THE EDITOR: Born in Moguer, Spain, Pedro Alonso Niño (1468-1505) accompanied Christopher Columbus on his third voyage, when they first sighted Trinidad.
Returning to Spain, the Council of Castile gave Niño permission to discover new lands, making him one of the black conquistadors of Spain. Niño discovered the famous salt mines at Punta Araya and returned to Spain loaded with wealth, after a voyage of two months.
One wonders if the faceless cowards and barbarians who defaced Columbus’ statue would have done the same to a statue of this black Spanish explorer. One can only speculate about the motives of those who would harm us by depriving us of valid public and historic symbols of our Creole heritage and who are bent on imitating and imposing the liberal North American agenda on nationals of TT.
The simple truth is that Columbus, though a flawed man of his age, was neither a faceless coward nor barbarian and should be honoured in the present for his heroic deeds without which there would be no parang, no cariso (calypso), no patois, no steel pan — in short, no Creole culture. The public should not be manipulated into projecting onto historic figures by judging their actions according to modern perspectives and thereby discounting their achievements. As one commentator has stated, “Columbus transcended ordinary thinking and centuries of legitimate doubt that one could sail west to the Indies because there were no ports to replenish and reprovision ships on such a long voyage.
What Columbus did took guts and it was based on a unique vision of how the waves and winds acted in concert. It required a brave and extraordinary man to not only sell this idea to the courts of Europe, but to actually do it.”
It is not that we do not remember but that we are almost never told the full story. We repeatedly hear only that Columbus brought destruction on an innocent people yet are given no instance of this in our own history.
There are those among us who countenance no sin that does not yield to their feigned indignation, like a preacher who sees only the sins of others and not his own. In my experience, such people pursue popular acceptance to conceal their own bitterness and low self-esteem, even as they take sordid delight in taunting the rest of us with their lack of culture.
STEVE ESCALIER via e-mail