• Why do we even celebrate Columbus Day
It’s somewhat old hat at this point to point out that Christopher Columbus — in whose name children are off school and mail isn’t delivered today — was a homicidal tyrant who initiated the two greatest crimes in the history of the Western Hemisphere, the Atlantic slave trade, and the American Indian genocide.
Rehashing all of his crimes would require a much longer article, not least because evaluating the claims of contemporary primary sources is a somewhat tricky historiographical enterprise. Philadelphia Magazine’s Michael Coard has a good survey here; Howard Zinn’s work on this is controversial, but you can find a good excerpt at Jacobin and an illustrated version at the Oatmeal.
Here are just a handful of specific cases, mostly culled from Laurence Bergreen’s recent biography, Columbus: The Four Voyages, of almost unimaginable cruelty inflicted by Columbus and his crew during their time in the Caribbean.
1) Columbus kidnapped a Carib woman and gave her to a crew member to rape
Bergreen quotes Michele de Cuneo, who participated in Columbus’s second expedition to the Americas (page 143):
While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful woman, whom the Lord Admiral [Columbus] gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked — as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought she had been brought up in a school for whores.
2) On Hispaniola, a member of Columbus’s crew publicly cut off an Indian’s ears to shock others into submission.
After an attack by more than 2,000 Indians, Columbus had an underling, Alonso de Ojeda, bring him three Indian leaders, whom Columbus then ordered publicly beheaded. Ojeda also ordered his men to grab another Indian, bring him to the middle of his village, and “‘cut off his ears’ in retribution for the Indians’ failing to be helpful to the Spaniards when fording a stream.” (Bergreen, 170-171)
3) Columbus kidnapped and enslaved more than a thousand people on Hispaniola
According to Cuneo, Columbus ordered 1,500 men and women seized, letting 400 go and condemning 500 to be sent to Spain, and another 600 to be enslaved by Spanish men remaining on the island. About 200 of the 500 sent to Spain died on the voyage, and were thrown by the Spanish into the Atlantic. (Bergreen, 196-197)
4) Columbus forced Indians to collect gold for him or else die
Columbus ordered every Indian over 14 to give a large quantity of gold to the Spanish, on pain of death. Those in regions without much gold were allowed to give cotton instead. Participants in this system were given a “stamped copper or brass token to wear around their necks in what became a symbol of intolerable shame.” (Bergreen, 203)
5) About 50,000 Indians committed mass suicide rather than comply with the Spanish
Bergreen explains, page 204:
The Indians destroyed their stores of bread so that neither they nor the invaders would be able to eat it. They plunged off cliffs, they poisoned themselves with roots, and they starved themselves to death. Oppressed by the impossible requirement to deliver tributes of gold, the Indians were no longer able to tend their fields, or care for their sick, children, and elderly. They had given up and committed mass suicide to avoid being killed or captured by Christians, and to avoid sharing their land with them, their fields, groves, beaches, forests, and women: the future of their people.
6) 56 years after Columbus’s first voyage, only 500 out of 300,000 Indians remained on Hispaniola
Population figures from 500 years ago are necessarily imprecise, but Bergreen estimates that there were about 300,000 inhabitants of Hispaniola in 1492. Between 1494 and 1496, 100,000 died, half due to mass suicide. In 1508, the population was down to 60,000. By 1548, it was estimated to be only 500.
Understandably, some natives fled to the mountains to avoid the Spanish troops, only to have dogs set upon them by Columbus’s men. (Bergreen, 205)
7) Columbus was also horrible to the Spanish under his rule
While paling in comparison to his crimes against Caribs and Taino Indians, Columbus’s rule over Spanish settlers was also brutal. He ordered at least a dozen Spaniards “to be whipped in public, tied by the neck, and bound together by the feet” for trading gold for food to avoid starvation. He ordered a woman’s tongue cut out for having “spoken ill of the Admiral and his brothers.”
Another woman was “stripped and placed on the back of a donkey … to be whipped” as punishment for falsely claiming to be pregnant. He “ordered Spaniards to be hanged for stealing bread” (Bergreen, 315-316). Bergreen continues:
He even ordered the ears and nose cut off one miscreant, who was also whipped, shackled, and banished from the island. He ordered a cabin boy’s hand nailed in public to the spot where he had pulled a trap from a river and caught a fish. Whippings for minor infractions occurred with alarming frequency. Columbus ordered one wrongdoer to receive a hundred lashes — which could be fatal — for stealing sheep, and another for lying about the incident. An unlucky fellow named Juan Moreno received a hundred lashes for failing to gather enough food for Columbus’s pantry.
8) Settlers under Columbus sold 9- and 10-year-old girls into sexual slavery
This one he admitted himself in a letter to Doña Juana de la Torre, a friend of the Spanish queen: “There are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid.”
9) Indian slaves were beheaded when their Spanish captors couldn’t be bothered to untie them
Benjamin Keen, a historian of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, noted that multiple sources confirmed accounts of “exhausted Indian carriers, chained by the neck, whose heads the Spaniards severed from their bodies so they might not have to stop to untie them.”
NDDC: Akpabio threatens legal action over fake news of $5m bribe to Malami to secure sole administrator
Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has denied the news making the rounds in some media outfits that he offered a bribe of $5 million to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, to secure the appointment of a sole administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Also, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State has threatened legal action against the purveyors of the news inorder to clear his name and that of the Attorney General from the malicious publication.
The position of the Minister was contained in a statement signed by his media aide, Anietie Ekong, and made available to newsmen.
The statement read, “the attention of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has been drawn to a piece of fake news which claimed that Senator Akpabio paid $5 million bribe to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and others to secure the appointment of a Sole Administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“We wish to state categorically that this is a piece of malicious concoction manufactured from the pit of hell by mischief -makers. It is a figment of the imagination of the author of the fake news. Senator Akpabio denies the story in its entirety. The authors of the fake news should be ready to back up their claim or face the full wrath of the law.
“The story is a desperate attempt by some unscrupulous bloggers to impugn the integrity of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami as the claim is not only spurious but utterly ridiculous.
“The fact is that in a suit number ABJ/CS/617/2020 filed by a Civil Society Organization, Forum for Accountability and Good Governance, at a Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed had granted an order restraining the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC from performing the functions of the board and accessing the Commission’s offices and files.
“The Order clearly listed the Managing Director Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, Acting Executive Director of Projects Dr Cairo Ojougboh, Mrs Caroline Nagboh and Cecilia Akintomide as those restrained. The Order also asked that “the most senior civil servant or administrator in the Commission be appointed” to take charge of the Commission.
“It was based on this order that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the elevation of the Acting Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Mr Effiong Akwa, being the most Senior Administrator to take over the headship of the NDDC as an Interim Administrator pending the completion of the Forensic Audit Exercise.
“It is therefore absurd for anyone to even imagine that the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio would bribe the Attorney General before an Order of the Court is complied with as the purveyors of the fake news have stated. The general public should discountenance this piece of trash.
‘It is obvious that some persons who are scared of the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari are working tirelessly to scuttle the exercise by blackmailing the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio. Their modus operandi is to churn out fake news in a bid to stop Senator Akpabio from sanitizing the NDDC. Otherwise, how can a responsible news website make such a grievous allegation without any shred of evidence to back up its claim.
“However, we wish to state that no amount of sponsored fake news and blackmail would deter Senator Akpabio from doing the right thing as directed by Mr. President. The Minister has the overwhelming support of the impoverished masses of the Niger Delta who have borne the brunt of underdevelopment of the region over the years”, it concluded.
Alaafin of Oyo, encyclopedia of Yoruba culture and tradition – Tegbe
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state, Engr. Olasunkanmi Tegbe has described the Alaafin of Oyo, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III as an encyclopedia of the culture and traditions of the entire Yoruba race.
Congratulating the custodian of culture on his 50th coronation anniversary, Tegbe said Oba Adeyemi has displayed uncommon wisdom and emotional intelligence in administering his domain, fostering peace and sustainable development.
In a statement signed on Thursday and made available to Mega Icon Magazine, the APC chieftain added that the Alaafin has not only “sustained our heritage and identity as a people”, but also used his throne to build bridges of friendship and harmony in the state, across Yoruba Land and beyond.
“I felicitate with His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III on the 50th Anniversary of his ascension to the throne.
“In half a century, Kábíyèsí has displayed uncommon wisdom and emotional intelligence in administering his domain, fostering peace and sustainable development.
“Iku Baba Yeye has sustained our heritage and identity as a people. He is best described as an encyclopedia of the culture and traditions of the entire Yoruba race.
“Our Father has used his throne to build bridges of friendship and harmony in the state, across Yoruba Land and beyond.
“I remain proud of his progressive ideals, particularly the legacy of peace and harmony which Yorubas are known for.
“I pray that Kabiyesi spends many more years in good health”, the statement read.
Oyo PDP Chieftain, Abioye Fetes Less Privileged to Mark Birthday
In the spirit of showing love, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, Hon. Abioye Mathew Adegboyega has extended hands of fellowship to the orphans at Ibadan Home for Morheless Babies, Ibadan and beggars by donating cash gift to them to mark his birthday yesterday.
Abioye, who was a two term former member of the Oyo State House of Assembly informed that he took the decision to further display his passion for the deprived in the society to let them have sense of belonging.
According to him, “this is what I have been doing every year to relate with the poor. Coming to orphanage homes is to celebrate with sober reflection on the sad happenings experienced in the country and the world as a whole since last year especially the Corona virus disease that has killed millions of people and to thank God that despite that, God still preserve me to witness yet another birthday.”
While promising to continue to render assistance for the less privileged as long as he lives, the former lawmaker, however appealed to well meaning Nigerians and philanthropists to extend their wealth to the less privileged in the society.
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