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Thursday, September 1, 2022

Amazon ! - man of the hole - is no more - another tribe vanishes !!!

Wind back to 1990 -  Thirumala theatre, Main road, Kakinada  – it was day 175 of Bobbili Raja - fans were singing along merrily and dancing to the hit no. :  బలపం పట్టి భామ బళ్లో - అఆఇఈ నేర్చుకుంటా  (balapam patti baama ballo a aa e ee nerchukunta - pantam patti prema vollo a aa o oo padukunta)


A typical Telugu blockbuster - some of the scenes were from that famous hit film ‘Gods must be Crazy’.  Xi and his  tribe of  bushmen are living happily in the Kalahari Desert, far away from Western civilization. One day, a glass Coca-Cola bottle is carelessly thrown out of an airplane by a pilot and falls to Earth unbroken. Initially, Xi's people assume this strange artefact is a "gift" from   heaven and find many uses for it. Unlike other bounties, however, there is only one glass bottle, which causes unforeseen conflict within the tribe. Consequently, Xi confers with elders and agrees to make a pilgrimage to the edge of the world and dispose of the supposedly cursed thing.

The telegu film ‘Bobbili Raja’ starring Venkatesh & Divya Bharti was a sensational musical hit too with the music of Illayaraja.  Gods Must Be Crazy is a 1980 South African comedy film written and directed by Jamie Uys.  Set in Botswana, it follows the story of Xi, a San of the Kalahari Desert whose tribe has no knowledge of the world beyond.  

To many a people, the word Amazon refers to the e-commerce giant.,  is a multinational technology company focusing in e-commerce, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence in Seattle, Washington.   It is one of the Big Four or "Four Horsemen" of technology along with Google, Apple and Facebook due to its market capitalization, disruptive innovation, brand equity and hyper-competitive application process.   Amazon has separate retail websites for the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India, Mexico, Singapore, and Turkey.  The Amazon logo is an extremely simple logo and while the arrow may just look like a smile it actually points from a to z.  

For those students of Geography - Amazon River is the largest river in South America.  The headwaters of the Apurímac River on Nevado Mismi had been considered for nearly a century as the Amazon’s most distant source, until a 2014 study found it to be the Cordillera Rumi Cruz at the headwaters of the Mantaro River in Peru.  The Mantaro and Apurímac join, and with other tributaries form the Ucayali River, which in turn meets the Marañón River upstream of Iquitos, Peru, to form what countries other than Brazil consider to be the main stem of the Amazon.

In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a tribe of warrior women related to the Scythians and Sarmatians.   The Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America.  This region includes territory belonging to nine nations.  

It is all about a Man, whose privacy the civilized World did not respect !  .. .. a few years ago, the news of this man believed to be in his 50s seen swinging an axe to fell a tree in Brazilian forest went viral.   It was hyped to be remarkable footage of an uncontacted indigenous man who has lived alone in an Amazon forest for at least 22 years. The media further described him as : Semi-naked and swinging an axe vigorously as he fells a tree, the man, believed to be in his 50s, has never been filmed so clearly before and appears to be in excellent health. “He is very well, hunting, maintaining some plantations of papaya, corn,” said a regional coordinator for the Brazilian government indigenous agency Funai in the Amazon state of Rondônia, who was with the team who filmed the footage from a distance.  

Known as the “indigenous man in the hole”, he was believed to be the only survivor from an isolated tribe. He hunted forest pigs, birds and monkeys with a bow and arrow and trapped prey in hidden holes filled with sharpened staves of wood. He and his group were known for digging holes and his hammock was strung over one in his house.  .. .. sadly, loggers, farmers and land grabbers murdered and expelled indigenous populations in the area in the 1970s and 1980s, and the man is believed to be the only survivor of a group of six killed during an attack by farmers in 1995. He was first located in 1996 and was monitored by Funai ever since. A glimpse of his face filmed in 1998 was shown in the Brazilian documentary Corumbiara.  The man - Funai had a policy of avoiding contact with isolated groups and has protected his area since the 1990s.  

Sadder still .. .. Amazon activists mourn death of ‘man of the hole’, last of his tribe .. the news is the  unidentified and charismatic Indigenous man thought to have been the last of his tribe has died in the Brazilian Amazon, causing consternation among activists lamenting the loss of another ethnic language and culture. The solitary and mysterious man was known only as the Índio do Buraco, or the “Indigenous man of the hole”, because he spent much of his existence hiding or sheltering in pits he dug in the ground. Over a period of decades, during which his land was attacked and friends and family were killed, he resisted all attempts to contact him, laying traps and shooting arrows at anyone who came too close.

                       “Having endured atrocious massacres and land invasions, rejecting contact with outsiders was his best chance of survival,” said   a campaigner at Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples. “He was the last of his tribe, and so that is one more tribe made extinct – not disappeared, as some people say, it’s much more active and genocidal a process than disappearing.”  Officials know very little about the man, but his determined independence and evident solace helped create a mystique around him that captured the attention of activists and media across Brazil and around the world.

His not trusting humans was a direct result of the traumating experiences with non-Indigenous people,” said Marcelo dos Santos, a retired explorer who monitored his wellbeing for Funai, Brazil’s national Indigenous foundation. They believe that sometime in the 1980s, illegal ranchers, after leaving initial offerings of sugar, gave the tribe rat poison that killed all bar the “man of the hole”.  How gruesome of the so called civilised barbarics!! 

A Funai official who monitored the man’s wellbeing from a distance found his body lying in a hammock in a state of decomposition. Because he had placed brightly coloured feathers around his body, the official believes the man had prepared for death. He estimated the man was about 60 years old. Indigenous organisations put the number of remaining tribes at between 235 and 300, but an exact figure is hard to determine because some tribes have had very little contact with settler society. At least 30 groups are believed to be living deep in the jungle and next to nothing is known about their numbers, their language or culture.

The area, along Brazil’s border with Bolivia, was and remains under attack by ranchers, prospectors and loggers who covet its valuable natural resources. The discovery led Funai to fence off an area where the man could live unhindered, and in 1997 the Tanaru reserve was formally created. The number of tribes whose land is under threat has soared since the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, took power in 2018.  Bolsonaro has long made his contempt for Indigenous peoples clear, once saying Brazil had erred by not decimating native peoples like the US cavalry did. Before assuming the presidency, he vowed not to give Indigenous people one more square centimetre of land, and he has kept that promise.

Bolsonaro and his men (there are so many around the globe) need to understand that they do not own this earth .. .. .. and many of the places that humans live have been treacherously converted / usurped from Nature and its original inhabitants. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th June 2022. 

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