Sunday, August 30, 2015


So many Pacific islands have been referred to in these entries, and almost all of them subject-islands, whether of European or Asian empires. They all, of course, have one other characteristic in common, which is the fact that an ancient way of life, complete with ancient customs, traditions, beliefs, social structures and conventions, in most cases ancient gods as well, is still alive and well, and resistant to the ideological imperialism of both Christianity and Islam, despite the many attempts by both to “enlighten” these “heathens”, and bring them out of their “ignorance” and “paganism” to the higher form of human life which both proclaim, though the evidence of history does almost nothing to support that claim. Tonga is one of the exceptions, having been proselytised into Christianity from the day that they were named the Friendly Islands because of the cordial welcome they gave to Captain Cook (very ironic that; they had invited him to their Inasi festival, which was being celebrated on the day of his arrival, and were planning to kill him while he banqueted; alas, they could not come up with a plan).

Tonga accepted Christianity, mostly as a consequence of a Wesleyan mission established there in the 1820s, but never gave up its sovereignty – it was a British Protectorate but was never subsumed into the Empire, probably because it has no mineral resources and therefore wasn’t worth the pay-back of garrisoning and raping - and its thousand-year history of dynastic kingship became a constitutional monarchy in 2010, leading to elections that ended feudal rule and established a Parliament, though there really isn’t much for the Parliament to do, except encourage tourism and look for ways to build economic prosperity out of nothing, some time in the future. The fact that Tonga's flag is a Red Cross may be an indication of the scale of the assistance of which it is in need, or of the heritage that it is still unable to cast off and leave behind.

Marks for: 2

Marks against: 2

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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