Lost White Tribes: Journeys Among the Forgotten

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9780099289463: Lost White Tribes: Journeys Among the Forgotten

Over three hundred years ago the first European colonialists set foot in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to found permanent outposts of the great empires. This epic migration continued until after World War II when these tropical outposts became independent black nations, and the white colonials were forced, or chose, to return home. Some of these colonial descendants, however, had become outcasts in the poorest stratas of the society of which they were now a part. Ignored by both the former slaves and the modern privileged white immigrants, and unable to afford the long journey home, they still hold out today, hiding in remote valleys and hills, 'lost white tribes' living in poverty with the proud myth of their colonial ancestors. Forced to marry within the tribe to retain their fair-skinned 'purity' they are torn between the memory of past privileges and the present need to integrate into the surrounding society.The tribes investigated in this book share much besides the colour of their skin: all are decreasing in number, many are on the verge of extinction, fighting to survive in countries that alienate them because of the colour of their skin. Riccardo Orizio investigates: the Blancs Matignon of Guadeloupe; the Burghers of Sri Lanka; the Poles of Haiti; the Basters of Namibia; the Germans of Seaford Town, Jamaica; the Confederados of Brazil.

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Product Description:

Lost White Tribes Deals with different tribes that are decreasing in number, many on the verge of extinction, fighting to survive in countries that alienate them because of the colour of their skin. This title investigates such tribes as: the Blancs Matignon of Guadeloupe; the Burghers of Sri Lanka; and the Poles of Haiti. Full description

Review:

History, with its loose ends, rough edges, strange anomalies and surreal quirks, is rarely neat. The quirky and anomalous leftover colonial communities described in Lost White Tribes are a case in point. As Milanese journalist Riccardo Orizio puts it in the introduction, the European emigrants left stranded by the retreating tides of imperialism are among today's "forgotten people".

One such tribe is the Burghers of Sri Lanka, an enclave of Netherlanders who stayed East after the Dutch Empire was overrun by the British around 1800. As Orizio wanders among the Burghers' crumbling bungalows and pre-war ballrooms, he finds a half-assimilated people fond of operatic melancholy and short-wave radio, prone to singing a national anthem that sums up their linguistic and ethnic confusion: "We subjects of great England's King, From Ceylon's distant strand, To thee our loving tribute bring, Het Lieve Vaterland". Other tribes Orizio encounters are equally obscure. In Brazil he meets Confederate Americans. In Guadaloupe he uncovers incestuous Normans. In Haiti, he holes up with Poles.

But perhaps most remarkable is the last community he encounters: the Basters of Namibia. A miraculous hybrid of Bushman and Afrikaaner, these green-eyed, pale-faced, somehow "Oriental-looking" people, fled the British imperialists of the Cape Colony to settle in the deserts of South West Africa. There they survived, and even thrived: they became known for their devout ways, as well as the beauty of their uniquely petite women. Orizio's eloquent descriptions of the offbeat Basters--their tenacity, integrity, and bravery--stand comparison with some of the best travel writing of recent years, and are a fitting end to a profoundly intriguing book. --Sean Thomas

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Orizio, Riccardo
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