A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 13 April 2009

Easter: An Alternative View

The cathedral church of Sefwi-Wiawso, set on the top of a hill in a remote part of western Ghana, looks out over miles of what was once forest. The land from here and across the border to nearby Ivory Coast is where the majority of the world's chocolate comes from. The chances are the chocolate in your Easter egg comes from somewhere nearby. But in order to produce more chocolate, vast areas of the forest have been hacked down and converted to cocoa production, with the result that much of the good soil is washed away when the rain comes.
There are echoes here of past miseries. For the European sweet tooth drove the slave trade in the 18th century, creating the demand for sugar that led to the capture and forced deportation of millions of Africans to work on the plantations of the new world. Huge seaside forts were built on the then Gold Coast to act as holding pens for slaves. And above these prisons, the Europeans built their churches and chapels. Given the way Christianity arrived on the west coast of Africa, it amazes me that it has flourished as it has.
Giles Fraser, vicar of Putney (from The Merciful Crucifixion, an article in The Guardian, Saturday 11 April 2009).


The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting post for Easter Robert - and much food (choc and otherwise) for thought. Hope things are going well for you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

What has always amazed me is how easily it has always been for men of all races—who on the streets of their home village would characterize themselves as merciful and civilized—to cross whatever the dividing boundary, land or sea, and so wantonly subjugate and destroy anyone they found. Nations hate other nations; tribes hate other tribe; families hate other families; men hate other men. We are all murderous, hating, bigots. We justify this in the name of race, religion, age, sex, skin color, education, creed, property, land, treasure—it matters not; there are a thousand excuses and no reasons.

What we hate is difference of any sort.

Man's inhumanity to his fellow men is certainly an encouragement to me to celebrate the alternate message and inherent philosophy of Easter!

The Solitary Walker said...

Things fine, Weaver - enjoying my new job, though I'm spending a lot of hours at it.

That's all so sadly true, Grizzled. I'm coming across prejudice (not directed at me) and intolerance in my new job - which has been surprising, and disturbing.

gleaner said...

Media coverage related to the ethics behind eating chocolate is gathering speed, particularly as the majority of it involves child slavery. I don't know the link but there are some really confronting videos on u-tube. Also one really inspiration guy in Holland who waged legal action on the major chocolate manufacturers.