Today, we are on the story of the Waorani people. I am not going to tell you much about their story and how African can unlock our past history through it. But I am going to set you on a path of thinking so you can step out to know more for yourself.
The Waoranis are indigenous people who live in an area called Yasuní in the Amazon forest (a territory which by sovereignty, found within Ecuador).
They traditionally lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers in small clan settlements. They depend on their forests for food, shelter, and medicine. As a result, the Waoranis believe that the forest is their world and, hence, they have a duty to protect it and everything found within it.
Until 1958, the Waoranis have never come in contact with any external society or civilization; therefore, they lived a solitary life in the forest.
However, in 1958, Western resource explorers discovered that the Waorani’s forests contain huge deposit of oil and gold. They therefore negotiated with the government of Ecuador for exploration and extraction.
Knowing that their forest is their lives and their future; the Waoranis fought these Western colonizers when they attempted to enter their territory to exploit these resources. For a specific case in point, the Waoranis used their hunting device (arrows) to kill 2 of the colonizers and in retaliation, the colonizers also resorted to using gun to bring the Waorani under control and this resorted in several deaths among the indigenous people.
At this period, Red Cross has become very active and operational on the glabal stage; hence, it led huge demonstrations and publications against these Western atrocities against the indigenous people.
With the negative outlooks, the companies (which were mainly UK and Netherlands investors) held back their investment and returned to Europe.
Subsequently, in 1962 these investors held a meeting in London in the United Kingdom to discuss possible means by which they can go into the forest to take the desired resources without deadly and physical confrontations with the Waoranis.
They all agreed that the most effective way to achieve this is to first send religious missionaries to the place to do the grounds work.
The following year, Christian missionaries were sent to Yasuní in the Amazon forest holding their Good Book of the Bible.
In that Good Book, it is written: love your enemies; do good to people who harm you; do not kill; and be good to strangers.
In the same Bible in which the missionaries sent, it is written: This world is a temporal place for us, hence do not value the riches and resources you see here; when you obey all the aforementioned commandments and you die, you will go to a place called heaven where all the valuable resource you are protecting today are found in abundance. Hence, allow the people to take them and that means you are a good person and you will go to heaven when you die.
If you do not obey these commandments, you will die and go to suffer in hell for eternity.
By simultaneously preaching the love and fear of God to the people of Waorani, the investors were able to return to the forest just 10 years after without any confrontation.
Today, the people of Waorani hold the Bible while their resources are being held in Europe.
Today, the people of Waorani hold the belief that they will one day die and go to heaven; where these resources are found in abundance. But, if I may ask, what is the value of a resource which is found in abundance? Air; is an essential resource on earth but what is its value since it is found in abundance?
Religion is indeed a great tool for exploitation and control. …I have left out the economic and cultural influence in the Waorani’s community but that will be a topic for another day after you have found out more for yourself.
My name is Kwadwo Agyei Yeboah and I am an African.