Rant of the Week

Go Away


The Sentinelese live on an island at the west-ward tip of the Great Andaman Archipelago, which is in the Bay of Bengal, due east from India. You do not want to visit this place.

They don't want us and they won't have us.  It is rather shocking to read, in this day and age, that there is yet an aboriginal culture that resists homogenization.  Homogenization?  They don't even want to get to know us.  When a pair of fisherman inadvertently drifted into their waters, the Sentinelese killed them.  A helicopter was sent to retrieve their bodies: the Sentinelese drove it off with bows and arrows.  Go away.  The bodies remain unrecovered.

I find the existence of the Sentinelese reassuring.  I don't like the thought of travelling to the most obscure, distant corner of the earth, slashing my way through dense jungle, climbing through volcanic rock and vale, only to come upon a native child wearing a Nike swoosh and listening to music on his headphones, watching survivor on his portable satellite TV.  The Sentinelese, surprisingly, don't want any contact with our culture.  Even more surprising is the fact that India, which has nominal control over the islands, has chosen not to press the point.  This is in utter defiance of the sad, long history of encounters between different cultures, one of which is powerful and rich.  Usually, we want to kill and enslave them.

They tried.  They left gifts of cocoanuts.  The Sentinelse accepted the gifts and refused to act grateful. 

It was when they killed the fishermen and drove off the helicopter that the Indian government decided it was best to leave them alone.   I think they should get some kind of big international prize for this decision.

They don't want our medicine, our appliances, our toys, not even our agriculture (they fish and harvest native fruits from trees).  They don't want us to enlighten or frighten or amuse or confuse them. 

They want to be left in peace.


All Contents Copyright Bill Van Dyk 2011 All Rights Reserved