Drinking the darkness
Have just finished reading Scott Hamilton's new book The Stolen Island, Searching for 'Ata. And it's a bloody great read! It's a true story about slave-trading in the Pacific Islands in the 1860s and particularly what happened to 144 men, women and children kidnapped from the island of 'Ata in Tonga. I love the way Scott takes us along as he skillfully uncovers the old story and finds and talks to the descendants, all while modestly painting himself as an Inspector Clouseau-like character. Kiwis might be surprised to discover that some of Auckland's wealthy families had Pacific Island slaves in the 1800s. My favourite line from the book is from Scott's Acknowledgements: Friends, we drank the darkness, and became visible.
Malo for your kind words Angus. The phrase 'Friends, we drank the darkness, and became visible' comes from the great Swedish poet and Nobel laureate Tomas Transtromer.
I use the phrase while paying tribute to my friends Sio Siasau and Serene Tay, who helped me explore some of the ancient, pagan, and perhaps haunted sites - ruined forts, sacred groves, godhouse platforms - of Tongatapu back in 2013, when we were all living on the island. Since then Sio has become internationally famous for sculpting and painting Tonga's old gods and powers. He drnk from the forbidden culture of his pre-Christian ancestors, and by doing so created himself as an artist.