Thursday, February 17, 2011

People's Land, Land's People

In Potiki, there was the constant mention of the land, what the people could do for the land and what the land could do for the people. Whatever trials and tribulations the land went through, it reflected on the people because they were apart of the land, and even more they relied on that land to survive.

When I was growing up in Jamaica, we had land around our house. Our house was in the middle and to the left and right when you looked around, it was all green with an almond tree, a cherry tree and an ackee (Jamaican fruit) tree all positioned at random places around the yard. To me, this land was just something to play on when I came home form school or just to chase and catch grasshoppers with my cousins on the weekend. There were times when we would pick and eat cherries and almonds or my aunt would take the ackee off and cook it, but we never relied on it as our only source of food. When someone didn’t feel like cooking, it was off to a Chinese restaurant or a pizza place for dinner.

On the other hand, my mother had family who lived on the countryside of Jamaica that we would visit a couple times of year. Compared to our sporadic use of the land, my family in the country relied on the land for their daily survival. They had cows, goats, multiple chicken coops and various plants. I remember one time we visited, I was around six, and I had a couple candy wrappers from the car ride. I guess I couldn’t wait to get inside to throw it away, so I just dropped in the yard and continued to walk away like I didn’t do anything wrong. I thought I was off the hook, but my great aunt saw me and she snatched me up SO quickly and dragged me over to the wrappers and proceeded to yell at me saying “Tiffani, if you’re mean to my yard (land), then it will be mean to you!!!” among other things. I clearly didn’t understand what she meant by that and thought she was just being her usual dramatic self. However, after reading this I completely understand what she was saying. Like the Maori people, they had a relationship with the land and both parties had to be respectful to each other to bring about the best results for everyone. I don’t think that Grandma Tamihana would’ve taken the method that my great aunt took to make the children realize how important the land is, but the bottom line is still the same. The land becomes apart of the family and the family becomes a part of the land.

Reading the other stories and what I had previously thought of what a “home” or “homeland” is, this definitely made it a little more complex. Before, I just simply thought that home is where a person feels more comfortable, the place where you can be yourself without the pressures of the external/society. Reading “Potiki”, it brought me to the conclusion that the land, meaning Earth, in general is one’s home. Before we had actual houses and buildings and separate continents/countries, the Earth was one big place that took care of its inhabitants. In return the inhabitants took care of the land because of the benefits they got from it. Regardless of race, nationality, religion, we still live off the earth, however I don’t think that the Maori people would be too proud because we basically only use the land to benefit us. I don’t think that we take care of the earth as it should be taken care of.

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