Unveiling The Myth Of Columbus
September 03, 1998
By Corey Gilkes
Now that the issue of gender in the education system is being addressed, is it too much to to hope that some influential person addresses the sick joke that is our schools' history syllabus?
There is so much misinformation that in no small way contributes to the racial friction, religious bigotry and culture of violence that may one day tear this country apart. Yet, it is nothing short of amazing that no one sees the importance of putting these and other issues in their proper historical perspective so that we can move ahead with a clearer vision.
For example, this year makes 500 years since the Columbus expedition and still there has been no proper analysis of that period in a public forum. In fact, with all due respect to Michael Anthony all we have is that old romanticised nonsense that has little foundation in fact. An examination of The Log of Christopher Columbus translated by Robert Fuson; The Columbus Conspiracy by Michael Bradley; Sails of Hope: The Secret Mission of Christopher Columbus by Simon Wiesenthal and even The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews by the Nation of Islam, would reveal that no one knows who Cristobal Colon really was - the name was an alias; he was not born poor and there is no proof that he was born in Genoa either.
Indeed, one contemporary account says that the person who answers to the description of Columbus spoke no Italian at all.
The facts suggest that he may have been a French pirate, a Jewish or a Cathar heretic,and that the Columbus story may have been about two people, not one.
Further, the first voyage may have had nothing to do with discovery or finding a new route. Contrary to popular belief no educated person in Europe believed the earth to be flat and, not discounting the African ocean voyages to the Americas before Columbus, Columbus was not even the first European to make the voyage.
Nevertheless, whoever this individual was, he did set in motion certain acts of criminality that have not been dealt with though they still affect our lives.
The Columbian expedition initiated the exploitation of Africa, the Americas and Asia for the benefit of the European and later on the EuroAmerican economies. It laid the basis for Western European racism, the disrespect shown towards other peoples cultures, the extensive use of religion as a justification for murder, enslavement, rape and bigotry.
What is most tragic is the fact that they enslaved not only people, but also information; information about themselves,about other peoples cultures and most disastrous of all, information about one's approach to spirituality.
This of course crucial for the preservation of European hegemony. They understood something we are yet to understand: you cannot control a historically conscious people.
Hence the confusion about history and the perpetuation of a myth of which Columbus was an initiator - that the world waited in darkness for the Europeans to bring the light of civilisation.
So if we want to start addressing our present problems, let us first return to the source; to an individual who never even set foot on Trinidad soil. And let us also do it out of respect for those indigenous peoples who perished.
3 days later Michael Anthony sent this response in the Express
It is interesting that A Corey Gilkes has picked on a historical figure about whom almost every detail is known - Cristobal Colon [Christopher Columbus] - to say few books "reveal" that no one knows who Colon was.
Is he implying that these authors are right and the scores of authors who have written on every aspect of the life and times of Columbus did not know what they were writing about?
Further, when he says the name "Cristobal Colon" is ana alias, is he implying that the name of Cristobal's brother, Bartholome Colon is an alias also? Or that the names of Columbus' sons, Diego and Fernando,are aliases?
And when he says that there is no proof that Colon was born in Genoa, is he suggesting that the Genoese municipality which keeps Colon's family house as a museum, is out of touch with reality?
But what I would like A Corey Gilkes to consider is whether Fernando Colon, who sailed with his father with his father on the fourth voyage was downright crazy. For Fernando in a book on his father, talks a great deal about his father's background.
Controversy of the kind A Corey Gilkes touches on is usually very attractive, especially so as one does not need to do any research or to verify anything.one does not need to do any research or to verify anything. All one has to do is read books like those he quoted, The Columbus Conspiracy, Sails of Hope,etc. and come to the conclusion that these books "reveal" that no one knows who Colon really was.
Certainly there are questions to be asked about Columbus' voyages and the intent. It is difficult to believe, for instance, that Colon set out to find the rich and powerful land of Cathay [China]and the court of its king, the Great Khan, and yet the first thing he does on arrival is to claim this powerful ruler's land for Spain. This makes a lot of us wonder what was the truth. Could he really have believed he was in Cathay?
But today, 500 years after Colon's arrival, the issue is hardly the motive which led him here. No one can deny that Colon's was a ruthless path, and a path which led to slavery and suffering.
The fact is that the voyage of 1498 is of special significance for us. If we are glad to be here, if we feel something special for this island, then let the celebrations begin!
My reply which neither the Express nor Newsday printed.
I seem to have incurred the ire of Mr Michael Anthony, a scholar for whom I have the deepest respect, for questioning the existence and the validity of the life of Columbus.
While I never intended to make fun of the work of the many researchers, I did intend to call attention to some aspects of the life and times of Columbus that simply do not make sense. While it is true that controversy sells, controversy also sometimes may be closer to the point than accepted, conservative views.
The writers I quoted simply chose to look at some key pieces of the puzzle that may have been missed or ignored. So to say in a simplistic way that "[O]ne does not need to do any research or verify anything. All one has to do is read a few books...." is rather unfair. Since none of us actually lived during the period in question, we all have had to read a few books.
To illustrate, years ago, I depended heavily upon Michael Anthony's book "Parade of the Carnivals" which gave a lot of information of early carnival in Trinidad but said nothing about its Egyptian origin. I had to find that out elsewhere. Numerous writers have written about Christ Jesus as if they knew him intimately. That still does not remove the fact that this was a mythical character of whom nothing was written about until long after the time in which he was supposed to have existed.
In spite of what Mr Anthony had argued, there still remains some very important questions:
How is it that a man supposedly born to poor parents could recieve so much high education and move within aristocratic circles in a very class-conscious Spain? And how could he, as a poor foreigner, have married into Portuguese aristocracy?
How could one of his contemporaries remark that he spoke not a word of Italian.
How is it that his name, which is Latin for "the dove", is found to be intimately tied in to a shadowy group of warrior-priests [the Templars] who were supposedly exterminated over two centuries before? The same group of people who had gone to Jerusalem and returned with maps and other documents from the sacked libraries of Alexandria.
Was there not a French pirate of whom a great deal is known and whose name [or maybe an alias as well] was "Coulon"[Dove]?
Why is it that of all the crosses that could have been painted on the sails of his ship, the ones used are actually Templar crosses?
Why was there no Catholic priest on his first voyage?
How is it that his first voyage was financed by four Jewish bankers whose names are known to us?
Is it coincidence that the day he weighed anchor and set sail, August 3, was also the deadline for all Jews to leave Spain?
For someone of whom there is supposed to be so much details, why are scholars not sure whether Bartholome Colon was the uncle, older or younger brother of Cristobal? Indeed, his identity is as much a mystery as Cristobal's.
And why was such a distant subject prominent on the minds of such famous 20th century figures as Charles DeGaulle and Franklin D Roosevelt to the point where it seemed to influence certain political decisions?
I am convinced that this issue is by no means settled particularly when one considers that he concealed the details of his early life from even his children. Maybe by re-examining these missing links we may be able to better understand our present situations. I am not saying that I am completely correct but there are too much lingering questions that conservative historians simply prefer to ignore. We should be thankful that we are here and celebrate this fact but at the very least let us decide for ourselves what parts of history are important to us.
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