By Owei Lakemfa
SUNDAY, September 19, 2021 like past Sundays in the Canary Islands promised to be a quiet, restful day. It was also a day of Christian worship. But beneath the earth of La Palma on the islands, rock had been pulverised and turned into molten.
That afternoon, the lava sprouted into the air triggering off volcanic eruptions which are still raging. The lava flowed like a river from the Cumbre Vieja volcano and got to the sea within ten days.
It was a hapless populace that watched the volcanic eruptions in which many had lost all they have, many houses destroyed and over 268 hectares of farmland with their bananas, grapes and avocado, leaked by the lava.
In the early days of the eruption, even as residents sat dejectedly bemoaning their loss and wondering how they can start picking up the pieces of their lives, excited tourists were pouring in taking photographs and selfies which were being posted in the social media.
They were excited by the fountains of lava sprouting into the sky and returning to earth before flowing in at least three directions, destroying all in their path. The tourists had no empathy for the dejected residents.
The Spanish government also had little empathy; it saw the tragedy as a good opportunity of making money. The morning after the eruptions began with people fleeing their homes and some residents being evacuated, Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto Illera, sent a message to tourists and potential tourists that the island was safe for tourists, especially to watch the eruption live. To Maroto, the issue is not the evacuation of residents, the protection of lives or the general danger including to the environment and climate the eruption poses.
Rather, to the economist: “The most important thing right now is reassuring tourists who have been affected, and also those who may be travelling to the island today or during the course of the week. We’re providing information so that tourists can travel to the island and witness something undoubtedly unprecedented for themselves.
That information will let tourists know that the island is open and also whether their hotel has been affected so they can stay elsewhere and enjoy their holidays. We can also make the most of this as an attraction so that a lot of tourists who want to enjoy what nature has brought to La Palma can do so in the coming weeks and months.”
This is incredible, but true. The indifferent behaviour and money-centred reaction of the Spanish Minister is a reminder that the Western ideology can be cold, infernal and interested primarily in exploitation and profit.
What rules the being of the Spanish minister is the lots of money that can be made in selling the unfolding disaster as a perfect tourist package. Although a member of the Spanish Socialist Party, she is blind to the loss and sorrow of the victims of the volcano who are her fellow Spaniards.
She is also unperturbed by the unfolding environmental disaster including the fact that the eruption and lava would change the geographic shape of La Palma and its environs. It is an eruption which registered over 22,000 tremors in one week!
Just so you know that Maroto’s mind set is institutional, her boss, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, visited this week. While promising a 206 million euros ($239m) aid, he urged tourists the world over to come and watch the unfolding tragedy: “I would like to let tourists know that this is a safe place, they can come and enjoy the island.” Campaigning that people should “come and enjoy” a disaster? What really is left of our humanity?
This was the same mind-set that led their forefathers to exterminate the indigenous African population and turn the islands into a White enclave. Once on a trip to Spain, the then Iberian Airlines which took me from Lagos had a stop-over in the Canary Islands, and I told myself, wait a minute; we just left Lagos!
That was when I realised that rather than being Spanish, the Canary Islands are actually in West Africa! They are just 587 kilometres from Western Sahara and 992 kilometres from the West African country of Mauritania while imperial Spain that lays claims to the islands is 2,016.7 kilometres away!
In fact, the West African country of Cape Verde is farther than the Canary Islands! Where the islands are 587 kilometres from Western Sahara, Cape Verde is 1,358 kilometres away.
The Spanish began their conquest of the Canaries in the early 1400s and systematically began to wipe out the local populace. Their main objective was the extermination of the local male populace while using the local females for interbreeding.
Only partial Canarian customs and traditions like the whistle language (Silbo) still survive. The main Canarian language, Guanche of the pre-colonial era, became extinct in the 17th Century.
What the Spaniads did in the Canaries to the indigenous populace by virtually exterminating them and seizing the lands, is the same thing Britain did in Australia and the White migrants, to the indigenous Indian population in the United States.
That was what the Whites tried to do in Kenya, Algeria, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The method adopted is the same; White colonialists seize a territory and try to exterminate the local population.
There are other African territories the Spanish seized and continue to occupy. There are three of them that are Moroccan. These are Ceuta, which a mere eight kilometres from Morocco, Penon de Valez de la Gomera which is 75 kilomtres and Melilla which is 10.5 kilometres from Morocco.
While holding on to Moroccan lands, the Spaniards try to bribe the Moroccans with other peoples’ lands. When the Spanish colonialists formally left Western Sahara on February 26, 1976, rather than allow the Saharawi independence like other colonies, they gave the country to Morocco as a sort of propitiation.
So rather than challenge the Spaniards for their lands, the Moroccans are trying to hold on to Western Sahara. Both countries also continue to collaborate in this unholy project. For instance, when Morocco “expelled” the Saharawi patriot, Aminatu Haida from her country on November 13, 2009, she was taken to the Canary Islands where the Spanish tried to prevent her from leaving the islands.
There may be no hope of Africa taking back her territories especially when the local populace had been wiped out, but our memories must not be wiped clean. As humans, we must empathise with the residents of the the Canary Islands in this their time of grief, but that is not to say we should forget that these islands even if owned by Spain, are African.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.