In any case, there must be a Jewish equivalent of this proverbial warning.
It’s a long time ago so I can’t recall his exact words. GAPS IN THE STORY Museums are peculiar places, full of art and politics. Let’s just say that if the Greeks, for example, were to be properly paid for their cultural artefacts now imprisoned in the museums of their far more affluent neighbours, the proceeds would go a long way to help balance the national budget.
Their curators lock up pieces of the past in pretty cages and tell stories about them that are true or false to varying degrees. Better yet, if the artefacts were liberated and repatriated, the Greeks could make even bigger bucks in heritage tourism.
I knew a bit about the Olmec heads but I wanted to hear the official story. But since it’s so obviously African, it had to mutate supernaturally into a non-human form.
I asked the tour guide how he accounted for the African appearance of the heads. The Mexican fairy tale of origins apparently could not accommodate an African genesis.
Ainsley Henriques, honorary secretary of the United Congregation of Israelites in Jamaica, ought to know the African-Jamaican proverb, ‘Cock mouth kill cock’. In his opening sentences, Ainsley launches a childish attack on the messenger, not the message: “Your columnist Professor Carolyn Cooper reminds me of the lines often given to recalcitrant school boys.
It’s not only black people in Jamaica who know that sometimes words have to be eaten. In a Gleaner article headlined, “Jews The Victims of Slavery, Too”, published on Friday, August 3, Ainsley gives a most peculiar response to my column, “Jews and Plantation Slavery in the Caribbean”, published on July 8.
Having sold their human ‘cargo’ and counted the profit, Jewish traders simply washed their hands of the whole sordid affair, just like Pontius Pilate.
And then there were those Jews who did own slave plantations.
Almost a century later, the American archaeologist Matthew Stirling began excavations in 1942 in the ancient city of La Venta. Don’t you know that Africans were in the Americas long before Columbus?
He discovered even more Olmec heads and found evidence of a civilization much older than the Mayan, Incan or Aztec, dating from about 1200 BC to 400 BC. ” The tour guide caved in: “Yes, yes the lady is right”. If you look at head number 6 from San Lorenzo, Veracruz, there is no way you could mistake this decidedly human face for a jaguar.