Saturday, January 3, 2015

One of the interesting things about the state of affairs in the world is how the vestiges of colonialism and imperialism continue to impact international events.

We see it in the Middle East, the wreckage in much of Africa, the mixed messages in the United States towards Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the scars left by Spain and Portugal in South America.

The British Empire was perhaps most successful in gradually evolving into a Commonwealth of Nations. But they also had many failures as evidenced by their impacts on Yemen, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, Ireland and many others.

I traveled a great deal in the 1960’s and 1970”s and had a chance to see, first hand, a snapshot of the transition of many of these areas from colonies to nations. It was a bitter sweet period. The world was changing faster than the ability to adapt.

I wrote Aden Beach Club-1966 (Riding in Boxcars, 2006) near the end of one of these trips. During that journey I had a chance to witness the beauty of the Seychelles, the poverty of the Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, the confusion of post-Mau Mau Kenya, the barren end of the world in Oman, the magnificence of the Suez Canal and a Saudi Arabia only four years separated from legalized slavery.

The colonizing nations had a huge impact in all of these places. It was an interesting testament to the long term ramifications of what we do as nations and as citizens of the world.

The sun eventually sets on all of us. It is worth remembering that the beauty of what remains will depend on the perspective of those left behind to live it and write about it.

Glenn K. Currie

                    Aden Beach Club-1966

British troops rode with us,
Their guns resting,
On our travel kits,
Protecting us from rebels.
The beach club closed,
Except for special visits.

We drank gin and tonics,
In the empty club.
Quinine for malaria, we joked.
Later we sat on the sand,
And watched the sun set,
On the British Empire.