Epiphany On The Glacier

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Searching For The Hermit In Vain

I asked the boy beneath the pines.
He said, “The master’s gone alone
Herb-picking somewhere on the mount,
Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown.”

— Chia Tao (777-841), translated by Lin Yutang (1)

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Old now, I feel it more than ever — so good
to be here in the mountains!
Die at the foot of the cliff and even your bones are clean.

— Zen monk Jakushitsu Genko (2)

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“If only you knew how splendid it is up there, that’s where I want to die.”

“The land looks like a fairytale.”

“Adventure is just bad planning.”

— Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), the first human at the South Pole (and North Pole), speaking: in 1928 about the Arctic, and earlier about his 1911 Antarctic expedition. (3)

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In the 1985 film series “The Last Place on Earth,” about the race between Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole, the screenwriters graced the cinematic climax of Amundsen’s success, on 14 December 1911, with fictionalized speech of a Zen-like sparseness and focus that matched the expansiveness and extremity of the scene. Against a visual field of white, the lone figure of the screen Amundsen is seen from a distance walking up to an indistinguishable point in space about which the Earth rotates. How does he feel?, his companions ask; “All I know is, how good it is to be alive.” (4)

During January and February of 1911, Amundsen’s expedition established three supply depots for the return trek from the South Pole, at intervals of about 150 km (93 miles) from their base camp on the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf at the Ross Sea. The South Pole is about 1300 km (808 miles) from the Ross Sea. Amundsen’s party for the dash to the South Pole comprised of five men, four sledges and 52 dogs. The five Norwegians departed their base camp on 19 October 1911 and returned 99 days later on 25 January 1912 with only 11 dogs. Amundsen had planned for a 100 day trip.

Scott’s party set off from Cape Evans, 883 miles (1421 km) from the South Pole, on 1 November 1911 with twelve men, ten sledges, ten ponies, and dogs. They established supply depots for the return journey at intervals of about 70 miles (113 km), and as groups of men were no longer needed they were sent back to base camp. By 3 January 1912, Scott’s party was reduced to five men pulling sledges, and no animals (the ponies were butchered for meat). Scott was 169 miles (272 km) from the South Pole and at 10,280 feet (3133 m) elevation. He reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, thirty-four days after Amundsen, and his men were bitterly disappointed at the sight of the Norwegian flag and the many dog tracks around it. The last entry in Scott’s diary was dated 29 March 1912, he and the two men who had survived to that point were found frozen in their tent on the Ross Ice Shelf only 11 miles (18 km) from a large depot, and about 400 km (250 miles) from Cape Evans.

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“How good it is to be alive” is both the alpha and omega of insight that some people find when facing the challenge of surviving extreme circumstances. It can be the endpoint of a difficult and dangerous effort; and it can be a rebirth, a new beginning, a way of focusing the mind to the tasks of living and the joy of consciousness, by overcoming fear. This attitude is the psychological buoyancy that frees the mind to direct a person’s full physical and analytical powers to working out the mechanics of survival. Such a person will go further against the opposition of implacable circumstances than a fearful one.

In the stories and poems of Zen and Taoist sages climbing the mountains to experience insight, like the Japanese poet Ryokan (1758-1831), there is usually the implicit suggestion of a subsequent descent. Otherwise, how could the tale have been told? This descent is the second part of the insight on the goodness of life; it is a descent back into the plane of human interaction, it is the goodness of life among other people. “Man is a social animal” (Aristotle, “Ethics,” IX, IX). (5)

The dual realization of the “goodness” of consciousness, and that this experience is rooted in and nourished by the field of our interconnected individual psyches, is what some call love.

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On Friday the 13th of October 1972, a Fairchild FH-227D twin turboprop airplane chartered from the Uruguayan Air Force by the rugby team of Stella Maris College of Montevideo, Uruguay, the “Old Christians,” crashed high in the Andes Mountains while on route to Santiago, Chile from Mendoza, Argentina, the last leg of their trip. Forty-five people, the young men of the rugby team, some family members and friends, and a flight crew of five had boarded the aircraft. Ten weeks later, sixteen survivors were rescued. The search for survivors had been abandoned after eight days, and the rescue only occurred because two of the survivors had trekked from the crash site on Las Lagrimas Glacier in Argentina at 12,020 feet (3664 m) elevation, up to a ridge crest of the Andes Mountains at 14,774 feet (4503 m), and then descended into the valleys of Chile to 4,676 feet (1425 m) elevation by walking a total of 33.5 miles (54 km) over very rugged and desolate terrain in ten days before finding another human being.

The story has been told in a popular book, “Alive, The Story of the Andes Survivors,” by Piers Paul Read (6), which was made into a 1993 feature film “Alive, The Miracle of the Andes.” One good English language summary with links to maps of the area appears on the internet at (7), and another site in Spanish gives an extensive presentation, including a day-to-day chronology, which conveys the emotion of the story as Latin Americans would feel it. (8)

The sensational aspect of the story is that in order to survive, the living had to eat the flesh of the dead. The essential element of the story is that the rescue hinged on the determination of one man, Fernando Parrado, to see his father again or die trying; and that his trek out of the mountains only succeeded because of the combined efforts of the group.

Parrado’s mother had died in the crash, and his younger sister eight days later in his arms. The loss of nearly half of his immediate family, the excruciating effort to prolong the group’s survival for sixty days, and then finally his arrival at the ridge 2754 feet (839 m) above the crash site after a three day climb up the steep glacier to see a westward vista of seemingly endless snowy mountains had savagely shocked then forged Parrado to the realization of “how good it is to be alive.” Yes, death in these mountains seemed a certainty, but that apparent certainty did not compel him to surrender. He could choose to use all that was in him to find help and to return to Montevideo to express his love to his father personally, or to approach as near to that goal as the force of circumstance would permit. He had found a vision worth dying for; “how good it is to be alive.”

Of the forty-five people on FAU (Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya) Flight 571, nineteen died during the crash or the first eight days. The remaining twenty-six would dwindle to sixteen and struggle to overcome the tensions of surviving at high altitude on the snow in the wrecked fuselage, without cold-weather clothing and mountaineering gear like boots and dark goggles, with very little food and no medical supplies. Despite the inevitable conflicts and the depressed or debilitating psychological state of some of the people, an effective and admirable level of group cohesion evolved and was applied to the purpose of self-rescue.

It might seem that the commonality of religion (Catholic), class, school, sport and even team would more easily incline individuals to cooperate in unexpected and difficult circumstances. However, it is really personal character that determines the capacity for cooperation under stress, because extreme circumstances can give rise to panic, desperation and despondency, which can easily lead to a lack of judgment, and unthinking selfishness in behavior.

One key result of the group effort was the fabrication of a large, three-person, insulated sleeping bag. The insulation was salvaged from the tail section of the airplane, down the slope of the glacier about a kilometer or two (about 1 mile) from the fuselage; and the bag was sewn by a group of the survivors. When the supply of thread was finished, they had to use wires pulled from the electrical circuits in the fuselage. This sleeping bag enabled Fernando Parrado, Roberto Canessa and Antonio Vizintin to survive the nights during their trek west up the wall of the glacial valley to the crest of the Andes.

It was there that Fernando Parrado had his epiphany. After the sinking dread that came upon seeing the snowy jagged crags of the Andes stretching far out to the west, instead of the lush green valleys of Chile falling away to the Pacific, he accepted the fact of his mortality and awakened to his power to choose how to employ it. About this epiphany, Cynthia Boaz wrote “in the most hopeless of situations, we still have a choice. At its core, Nando’s story demonstrates that we always have a degree of control over our lives, even if that choice is simply defining the terms under which we die. This phenomenon is much more than hopefulness or optimism; it is the manifestation of human agency. It is the essence of empowerment.” (9)

Fernando Parrado describes his moment this way: “My love for my father swelled in my heart and I realized that, despite the hopelessness of my situation, the memory of him filled me with joy. It staggered me. The mountains, for all their power, were not stronger than my attachment to my father. They could not crush my ability to love. I felt a moment of calmness and clarity, and in that clarity of mind I discovered a simple, astounding secret: Death has an opposite, but the opposite is not mere living. It is not courage or faith or human will. The opposite of death is love. How had I missed that? How does anyone miss that? Only love can turn mere life into a miracle and draw precious meaning from suffering and fear. For a brief, magical moment, all my fears lifted and I knew that I would not let death control me. I would walk through the godforsaken country that separated me from my home with love and hope in my heart. I would walk until I had walked all the life out of me, and when I fell, I would die that much closer to my father.” This was Thursday, 14 December 1972. (10)

Parrado’s strength of purpose was enough to convince Canessa. Vizintin was sent back — a quick sled ride downhill — to wait with the thirteen others while Parrado and Canessa continued on with all the provisions the three had carried to that point. Six days later, on the 20th, the trekkers made contact with a Chilean horseman tending his cattle. On the 22nd and 23rd, Chilean helicopters brought rescue and medical people to the crash site and ferried the survivors out, two days being necessary because the weather and travel time only permitted one trip per day, and there was a limited carrying capacity.

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There are many seasonal and religious themes that can come to the minds of Christians and people of the Americas when reflecting on the story of FAU Flight 571. The most poignant is that of Holy Communion, the sixteen survivors today are literally “the resurrection and the life” of many of their companions. They are a tight knit group who 35 years ago entered a horror during the harvest-time gaiety of pumpkins, Halloween and the Day of the Dead. They endured a ghastly negation of Thanksgiving, and were lifted to salvation for Christmas. Three Kings among them set forth from east to west following the star of Parrado’s vision, which carried the hopes of many and was itself the gift that gave birth to new lives for them all. Their gift to us is their story, reflecting on it can center minds otherwise distracted by the relentless hyper-animated flash of crass commercialism and mawkish religiosity that propels so many from pumpkins to turkeys to Santa Claus to cheap flat champagne with even shallower resolutions for “new” ways of living. The future is a fiction.

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The plane in this story was a Fairchild FH-227D, an American built version of the Fokker F27 F. I flew in a Fokker F27 F over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California many times, on trips to and from the Nevada Test Site. Flying at 18,000 feet (5487 m) and looking down, the rocky crags poking through the snow-pack (at about 13,000 feet or 4000 m) are very clear, and the expanse of the desolation — for a marooned unfortunate — is evident. Having been through bumpy flights and frightening storms, it is not hard for me to imagine the experience of the FAU Flight 571 crash.

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The majestic inhuman beauty of the Andes made a compelling impression on the FAU Flight 571 survivors, and you, too, can experience it through the photographs of a 2005 expedition to retrace the trek over the crest of the Andes by Parrado and Canessa, on the exact same dates 33 years after the events. (11) The Uruguayan trekkers had no mountaineering experience nor specialized equipment and clothing, there was no trail laid out for them, and they had no maps. Try imagining this as you look at the 2005 pictures. The 2005 expedition was sponsored by National Geographic. (12)

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To me, a compelling aspect of this story is how a sense of appreciation and love can grow out of the effort to overcome adversity, and how that in turn can give one a greater psychological stamina. This same theme appears in Zen, and I believe is the essence of Buddhist insight regarding “enlightenment” as opposed to religious superstitions, which can have an uplifting effect on people facing hard times, but which are unreliable because they are a placebo effect based on fantasy.

In his book “Man’s Search For Meaning,” (1946) Viktor Frankl expressed a similar idea. His epiphany was forged by surviving a Nazi concentration camp; he was a Jew. For Frankl, survival demanded that one made a conscious choice to live fully, even happily, despite external circumstances. Again, externalities may control my life and my lifespan, but I can always choose my attitude within my time of consciousness. The attitude that made life as fulfilling as possible, whatever the constraints, was one that saw itself as directed toward a goal greater than oneself. A great love for another person, for one’s family; a desire to preserve and publish original ideas on your field of study (Frankl’s motivation); a desire to produce art, literature or some invention you can visualize; these are all examples of what could motivate a person to “live through anything” or die trying. Frankl saw humans as having an innate need to create something of personal meaning out of the physical and mental labor of their lives. If individuals can bring this insight to consciousness and make it specific to their particular lives, they would be as steeled as any human could become to face the buffeting by reality.

What Parrado and Frankl express about their epiphanies may simply be particular examples of Novalis’ elegant presentation of Heraclitus’ aphorism “Character is fate.”

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On a less elevated level, a sort of Marxian view of the FAU Flight 571 story would be that in the extremes of scarcity, group action and sharing rather than resource competition and inequity have to be the rule to survive. Yet, despite this there is no loss of individuality, in fact it seems to flower as each person discovers their niche in the collective endeavor. There could also be an element of dismal math here, when there simply isn’t anything, then everyone is “poor” and thus “equal.”

If we look at the Andes story as a microcosm of humanity in a world with a decaying environment, then we could say the lesson is that cooperative attitudes must precede any ability to respond effectively — globally — to halt and then repair environmental damage. Otherwise, I suppose we could hope that as environmental damage becomes more widespread and threatening we will all be drawn together into a more cooperative frame of mind, though this is a rather unappealing form of hope. The analogy does not preclude the possibility that humanity will simply kill itself off unnecessarily through blind, obstinate stupidity. One need only drop names like Cheney and Bush to make this point.

The FAU Flight 571 story — as a story for us — pivots on a realization of happiness by Fernando Parrado that relieved him of any anxiety about the inevitability and near eventuality of his own death. The external reality remained unchanged, and it was crushing and cruel, but he had changed. All the survivors had to have this experience to some degree. The escape was as much a shedding of psychological restraints as it was a trek out of the wilderness; survival was transformation, it was a release of one’s former self. I think this is the essence of the “happiness” that is signified in Thomas Jefferson’s phrase “pursuit of happiness,” and I think the reality upon which this “happiness” is based for any individual is their solidarity or “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” with the sea of individuals that surrounds them as our communities, societies and nations. Happiness is simply caring for others who care for you, and wealth can only be the extent of that mutual affection. The political structures of a population with this attitude would necessarily be socialist. So, happiness is solidarity, and solidarity is the objective of Socialism. George Orwell put the matter this way:

“I suggest that the real objective of Socialism is not happiness. Happiness hitherto has been a by-product, and for all we know it may always remain so. The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood. This is widely felt to be the case, though it is not usually said, or not said loudly enough. Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another. And they want that world as a first step. Where they go from there is not so certain, and the attempt to foresee it in detail merely confuses the issue.” — George Orwell (“Can Socialists be Happy?” 24 December 1943)

“Love is the final goal of world history – the One of the universe.”
— Novalis (1772-1801)

Enjoy your time in the wild, behind every ridge is a marvelous vista.

NOTES

[1] This poem opens Alan Watts’ book Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown, a “mountain journal” (1973, Random House). It is a series of essays written between 1968 and 1972.

[2] This poem opens Jack Turner’s book Teewinot, Climbing and Contemplating the Teton Range. (2000, St. Martin’s Press)

[3] Map of Amundsen and Scott routes to the South Pole in 1911-1912
The Fram Museum,
http://www.fram.museum.no/en/default.asp?page=158

[4] The Last Place On Earth,
a 1985 film series based on Roland Huntford’s book with the same title,
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088551/

[5] “Man is a social animal” (Aristotle, “Ethics,” IX, IX)
http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-21,pageNum-116.html

[6] Piers Paul Read, Alive, The Story of the Andes Survivors,
(1974, Avon Books/J. B. Lippincott, Inc.) ISBN 0-380-00321-X

[7] Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, The Crash and Rescue,
wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uruguayan_Air_Force_Flight_571#The_crash_and_rescue

[8] Alexis J. Scarantino, El Milagro De Los Andes,
http://www.carlitospaez.com/elmilagrodelosandes/

[9] Cynthia Boaz, Thoughts About the True Miracle in the Andes,
14 October 2007,
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/101407A.shtml

[10] Fernando Parrado with Vince Rause,
Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home, (2006, Crown Publishers)

[11] Ricardo Peña and James Vlahos,
National Geographic Adventure Expedition December, 2005,
Alpine Expeditions,
http://www.alpineexpeditions.net/ngc_adventure/index.html, http://www.alpineexpeditions.net/photos/ngc_adventure2/index.html

[12] Alive, Retracing The Survivors Daring Escape,
April 2006, National Geographic Adventure,
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/alive/survivors-expedition.html

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair for recommending Jack Turner’s book.

[Published by Counter Punch on 21 November 2007]

Explaining ISIS Terrorism to an American Teenager

The Purpose Of This Essay

This essay is intended to be a factual synthesis that helps to answer these questions:

1. What caused the ISIS militant group to arise, and why are they terrorists?

2. Why did ISIS attack Paris, killing 129 civilians on November 13, 2015?

This essay is addressed to young people, like American teenagers, who are on the brink of being launched into the dangerous and confusing world of today which we, the elders born in the 20th century, have brought to the present sorry state that we saw tragically displayed on the 13th of November of this year, in Paris.

Actually, tragedies of equal magnitude have occurred this same month in Beirut, Lebanon, and in Africa, and they occur on a nearly daily basis in Syria and Iraq. But, terrorist tragedies that occur in Europe and the United States easily get much more attention from Europeans and Americans. So, I will have to explain why there is ISIS terrorism in the first place, and then why Paris was one of its targets.

Since my intended audience will have no tolerance for my mincing of words, I will be direct, in a manner that I believe to be fair, and can thus guarantee that many of my peers will find objections of all sorts to what is written here. Since I have no ambitions to boost a career, nor win an election, nor inflate an ego, and while remembering that I have a promise to keep, I will proceed without concern.

I have used extensive excerpts from wikipedia, and the sources are cited. The graphics were found posted on the Internet.

The Levant

Levant_(orthographic_projection)Levant colors - Version 2max

Levant_(orthographic) levantIn the above map note that Israel and the Palestinian Territories are grouped into the yellow area between Egypt, Jordan (Jo), Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.

The island of Cypress is split between Greece and Turkey.

Iran is to the east (right) of Iraq.
Levantpolitical
The Egyptian Goddess Isis

Long before “ISIS” became associated with a militarized Sunni Islamic fundamentalist group primarily based in Syria and Iraq, “Isis” was the name of an ancient Egyptian goddess.

Isis is one of the supernatural beings in the polytheistic religion of ancient Egypt. Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife, as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with the king and kingship. Isis is also known as the protector of the dead, and goddess of children.

The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Roman empire and the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on from the fifth century in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus.

It is clear to me that many public figures, like President Obama, refer to the “ISIS” militancy by other labels so as not to tarnish the association of the word “Isis” with the lovely mythology of the goddess Isis, which most people had until recent years.

For more on the Egyptian goddess Isis, see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isis

ISIL: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL‎), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, or simply Islamic State (IS), is a Wahhabi/Salafi jihadist extremist militant group and self-proclaimed Islamic state and caliphate, which is led by and mainly composed of Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria. As of March 2015, it has control over territory occupied by 10 million people in Iraq and Syria, and through loyal local groups has control over small areas of Libya, Nigeria and Afghanistan. The group also operates or has affiliates in other parts of the world, including North Africa and South Asia.

All the following paragraphs help to understand the meanings of the six terms: Islamic, Sunni, Wahhabi, Salafi, jihadist and caliphate.

A Muslim, sometimes spelled Moslem, relates to a person who follows the religion of Islam, a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. Muslims consider the Quran to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. They also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632 CE) as recorded in traditional accounts called hadith. “Muslim” is an Arabic word meaning “one who submits (to God).”

Islam
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam

Muslim
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim

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A caliphate (khilāfa) is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph (khalīfah) — a person considered a political and religious successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad (Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdullāh), and a leader of the entire Muslim community.

Caliphate
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliphate

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Sunni Islam is a denomination of Islam, which holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s first caliph was his father-in-law Abu Bakr. Sunni Islam primarily contrasts with Shia Islam, which holds that Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, not Abu Bakr, was his first caliph.

Sunni Islam is by far the largest denomination of Islam. As of 2009, Sunni Muslims constituted 87%-90% of the world’s Muslim population. Its adherents are referred to in Arabic as ahl as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah, “people of the tradition of Muhammad and the consensus of the Ummah” or ahl as-sunnah for short. In English, its theological study or doctrine is called Sunnism, while adherents are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis, and Sunnites. Sunni Islam is the world’s largest religious body, followed by Roman Catholicism. Sunni Islam is sometimes referred to as “orthodox Islam”. The word “Sunni” is believed to come from the term Sunnah, which refers to the sayings and actions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad as recorded in the hadith.

Sunni Islam
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunni_Islam

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Wahhabism or Wahhabi mission is a religious movement or branch of Sunni Islam. It has been variously described as “orthodox”, “ultraconservative”, “austere”, “fundamentalist”, “puritanical” (or “puritan”). Adherents characterize it as an Islamic “reform movement” to restore “pure monotheistic worship” (tawhid), while opponents characterize it as an “extremist pseudo-Sunni movement.” Adherents often object to the term Wahhabi or Wahhabism as derogatory, and prefer to be called Salafi or muwahhid. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strictly Wahhabi state.

Wahhabism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabism

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Jihad is an Islamic term referring to the religious duty of Muslims to maintain the religion. In Arabic, the word jihād means “to strive, to apply oneself, to struggle, to persevere”. A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid, the plural of which is mujahideen. The word jihad appears frequently in the Quran, often in the idiomatic expression “striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah),” to refer to the act of striving to serve the purposes of God on this earth.

Muslims and scholars do not all agree on its definition. Many observers — both Muslim and non-Muslim — as well as the Dictionary of Islam, talk of jihad having two meanings: an inner spiritual struggle (the “greater jihad”), and an outer physical struggle against the enemies of Islam (the “lesser jihad”), which may take a violent or non-violent form. Jihad is often translated as “Holy War,” although this term is controversial. According to “Orientalist” (historian of the Middle East) Bernard Lewis, “the overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists”, and specialists in the hadith “understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense.” Javed Ahmad Ghamidi states that there is consensus among Islamic scholars that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against “wrong doers.”

[Religion is the most convenient excuse ever devised to justify inflicting cruelty on selected victims — “wrong doers.”]

Jihad
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihad

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Salafi jihadism or Jihadist-Salafism is a transnational religious-political ideology based on a belief in violent jihadism and the Salafi movement of returning to what adherents believe to be “true” Sunni Islam.

Salafi jihadism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi_jihadism

The term “jihadism” has been in use since about 2000, and “jihadism is used to refer to the most violent persons and movements in contemporary Islam, including al-Qaeda.” The term “jihadism” usually denotes Sunni Islamist armed struggle. Sectarian tensions led to numerous forms of Salafist and other Islamist jihadism in opposition of Shia Islam, Sufism (Sufism or Tasawwuf is, according to its adherents, the inner mystical dimension of Islam) and Ahmadiyya.

Jihadism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihadism

Sufism is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam.
[My good friend Hooshi is an Iranian Sufi]

Sufism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sufism

Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious movement founded in British India near the end of the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). Ahmadiyya adherents believe that Ahmad appeared in the likeness of Jesus to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice, and peace. They believe that upon divine guidance Ahmad divested Islam of fanatical and innovative beliefs and practices by championing what is (in their view) Islam’s true and essential teachings as practiced by Muhammad and the early Islamic community. Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam.

Ahmadiyya
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmadiyya

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Shia, an abbreviation of Shīʻatu ʻAlī (“followers/party of Ali”), is a denomination of Islam which holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s proper successor as caliph was his son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib. Shia Islam primarily contrasts with Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad’s father-in-law Abu Bakr, not Ali ibn Abi Talib, was his proper successor.

Adherents of Shia Islam are called Shias, or the Shi’a as a collective, or Shi’i individually. Shia Islam is the second-largest denomination of Islam: in 2009, Shia Muslims constituted 10%-13% of the world’s Muslim population, and between 68% and 80% of Shias live in four countries: Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, and India.

Shia consider Ali ibn Abi Talib to have been divinely appointed as the successor to Muhammad, and as the first Imam. The Shia also extend this “Imami” doctrine to Muhammad’s family, the Ahl al-Bayt (“the People of the House”), and certain individuals among his descendants, known as Imams, who they believe possess special spiritual and political authority over the community, infallibility, and other divinely-ordained traits.

Shia Islam
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shia_Islam

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The Alawites, also known as Alawis (ʿAlawīyyah‎), are a religious group centered in Syria who follow a very highly contested and controversial branch of Shia Islam. Today, Alawites represent 12 percent of the Syrian population and are a significant minority in Turkey and northern Lebanon.The majority of Syrians are Sunni.

Since Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970, the government of Syria has been dominated by an authoritarian political elite led by the Alawite Al-Assad family, with Bashar al-Assad as the head of state since the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000.

The modern Syrian state was established after World War I as a French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence as a parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945 when Syria became a founding member of the United Nations, an act which legally ended the former French Mandate – although French troops did not leave the country until April 1946.

Alawites
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alawites

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Since 2011, the government of Bashar al-Assad has been waging a vicious war against the majority of the Syrian people, to remain in power. Today, the Syrian Civil War is an ongoing international armed conflict. It began in the early spring of 2011 within the context of “Arab Spring” protests [peaceful popular mass gatherings and marches throughout much of the Islamic Arab world, advocating democratic government and protesting corruption and repression]. Nationwide protests in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad’s government were met with violent crackdowns by military forces (troops firing on unarmed civilians, torture and murder of civilians taken prisoner). The conflict gradually morphed from prominent unarmed protests into an armed rebellion, after months of military sieges (which pushed many civilians to arm themselves, and portions of the Syrian Army to join the revolt).

From the early stages of the civil war, the Syrian government received technical, financial, military and political support from Russia, Iran and Iraq. In 2013, Iran-backed Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian Army.

Iran has been a Shia theocracy since 1979.

Iraq is majority Shia, with a Shia-dominant government since 2005.

Hezbollah (“Party of Allah” or “Party of God”) — is a Shi’a Islamist military force and political party based in Lebanon.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah)

Russia has only one foreign military base (the U.S. has about 800), which is a naval base on Syria’s coast.

So, the allies of the al-Assad regime in Syria are the Shia powers of the Levant (the “Middle East”) and of Western Asia (Iran), and also Russia.

By August 2015, the territory fully controlled by the Syrian army was reported to be only about a sixth of the country, but in the most densely populated area, which lies between the Mediterranean coast (to the west) and the capital city of Damascus.

A United Nations report in late 2012 described the conflict as being “overtly sectarian in nature,” between mostly Alawite government forces, militias and other Shia groups fighting largely against Sunni-dominated rebel groups.

The Syrian Civil War is a fight between four “sides,” one side being the government of Bashar al-Assad and its allies, and three sides being in opposition to the government, but also to each other. The four sides are:

1. The Assad regime with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, and Iraq.

The Syrian Army and its allied Iranian and Hezbollah troops have attacked mainly rebel-held (and civilian) areas and rebel forces that are supplied (largely through Turkey) by the oil-wealthy Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates) and Jordan.

The Syrian government forces have expended less effort against the Kurds (who are seeking to establish an autonomous Kurdish province in far northeast Syria, whether under the al-Assad government or its successor). The Kurds are an ethnic minority with a unique language, though still a large population, who want to establish their own country in the territory near the junctions of the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The Kurdish struggle has gone on for decades.

The Syrian government forces also seem to expend as little energy against ISIL (ISIS) as they can manage without suffering major loses. The Syrian government has tried to make it easier for ISIL to attack other rebel groups. The Syrian government buys oil from ISIL, which ISIL pumps out of oil wells it has captured in eastern Syria, and this oil helps keep the Syrian Army fueled.

Because Assad’s forces were slowly losing ground, Russia intervened in September 2015 and only bombed rebel positions, not ISIS. However, in its effort to regain territory for Assad, the Russians did attack ISIS targets in late October. So, ISIS retaliated by blowing up a Russian passenger airplane in Egypt on October 31, so by the first of November Russia was at full-scale war with ISIS, as France had been even before November 13, when the ISIS attack in Paris occurred.

2. The Kurds

The Kurds (who are Muslims) are motivated by a strong desire for a homeland where they can be free from domination by other ethnicities, and free from discrimination and oppression (as has happened in Iraq in the past, and as is always the case in Turkey). The Kurds are determined fighters against ISIS, which is both an ideological enemy (extreme Salafist “religious” violence against ‘not fundamentalist enough’ Muslims, and all non-Muslims) and a territorial competitor (the ISIL goal of creating its theocratic state, a caliphate that absorbs the countries of the Islamic world). The US supports the Kurds in Syria with arms, money and even the participation of US Special Forces teams, because the Kurds are determined fighters against ISIL.

3. Syrian Rebel Groups

The moderate and secular Syrian rebel groups have largely evaporated due to the length and harshness of the war, and to their lack of foreign military support in comparison to the Salafist Syrian groups who were favored by the undemocratic oil-wealthy Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf States. Along with that influx of Sunni wealth, these Syrian Salafist groups gained many foreign volunteers.

The U.S. had been a tepid supporter of “moderates” because it was opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad both because it is just a horrible, criminally abusive government, and also unfortunately because Israel opposes Syria, Hezbollah and Iran, and the U.S. has a major problem of not being able to untangle its national interests and foreign policy actions from Israeli ambitions.

The money from the Arabian Gulf States given to oppose the al-Assad regime is converted into arms and supplies that are funneled to Syrian Salafist rebel groups through Turkey, Jordan and Israel. With the loss of a non-Salafist Syrian opposition to al-Assad, the Obama Administration has become frustrated because it neither likes the al-Assad (Alawite-Shia) regime nor any possible Salafist (fundamentalist Sunni) successor to it, and because it is alarmed at the increased threat of terrorism worldwide from groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL, which have grown so rapidly in the destruction, chaos and power vacuum created by the Syrian Civil War.

It is important to note that France and some other US allies (Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom) had joined the U.S. in its support of Kurdish and non-Salafist Syrian rebels. France, which has had a long association with Syria (structuring the modern Syrian state and putting the Alawites in positions of power during its mandate of 1920 to 1946; and being a major arms supplier after), was even carrying out aerial bombing of ISIL targets before November 13, 2015. France has the largest Muslim population of any European country.

4. ISIS/ISIL

ISIL is in the Syrian Civil War solely to carve out and then expand its extremely inhuman fundamentalist Islamic (by ISIL’s definition) state, its caliphate. ISIL has put most of its aggressive effort into fighting the rebel groups opposing the al-Assad regime, murdering its captives, and into enslaving women and savagely abusing the civilian population in the territories it overruns.

Syrian Civil War
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Civil_War

Syria’s War: A 5-minute History (video)
Ezra Klein
14 October 2015
https://www.facebook.com/ezraklein/videos/10153737513773410/?pnref=story

ISIL/ISIS is an offshoot of al-Qaeda, so to help understand ISIL/ISIS I will first describe al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda (al-qāʿidah, “The Base”, “The Foundation” or “The Fundament”) is a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and several others at some point between August 1988 and late 1989, with origins traceable to the Arab volunteers who fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and an Islamist, extremist, wahhabi jihadist group. It has been designated as a terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, the United States, Russia, India, and various other countries. Al-Qaeda has carried out many attacks on targets it considers kafir (a derogatory term meaning “unbeliever,” “disbeliever,” or “infidel”).

Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on civilian and military targets in various countries, including the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings (Nairobi, Kenya), the September 11 attacks (New York City, Washington D.C., an airliner over Pennsylvania), and the 2002 Bali bombings. The U.S. government responded to the September 11 attacks by launching the “War on Terror.”

With the loss of key leaders, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s operations have devolved from actions that were controlled from the top down, to actions by franchise associated groups and lone-wolf operators. Characteristic techniques employed by al-Qaeda include suicide attacks and the simultaneous bombing of different targets. Activities ascribed to it may involve members of the movement who have made a pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden, or the much more numerous “al-Qaeda-linked” individuals who have undergone training in one of al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Sudan but who have not taken that pledge.

Al-Qaeda ideologues envision a complete break from all foreign influences in Muslim countries, and the creation of a new worldwide Islamic caliphate. During the Syrian Civil War, al-Qaeda factions started fighting each other, as well as the Kurds and the Syrian government.

Among the beliefs ascribed to al-Qaeda members is the conviction that a Christian–Jewish alliance is conspiring to destroy Islam. As Salafist jihadists, they believe that the killing of non-combatants is religiously sanctioned, but they ignore any aspect of religious scripture which might be interpreted as forbidding the murder of non-combatants and internecine fighting (fighting between Muslims). Al-Qaeda also opposes what it regards as man-made laws, and wants to replace them with a strict form of sharia law (a body of moral and religious law derived from religious prophecy in the Quran and the Hadith, as opposed to human legislation).

Al-Qaeda is also responsible for instigating sectarian violence among Muslims. Al-Qaeda leaders regard liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other sects as heretics and have attacked their mosques and gatherings. Examples of sectarian attacks include the Yazidi community bombings, the Sadr City bombings, the Ashoura massacre and the April 2007 Baghdad bombings (all in Iraq). Since the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the group has been led by the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri.

al-Qaeda
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaeda

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

ISIL began as al-Qaeda of Iraq, and grew during the early part of the American occupation of that country between 2003 and 2011. After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States by 19 al-Qaeda operatives (most Saudis) inspired by Osama bin Laden (a Saudi who was in Afghanistan and then Pakistan), the George W. Bush Administration exploited the national sense of hurt, and easily manipulated popular desire for vengeance, by launching a war of opportunity in 2003 to topple the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks in the U.S.). The Bush Administration (2001-2008) aim was to install a government of its liking in Iraq (and also to the liking of Israel), and then have US companies manage the Iraqi oil industry in a most profitable fashion (Iraq lies over major subterranean pools of high quality petroleum).

George W. Bush’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush, had been president during the first US war against Iraq, in 1991 (to eject Iraq out of the Gulf State of Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded with the intention of annexing). Also, George H. W. Bush had been vice president in the Reagan Administration (1981-1988), during which the US government supported Saddam Hussein in his eight year war against Iran. The U.S. supplied Saddam Hussein with data on Iranian troop positions, observed by US satellites. The US also allowed Saddam Hussein to buy the equipment he needed to develop chemical weapons, and these were used against Iranian troops. Donald Rumsfeld, who would manage the war against Iraq in 2003, had been Saddam Hussein’s US contact person to accomplish all the deals made during the Reagan Administration. It is estimated that up to one million people died in the Iran-Iraq War.

The first members of ISIL were Sunni military officers from the Army of Saddam Hussein, who along with all members of Saddam’s government bureaucracy and military officer corps, were barred (by the US occupation authorities) from any role in the post-Saddam government of Iraq. This was not only a loss of career and status, but a loss of being able to earn a living, since the only real jobs left after the American invasion (and destruction of Iraqi industry, infrastructure and utilities) were government jobs under the American occupation.

The first election after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, in 2005, finally brought Shia representatives into positions of some political power. Because the country was majority Shia, and as they had been held back from major political power under Saddam Hussein, the Shia took advantage of electoral politics to make themselves the masters of subsequent Iraqi governments. This was a brutal process that included large-scale and vicious sectarian strife: scores of murders and counter-murders on a daily basis for years. The Sunnis now felt excluded from power and vulnerable in every way. A country in which Sunni-Shia marriages and mixed neighborhoods had been common in the days of Saddam Hussein now became one of ethnically separated and feuding enclaves, with many murderous militias at large.

Among these militias was al-Qaeda of Iraq, a group of embittered, radicalized Sunnis with military training who hated Shias, Israel, America and the entire idea of Western Civilization. These were men who knew how sweet the taste of power could be, and were ambitious, ruthless and capable enough to acquire such power “again” by taking advantage of the divisive political squabbles, cowardice and corruption of their political opponents, the lack of military expertise of their religious opponents, and the power vacuum that existed in Iraq in the aftermath of the Bush Administration’s Iraq War of 2003, and the power vacuum which developed in Syria after 2011.

Al-Qaeda of Iraq became so “notoriously intransigent” and pathologically violent that in early 2014 the main al-Qaeda network cut off any association with al-Qaeda of Iraq, which then became ISIL. In Syria, ISIL conducted ground attacks on both government forces and rebel factions involved in the Syrian Civil War. ISIL gained prominence after it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in western Iraq in an offensive initiated in early 2014. Iraq’s territorial loss almost caused a collapse of the Iraqi government and prompted a renewal of US military action in Iraq. ISIL recovered perhaps up to a billion dollars worth (?) of serviceable US military equipment (arms, ammunition, missiles, transport vehicles) left in Iraq after the US withdrawal in 2011, and also arms and equipment (originally from the US) dropped by the panicked Iraqi Army fleeing south and east back to Baghdad rather than facing the ISIL advance in 2014.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_Levant

Iraq
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq#2003.E2.80.932007

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq
Seumas Milne
3 June 2015
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isis-syria-iraq

What You Need to Know about The Origin of ISIS (video)
16 November 2015
[Libertarian viewpoint of Antiwar.com & Ron Paul]
http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/ben-swann-origin-of-isis/

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1. What caused the ISIS militant group to arise, and why are they terrorists?

ISIL/ISIS is a militant fundamentalist Sunni group seeking to establish a medieval Islamic state in the territory of the Levant and Iraq. It is a movement by Sunni Islamic men who see no place for themselves in today’s Westernized (and feminized) world, and as a result want to eliminate any trace of it by violent means. They wish to exercise temporal power as the privileged members of a caliphate that has oil-wealth, enslaved women, and compels adherence to the ISIL view of what constitutes allowable religious practice and social conventions.

The destruction of the country of Iraq in 2003 by the Bush Administration’s war created the situation of unrecoverable loss of career potential, livelihood and personal safety for former Sunni government officials and military men, who were now living in a ruined country of unrestrained lawlessness and blood feuds under an American occupation. The ideology of al-Qaeda of Iraq was nourished by this environment, and ISIL mushroomed out of it.

The destruction of the country of Syria after 2011 because of the murderous brutality of the Bashar al-Assad regime in clinging to power against the majority will of the Syrian people created the situation of a loss of livelihood and personal safety for millions of people (many now refugees), and the collapsing of civil authority over much of the country’s territory, creating tracts of lawless power vacuum. This environment allowed for the maintenance, strengthening and growth of ISIL.

The wasteful, knuckle-headed short-sightedness of the US Defense Department and the G. W. Bush and the Obama Administrations in allowing so much serviceable US military equipment to simply be abandoned in Iraq, and then left behind after the US withdrawal in 2011, became a gift to the arming of ISIL and the increasing of its destructive capabilities and political power.

2. Why did ISIL/ISIS attack Paris, killing 129 civilians on November 13, 2015?

ISIL/ISIS suffered losses of commanders, fighters, territory, arms, equipment, oil wells (income) and prestige as a result of air strikes by the United States, France and Russia during October 2015. So, ISIL sought to avenge itself on each of these enemies. It managed to blow up a Russian airliner with 224 vacationers and crew, in Egypt on October 31, 2015, and to shoot 129 French civilians dead in Parisian restaurants and a concert hall on November 13, 2015.

Besides the immediate tit-for-tat nature of such attacks, these actions fit into the larger unfolding of ISIL’s apocalyptic vision — it sees itself as the agent for the ending of the world as we know it.

What ISIS Really Wants
March 2015
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

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My Message To You

Lead a life of fearless kindness, fearless creativity, with critical thinking, and be proud to maintain a good moral character and a happy disposition. Then, regardless of what twists and turns your life takes and whatever its length, you will always be able to look back without major regrets. Also, you will be an individual that others experience in a positive fashion, and in that way you will be a carrier of light rather than a veiling darkness in human society.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama

Father and Son have the most precious conversation about Paris attacks
(Le Petit Journal) (video)
16 November 2015
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61aCBmTxK7k

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La Negra Tomasa — Español-English

“La Negra Tomasa,” or “Bilongo,” is a song written in 1937 by the Cuban composer Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe (1907-1995).

Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe (1907-1995)
http://www.ecured.cu/Guillermo_Rodr%C3%ADguez_Fiffe

This song is an enduring classic because it is such an infectious dance tune. My current favorite version of “La Negra Tomasa” is by Los Guaracheros de Oriente, but there are many many recorded versions available on CDs, or electronically (for sale, or gratis on internet sites like YouTube).

To learn more about the Cuban music of which “La Negra Tomasa” is one example, see the lovely documentary “Música Cubana en Santiago de Cuba.”

Musica Cubana en Santiago de Cuba (Documental “Cuba es Musica”)
[1:00:09]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeHHn26dW30

Este documental es precioso. Se ve gente que son totalmente musical, que son parte de una población a quien la música es tan necesario para vivir como la sangre y el aire. Y mira que nadie se puede aguantar sin mover cuando oyen la música.

This documentary is precious. You see people who are totally musical, who are part of a population for whom music is as necessary for life as blood and air. And see how nobody can keep from moving when they hear the music. The documentary is photographed with beautiful clarity, and is entirely in Spanish, but don’t worry if Spanish is not one of your languages because most of the documentary’s hour is taken up with enchanting musical performances. A delight for the ear, the eye and the soul.

The Spanish lyrics of “La Negra Tomasa” follow, along with some notes on a few of the Afro-Cuban expressions, and then my English translation of this song. After that, I list a few recorded performances posted on the Internet. Enjoy!

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Cuba Antes 9 - Version 4Med

LA NEGRA TOMASA (BILONGO, 1937)
Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe (1907-1995)
[Letras a la manera de Los Guaracheros de Oriente, mas o menos]

Estoy tan enamorao’ de la negra Tomasa
Que cuando se va de casa
Que triste me pongo
Estoy tan enamorao’ de la negra Tomasa
Que cuando se va de casa
que triste me pongo.

¡Ay! – ¡Ay! – ¡Ay!

Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.
Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.

Na’ ma’ que me gusta la comida
Que me cocina.
Na’ ma’ que me gusta la cafe
Que ella me cuela.
Na’ ma’ que me gusta la comida
Que me cocina.
Na’ ma’ que me gusta la cafe
Que ella me cuela.

¡Ay! – ¡Ay! – ¡Ay!

Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.
Esa negra linda
Que me hecho bilongo.

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

Asi canta el gallo en la finca

—> cantantes improvisan
—> y música instrumental

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>
—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!

—>

Kikiri-BU ¡mandinga!
Kikiri-BU ¡man-din-ga!

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enamorao’ = enamorado (enamored, in love)

bilongo = under a spell, bewitched

mandinga = A catchall name in Cuba for a variety of Senegambian peoples who were captured and forced into slavery, arriving in Cuba around 1830. — Ned Sublette

Kikiri-BU mandinga = The mystery [of the meaning of “Kikiribu mandinga”] is easily solved if you refer to the next line in the song. “Asi canta el gallo en la finca” Which means, “Thus sang the rooster in the farm” Kikiriki or Quiquiriqui is the usual Spanish onomatopoeic spelling of a rooster’s crow. “BU” is a syllable shouted to scare someone. Therefore “Kikiri Bu” is a rooster crow meaning to scare someone who might be trying to take him, in this case a “mandinga.” “Mandinga” was a term used in Cuba to refer to slaves brought over from the Senegambia region of Africa. If you listen carefully to the song, you will hear that the “BU” is emphasized when sung and there is a slight pause from the “kikiri” to the “bu” separating the words. I hope this clears the mystery. — Magicflute (at the following link)

“Kikiribu mandinga”
http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/kikiribu-mandinga.487323/

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Abajo están las improvisaciones de Compay Segundo en su version de “La Negra Tomasa,” una de sus grabaciones de 2000 bajo el nombre “Las Flores de la Vida.”

Below are Compay Segundo’s improvisations in his version of “La Negra Tomasa,” one of his recordings of 2000 under the name “Flowers of Life,” (without English translation; that’s your homework).

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Alla en La Habana tasajo
Y alla en Oriente mabinga.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Yo conoci a un cocinero
Que cocinaba mabinga.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Y machacaba los ajos
Con la cabeza el mortero.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

Como bailaba Tomasa
En el barrio de la timba.

Quiquiribu mandinga
Quiquiribu mandinga.

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BEWITCHING TOMASA
[an English translation of “La Negra Tomasa”]

I’m in love so completely
with that black witch Tomasa,
when she’s out cause she hasta’
I get so sad and lonely.
I’m in love so completely
with that black witch Tomasa,
when she’s out cause she hasta’
I get so sad and lonely.

Aye! — Yay! — Yay!

Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.
Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.

The only food I want to eat is
what she’s been cooking.
The only coffee I want to drink is
what she’s been making.
The only food I want to eat is
what she’s been cooking.
The only coffee I want to drink is
what she’s been making.

Aye! — Yay! — Yay!

Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.
Oh me, that black beauty,
she has made me spellbound.

Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!
Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!

The cock spooks the witch to stay a free winger.

Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!
Ki-ki-ri-BOO, Mandinga!

—> ETC.

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Los Guaracheros de Oriente — “La Negra Tomasa”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_8mX1Ar5lw
[Posted by Ramoberg, with a good slide-show video, and detailed notes about Ñico Saquito, the founder and leader of Los Guaracheros de Oriente.]

This same recording as above is posted multiply by ORFEON, the record label:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKlktMNWxk4
and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOMHR3AQkuU
[all three above have good sound]

Biografia De Los Guaracheros De Oriente
sábado, 27 de julio de 2013
http://sandritocubanito.blogspot.com/2013/07/biografia-de-los-guaracheros-de-oriente.html

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Son de Cuba — Bilongo, La Negra Tomasa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew-7ZH14LsM
[A live performance in Curaçao. Tamara Morales sings. ¡La mujer canta! Good bongos. Lively and tight.]

Sexteto La Playa — Bilongo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_-mhbm28yY
[A lively recording from back in the day (~1950s).]

Compay Segundo — La Negra Tomasa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-6vqC5V6zk
[A modern (2000) music video with that wily old pro (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) Compay Segundo.]

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