Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Louder than sirens

Does Australia have any history? Back beyond the settlement? Did the Aboriginal tribes have wars? Is there anything beyond the Dreaming, anything dealing with things beyond the creation?

I ask because I don’t know.

Africa has history, and lots of it. Whether European colonial, or traditional, it’s there. You can trace the footsteps of Shaka, find his kingdom between the Umzikulu river and Pongolo river, as he strengthened one of the proudest nations, or envision the diplomacy and victories that defined Moshes and the Sotho people. The Mfecane. That’s not even scratching the surface. That’s 'recent'. It goes up, further and further into the continent, all the way up to Egypt, its history stretching back beyond remembrance. It’s a continent filled with stories, marked by battle scars and glutted with the blood of warriors and innocents alike – continuing to this very moment.

History has its own power. To those who will feel it. I’ve stood on sacred lands and ancient battlefields and I think the earth remembers. There's something older, and deeper, and disconcerting. These things are so far beyond my comprehension, but it stirs something within me. And as I work my way through the ancient history of this world, not with the attention of a school girl but one with a genuine unquenchable interest, I find myself utterly enthralled. Can’t you see them, standing on the plains? Proud and fierce. All the warriors who lived and died by the sword, in a time when war was still honourable, glorious and terrible. The earth soaked in their blood, and never forgot it. Neither did history. Sure, it is written by the victors, and in the end we can never really be sure of the line between fact or fiction, and we will never truly know anything as time sweeps it away indiscriminately. But the great warriors all got what they wanted in the end, didn’t they? Immortality. Over two thousands years later, we know their names. We remember the battles.

And my heart aches from the majesty of it all.

Man’s immortality is not to live for ever; for that wish is born of fear. Each moment free from fear makes a man immortal.

Music: Drumming song - Florence + The Machine

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