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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Giving Our Future a Fair Go



SCHOOLYARD CHANTS

When I was attending Primary School in rural Cheshire 60 years ago, there were two chants that the kids from impoverished families would raise:

1. ‘It’s a free country’
2. ‘It’s fair – it isn’t raining’.

By the first, they meant to convey the message that their families had picked up from wartime exhortations for society to pull together – namely that the price of their collaboration was to be redeemed by an extension of democratic, legal and social rights (in opposition to the Class System).

By the second, they meant that ‘fairness’ had an element of the survival of the fittest – that is one had no right to complain if one could not defend one’s own position (often in physical terms).

It is interesting to see then how these principles of liberty and fairness have played out over the intervening years, bringing us to where we are today – to the continued disadvantage of the children of the poor and less powerful.

WELFARE AS A WRONG

The New Zealand Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett has recently argued the case for requiring solo mother ‘domestic purposes beneficiaries’ to accept part-time work when their youngest child turns 6, or risk having their benefit halved.

This provision of enforced work availability will not apply to beneficiaries who are widows. In consequence it has been held to be in breach of New Zealand’s Bill of Rights which prohibits discrimination on three grounds: sex, marital status and family status.

The Minister has commented:

"I think that is a discrimination that most New Zealanders will see as being fair and reasonable."

This set me thinking again about ‘What is fair?’

And I went back to a thoughtful article by Will Hutton in the UK Observer of Sunday, 3rd May 2009. I have adapted the article somewhat but you can find the complete original online:

LIFE MAY NOT BE FAIR: BUT THAT’S STILL NO EXCUSE FOR AN UNJUST SOCIETY

Hutton asks:

‘What's "fair"? Well, it's a concept that is horribly abused. Almost everybody seems to be complaining that they are the victims of some gross injustice, showing little sense of what fairness really means.

What is fair is difficult territory. Too many with Left-of-Centre politics assume that preferences for more equity and proportionality are so widely shared that support for liberal policies is semi-automatic.

Higher rates of income tax for the better-off or making public services available to everyone on the basis of need are so self-evidently the right thing to do that the mass of popular opinion will rally to one's side.

But it doesn't - and it won't. Fairness can be used to justify any position on the political spectrum. One of the reasons the UK Labour party is facing problems in the forthcoming election is that it has not managed to build a consensus over what is fair'.

The gap has been filled by a cacophony of self-interested Right-of-Centre voices insisting that the dice are loaded against them by increasing their taxes and redistributing income and rights towards a ‘rainbow’ of welfare recipients and non-mainstream groups - reinforcing the sense of a government that has run out of moral authority.

Fairness, according to Hutton, has four dimensions and none of them is automatically Left-of-Centre territory:

1. There is the fairness of equity, so embedded in our DNA that four-year-olds protest at the lack of justice in not being treated as well as their brothers and sisters

2. There is the fairness of need: I should be helped or compensated for the bad luck of life. So if I am born into a poor family, suffer heart disease or am thrown out my job through no fault of my own I deserve your support

3. There is the fairness of efficiency and merit: I worked really hard to get this job and I do it well; it is only fair that I should be paid more than you. The economy needs me to be given that incentive because such an expenditure of effort needs to be fairly rewarded

4. Lastly, there is the fairness of proportionality: I can be paid more than you for doing the same job because I am more productive.

Commenting about the UK, Hutton argues:

‘This is a political minefield and unless parties of the left walk carefully, they soon find that ideas of fairness are deployed against them. And New Labour in the UK has believed in the political value of ambiguity. Thus it can appease the tabloids without being accused of inconsistency. No leadership over what's fair has been offered, nor has any serious thought put into how these dimensions of fairness might consistently be put into action.

Now the party and wider society are suffering the consequences. The extreme Right position is that Britain should be for the British and British means being white. Even if it formally repudiates racism, its core philosophy is about identity politics, which it masks by appeals to fairness. It argues that economic migrants can access British public services instantly on the basis of need, at the expense of the native born.

Although some of the wilder stories are apocryphal, there are enough real instances of housing being allocated to new immigrant families and non-English speaking children making classrooms hard to manage and so on for a growing minority of working-class families to believe that the principle of proportionality is being abused. In other words, people should only be allowed to use and consume public services in proportion to what they've paid in, rather than enjoy the benefits the instant they settle in the UK’.

Let’s see how the cards can be played in successive hands:

Deal 1: Keep out immigrants who haven't paid for public services. Equity trumps
Deal 2: Help honest immigrants who have settled. Need trumps
Deal 3: Ensure access is fair to all and cheats are not rewarded. Merit trumps
Deal 4: Curtail assistance to immigrants and reduce taxation. Proportionality trumps.

Hutton goes on to argue that there is a consensus on fairness waiting to be built, and that a majority of people believe in the principles of equity, proportionality and merit and are prepared to support the needy as long as they don't cheat their way to benefits.

The trouble is that efficiency, merit and productivity have taken such a strong hold on society’s collective unconscious in the USA, UK and New Zealand that justice and need are in danger of being relegated to items on a utopian wish list.

LIBERTY AND FAIRNESS

I remember listening in 2008 to an address by Dr Michael Basset – a former NZ Labour Party Minister who has become a political turncoat and Right-of-Centre eminence grise – in which he devoted his entire speech to a vitriolic attack on solo mothers. In his view, they represented the single biggest threat to New Zealand’s future economic stability and growth.

I was not at all surprised then at Paula Bennett’s actions and their justification. But I was challenged by the notion of reasonable discrimination.

It seemed then appropriate to return to the principles that had been widely discussed in the 1970s – and which must have influenced both Basset’s thinking and my own – namely the Rawlsian Theory of Justice.

John Rawls published ‘A Theory of Justice’ in 1971. In the book, he attempted to solve the problem of distributive justice by utilizing a variant of the familiar device of a social contract. The resultant theory is known as "Justice as Fairness", from which Rawls derives his two famous principles of justice: the liberty principle and the difference principle.

Principles of justice are sought to guide the conduct of two or more parties who have ends which they seek to advance, though they wish to advance them through cooperation with others on mutually acceptable terms.

Rawls argues that if an individual does not know how his life’s opportunities are going to evolve, he is likely not going to privilege any one class of people, but rather develop a scheme of justice that treats all fairly.

He goes on to claim that the parties would naturally adopt the liberty and fairness principles, which would then govern the assignment of rights and duties and regulate the distribution of social and economic advantages across society.

The First Principle of Justice

“First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others.”

The basic liberties of citizens are, roughly speaking, political liberty (i.e., to vote and run for office), freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience, freedom of personal property; and freedom from arbitrary arrest.

The Second Principle of Justice

Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that:

1) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle).
2) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.

Rawls argues that inequality is acceptable only if it is to the long-term advantage of those who are worst-off.

COMMENT

I would have to say that re-reading about Rawlsian justice did not help much in clarifying my thoughts.

What did bring into play some commonsense and goodheartedness was Hutton’s reference to schoolyard ‘fairness of equity’ and the memory that it sparked of my fellow schoolyard ruffians.

It is all very well talking about trade-offs between Rawls’ Two Principles or Hutton’s Four Dimensions but surely the real point is that children are ignored in both approaches – as indeed they are by Paula Bennett and Michael Bassett.

The main reason that people on the Left-of-Centre like me must continue to argue for intervention to promote fairness and justice is that children cannot take up their own case:

1. They can be readily denied fairness of equity by adults, as they lack power
2. They are frequently victims of fairness of need – through circumstances totally beyond their control
3. They are unable to argue fairness of merit because they are, as yet unable to work
4. Fairness of proportionality does not apply because they are not yet differentially productive
5. The concept of basic participatory liberties is largely irrelevant to them.

In terms of justice and fairness though, they do come into the picture directly in that they are often the least advantaged members of society while representing, in the best sense, people who remain potentially open to life’s opportunities.

That’s good enough for me. Regardless of discriminating against solo mothers – don’t discriminate against their kids!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cuisine of Quease - Cinema of Unease







NO STOMACH FOR DISAGREEMENT

Like cartoonist Tom Scott, columnist Steve Braunias is a New Zealand national treasure. Much out-numbered by staid, staunch and serious-minded fellow citizens, they have taken it upon themselves to fearlessly delve into New Zealand’s innards to reverse the country’s irony by-pass.

Last weekend, Steve took on ‘Shame’s Kitchen’ in yet another of his chronicles of ‘the nation that came of age thanks to really horrible meals’ [Sunday Star Times, 21st March, 2010].

He reviews recipes from the 1976 edition of the Women’s Division of Federated Farmers Recipe Book and Household Guide’, the ‘Recipe Book and Home Science Notebook’ published by the Wellington Education Board in 1964, the 1985 ‘Fibre Cookbook’ by Audrey Ellis, and the ‘Selwyn District Girl Guides 300 Favourite Recipes of 1961.’

The recipes include:

- Grilled steak with pickled walnuts
- Lamb chops garnished with balls kneaded from hard-boiled egg and butter
- ‘Spanish Bananas’ (sliced bananas on lettuce leaves, sprinkled with nuts and cayenne pepper mayonnaise)
- Beef curry with apple, banana, orange segments and pineapple
- Home-made sausage rolls baked for an hour in tomato soup, and:
- ‘Chicken Indienne’.

I will give you the full recipe of Chicken Indienne as you may want to try it by inviting friends over to dinner for a ‘New Zealand Night’ (recipe below to serve 4):

“Simmer four chicken pieces in onion, garlic, various spices and two tablespoons of mango chutney for 25 minutes, and then carefully add four cans of peaches. Cook for five more minutes. Transfer to serving dish. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs”.

Steve comments that the recipes reveal much about distinctly New Zealand shades of the qualities of ingenuity, naivety, stupidity, and sadism.

The question that this begs is: ‘How do the worst of these characteristics survive?’

Well, two of the pieces in the puzzle are Kiwis’ exaggerated apparent diffidence and pathological fear of conflict. If your mother continues to cook her lasagne with chunks of unwanted pineapple or you can’t bear to suggest to a friend’s wife that you’ll pass on the mayonnaise on your bananas, you pretty much have to swallow and grin.

This fear of saying anything that may offend frequently extends to any kind of serious conversation. There is a widespread view that saying anything that is complicated constitutes a breach of national etiquette – and that anything that is said with a serious tone raises the spectre of hostility.

An immigrant colleague of my wife observed: ‘Kiwis can’t talk about anything that is serious in case they reveal a disagreement - and they then have to try to kill each other’.

Jane and I once saw this in practice when, having invited our neighbour (who had been a relatively prominent national politician) and his wife for dinner, I made the mistake of tabling a bottle of Bushmills Irish Whisky instead of coffee towards the end of the meal. Once the conversation had veered onto such topics as welfare payments and the Middle East, it rapidly descended into chaos and unforgiving acrimony.

And I have given up being amazed at the number of people that I meet who steadfastly refuse to talk about politics, society, economics and even art, though they are proud to recall that they once were members of champion school debating teams.

Of course, this leaves political and policy commentary to a ‘world famous in New Zealand’ band of newspaper hacks and hobby-horse columnists.

All that the politicians and public servants get to hear from the pavements is a muted reaction through comment on comment – though they also feel a chilly silence that tells them that both pundits and practitioners are widely disliked and distrusted.

Would though that we could actually debate the issues of the day among ourselves – sanely and salted with humour - in bars and pubs, workplaces and coffee shops and the snugness of our own homes. Isn’t this what popular democracy is supposed to be about?

And it’s not just about politics and policy – it can be about nurturing the self and developing sustaining and sustainable personal relationships.

THE CINEMA OF UNEASE AND SETTING DOWN OUR HEART OF ANGER

One of New Zealand’s quirky social characteristics is its high level of Clinical Depression and consequent suicide. This has led to a good deal of introspection about Misery in Paradise – which includes pop songs (‘There is no Depression in New Zealand ... There are no Sheep in New Zealand’), and our national canon of films (which NZ actor-director Sam Neill has termed the ‘Cinema of Unease’).

I’ll draw in some comments here from a deep but gloomy (and appropriately intellectually challenging) review by Duncan Petrie (Illusions, 37, 2005) of the New Zealand film ‘In My Father’s Den’ by Brad Mcgann.

“In My Father’s Den remains a resolutely New Zealand film in terms of its story and cultural perspective. Yet it has resonated with audiences around the world, placing it among a small group of films including Vigil, The Piano, Once Were Warriors, Heavenly Creatures and Whale Rider that have defined New Zealand’s cinematic creativity in the international arena.

Adapted from Maurice Gee’s 1972 novel, McGann’s film begins with the return of Paul Prior to his South Island hometown after a 17 year absence, ostensibly to attend the funeral of his father. It quickly becomes apparent that Paul, who has made his career as a successful war photographer, is a withdrawn and emotionally damaged individual.

Certain deep unresolved tensions also exist within the Prior family, as suggested by Paul’s brittle relationship with his brother Andrew. But slowly he begins to reconnect with the community and to his past, a process given particular resonance by the rediscovery of his father’s secret ‘den’, a place filled with books and music which had awakened his own desire for adventure and excitement as a child.

Paul also begins to form a bond with a schoolgirl, Celia Steimer, the daughter of a former girlfriend, Jackie, and he begins to suspect that she may be his daughter. Celia is a promising writer who longs to break away and Paul’s interest in her is further fuelled by a strong sense of recognition of his own younger self. Half way through the film Celia mysteriously disappears and Paul immediately falls under suspicion as the police begin their investigations.

The mood turns progressively darker as the narrative moves towards its devastatingly bleak denouement in which Celia’s body is found and the shameful secrets of the Prior family are revealed. It transpires that Paul witnessed both his father having sex with Jackie in the den and his mother’s subsequent suicide, a traumatic memory he had repressed. Celia is therefore revealed not as Paul’s daughter, but as his half sister.

The web of secrets and lies is also implicated in the girl’s accidental death at the hands of Andrew’s wife Penny who, on finding photographs of a semi-naked Celia, concludes that he is having an affair. The images had actually been taken surreptitiously by their 13 year-old son Jonathan, a character with certain affinities to Paul who is already displaying signs of emotional damage as a consequence of the failure of the adults around him to communicate, trust and share intimacy with one another.

Paul is a profoundly damaged individual. His psychic scarring is revealed through his detached and cold demeanour with others, particularly his brother, the diffidence he shows when addressing the school about his experiences photographing war, and more graphically in his recourse to auto-erotic asphyxiation during sex with a young woman and drug taking when he crushes and smokes his father’s morphine pills.

His predicament is brilliantly crystallised in the scene at the beginning of the film where he is unable to enter the church where his father’s funeral service is taking place.

His lonely face is framed in close up on a slight angle, the door of the church forming the shape of a cross that bars him physically and psychologically. Paul’s alienation is profoundly reinforced by the sermon – “Part of our grief may be regret for things done or left undone. Words said or words never said.”

It is Celia who helps him to confront and come to terms with his past, through directly challenging him – “is that why you push people away?” – and by providing an opportunity for intimacy and meaningful human connection.

Coda: A Return to the Cinema of Unease.

The attraction to “the shadow lands of human experience” directly invokes a tradition in New Zealand cinema identified by Sam Neill and Judy Rymer in their controversial 1995 documentary Cinema of Unease.

Their film foregrounds a history marked by social conformity, Puritanism, fear, insanity and violence, and how this in turn has produced a national cinema that has produced a dark and troubled reflection.

The thesis is heavily reliant on a familiar discourse of New Zealand cultural nationalism associated with John Mulgan’s seminal novel Man Alone and the brooding landscape paintings of Colin McCahon, which are replicated in Cinema of Unease by Alun Bollinger’s moody and filtered images of the remote South Island plains and mountain ranges.

This also chimes with Martin Blythe’s insightful analysis of the response by Pakeha filmmakers to the opportunities of biculturalism and the challenges of Maori cultural and political revival.

Blythe identifies a variety of strategies he terms the politics of silence, of blame, of repression and of irony, which collectively convey a deep sense of settler unease generated by the problems of culture, identity, belonging and legitimacy.

In My Father’s Den chimes with this ‘structure of feeling’ both visually and thematically. While the Paul Prior of Gee’s novel is a cerebral version of the archetypal ‘man alone’, McGann relocates him into a lonely landscape that immediately resonates with Neill and Rymer’s images.

The opening shot of Celia lying on the rail track - recalling the climax of Smash Palace, another archetypal ‘man alone’ film - pans up to reveal the mountain range that functions as a kind of natural wall, keeping the community in its place, a small rural town cut off from the world.

In Gee’s novel the fictional small town of Wadesville becomes an anonymous suburb of Auckland as the city sprawls in a direct swipe at modernity, the loss of the orchards and creeks mirroring Paul’s own loss of innocence. But the Otago landscape of the film affords a different kind of reflection of the interior landscape of the characters, emphasising a perennial loneliness.

To underscore this McGann even has Paul’s father recite James K. Baxter’s High Country Weather, a poem celebrating the virtues of isolation:

Alone we are born
And die alone

Yet see the red-gold cirrus
over snow-mountain shine.

Upon the upland road
Ride easy, stranger

Surrender to the sky
Your heart of anger.

But this invocation of the familiar New Zealand trope of the egocentric loner is not an affirmation, as Paul’s neurotic predicament painfully demonstrates. Moreover, the emotional detachment that characterises most of the adults in McGann’s film is clearly an undesirable state of affairs, retarding human potential and destroying young lives”.

Interesting then to report some on some recent research on the links between meaningful conversation and mental health – see below.

TALK DEEPLY, BE HAPPY?

[By Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, March 17, 2010]

‘Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life — and less time talking about the weather?

It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject.

“We found this so interesting, because it could have gone the other way — it could have been, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ — as long as you surf on the shallow level of life you’re happy, and if you go into the existential depths you’ll be unhappy,” Dr. Mehl said.

But, he proposed, substantive conversation seemed to hold the key to happiness for two main reasons: both because human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives, and because we are social animals who want and need to connect with other people.

“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world,” Dr. Mehl said. “And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.”

Dr. Mehl’s study was small and doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the kind of conversations one has and one’s happiness. But that’s the planned next step, when he will ask people to increase the number of substantive conversations they have each day and cut back on small talk, and vice versa.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, involved 79 college students — 32 men and 47 women — who agreed to wear an electronically activated recorder with a microphone on their lapel that recorded 30-second snippets of conversation every 12.5 minutes for four days, creating what Dr. Mehl called “an acoustic diary of their day.”

Researchers then went through the tapes and classified the conversation snippets as either small talk about the weather or having watched a TV show, and more substantive talk about current affairs, philosophy, the difference between Baptists and Catholics or the role of education.

A conversation about a TV show wasn’t always considered small talk; it could be categorized as substantive if the speakers analyzed the characters and their motivations, for example.

Many conversations were more practical and did not fit in either category, including questions about homework or who was taking out the trash, for example, Dr. Mehl said. Over all, about a third of all conversation was ranked as substantive, and about a fifth consisted of small talk.

But the happiest person in the study, based on self-reports about satisfaction with life and other happiness measures as well as reports from people who knew the subject, had twice as many substantive conversations, and only one-third of the amount of small talk as the unhappiest, Dr. Mehl said.

Almost every other conversation the happiest person had — 45.9 percent of the day’s conversations — were substantive, while only 21.8 percent of the unhappiest person’s conversations were substantive.

Small talk made up only 10 percent of the happiest person’s conversations, while it made up almost three times as much –- or 28.3 percent –- of the unhappiest person’s conversations.

Next, Dr. Mehl wants to see if people can actually make themselves happier by having more substantive conversations.

“It’s not that easy, like taking a pill once a day,” Dr. Mehl said.

“But this has always intrigued me. Can we make people happier by asking them, for the next five days, to have one extra substantive conversation every day?”

COMMENT

So the taciturn Kiwi pays a price for his / her disengagement from serious issues – and, as is well-known, it is the serious issues that ultimately provide the best opportunities for humour.

Great though that people like Tom Scott and Steve Braunias are slowly coaxing us away from withdrawal - towards participation and potential fun.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Filipina Sweetheart & our Loss of Innocence




I LOVED LEA - 1988

Lea Salonga-Chien (born on February 22, 1971 in the Philippines) is a Filipina singer and actress best known for her musical role in 'Miss Saigon', for which she won the Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Theatre World Awards.

Lea started as a child star in the Philippines, making her professional debut in 1978 at the age of seven in the musical 'The King and I' by Repertory Philippines. She began her recording career at the age of ten with her first album, "Small Voice", which received a gold certification.

A song on the album, the duet "Happiness", marked her first recording collaboration with her younger brother Gerard Salonga, who would, years later, work with her either as musical director or creative director in her concerts and recordings.

Her second album, "Lea", was released in 1988. In addition to performing in musical theater and recordings, Salonga hosted her own musical television show, "Love, Lea", and was a member of the cast of German Moreno's teen variety show 'That's Entertainment'.

My older boys Matthew and Peter (then 8 years old and 5 years old) adored her TV show, "Love, Lea" - and I have to admit that I had a bit of a crush on the 17-year old star as well. Matt, Pete and I used to watch the TV show together in the den of our house, 1462 Dasmarinas Avenue, Dasmarinas Village, Makati, Metro Manila.

Years later in 2000, while working for the Asian Development Bank as a consultant, rather than as a member of staff, I was able to see Lea perform in the Philippine run of 'Miss Saigon'. I wasn't disappointed - the story of Kim and Tam brought a tear to my eyes - and the old spark between us was still there!

LEA’S SUNNY TRADEMARK SONG

The sun'll come out
Tomorrow -
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about
Tomorrow,
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck with a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And grin,
And say:

“Oh
The sun'll come out
Tomorrow”
So ya gotta hang on
Tïll tomorrow
Come what may.

Tomorrow!
Tomorrow!
I love ya
Tomorrow!

You're always
A day
A way!

DARK DAYS - THE HONASAN COUP

In December 1989, expatriate life in Manila’s smart-set Makati villages was torn apart by a major coup d’etat run by a young officer Gregorio Ballesteros Honasan II (born March 14, 1948), better known as Gringo Honasan. It was always clear that Gringo was a puppet of a shadowy political gangster, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

The coup against the government of Philippine President Corazon Aquino began on December 1, 1989. At the onset of the coup, the rebels seized Villamor Airbase, Fort Bonifacio, Sangley Airbase, Mactan Airbase in Cebu, and portions of Camp Aguinaldo. The rebels set patrols around the runway of Ninoy Aquino International Airport effectively shutting it down.

From Sangley Airbase, the rebels launched planes and helicopters which bombarded and strafed Malacañang Palace, Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo. Three hours after the fall of Villamor Air Base Aquino go on air to address her people, said that "We shall smash this naked attempt once more".

At that point government counter-attack began. Seven army trucks headed for the Channel 4 TV station, and fierce fighting occurred there. Ramos and Renato de Villa monitored the crises from Camp Crame, the Constabulary headquarters.

With loyal forces hard-pressed by the rebels, Aquino requested US Military assistance, at the behest of her military commanders and was granted. 120 marines, part of 800 U.S. contingent stationed at Subic Naval Base were deployed at the grounds of the US Embassy as a defensive measure.

American help was crucial to the Aquino cause, clearing the skies of rebel aircraft and allow loyalist to consolidate their forces. While many mutineers surrendered, Aquino declared: “We leave them two choices; Surrender or die”. Government F-5 jets went to the skies and challenged rebel planes, and culminated with the destruction of the rebel T-28 Trojans.

Government forces would recapture all military bases save for Mactan Airbase by December 3, but rebel forces retreating from Fort Bonifacio occupied 22 high-rise buildings along the Ayala business area in Makati.

The government claimed the coup was crushed, but fierce fighting continued through the weekend, with Camp Aguinaldo was set ablaze by the rebel howitzers.

The occupation of Makati lasted until December 7, while the rebels surrendered Mactan Airbase on December 9. The official casualty toll was 99 dead (including 50 civilians) and 570 wounded (in all probability these are considerable understatements).

The United States military supported the Aquino government through Operation "Classic Resolve" involving the use of U.S. airpower from the USS Midway (CV-41) and USS Enterprise aircraft carriers and F-4 Phantom II fighters from Clark Air Base.

The U.S. Air force jets retook the skies for Aquino. The U.S. planes had clearance to "...buzz the rebel planes at their base, fire in front of them if any attempted to take off, and shoot them down if they did".

As is typical of Philippine politics nothing was resolved because none of the issues were clear cut and none of the political actors were clean cut.

Cory Aquino’s successor, President Fidel Ramos, granted Gringo amnesty in 1992. Honasan entered politics and became a senator from 1995 to 2004 and again since 2007.

The coup was pretty personal for those who went through it. I remember being in my son Peter’s bedroom (he was nearly 7 years old by then) watching government forces strafe the rebels with rockets from an abandoned building at the junction of EDSA and the South Super Highway.

One colleague received a bullet through the ceiling of his home office and the wife of another witnessed the casual shooting of civilians in the street by right wing members of a Gun Club who used the turmoil as an excuse for sociopathic carnage.

All travel was very hazardous and ADB advised everyone to forget coming into work - we stayed at home together as the the tension hung and mounted. Finally, we decided to take the back road out of Dasmarinas Village to Alabang. The escape was succesful and we were taken in as refugees by our wonderful friends John and Lynne Cole - spending a good deal of time watching the kids in the swimming pool and chatting.

I decided to return alone to Makati as the coup drew to a close, being worried about our 'girls' Celia and Delia and the safety of the house from looting. No problems there - the house was, as always immaculate, and there were smiles all round.

However, I did see the rebels 'surrender'. This consisted of marching up McKinley Avenue with their weapons. They looked like a bunch of insolent, over-grown schoolboys who were being placed on detention by an ageing schoolmarm.

The innocent sun never came out again for me in the Philippines. I was struck forcibly by the awful realization that – ‘relaxed, appealing and sweet’, as the Philippines could be - I could not protect my sons.

LEA IN MANHATTAN - 2010

“At Home with Disney and ‘Miss Saigon”, by Stephen Holden from the New York Times(14/3/2010)

‘A bright, utilitarian voice that sweeps across continents as it conjures the aspirations of the inner princesses in millions of nice young women from Manila to London: no, it’s not Celine Dion, but Lea Salonga, the demure 39-year-old Philippine star whose autobiographical show, “The Journey So Far,” opened a three-week engagement at Café Carlyle on Tuesday evening.

Ms. Salonga is the vocal personification of what might be called the Broadway and Hollywood international style, which embraces Disney songs, Rodgers and Hammerstein ballads and the anthems of Schönberg and Boublil. Hers is a talent groomed to express inspirational generalities that please most of the people most of the time without taxing their emotions. Beyond an eagerness to please, impersonality is its signature quality.

The show-business history Ms. Salonga related in the agreeable tone of a friendly saleswoman helps explain the formation of such a sensibility. A child star in the Philippines, she made her professional debut at 7 in “The King and I” and starred in the title role of “Annie.”

That track led her to the role of Kim, which she originated in “Miss Saigon” in London in 1989. Back then she was so innocent, she recalled, that the director, Nicholas Hytner, had to demonstrate the onstage love scenes step by step. She later played both Éponine and Fantine in “Les Misérables.” Her voice has been heard in “Aladdin” and in two “Mulan” movies.

Backed by a functional quartet under the direction of Larry Yurman, Ms. Salonga touched many of these bases on Tuesday, with some forays into Philippine music. Like most singers who rely on various degrees of declamation, Ms. Salonga was most appealing when she relaxed and sang a sweet, low-key rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” accompanied by a single guitar.

Especially in an intimate space like Café Carlyle, the cliché applies: Less is more’.

[“The Journey So Far” continues through March 27 at Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street, Manhattan; (212) 744-1600, thecarlyle.com]

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chain Migration from Rural Cheshire to Chester County, Pennsylvania in the 1700s



A EUREKA MOMENT IN FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH – IN 1894

Letter to: The descendants of Dr William Darlington, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA

From: Thomas Darlington, ‘Glynderwyn’, Alleyn Road, West Dulwich, SE London, England

11th February 1894

‘Dear Sir

The occasion of my venturing to trouble you with this letter is briefly as follows: Whilst engaged on some researches at the British Museum a few days ago, I came across a little book entitled ‘The Sesqui-Centennial Gathering of the Clan Darlington”, which upon examination, I found to contain an account of the American branch of my own family – a connection which seems to have been broken for about 150 years.

I was a little surprised to find from the pamphlet that Dr Darlington had failed to discover Cheshire kinsmen during his visit to this country in 1851. I think that there would be very little difficulty in establishing the fact that Job Darlington of Darnhall, your ancestor, was a cousin of Richard Darlington of Aston.

I have not the exact particulars at hand but trusting to my memory for details, I believe that the Darlington of Aston of that date was named Richard, and that he was the “Cousin Richard” so frequently referred to in the letters of Job Darlington in the pamphlet.

The elder branch of the Darlingtons of Aston terminated in a female – Anne, daughter of John Darlington of Aston – who married in 1770 Henry Tomlinson of Dorfold Hall [near Nantwich, Cheshire]. The Dorfold estate then passed by another marriage into the family of Tollemache, the head of which is Lord Tollemache of Helmingham [in Norfolk].

This John Darlington had a brother, Abraham [from whom I am descended].

Both Job and Abraham are good old family names, still kept up on this side of the water – as are Richard and John. My father’s name was Richard – he had a brother John and three cousins, Abraham, Job and Richard. My grandfather was Richard – and he had an only brother, Abraham.

I should be extremely glad if this letter should lead to a renewal of relations between the two branches of the family on either side of the Atlantic. I should be only too happy to supply you with any particulars regarding your Cheshire ancestry which may be within my knowledge.

I shall look anxiously for a reply tho this letter, which is “a bow drawn at a venture”, inasmuch as I have no information as to the present whereabouts of any of my American relations.

Meantime, believe me, dear Sir,

Yours faithfully

Thomas Darlington'

In the event, it is reported that Thomas happily re-established contact between the American and English branches of the family. And Edwin L. Heydecker in his chapter ‘Our English Kith and Kin’ (in Gibert Cope’s extensive monograph “Genealogy of the Darlington Family: A record of the Descendants of Abraham Darlington of Birmingham, Chester County, Pennsylvania") writes that:

“Mr Thomas Darlington of London, England and Hafudomos, Aberystwyth, Wales attended the Bi-Centennial Gathering of the American Darlingtons in (late) 1894, bringing details of the English family gathered as a labour of love and out of respect for his Darlington lineage”.

As I have indicated previously, all of the Cheshire Darlington families appear to share a common origin, with most being descended from the Darlingtons of ‘Brookhouses’ (nowadays Brook House Farm) in the parish of Whitegate, Cheshire, traceable as far back as the baptism of Alice Darlington at Whitegate Church in 1567.

THE AMERICAN DARLINGTONS

So I will now provide a little background on the uprooting of some of the Cheshire Darlingtons and the settlement of this family in Pennsylvania.

In 1680, William Penn, a prominent and wealthy Quaker obtained a charter from King Charles II for the territory forming the present state of Pennsylvania. It was granted largely in consideration of a debt of 16,000 pounds due from the British Government to Admiral Sir William Penn [in relation to naval warfare against the Dutch]. Clearly, King Charles II also thought it would be an excellent means of ridding himself of powerful and potentially troublesome religious dissenters.

Prior to his departure for America, William Penn began to sell land to prospective English settlers, and by August 30th 1682, he had disposed of more than 500,000 acres. Among the purchasers was Thomas Rowland of Acton, Cheshire, who obtained 1,000 acres.

Thomas Rowland was also joined by John Dutton of Overton, Cheshire – and it seems that John’s wife Mary was a Darlington before marriage. Other early Cheshire settlers were John Nield and Robert Taylor (Mary Dutton married John Nield after John Dutton died around 1694).

A few years later, around 1711, two young Cheshire Lads, Abraham and John Darlington from Darnhall, Cheshire also settled in Chester County. They were nephews of John and Mary Nield and their migration was ‘influenced by inducements held out by their uncle that were not realized upon their arrival’.

On the 28th March, 1713, Job and Mary wrote a letter to their Dear Sons. In this they thanked ‘Allmighty God for preserveing you’ and prayed that ‘you will be Carefull of both soul and body for you are in a strang Country’. They were also asked to ‘presen both our Dear loves to our Dear brother John Neild and his wife our Dear Sister – and their sons unknown to us’.

Typical of the sort of admonishing that I used to receive from England as a student in Australia, the letter ends with a note that a reply should be sent either care of the Cock Inn in Nantwich, or through John Walker, merchant of Liverpool to Darnhall - and not addressed to Over near Middlewich, as in this case ‘it is sent by three posts to us and Costs Duble Price’.

Well, the Darlingtons did very well for themselves in their new country. As the family saga records:

‘As years went by and numbers grew, the fertile dales of Chester County, Pennsylvania still proved sufficiently attractive to Abraham Darlington’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to induce them to remain near their ancestral homes. A few of them went into the adjoining counties or the neighbouring city of Philadelphia, but the greater part continued to cultivate their farms in the old county.

Through the 18th Century, as the frontier of settlement slowly pushed west of the Alleghanies (sic), they remained near the eastern tide-water, and not even the mighty stream of westward travel and settlement in the first half of the 19th Century caught many of them in its rush. Most of them continued to live in Chester County – substantial, thrifty, law-abiding citizens – Friends (i.e. Quakers) by persuasion, farmers by occupation, happy and contented’.

NEW FROM HOME

Before leaving my American kin, I want to quote from what I personally feel is the most fascinating letter among those transcribed by Gilbert Cope. It is a letter from Joseph Darlington, of Darnhall, Cheshire to John and Abraham in Pennsylvania dated 3rd April 1746. It is unusual in that it makes direct reference to contemporary English politics and the effects of the Jacobite Rebellion under the Young Pretender ‘Bonny Prince Charlie’:

‘About the last of November last, we were under the most dreadful apprehensions of receiving a visit from the French and Highlanders of Scotland, to the number of nine to ten thousand, who advanced through Macclesfield and so on to Derby – raising the most exorbitant contributions, and almost ruining the country as they passed – but thanks to God, they missed us. But now they are retired to Scotland, where his Majesty’s forces are in pursuit of them’.

A reference then to the last land war in the UK in 1745-46 – wow!

And so I’m now very glad that I took time out to visit the Old Stone House in Georgetown that predates the Revolution, during interludes in visiting the World Bank in the 1980s. I also have very happy memories of hiring a car and driving down the old turnpikes in Virginia to visit Williamsburg. I didn’t know it then but I do have a real connection with the East Coast of the USA!

RURAL CHAIN MIGRATION

In reading Cope’s monograph, I was constantly amazed at the number of Cheshire farming surnames that kept popping up in the descriptions of the Chester County population. Names like Vernon, Dutton, Davenport, Dodd, Dilworth, Gleave and Minshull. This clearly illustrates the process of Chain Migration, in which founders provide platforms and springboards for continued immigration from the same location. However, I had not thought that it would have been so obvious in the case of the early English settlement of America.

I have added some information about two additional families – the Hollinsheads and the Sherwins below.

OTHER CHESHIRE FAMILIES IN NEARBY NEW JERSEY – HOLLINSHEAD & SHERWIN

John and Grace Hollinshead were early settlers in Burlington County, New Jersey and it appears that they too have a considerable number of descendants in the United States. Like the Darlingtons, John and Grace Hollinshead were also ‘Friends’ or Quakers.

According to ‘Some Genealogical Notes on the Hollinshead Family’ by A. M. Stackhouse, 1911 (available online):

“The Hollinshead family originated from Hollins in the township of Sutton, Chester. The heiress of Sir Hugh Hollinshead the last of the elder branch at an early period married into the family of Ravenscroft. The next line was the Hollinsheads of Cophurst whose representative was Ralph (Raphael) Holinshed, the Tudor-era historian.

The only notice of the name traceable in the Friends' Record of Cheshire is that of a Thomas Hollinshead of Overwhitley who died in 1704”.

It appears that some time in the middle of the 17th Century, one family from the Cheshire Hollinsheads moved to London, partly to be closer to other Quaker families. But they suffered further persecution there after the Restoration of the Monarchy at the end of the English Civil War.

As Stackhouse relates of one such occasion:

"Scarcely had they (the Friends) taken possession of their rooms in Devonshire House, in 1666, when the authorities seized it in the King's name, padlocked the door, and affixed the mark of the broad arrow as a sign of its being Government property.

No guard, however, was set to maintain the seizure and accordingly the Friends quietly removed the padlock and continued their meeting. But these meetings, especially after the Meeting House was built in 1678 were frequently interrupted by violence and Friends turned out of doors”. Even then, “their open air worship was disturbed by the drum-beat of soldiery as they rushed up with swords and staves and cruelly maltreated the unoffending Quakers."

John Hollinshead was a silk stocking weaver or a "silk stocking frame work knitter”. At this time, Spitalfield, London, was the centre of this industry and when the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685 the Protestant Huguenot silk weavers flocked there from France, making the place famous for the manufacture of silk goods. John and Grace would have found natural allies in the Huguenot refugees.

In 1673, John and Grace Hollinshead had a son John - and at sometime around 1680 they left England to find a new home in the West Jersey Colony that was then being promoted.

Having survived the English Civil War (1641–1651), the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the Great Plague of London in 1665, the Great Fire of London in 1666, and intermittent severe religious persecution, John and Grace were probably ready for a change!

There is a record of a town lot being purchased by the elder John Hollinshead at "Delaware over against the tower end of Burlington Island along the creek arount it" on November 14th, 1682 - and on the same date there was a purchase of another wharf lot on Rancocas Creek. This was followed on February 6, 1682, by the purchase of a wharf lot at Burlington.

It is reported that:

"Incidents of their (the early colonists of West Jersey) wants are many, and the supplies sometimes unexpected. The family of John Hollinshead, who lived near Rankokas, being unprovided with powder and shot, were in distress, when John Hollinshead the younger, then (about 1682) a lad of 13, going through a corn field, saw a turkey, and throwing a stick to kill it, a second came in sight. He killed both and carried them home.

Soon after, at the house of Thomas Eves, he saw a buck; and telling Eves, he set his dogs, who followed it to Rankokas river, then frozen. The buck running on the ice, slid upon his side - the dogs seized it - and Hollinshead coming up with a knife, eagerly jumped upon it.

The buck rose with young John on his back, and sprung forward, his feet spreading asunder, slip'd gently down on his belly and gave Hollinshead a respite from danger and opportunity of killing him.

By these means two families were supplied with food to their great joy. These and such like instances, in a new settled country, show with the along with the distress the relief that sometimes unexpectedly attends it."

There is also an account of the accidental death of James Sherwyn who married John’s sister Rebecca Hollinshead. James was Over-seer of the Poor in Chester Township in 1718, Surveyor of Roads in 1723, and Overseer of Highways in 1729.

According to The Pennsylvania Gazette (Dr Franklin's newspaper) of July and August, 1738:

"On the 26th of July past John Ward near Anchocus going out to hunt Deer perceived something to stir in the Bushes and seeing the Bosom Part of a Man's white Shirt he thought it to be the white of a Deer's Tail, fired his Gun off and Killed one James Sherwin, his Neighbor (who was out on the same Account) on the Spot."

Some of the neighbours seem to have believed that the shooting was not accidental and their tongues wagged accordingly.

The younger John Hollinshead settled on that part of his father's plantation adjacent to the Rancocas Creek, at "Hollinshead's Dock" a short distance below the place where the public highway from Burlington to Salem crosses the creek.

He appears to have been a man of sturdy independence of character who would not submit to what he considered an injustice and who was free and outspoken in his opinions. He successfully fought a case that was brought against him at the instigation of Lord Cornbery, the Governor of New Jersey from 1703, who took it upon himself to impugn the local Quakers.

A writer in 'The Friend" apparently said of him: —

"He was a diligent attender of Meetings and exemplary therein. He was a true lover of his Friends and being well qualified for usefulness and hospitably disposed, he was very serviceable to his friends and neighbors. He departed this life in 1749 being about 75 years of age."

Although the heir to Rancocas plantation, Hugh Hollinshead appears to have declared for the United States at the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, some of the Hollinsheads joined the Loyalist forces. Anthony Hollinshead was a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion ‘Stryker's’ New Jersey Loyalists up to January, 1779, when he left the service.

To the victors the spoils, and on his return home Antony left with many other refugees for Nova Scotia. His name appears on the muster roll of disbanded officers, discharged and disbanded soldiers and loyalists mustered at Digby, in the Province of Nova Scotia in May 29, 1784.

POSTSCRIPT

The process of rural colonisation from Cheshire is still continuing in the 21st Century. For example, the Kinsey family - neighbouring farmers in Wettenhall, where I grew up - have bought and developed a wheat farm in Western Australia.

And the youngest son from the Shore family in Duddon settled in Southland, New Zealand in the 1980s and has become a very succesful farmer there. I visited his farm, along with my brother-in-law John Hollinshead in 1994. I was touched to see that he had inset beams into the ceiling of a corner of his weatherboard NZ farmhouse to create a 'Snug' with an open fire, where his sons could mull and drink their ale.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Conquest of Chester in 616: Worth its Salt






















THE FRONTIER IN ANGLO-SAXON PRE-HISTORY

Why did the Anglo-Saxons suddenly expand westwards around 600 AD to overrun the remaining ‘Welsh’ parts of England?

Well, the usual explanations involved dynastic skullduggery, megalomaniac thuggery by forceful leaders, clashes within the Catholic Church, and a more general sense among the Anglo-Saxons of their Manifest Destiny to rule England from shining sea to shining sea.

Indeed, the English still like to believe (as taught by Frederick Jackson Turner about the Taming of the American West) that ‘the forging of a unique and rugged identity occurred at the juncture between the civilization of settlement and the savagery of wilderness.

This produced a new type of citizen - one with the power to tame the wild and one upon whom the wild had conferred strength and individuality’.

Alas the poor Welsh – who were literate and Christian long before the usurpers.

The blood-thirsty tribal thugs were Æthelfrith and Edwin, it being observed that the routine of kingship at this time involved regular - probably annual - wars with neighbours to obtain tribute, submission and slaves.

What seems to have been left out in all this is the economic dimension – issues that still concern us of comparative advantage and trade deficits.

FIRST OF ALL SOME DATES (I am not a date man so don’t take them too seriously)

593 Æthelfrith becomes king of Bernicia (in the northeastern 'Anglo-Saxon' part of England)

[Æthelfrith, son of Æthelric ruled two Northern English kingdoms in the 7th Century - Bernicia and Deira in the period 592 to 616. The 20th century historian Frank Stenton has written that "the continuous history of Northumbria, and indeed of England, begins with the reign of Æthelfrith".]

597 Battle of Catterick – weakening of Celtic Kingdoms of Rheged and Goddoddin

603 Battle of Degsastan – subjugation of Dal Riata

616 Battle of Chester – ‘Welsh’ of the Old North (Yr Hen Ogledd) cut off from Wales proper

616 Edwin become king

616 Collapse of North Reged

617 Subjugation of Elmet

626 Wessex defeated temporarily

624 Isle of Man taken

624 Isle of Anglesey taken – Anglo-Saxons start to dominate the Irish Sea

[From about 627 onwards, Edwin was the most powerful king among the Anglo-Saxons, ruling Bernicia, Deira and much of eastern Mercia, the Isle of Man and Anglesey. His alliance with Kent, the subjection of Wessex, and his string of successes added to his power and authority.

The imperium (as Bede calls it) that Edwin possessed was later equated with the idea of a Bretwalda or High King of Britain, a later concept invented by West Saxon kings in the 9th century.]

632 Penda of Mercia defeats and kills Edwin.

THE CAPTURE OF CHESTER

Æthelfrith attacked the Welsh Kingdom of Powys and defeated its army in a battle at Chester around 616. In this battle, the Powysian king Selyf Sarffgadau was killed.

Apparently:

'Æthelfrith king of Northumbria, at the instigation of Augustine, forthwith poured 50,000 men into the Vale Royal of Chester, the territory of Prince of Powys, under whose auspices the conference had been held.

Twelve hundred British priests of the Monastery of Bangor having come out to view the battle, Æthelfrith directed his forces against them as they stood clothed in their white vestments and totally unarmed, watching the progress of the battle - they were massacred to a man'.

According to the Raphael Hollinshead, the Tudor Chronicler:

"The Britains that dwelt about Chester, through their stoutnesse prouoked the aforesaid Edelferd king of the Northumbers vnto warre: wherevpon to tame their loftie stomachs, he assembled an armie & came forward to besiege the citie, then called of the Britains Chester.

The citizens coueting rather to suffer all things than a siege, and hauing a trust in their great multitude of people, came foorth to giue batell abroad in the fields, whome he compassing about with ambushes, got within his danger, and easilie discomfited."

So Æthelfrith put together an enormous army to subdue the city of Chester at the extreme southernmost corner of his growing ‘imperium’ of conquests – Why?

TRADE & TRADE RELATIONS

If you look at the map of England prior to Æthelfrith’s conquests, it is striking how far the Anglo-Saxon petty kings had succeeded in subduing the drier, eastern agrarian part of England before 600 AD. However, this left the western pastoral areas of England under the control of the ‘Welsh’.

There was therefore both a natural trade synergy and a source of friction between the more densely settled farming communities of the east which led themselves to more conventional forms of authority and the wilder westerners who were happy to trade livestock but who were also happy to embark on mounted raids on settled territory.

The settled lands of the east had granaries, and access to the iron of Sussex and Kent to keep their tool and weapon-smiths employed. However, they lacked resources of non-ferrous metals like lead (from Yorkshire and North Wales), tin (from Cornwall), and gold (from Wales and Ireland).

And, as the economists would say, as they grew richer and consumption increased, they developed a balance of trade and payments problem.

Perhaps most importantly, they lacked their own sources of another limited supply / high value commodity that was in universal demand as a food additive and preservative – salt.

[In the South West of England, the Anglo-Saxon intruders had reached the western shores of England well before 600 AD, having seized a major source of salt at Droitwich and set up the petty kindom of the Hwicce - see lower map].

WORTH THEIR SALT

It has been observed that the Romans seem to have focused a good deal of the infrastructure of their Empire near salt sources or on salt routes between those sites and Rome [Via Salaria].

The Roman word salarium links employment, salt and soldiers, but the exact link is unclear. The least common theory is that the word soldier itself comes from the Latin sal dare (to give salt).

Alternatively, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder stated as an aside in his Natural History's discussion of sea water, that "[I]n Rome. . .the soldier's pay was originally salt and the word salary derives from it. . ." Plinius Naturalis Historia XXXI.

Others note that soldier more likely derives from the gold solidus, with which soldiers were known to have been paid, and maintain instead that the salarium was either an allowance for the purchase of salt or the price of having soldiers conquer salt supplies and guard the Salt Roads (Via Salarium) that led to Rome.

THE ANCIENT SALT TOWNS IN CHESHIRE

Salt extraction was one of the most profitable industries of the Cornovii tribe and was carried out at several sites in Cheshire, notably at Middlewich, known in Roman times as Salinae 'the Salt Pans'. In addition to these main works there is evidence of considerable Romano-British salt production here in Northwich and also at the recently-discovered salt-working settlement at Nantwich.

Condate (Northwich) was so important that is recorded in two separate itinera of the Antonine Itinerary, a the late-second century document which records all of the major road-routes within the Roman Empire.

The second itinerary in the British section of this document is entitled "the route from the Vallum to the port of Rutupiae" and details the road-stations between Hadrian's Wall in the far north of England and Richborough on the Kentish coast.

Towards the middle of this itinerary the station Condate is listed 18 miles from Mamucium (Manchester, Greater Manchester) and 20 miles from Deva (Chester, Cheshire).

Another classical geography which mentions the Northwich settlement is the 7th century Ravenna Cosmology, wherein the name is again listed as Condate, this time between the entries for Salinae (Middlewich, Cheshire) and the capital of the Coritani tribe at Ratae (Leicester, Leicestershire).

In Cheshire, recent archaeology at both Nantwich and Middlewich has confirmed that the Romans established new salt works on green field sites which were then abandoned and returned to agriculture. This was either with their departure in the 5th century or possibly even during the occupation.

One explanation is that these were Roman Army saltworks, providing salt for their own needs, while Romano-British salt makers occupied long established Celtic salt making sites nearby and continued to supply the traditional needs of the local population and the itinerant traders who travelled into Wales and to the North.

Salt making continued in post Roman Cheshire, at first through a period of Welsh control and then as part of the Anglo-Saxon Mercia. The same pattern of trade will have continued and later this attracted Viking influence from the North. The first documentary account of Anglo-Saxon salt making in Cheshire is found in the Doomsday Book of 1086.

[It is also noting that the Cheshire salt towns were detached from Northumbria in the 7th Century, as part of the Wreocansaete to become part of the thriving central English kingdom of Mercia.

As Mercia also acquired the salt facilities of the Hwicce at Droitwich, it then had a full salt monopoly - which led in turn to it becoming the paramount state before the Danish invasions and to the banishment of the 'Welsh' to west of Offa's Dyke, close to the existing boundary between England and Wales].

THE BATTLE FOR SALT & THE IRISH SEA TRADE

So I argue that Æthelfrith conquered Chester mainly because it was the centre of a lucrative trade in salt from Cheshire across the Irish Sea – one that brought Irish gold into England in payment.

And once Æthelfrith had subdued Rheged, the local fishermen and traders on the Fylde coast of Lancashire would have put forward a proposal to use their maritime resources to help wrest back the trade from the Welsh kings of Powys – to the mutual benefit of Rheged and Northumbria.

Remember, the forerunners of Rheged, the territory of the Brigantes (Brigantia) had a pre-Roman presence in both England and Ireland, with colonies around Wexford, Kilkenny and Waterford.

Not surprising then that only a few years after the fall of Chester, the Isle of Man and the Isle of Angesley were both conquered (the latter being a stepping stone to Ireland through Holyhead).

Nor should it be so amazing that, as discussed by Frank Kilfeather, Irish Times, Friday Feb 26 1999, an archaeological has uncovered a "strange" pre-Viking house built in the Anglo-Saxon style in West Temple Bar, Dublin.

The director of the dig, Ms Linzi Simpson, told The Irish Times the find was "very exciting". While working on a Viking dig they knew immediately the house was not Scandinavian, and a comb found in it could only have come from Roman-Britain.

The house was also found at the very lowest level, under Viking buildings. These three factors convinced them of habitation in the area before the Vikings arrived.

The Irish Times asks ‘If it is true that there was Anglo Saxon settlement in Dublin prior to the Viking arrival, it completely changes our understanding of the history of Dublin and Ireland. It also poses so many other questions - if they were Anglo-Saxons, where did they go?’

Well, they probably didn’t go anywhere – at least as long as they were able to exploit their newly established trade monopoly in salt across the Irish Sea.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Public Sector Reform among the Ancient Hominids










While Jomo Kenyatta was in England before WWII, and Lord Delamere and Sir Jock Delves-Broughton were immersed in White Mischief in Kenya’s Happy Valley, the son of an English Missionary in Kenya, Louis Leakey, was turning the world upside down for Europeans by proving that we are all Africans.

LOUIS LEAKEY

Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey (1903-1972) was a British / Kenyan archaeologist and anthropologist who became famous for his academic work centered on human origins. Louis Leakey, his wife Mary, and their second son Richard made the key discoveries that have shaped our understanding of the first men.

"To me it's a question of being able to look backward and give the present a root... To give meaning to where we are today, we need to look at where we've have come from." (Richard Leakey, in National Geographic, February 1998)

Louis Leakey was born in Kabete, British East Africa, now Kenya, into a missionary family. At the age of twelve he found his first fossils, and knew that he wanted to be an archeologist. Leakey graduated from Cambridge, and set out to prove Darwin's theory that Africa was humankind's homeland. At that time it was believed that early man originated in somewhere Asia.

Between the years 1926 and 1935 he led a series of expeditions in East Africa in search of man's fossil ancestors. He was interested in particular Olduvai Gorge, a 300-foot-deep, thirty-mile-long chasm not far from the Ngorongoro Crater. His first major discovery was the jaw of a pre human creature called Proconsul.

In 1945 Leakey became the curator of the Coryndon Memorial Museum at Nairobi. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he also served as a spy for the British government and acted as a translator in court in 1952-53 during the trial of Jomo Kenyatta, the leader of the independence party.

From the 1950s the Leakeys expeditions to Olduvai Gorge produced several important discoveries of early primate fossils, named Zinjanthropus (now called Australopithecus boisei), which Mary Leakey found in 1959 from the lowest and oldest excavation site. The discovery of "Zinj" made the Leakeys famous.

Louis wrote an article for the National Geographic magazine and estimated that Zinjanthropus was 600,000 years old, in which he was wrong. Using a new method of dating, the carbon-14 technique, geophysicists from the University of California at Berkeley concluded that the site was 1.75 million years old. But the excavations brought to light a rich fossil fauna.

Among Leakey's academic protegees were Dian Fossey, who studied mountain gorillas, and Jane Goodall, who became famous for her studies of the behavior of chimpanzees. Leakey stayed long periods at the London home of Vanne Goodall, Jane Goodall's mother.

When Louis began spending less and less time at Olduvai, and concentrated on raising funds and lecturing, the place became Mary's domain, where she spent most of the next 25 years. Personally and professionally Mary and Louis lived separate lives from the mid-1960s.

In 1978 Mary Leakey found a trail of clear ancient hominid footprints of two adults and a child - some 3.5 million years old - impressed and preserved in volcanic ash from a site in Tanzania called Laetoli. They belonged to a new hominid species, best represented by the 3.2 million-year-old Lucy skeleton, which was found at Hadar, Ethiopia, by Donald Johanson.

"It is tempting to see them as a man, a woman and a child," Mary Leakey later wrote. The Lucy skeleton on the other hand arose a bitter debate. Mary and Richard Leakey criticized Donald Johanson for proclaiming a new species too hastily - the fossils could be a mix of several different species.

From 1961 to 1964 the Leakeys and their son Jonathan unearthed fossils of Homo habilis, "handy man", the oldest known primate with human characteristics and discovered in 1967 Kenyapithecus africanus. The Leakeys claimed that Homo habilis had walked upright.

"Until then the idea that two hominids could occupy the same area at the same time had been unacceptable to most scientists," Mary Leakey wrote in Disclosing the Past (1984).

Louis Leakey died in London in 1972 at the age of 69. In the same year his son Richard Leakey, who directed National Museum of Kenya, reported the discovery of a 1.8 million-year old skull of modern humans from Koobi Fora.

Three years later Richard discovered the skull of Homo erectus, estimated at 1.6 million years old, and in 1984 he and another paleontologist discovered a virtually complete Homo erectus skeleton.

RICHARD LEAKEY: FROM PALAEONTOLOGY TO PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM AND THE ‘DREAM TEAM’

Richard Erskine Leakey was born on December 19, 1944 but at an early age, he decided he wanted nothing to do with palaeontology. In 1964, he led an expedition to a fossil site he had seen from the air and discovered that he enjoyed looking for fossils.

In 1984 his team found the most impressive fossil of his (or, arguably, anyone else's) career. WT 15000, nicknamed the Turkana Boy, is the nearly complete skeleton of a Homo erectus boy. The following year supplied another major find, WT 17000, the first skull of the species Australopithecus aethiopicus.

Richard's wife Meave continues to work in paleoanthropology. In 1995, she and her team described a new hominid species, Australopithecus anamensis, and, in 2001, another new species, Kenyanthropus platyops. She may not be the last of the Leakey dynasty; their daughter Louise has managed her own paleontological digs. In 1995 she graduated with an honors degree in geology and zoology, and completed a Ph.D in paleontology in 2001.

Richard Leakey has been described as an ageing Indiana Jones - ruthless, unwell and still itching for another adventure - a man with powerful enemies, huge talents, and an almost insatiable appetite for controversy.

"He is a wild man, a fighter," says a former colleague who'd rather not give his name. "He works these crazy hours. I have huge respect for what he's achieved. But as a man, well, he can be difficult - an egomaniac."

Tall, red-faced and powerfully built, Leakey is seen by some as a pugnacious Kenyan patriot whose achievements are as remarkable as they are diverse.

He has been beaten up, threatened and badly injured in a plane crash which took away both his legs. He has been branded a racist by the president, lauded by the president, and hired and fired by the president and has faced a possible jail sentence over allegations that he abused his civil service job.

"I think pressure probably suits me," Leakey once said with urbane understatement.

THE DREAM TEAM

In 1999, after secret meetings in London with high-level officials from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in London, Kenyan President Moi shocked the country by appointing Richard Leakey as head of Kenya's civil service and of a so-called dream team of reformers hired to rescue a country, now being branded one of the world's most corrupt, from a deepening economic crisis.

Supporters said Leakey had been recognised by the president as the only man tough enough and honest enough to pull Kenya out of its troubles but questioned whether he would last long enough in the job to do any real good.

Critics said the appointment of a white man with no university education was an insult to Kenyans and one which had clearly been orchestrated by colonial mentalities still lurking in the IMF and World Bank.

In his new job Leakey certainly helped to improve relations between Kenya and international lending institutions. His appointment may well have been crucial in persuading the IMF to resume lending the government money.

For a while Leakey enjoyed unprecedented popularity as his dream team started a radical overhaul of the country's bloated, corrupt, nepotistic bureaucracy.

But as usual, Leakey ran into trouble. Some complained again about his uncanny ability to make unnecessary enemies. Others said his anti-corruption drive was threatening the interests of too many powerful figures. In March 2001, Leakey stepped down - without giving any public explanation.

THE WORLD BANK’S ROLE

Following the appointment of Leaky as the leader of the Dream Team, six of the brightest and the best were hired, two from the World Bank itself. Two trust funds were set up to pay their salaries; a UNDP fund to pay the Bank staff and Bank fund to pay the others.

Each of those hired was paid the same salary as he (they were all men) earned in his current job. One was paid over $200,000 a year (as he had been paid in his private sector job in Kenya). Leakey himself was paid the least, even though he led the group.

The team worked extremely hard (often late into the night) to improve efficiency and eliminate corruption (for example, in the ports, including customs and excise, and the acquisition of agricultural inputs).

The team met once a week to review progress, discuss problems they had faced, and plan how to overcome these problems.

The team did make progress, but one by one they lost their jobs. Just as the Dream Team had to work in a very hostile political environment, so did the Bank team that prepared the complementary reform and fiscal assistance project.

Just before the appraisal of the project, the President of Kenya demanded that the World Bank’s Task Manager be removed from this task and, in fact, leave Kenya itself. The reason why has never been made public. The Bank agreed to do so.

A new Task Manager was appointed. He remained based in Washington, unlike his predecessor.

The approach that was taken by the World Bank obviously raises all kinds of questions about how far the International Development Agencies have the right to get involved in the national politics of their Developing Member Countries.

It also in this case risked the obvious criticism that somehow Richard Leakey was yet another purveyor of White Mischief – albeit of a much more sophisticated form.

MY INTEREST

Of course, the Public Sector Reform aspect of the story is right up my street professionally. Indeed it is something of a cause celebre of what to do / not to do in mobilizing stakeholder participation in the process of reform.

I was reminded of it again when I prepared some case studies for the Asian Development Bank in Manila last year on the promotion of Anti-Corruption Policies in Developing Countries. The World Bank had suggested that it might form the basis of the Case Study that I was writing.

However, I thought that it was a bit too obvious, a bit too African, and a bit too Washington – particularly for ADB which has always prided itself on taking a softly, softly approach to reform in Asia in the guise of the ‘Family Doctor’.

Skinny Kid with a Funny Name



YOUNG PUBLIC SERVANT CARPETTED BY PRESIDENT

Well, sometimes you just have to follow the links as the chain lengthens.

Another connection with respect to Kenya then!

Some years after Kenyan Independence from Britain, the much revered founding Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta took time to admonish a young member of the ruling elite of technocrats and western educated politicians.

The young man who had been identified as a troublemaker had been called to see the President because of his criticisms of the vague promise of ‘African Socialism', and the emergence of tribal favouritism and cronyism.

He asked “How are we going to remove the disparities in our country, such as the concentration of economic power in Asian and European hands, while not destroying what has already been achieved?” and mocked the possibility that ‘doing something perfunctorily might be better than doing nothing at all”.

Kenyatta told the young man that ‘because he could not keep his mouth shut, he would not work again until he had no shoes on his feet’.

The young economist who was carpeted by the President was a certain Barack Obama (Snr) - who had a son who went on to do quite well for himself in the USA.

The senior Obama's truculent manner took him from a career in the Kenyan governing class to “a small job at the Water Department” and then to unemployment and alcoholism.

BARACK OBAMA SENIOR

Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. (4 April 1936 − 24 November 1982) was born on the shores of Lake Victoria. His family are members of the Luo ethnic group.

He was a son of Onyango Obama (c. 1895-1979) and his second wife Habiba Akumu Nyanjango. Before working as a cook for missionaries in Nairobi, Onyango had travelled widely, enlisting in the British colonial forces and visiting Europe, India, and Zanzibar, where he converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam and took the name Hussein Onyango Obama.

Hussein Onyango was jailed by the British for two years in 1949 due to his involvement in the Kenyan independence movement.

Obama Sr. received a scholarship in economics through a program organized by nationalist leader Tom Mboya. The program offered Western educational opportunities to outstanding Kenyan students.

President Obama has said of his father's scholarship, "The Kennedys decided: 'We're going to do an airlift. We're going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is. This young man named Barack Obama [Sr.] got one of those tickets and came over to this country.'"

At the age of 23, Obama Sr. enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, leaving behind his first wife Kezia (who was pregnant a second time) and their infant son. He had abandoned Islam and become an atheist by the time he moved to the United States.

In February 1961, Obama Sr. married fellow student Ann Dunham in Maui, Hawaii, though she would not find out that her new husband was already married until much later.

Obama Sr.'s and Dunham's son, Barack Obama II, was born on August 4, 1961.

Obama Sr. is buried in his native village of Nyang’oma Kogelo, Siaya District. His funeral was attended by Ministers Robert Ouko, Oloo Aringo and other prominent political figures.

So let’s skip now to the USA in 2004:

"OH, OBAMA! YOUNG BUCK’S ALREADY BIG IN KENYA

By Andrew Rice, New York Observer, 8/2/2004 edition

Uhuru Kenyatta and Barack Obama have a lot in common. They both have Kenyan fathers. They are a year apart in age. (Mr. Kenyatta is 43, Mr. Obama, 42.) They are both in politics.

In his dazzling keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, Mr. Obama called himself as “a skinny kid with a funny name.” That description could just as easily fit the wiry Mr. Kenyatta—at least to Americans, who are unlikely to know that in Kenya, his name is synonymous with political power.

Mr. Kenyatta’s father, Jomo, the first president of independent Kenya, held something close to demigod status among his subjects until his death in 1978. The younger Kenyatta has already campaigned for his country’s presidency once, finishing second in the 2002 elections. As the head of Kenya’s largest opposition party, he looks well-positioned hold his father’s old job one day.

But on Tuesday night, it was the dynastic scion who stood in the upper reaches of the Fleet Center, looking for all the world like a rank party foot soldier as he waved a blue poster emblazoned with Mr. Obama’s name, the crowd roared, and Democrats’ newest star took the stage.

“Yeah!” Mr. Kenyatta shouted. Then, grinning widely, he turned and exchanged some excited words in Swahili with the man sitting next to him, Kenya’s local government minister.

Their giddiness was understandable. Before he gave his convention speech, Mr. Obama may have been an unknown to those outside America’s political junkie circles. But in Kenya, he’s a household name. Local newspapers carry regular updates on the candidacy of the half-Kenyan Senate candidate from Illinois. A brand of beer called “Senator” is popular at pubs around Nairobi; customers order it by asking for a round of “Obamas.”

The enthusiasm has reached Kenya’s political elite, too. The government sent a high-powered, bipartisan delegation of politicians to the convention, including Mr. Kenyatta. In part, they were in Boston to talk, network and party, like everyone else. But they also had a more specific goal: To meet Mr. Obama, whom they see as a potential ally to a continent that has far too few of them. (Mr. Obama, who has no Republican election opponent, is almost certain to join the Senate in January.)

“I think it’s important that someone of Kenyan descent will be in the Senate,” Mr. Kenyatta said - “Someone with a sense of African issues, and especially of Kenyan issues.”

The Kenyans’ Obama odyssey began earlier in the day, at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. There, they were invited guests at a conference sponsored by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an organization affiliated with the Democratic Party that sponsors programs to promote democracy worldwide.

The conference is a quadrennial event. Organizers bring together politicians and government officials from around the world to talk about weighty subjects like free trade and nuclear proliferation and, as important, to dole out a few precious passes into the convention hall to select foreign dignitaries.

At a time when Senator John Kerry is trying to sell his message of an America that’s respected abroad, it’s a small way to buy a bit of goodwill among bigwigs beyond our borders.

And this year’s convention, held at a time when much of the world’s attention is focused on this election, and its effects on American foreign policy, drew a record crowd: More than 600 dignitaries from 120 countries. Among the speakers they heard from was former President Bill Clinton, who dropped in unannounced to attend a roundtable discussion with the erstwhile leaders of Brazil, Portugal, Bolivia, Ireland and Canada.

Tuesday morning, though, the Kenyans were less concerned with David Gergen’s panel discussion on the dynamics of the 2004 election than they were transfixed by the single issue that dominates every political convention: access. They wanted to meet Mr. Obama, but they weren’t sure how to go about it. During the conference’s lunch break, the Kenyan delegates sat down around a small table at the Charles Hotel bar with a reporter and an NDI staff member and discussed how to secure an audience the Democratic Party’s star of the moment.

“We’re hoping to get something set up for tomorrow, after he gives his speech,” said Raila Odinga, Kenya’s minister of roads, public works and housing. Odinga wore a tidy gray beard and a gray pinstripe suit, and carried a cotton handkerchief. He is also the head of Kenya’s Liberal Democratic Party, and after the president, probably the second-most powerful man in his country. But the fact that Mr. Odinga was a Big Man back in Nairobi didn’t seem to matter much in Boston. Even though, as it turned out, Mr. Odinga did have a kind of connection.

"I was friends with Barack Obama, the father,” Mr. Odinga said.

The story the younger Mr. Obama’s parentage is well known by now: Barack Obama Sr., the son of a relatively well-to-do Kenyan farmer, went to the United States as a student, and met Mr. Obama’s mother in Hawaii, where they married and had a son. Obama Sr. won a scholarship to Harvard, left his family, and eventually returned to Kenya, where he became a prominent economist and civil servant. Except for one brief visit, the younger Mr. Obama never saw his father again. He died in a car accident in 1982.

His son may not have been acquainted with him, but Barack Obama Sr. was well-known to the Kenyans sitting around the table. They were all members of the same small, educated ruling elite. Furthermore, he and Mr. Odinga were both members of the Luo tribe. “He was from a place called Alego, which is actually where my mother comes from,” Mr. Odinga said.

Rose Waruhiu, another politician, said that her husband had gotten to know Obama Sr. because they had both studied abroad. “In those days, these people who came from America were very different,” she said. She and other others remembered the Senate candidate’s father as a jolly, sociable fellow. (In a book he wrote about his search for his roots in Kenya, Mr. Obama says that he discovered that his father was also a heavy drinker.)

“He was a great achiever,” Waruhiu said. “He had this very powerful voice. ‘I’m Barack Obama!’”

“EHHHH!” Mr. Odinga said, nodding in agreement.

“Obviously, we Kenyans are excited about the prospect of someone having Kenyan roots being elected to the U.S. Senate, purely from a biological point of view,” Mr. Odinga continued. “We think this is a great achievement. We see this as part of the historical struggle … to liberate people of African descent.”

“We’re really looking forward to being in the hall today,” Mr. Kenyatta added - “To see the reaction [and] the mood of the delegates themselves.”

The NDI staff member said she’d see what she could do. Mr. Kenyatta, lighting a cigarette, ambled off to have lunch at an outdoor seafood restaurant.

That evening, the Kenyans gathered with the rest of the conference attendees at a restaurant on the Boston waterfront. There was good news: NDI had secured them passes to the convention hall, which would assure them seats for Mr. Obama’s speech. Even better, someone had scored a couple of invitations to a private after-party in Mr. Obama’s honor, which was to be held at a downtown nightclub. There was no word yet on the private meeting, though.

As they stood waiting for a bus to take them to the convention hall, Catherine Gicheru, a dreadlocked Kenyan newspaper editor who was also attending the conference, cornered Mr. Odinga to talk political strategy.

“We have to make sure he gets [elected],” she said. “A win for him here is a win for us on the other side.”

Later, after hearing Mr. Obama’s speech, Ms. Gicheru would be even more effusive. “I think he should be the [Democratic] candidate,” she said. “He’s much more electrifying than what’s-his-name … Kerry.”

The Kenyans nibbled on pizza and cheese cubes and ordered beers from the cash bar. Mr. Kenyatta reflected on the differences he perceived between American democracy and the Kenyan model, based on what he’d seen at the convention.

“Let’s just say it’s interesting,” he said. Mr. Kenyatta was struck by the opulence of the lobbyist-sponsored shindigs, the amount of security around the convention hall, and the utter lack of spontaneity at the podium.

Though he didn’t mention it, Kenya is a lot different: Its last election featured a party-switching vice president, rallies that turned to riots, and worries that the outgoing president might refuse to hand over power to the election winner. By African standards, the exercise was considered a great success.

Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga were on opposing sides of that election. But in Boston, they got on famously. When the bus arrived, they got on together. They sat next to one another on the ride over to the convention hall, sharing in-jokes in Swahili.

Brionne Dawson, a statuesque NDI staff member, led the Kenyans into the Fleet Center and to their seats. Along the way, they passed the Rev. Al Sharpton, trailed by a retinue of hangers-on and TV cameras. Mr. Odinga, who had never heard of Mr. Sharpton, whirled around to take a closer look at the curious rotund reverend.

Finally, the group arrived at their seats, which were one row down from the topmost in the hall—closer to the thousands of red-white-and-blue balloons penned against the ceiling, waiting to be dropped, than to the speakers on the dais.

The national anthem played, and Mr. Odinga hummed along. (“I know the tune very well,” he told Mr. Kenyatta.)

They listened to a long parade of speakers. Ted Kennedy: “a very good orator,” in Mr. Odinga’s estimation. Richard Gephardt: “very uninspiring.” Ms. Dawson organized a security-chaperoned walk around the convention floor. When the Kenyans returned, she had come up with some “Obama” posters. Mr. Odinga gave her a disposable camera, and she took a picture of the Kenyans holding their signs with the convention floor as a backdrop.

Then Mr. Obama took the stage.

“Tonight, is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely,” he began. “My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack.”

The Kenyans exchanged approving glances. Most Africans, even powerful ones, have herded a few goats in their time.

Mr. Obama went on to talk about what he called “the true genius of America … the insistence on small miracles,” and made an implicit comparison with his father’s home continent.

“That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody’s son - that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted—or at least, most of the time.”

The Kenyans nodded knowingly.

Mr. Obama was just warming up. When he hit the big applause lines, the hall leapt to its feet, drowning out his speech with deafening applause. Uhuru Kenyatta shook an index finger and grinned approvingly.

“He can speak!” Mr. Kenyatta shouted.

Afterwards, the lights went up and the Kenyan politicians eagerly dissected Mr. Obama’s oratory. “Exciting – Wonderful - Electrifying,” Mr. Kenyatta said.

“It makes you feel proud,” said Musikari Kombo, a government minister who was sitting next to Mr. Kenyatta. “We can also produce people of that kind.”

Shortly afterwards, everyone got up to leave. Mr. Kenyatta was tired and headed back to the hotel. Messrs. Kombo and Odinga, on the other hand, went to the after-party. It was frightfully crowded, and Mr. Obama was surrounded by well-wishers. “You could see that the people in there were really holding the man in awe,” Mr. Kombo would later recall.

Somehow, the two Kenyans managed to elbow their way into the swarm, and to have a brief conversation with Mr. Obama. “It was a one-minute exchange,” Mr. Kombo said.

But the visitors left satisfied that Kenya had a friend in Mr. Obama, and to them, that was what was important.

“What I’ve been looking forward to is the introduction,” Mr. Kombo said. “That is more important for now -so that the bridge is there.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

No ordinary English Farm Labourer





Strange as it may seem, the founder of modern Kenya 'Jomo Kenyatta' (Johnstone Kamau) had a direct and gentle exposure to English rural life.

Not with Cheshire and the Cholmondeleys though - in this case it was with the villagers of Storrington and Thakeham in West Sussex.

Which all goes to show that there are connections everywhere if you look for them and that, as Jomo said himself, 'it is all about personal relations and that these cannot be left largely to take care of themselves'.

From: Times Past - Storrington & District Museum: ‘Preserving Yesterday for Tomorrow [Newsletter No 4 April 2000]

JOMO KENYATTA - FAMOUS WARTIME RESIDENT

by Malcolm Linfield

"Jomo Kenyatta first came to England in 1929 as official spokesman for his people, the Kikuyu, to try and redress their grievances against the colonial government in Kenya.

He stayed in England for the next 17 years, during which time he studied anthropology at the University of London and wrote his acclaimed book 'Facing Mount Kenya', published in 1938.

Kenyatta found odd jobs to finance his mission and lived as cheaply as he could. He bombarded the Colonial Office with petitions, all of which were ignored, but his book was a bestseller, and helped to establish him as something of a celebrity who people wanted to meet and talk to.

The book was more than a history of his people's culture – it was also full of propaganda and attacked the whole colonial system.

Kenyatta was now ready to return to Kenya, having, at least, done much to publicise the grievances of his people to the outside world.

Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Second World War put paid to his plans, and he was unable to return home. He was persuaded to leave London and stay with friends in Sussex, arriving at the home of Roy Armstrong, a Southampton University lecturer, who lived in the beautiful Sandgate area two miles to the east of Storrington.

The peaceful countryside was, in many ways, a home from home to Kenyatta, with its view of the rolling South Downs, its bracken and silver birches, its woods and farmland.

He certainly felt comfortable here, and stayed throughout the duration of the war, renting the flat in Roy Armstrong's house. He was given his own area of scrub to clear where he successfully cultivated his own supply of vegetables and kept some chickens.

One of the silver birches became his "sacred tree", through which he communicated with the spirits of his people during his more reflective moments.

Soon after moving to Sussex, Kenyatta took a job as a nursery worker at A G Linfield's nurseries in the neighbouring parish of Thakeham. He was initially put to work in the tomato hothouses, although the shortage of manpower throughout the war meant he would have done many different jobs during the four or five years he was employed at the family firm.

The strive to produce as much home grown food as possible meant that companies like Linfields had to devote all their energies to the production of vegetables - however, very few mushrooms were grown as they were considered "devoid of food value".

Kenyatta apparently got on well with everybody, and proved to be a helpful and considerate colleague, willing to come to the aid of anyone who needed a helping hand.

During histime in Sussex, he became friendly with a family in Ashington and it was through them that he met Edna Clarke, a teacher. When her parents were killed in an air raid in May, 1941, Kenyatta instinctively offered his help and sympathy and within a year they were married. On 11th August, 1943, their son Peter Magana was born in Worthing Hospital.

Kenyatta was something of a novelty in the Storrington area. Affectionately known as Jumbo', he soon settled into Sussex life and was well known in the village. But he was definitely an extraordinary character - flamboyant and gregarious, a showman who delighted in mimicry and whose powers of imagination would hold an audience spellbound as he pretended to stalk and kill a lion.

No doubt these exceptional talents helped him to persevere through the long years of frustration and disappointment, but he never gave up, and despite numerous setbacks, somehow or other, he always managed to keep his dream alive.

No doubt, the peaceful Sussex countryside and its close resemblance to his homeland must have been a comfort as well as a reminder of his single-minded purpose. He managed to keep cheerful throughout his wartime exile, a man convinced of his destiny and confident that one day the aspirations of his people would be realized.

It would only be a matter of time.

To supplement his farmworker's wage of £4 per week, he was in much demand as a lecturer. Not only did he lecture to British troops under the Forces Educational Scheme, but he also lectured for the Workers Educational Association (WEA), usually about colonial issues.

In September 1946, Kenyatta sailed from Southampton, leaving behind Edna and their child at Thakeham. Once home, as the unquestioned leader of the new nationalism, he soon became fully immersed in Kenyan politics.

His primary objective was to show the colonial authorities the dangerous consequences of ignoring the new nationalist movement.

However, this is not to deny that he was probably prepared to tolerate a certain amount of violence, should the government not come to its senses and fail to grant concessions to the nationalists.

Kenyatta's alleged involvement with the "Mau Mau" rebellion during the 1950s has effectively tainted his reputation ever since.

It was his failure to gain any concessions after World War II which enabled the militants to come to power, and the result was the tragedy of the "Mau Mau" rebellion: with the enormous loss of 13,547 lives (of whom 13,423 were Kikuyu alone).

Kenyatta's responsibility for "Mau Mau" has been the subject of a great deal of debate, but he openly condemned it on a number of occasions because it threatened to destroy the tribal unity he had been carefully nurturing.

Unfortunately; he lost the initiative to the militants who exploited his position as the father of the nationalist movement by elevating him to the position of "leader" of "Mau Mau", whether he liked it or not - even after his detention by the colonial authorities.

The tragedy of "Mau Mau" is that it need never have happened - an enlightened government would have seen the folly of continuing to suppress all African aspirations.

By 1956 the rebellion was over; more than 11,000 Kikuyu had been killed by the security forces. But all had not been in vain; the revolt ensured that change was inevitable and in 1961 Kenyatta and the other detainees were released.

During negotiations with the British Government in London in October, 1963, Kenyatta took the opportunity to revisit old friends in West Sussex. He visited Roy Armstrong at his wartime home at Highover, Bracken Lane, complete with limousine, cabinet and bodyguards!

Politics was apparently not one of the subjects they covered. Arthur Johnson of West Chiltington, who knew Kenyatta very well during the war years, stated that he "could never believe that he was responsible for those atrocities in Kenya."

Arthur’s wife said: 'We remember him as he was here. We thought he was a very friendly and very nice, charming man who was very fond of children and of animals."

Mrs FW Eddolls, in charge of the Linfields' canteen during the war, also said how she found him to be "a very nice and likeable chap" and how she would be very pleased to see him again.

In 1964 Kenya became a republic within the British Commonwealth with Kenyatta its first president. He had come a long way from his days as the friendly, helpful nursery worker at Linfields' nursery!

His first act was to welcome the frightened whites to stay in the country.

Even though he had been kept in detention by the colonial government for nine years, he was able to forget his own suffering and offer the hand of reconciliation. He also knew the importance of maintaining stability in Kenya if foreign capital was still to be invested in the new state.

Despite the years of violence of "Mau Mau", Kenya soon became a model of harmony and stability. Foreign investment boomed and the economy flourished".

SOME KENYATTA QUOTES

"I like the English - in England. Africa is for the Africans."

"When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible."

"It Africans were left in peace on their own lands, Europeans would have to offer them the benefits of white civilization in real earnest before they could obtain the African labour which they want so much. They would have to offer the African a way of life which was really superior to the one his father lived before, and a share in the prosperity given them by their command of science. They would have to let the African choose what parts of European culture could be beneficially transplanted, and how they could be adapted ... The African is conditioned, by cultural and social institutions of centuries, to a freedom of which Europe has little conception, and it is not in his nature to accept serfdom forever."

"To all the dispossessed youth of Africa: (we strive) for perpetuation of communion with ancestral spirits through the fight for African freedom, and in the firm faith that the dead, the living, and the unborn will unite to rebuild the destroyed shrines."

"Europeans assume that, given the right knowledge and ideas, personal relations can be left largely to take care of themselves, and this is perhaps the most fundamental difference in outlook between Africans and Europeans."

"The European condemns the Africans for having two wives yet he keeps two mistresses".

"Many people may think that, now there is Uhuru, now I can see the sun of Freedom shinning, richness will pour down like manna from Heaven. I tell you there will be nothing from Heaven. We must all work hard, with our hands, to save ourselves from poverty, ignorance, and disease."

"I have no intention of retaliating or looking backwards. We are going to forget the past and look forward to the future."

"Don't be fooled into turning to Communism looking for food."

"God said this is our land, land in which we flourish as people... we want our cattle to get fat on our land so that our children grow up in prosperity; and we do not want the fat removed to feed others."