Monday, 7 February 2011

Solidarity With Egypt is Restorative Therapy for Aberdeen.

As Aberdeen today (well, Saturday actually) stands in solidarity with the people of Egypt in their quest for self determination we are proud that our town can play host to this demonstration.

We are proud, as this represents a restorative and healing recompense for a wrong done to Egypt and Egyptians by Aberdonians during the heyday of the British Empire. Once, long ago, the militant imperialist armed wing of the people of Aberdeen (in the form of The Gordon Highlanders) was by force of arms instrumental in denying that same Egyptian people any hope of self determination or freedom.

Devils in Skirts

There's a memorial in the Duthie Park which glorifies the three dead Gordon Highlanders, casualties of the campaign to suppress an Egyptian "revolt" in 1882. (NB, this memorial is to the very few local dead on 'our' side only - there's no mention of the Egyptian dead, of whom there were thousands.)

Inscription reads:
Erected by the Officers, NC Officers and Men of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders
to the memory of their comrades who were killed in action or who died of wounds or of disease
contracted during the Egyptian Campaign 1882.
Captain D.L. Baynes
Leut A. C. Pirie
Leut H. C. Brooks
We find it astonishing that this memorial remains in place to this day without a corresponding acknowledgement of the dead on the 'enemy' side. All were victims of war. Victims we realise all the more when we learn that the campaign was principally conducted at the behest of the Suez Canal Co. in support of their commercial monopoly.

We are pleased that this shameful historical stain on our civic character is now fading. By Aberdeen's hosting of and Aberdonians' participation in the pro-democracy demo in solidarity with the Egyptian people on Saturday let's hope we can, in some small way, begin to apologise and make amends for our brutal and uncivilised behaviour during Britain's imperial era.

Edit -

Further interesting aspects of this episode and memorial come to mind...
  • Not long having completed the process of smashing the clan system, deforesting the highlands and cleansing it of it's indiginous people in favour of a class of aristocratic land monopolosts, the British state - in the form of this memorial (amongst many other things) - sought to co-opt Celtic culture (as well as manpower) in the service of its imperial adventurism.
  • Armed, as they were, by Prussia's favourite heavy arms manufacturer Kanone König (Canon King) Alfred Krupp of Essen, the Egyptian 'rebels' were merely proxy pawns in the great game of European power plays which culminated in the mass slaughter of the  Great War.

No comments: