Thursday 27 March 2008

Wiping out another World's Lost Tribe

The conquering might of strange diseases

We would never know the complete truth about how the conquistadors introduced the pox and syphilis to the tribes of the Americas that eventually wiped out swathes of indigenous and enduring civilisations in such a short time.

We are however left with the monuments and the historical heritage of peoples whose resourcefulness and genius still leaves us in bewilderment and wonder, all for the purposes of discovering new civilisations for the West.

Some would think these stories belong to centuries old folklore but the fact is there are still many undiscovered tribes in the far recesses of the world yet unexplored.

Seeking out others to wipe out

The next question would be if it is necessary for us to demand as we sit in the comfort of our homes channel-hopping between National Geographic and Discovery that these “lost” tribes be sought out and exposed to public scrutiny bordering on ridicule in the name of the quest for knowledge.

Recently, a television company – Cicada Films – involved in the production of a programme called World’s Lost Tribes for the Discovery Channel found themselves in this throwback that appears to have inflicted the discovered in remote Peru with a fatal flu that has killed four people and has a possibility of making the “Lost” tribe history.

They are not lost

For all intents and purposes, none of these tribes are lost, they have their place in the world just like we all do and they live off world and its resources according to their age-old traditions that might not align with ours.

They have a right to their unexplored corner of the world and we sometimes have to temper our curiosity with concern for the fact that our searching them out might be worse than inflicting upon them an incurable plague.

Can we help them?

If however, these people do get infected, there is no guarantee that our chemical potions that we call medicines would be efficacious in their undefiled bodies – running a medical emergency team into their communes might just do a lot more damage to their existence.

As it stands, there are accusations and denials, which are to be expected, but one cannot really say that the television company having seen more “modern” tribes in their journeys; they were not tempted to go to more remote areas to see the legends, the myths and ululate in the glory of bringing the curse of modernity to the blessing of remoteness.

Accessories to murder

In my view, if we were to discover these tribes from afar by chance, so be it, but when we venture into these areas, we must be self-quarantined to ensure that our curiosity does not kill what we are curious about.

Once again, we find people who exist in their cocoon of almost insignificant impact on the world bearing the brunt of intemperate modernity and dying to a cause that they never had the opportunity or power to avoid.

We are no less culpable and accessories to murder if we do not condemn these forays into the unnecessary to satisfy the questionable with the aim of entertainment better served by other issues involving the tribes we already know that roam our streets; the homeless, the helpless and the destitute.

We need to think about what we do in the search for knowledge of other civilisations.

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