suppressing the slave rebellion there.
The French were defeated, and in 1804 the bloodthirsty Negro Jean-Jacques Dessalines announced the establishment of the world’s first black republic, initiating a spectacular series of failures on the island. The French residents, together with all other whites save the aforementioned Poles, who had been captured by the Negro rebels, were pitilessly massacred. Dessalines boasted that he would “write this act of independence using the skull of the white man as my inkwell, his blood as my ink and his skin as my blotting paper.”
The captive Poles were not just spared, but warmly praised by the dictator. It is widely believed that Polish soldiers joined the Negro rebels and stood guard over their fellow whites while the latter were penned prior to being massacred.
The hybridized Negro descendants of these Polish soldiers (no pure whites survive) subsist today in the poor, remote village of Casales, where Orizio found only three youngsters, siblings, with slightly lighter complexions than the other children.
The people of Casales now speak Creole, not Polish. Poland
has been but a vague concept for generations. No one can even visualize what the real place may be like. The soldier-ancestors left no books, no documents, and in many cases not even mementos or tales to be passed down through the family. All that remains is a dance they call the polka, and those Slav features.
Casales has no electricity, no phone, no running water, no nurse, no cars, no school, and now no church. Even the graveyard with all Polish names on the headstones is semi-abandoned. We noticed, too, that every one of the few faces around us was as dark as Haitians anywhere else. Eventually a small girl stepped forward to ask the question that was in everyone’s mind. “Have you come from Poland?”
Isolated and forgotten peasants, immersed in the melancholy of their Slav ancestors, the hope lives on that this is all a nightmare, and that one day they will awaken in that magic land called Lapologne. Of this, however, they must not speak too much, or the spirits of the forest could come seeking revenge.
Meanwhile, in the abandoned churchyard beneath the Polish headstones, their white ancestors sleep silently in the shimmering island heat, never to waken again.
D. C. Stephenson and the Fall of the Second Klan
Scott Howard’s The Plot Against Humanity
Východ a Západ – gordický uzel: kniha Ernsta Jüngera Der gordische Knoten
Reviewing the Unreviewable
Buddha a Führer: Mladý Emil Cioran o Německu
The Machiavellian Method
Trevor Lynch’s Classics of Right-Wing Cinema
John Fante’s Ask the Dust
Few reviews break the heart as this one does. I will buy the book just to have it as a lesson as to what happens when a people go through a psychological depression.
I have no pity for the Polish soldiers, they knew the fate of the captives.
As a Hungarian-American, I must mention that there is one final lost white tribe which has not been mentioned here…that of the Magyarab. They live in the north of Sudan and are the descendants of Hungarian slaves (or soldiers, depending on the account) trafficked down there by the Ottoman Empire. Like many of the people described in this article there aren’t many (only a few thousand to rub together), hardly look European, and speak the language (Arabic) and worship the religion (Islam) of their colored neighbors. The only thing keeping them separate are foggy memories and patchwork tales of ancestors from another land.
Sad and fascinating.
There are a few Saxons left in Nueva Germania, Paraguay, imported in the 1880s by Elisabeth Foerster-Nietzsche and her husband to create an Utopia based on Wagner’s writings. It was a failure from the beginning, but still some descendants of these settlers are alive.
Wow. I can’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling after reading this. Frightened maybe? Especially the passage about the Poles.
It is very interesting that Ondaatje is a Dutch name. This adds a whole new dimension to his work especially Anhil’s Ghost. There seemed to me to be ‘white’ threads throughout that book; maybe his English education or a thread of ancient memory. I mean the man giving up his life for another reminded me of Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities. He sure got my heartstrings when at the end they were trying to restore the blown-up Buddha. His other works do not work that well for me. I do read authors that are not white, because they tell me alot about how others see us and resent us or try to imitate us.
Could there possibly be a more pessimistic book for a true White to read? No thanks.
A note to Andrew Hamilton: you might like to read Desmond Fennell’s essay, “The West’s Reigning Ideology: A Critical Analysis,” which is at:
Among other things, Fennell observes:
“What white westerners were faced with was a framework for life similar to that which had confronted every so-called ‘primitive tribe’ whose rules system had been adulterated by colonising Europeans. The resulting hybrid of new and old lacked, a priori, two qualities which a set of rules-to-live-by must possess to make sense to a human community. It lacked a venerated source, divine or human, guaranteeing the rightness of the set of rules as a framework for life. And it lacked a single rational structure pervading all domains of life from the most abstract to the most particular.
“Small wonder, then, that the hybrid ethical framework imposed on such tribes had, in one instance after another, produced a condition of anomie or normlessness, and . . . a sort of creeping despair and the gradual dying-out of the tribe. The fact that among the ethnic groups that made up the contemporary USA, the American ‘Indians’ had the lowest fertility rate illustrated this phenomenon in action. ”
Our Judaized societies obviously have such a “hybrid ethical framework.”
There is much to agree with in Fennell’s essay. I think the System will fail, but not because of the rules confusion he cites. Their inconsistency is so mind-boggling that you would think the scam would not work at all, yet in fact it works extremely well. Somehow, everyone knows what’s Correct and what’s Incorrect, and readily adapts. It was the same under Communism.
So not only do most people lack morality, as Pierce taught, they also lack principle. The Jewish-Leftist rules system is completely unprincipled—which is self-evident, obvious, to any principled observer, or even anyone who thinks in principled terms (recognizes glaring contradictions when he sees them).
This indicates that Jews understand Gentiles better than we do, or can manipulate us instinctively.
My operating hypothesis is that two things are key: a) natural racial dominance (Jews are dominant) and b) power in all its forms—education, the media, spying, suppression of rights, etc. You can’t effectively oppose something with nothing.
Thus, Fennell is correct when he says “Ultimately the media as a whole, losing their previous ideological pluralism, conformed to the new doctrine; ‘the media’ became a singular noun.”
By the way, I did not get a chance to thank you, Lew, Jaego, Leo Yankevich, and some others for your generous comments in a previous thread before it was closed. I printed your remarks so that I could reflect upon them.
It is not a one-way street, either. I react instinctively to certain commenters’ thoughts in much the same manner, including a large percentage of your posts, no matter what thread they appear on. That includes your recent atheist comments!
To cite an example, Lew recently mentioned the impossibility of reconciling the attributes of God as postulated by Christianity with the existence of evil.
That was precisely the straw that broke the camel’s back for me while I was undergoing confirmation. I was too young to know at the time that there is an entire area of thought devoted to this problem (theodicy). It is also why I find the dualist essence of Zoroastrianism so attractive, a supreme expression of Aryan spirituality. By positing dual spiritual forces, Zoroastrianism solves this problem.
Goethe is said to have remarked, “Hell has its own laws.” Despite its inconsistency, dishonesty, and folly, there is a certain order to how the system works, but it’s an order of the kind that the Soviet dissident Alexander Zinoviev described in The Reality of Communism.
Robert Jackall’s book Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers might be helpful for understanding this order. His ideas on what he calls the “bureaucratic ethic” might shed light on how Jews can exercise the power that they do. (Revilo P. Oliver touched upon the bureaucratic ethic in several of his writings, such as the conclusion of The Jewish Strategy, if I remember correctly.) People who are economically and political dependent on those above them and who have a situational morality like those of the managers studied by Jackall can be easily co-opted or destroyed.
Jackall notes that managers tend to hold “that ‘truth’ is socially defined, not absolute, and that therefore compromise, about anything and everything, is not moral defeat . . . but simply an inevitable fact of organizational life.”
The material I’ve seen from Jackall’s book makes me think that corruption in American business is of Soviet proportions.
I think you should write an article elaborating upon the thesis of Jewish racial dominance. You’ve touched upon it in a number of articles and comments (such as “Why I Write”), and you’ve obviously given it much thought, but I don’t believe that you’ve written a full-length article on it so far.
Wow, that last sentence!!!
An insightful book review, to be sure, Andrew. A foretaste of what’s likely to come to the current English speaking White world, and Europe itself, within the next century or two. This White racial plunge into atavism and [Jewish assisted] genetic suicide is absolutely mind boggling. Whites are caught in a programmed, race denying ideological undertow, that, unless miraculously turned around, will make Whites the Tocharians of the 21st Century. This is truly a pathetic commentary on our weak sense of racial identity, and our intellectual credulity, to say nothing of our other fatal afflictions.
In 1991 I was working as an immigration enforcement officer at the (now defunded) US Immigration and Naturalization Service’s, San Francisco District Office. Part of my duties included helping the agency’s deportation branch escort foreign nationals back to their homelands after having suffered orders of deportation.
Early that year I was assigned to help one other officer and an agency contract Physician escort an Ethiopian national back to Addis Ababa; this Ethiopian fellow had overstayed his nonimmigrant visa and, in the interim, collected a number of felonies in nearby jurisdictions that precluded him from successfully fighting an order of deportation in immigration court, or filing for asylum. He was offered a chance of flying back to Etheopia unescorted but put up a fight with attending officers at the airport and tried to escape. Consequently his next trip out was planed with him being sedated and escorted by an attending doctor and two enforcement officers.
The Lufthansa flight out of SFO brought us first to Frankfort and then a final connection flight to Addis Ababa. A long flight indeed but gave me opportunity to speak casually with my drowsy custody. I learned that he had at one time studied in Italy on some sort of international student aid grant and spoke relatively good Italian. Having Italian parents, so do I. We conversed in Italian for a bit and he reminded me that his homeland had once been an Italian colony. I knew this. My mother’s older brother Giuseppe had served aboard an Italian destroyer during the last war, which served in both the North African and East African fronts and had made port there.
The final descending approach into Addis Ababa was made in early morning. I had a seat adjacent a window and was able to see, just as one would expect in East Africa, savanna like grassland sparsely covered by African Acacias. But I was also able to see something else; antiaircraft gun emplacements hidden in the tall grass near the runway. The 1950s era airport terminal, coming into view, had a rooftop mounted sign which read “Benevento” (meaning welcome in Italian). Now, Italian was not then or now the native language of Ethiopia. Amharic is. This gave me pause and a hint of what I was to find in this former Italian colony.
The terminal was full of ununiformed paramilitary types all packing Kalashnikovs. At Customs we presented our custody along with his travel documents to authorities, who promptly let him out onto the street after he paid a small fine in US dollars.
As our outbound flight was not until the following morning we had made accommodations at the Hotel Addis, located within the city’s international hotel district. During the cab ride the cabby, who spoke English, explained that the country was engaged in a civil war with the province of Eretria, which was seeking independence. Consequently, the city was prepared for a possible siege by the separatists. He also advised me not to try and take any photos of the gun emplacements scattered about he city as it may get me arrested or worse.
The short ride to the hotel took us through the city center. The place seemed a mess with reminisces of old colonial era infrastructure and buildings inhabited but in a terrible state of disrepair. It seemed that no substantial repairs had been taken in years. The streets likewise were in a terrible state with the last bits of pavement, now standing above the dirt road-base, providing more of a hazard then benefit for our cab driver. The population on the streets seemed very idle. There wasn’t much in the way of commerce either but even the few shopkeepers lounged about their storefronts, stocked with pitifully displayed and sparse goods. The only movement on the street was from the few vehicles traversing the potholed road. Small groups of young children playing near the street seemingly unsupervised by any adults.
The Hotel Addis was also a colonial era building and, despite being State owned, was maintained in a relative good state of repair. At check-in the hotel staff advised that one of the few attractions near the hotel was the “zoo” which featured the rare Ethiopian Lion. I decided to walk the several blocks to the zoo. Crowds of young children dressed in clothes no better then rags followed me begging for money. I love kids, regardless, and gave all the coins, both Ethiopian and US I had. The zoo was a pitiful mess and the few animals there, including the Lions, were housed in simple concrete floor cages with little room to move about. It was depressing so I left after a short time.
That evening I dined alone at the Hotel outdoor patio restaurant. I struck up conversation with the Maitre D who was about sixty years old and who spoke English and Italian. The Ethiopian people are a handsomely featured lot, slender built, thin lipped with Mediterranean features from centuries of admixture with Arabs so its hard to tell who there may have Italian ancestry or not. Regardless, my Maitre D was kind, cordial and his speech and mannerisms, I believe, pointed to at least some Italian ancestry. After a time I asked him if he thought Italian rule had been a good thing. He pondered the question for a moment and replied that yes, but that it had been short lived and that his people were happy to be free from both the Italians and the old Emperor.
On the flight home I pondered what I had experienced and remembered an old Italian idiom often recited by my mother, Chi nasce tondo non può morire quadrato”.
Thanks for recounting that unusual personal experience in post-colonial Ethiopia. The tie-in of the place with your Italian background is particularly interesting. Not very many white Americans are grounded in a relatively pure ethnic background such as yours anymore.
How sad and ironic that the ad displayed ad as I was reading this article was for – wait for it – “Asian Senior dating for men”. White men I suppose.
Seems even here we can’t get away from the cesspool.
A horribly demoralizing article to read, yet necessary and interesting. Keep up the good work, the site and comments are first class.
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