Gabalėliai Lietuvos Lietuviškos vietos ir paveldas užsienyje

Gambija

Visi žino istoriją, kaip Vytauto Didžiojo kariaunos buvo pasiekusios Juodąją Jūrą ir LDK tapo didžiausia šalimi Europoje. Tačiau ar žinote, kad XVII a. Lietuvos Didžioji Kunigaikštystė turėjo valdų ir daug toliau: Gambijoje (Afrikoje) ir Tobage (Amerikoje)? Tiesa, netiesiogiai. 1561-1795 m. Lietuvai buvo pavaldi (kaip vasalas) Kuršo ir Žiemgalos Kunigaikštystė dabartinėje Latvijoje. Turtingi jos valdovai - Pabaltijo vokiečiai Ketleriai - garsėjo savo laivynu, laikytu Ventspilyje ir Liepojoje, pasak kai kurių šaltinių, dydžiu prilygusiu trečdaliui legendinės ispaniškosios armados. Savo laivų dėka Kuršas ir Žiemgala, turėję vos 200 tūkstančių gyventojų, sugebėjo tapti mažiausia Europos šalimi, dalyvavusioje didžiojoje kitų žemynų kolonizacijoje.

Žymiausia Kuršo ir Žiemgalos valda Gambijoje - Šv. Andriaus sala Gambijos upės žemupyje. Šią salą Kuršas kolonizavo 1651 m., tačiau deja po nepilno dešimtmečio Lietuvą užpuolė rusai. Tai buvo itin liūdnas laikas, nusiaubta ir sostinė Vilnius, o Kuršas buvo priverstas atsisakyti pasaulio dalybų planų - koloniją Gambijoje ilgainiui perėmė anglai. Labiausiai dėl šių vėlesnių kolonistų veiklos sala dabar įrašyta į UNESCO pasaulio paveldo sąrašą. Jie saloje, pervadintoje Džeimso vardu, perskirstinėjo vergus. Šie būdavo nusipirkti iš juodaodžių vadukų aukštupyje, o po "viešnagės" saloje eksportuojami į Karibus ir Ameriką.

Šv. Andriaus, Džeimso, Kunta Kintės sala - buvusi Lietuvos Didžiosios kunigaikštystės valda Gambijos upėje, Afrikoje. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Na o labiausiai mažytį žemės lopinėlį Gambijos upėje išgarsino JAV rašytojas Aleksas Heilis (Alex Haley) 1976 m. parašęs knygą "Šaknys" ("Roots"). Šiame veikale jis teigia atradęs savo kilmę iš vergo Kunta Kintės, tariamai eksportuoto per Džeimso salą. Nors romano faktų realumas - labai abejotinas (dalis jo veikiausiai buvo nuplagijuota, kita - sukurta) anais JAV juodaodžių nacionalinio romantizmo laikais jis padarė didžiulę įtaką. Pripažindama ją bei viliodama turistus iš JAV Gambijos valdžia ir visą salą 2011 m. pervadino Kunta Kintės vardu. Saloje išlikę įtvirtinimų liekanų, tačiau veikiausiai iš vėlesnių nei Kuršo kolonizacija laikų.

Pakrantėje prie salos yra kaimas Džufurė (Juffureh) su vergovės muziejumi, kurio gidai pasakoja ne visai tikrąją vergovės istoriją, o "Roots" sutirštintą jos variantą. Kas gi buvo salos pirmieji kolonistai gidai ir oficialūs Gambijos šaltiniai sako įvairiai. Minimi latviai, vokiečiai, kitur - lenkai ar lietuviai. Visi šie pasakymai savaip teisingi atsižvelgiant į ypatingą Kuršo ir Žiemgalos padėtį: vokiečių kunigaikščių valdoma latvių gyvenama žemė, vasalystės santykiais pavaldi Lietuvai, kuri, savo ruožtu, buvo unijoje su Lenkija. Suverenios nepriklausomos valstybės principas XVII a. tiesiog dar nebuvo gimęs.

Pats Džufurės kaimas, beje, irgi buvo Kuršo valda. Taip pat ir dar viena nūnai žymi vieta - sala upės žiotyse, kurioje yra Gambijos sostinė Bandžulis.

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  1. Klounai, kokia “lietuva” ten turėjo kolonijų? Kuršo Žiemgalos hercogystė, o jus melagiai, agresoriai ir nevykėliai, nelyskit prie svetimo pyrago, nes gali atsitikt kaip Viestardo ir Žvelgaičio istorijoje:-)

    • Na, Kuršo-Žiemgalos hercogystė buvo Lietuvos (LDK), paskui Lenkijos-Lietuvos (ATR) vasalas. Tai ir yra paaiškinta straipsnyje – nerašoma, kad ši kolonija buvo tiesiogiai pavaldi Lietuvai.

      Citata: “Kas gi buvo salos pirmieji kolonistai gidai ir oficialūs Gambijos šaltiniai sako įvairiai. Minimi latviai, vokiečiai, kitur – lenkai ar lietuviai. Visi šie pasakymai savaip teisingi atsižvelgiant į ypatingą Kuršo ir Žiemgalos padėtį: vokiečių kunigaikščių valdoma latvių gyvenama žemė, vasalystės santykiais pavaldi Lietuvai, kuri, savo ruožtu, buvo unijoje su Lenkija. Suverenios nepriklausomos valstybės principas XVII a. tiesiog dar nebuvo gimęs.”

  2. What I don’t understand is, how can someone be proud of having or wanting to have a colony, and be a part of imperialism directly or indirectly. How can somebody call one country’s claim about having a colony “wanting someone else’s pie”? That land didn’t belong to someone else from Europe either! That land only belonged to indigenous people!!! Any and every European nation who had their dirty greedy hands and feet on “colonial” lands were nothing but murderers, genocidal lunatics and thieves! How can somebody be proud of ever having a colony?
    The only thing that made me proud about being Lithuanian was that we didn’t have colonies. It’s so shameful to know that there are Lithuanians out there who think that having had colonies is something to be proud of, and that those people try to claim with pride that LT did even try to have colonies. It’s so embarrassing. DO YOU EVER THINK HOW THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WHO ALREADY BEEN LIVING THERE FOR CENTURIES FELT about the colonialists who were steeling their land and killing their people???
    SHAME ON THOSE WHO THINK THAT HAVING HAD A COLONY IS A THING OF PRIDE! BOOO!!!!
    HAVING HAD A COLINIE IS A CRIMINAL HISTORY OF THAT NATION, IT IS A HUGE SHAME IN THAT NATIONS HISTORY, not a matter of pride!

    • Indeed, I believe colonialism and imperialism are never good. However, the exact harm they did to indigenous populations varied greatly from one place to another, ranging from genocide and near-total destruction in North America and Australia, to a rather benevolent, albeit clearly one-side-dominated, relationships with some countries of Asia and Middle East.

      The “pride of once having ruled bigger empires” (not necessarily intercontinental empires) often is the most pronounced in the today’s small countries that themselves had been victims of history, such as Latvia, Lithuania or Poland, which have been conquered by foreign empires and suffered genocides (in the 19th-20th century). That earlier history is more of proof to them that their country too was once not simply a victim but also had a certain influence on the history of the world. Psychologically, perhaps, it is difficult to be a perpetual victim – for a person and for a nation alike. The story of Courland’s colonies in Gambia and Tobago was especially perpetuated by the Latvian diaspora during the 1940-1990 time when Latvia itself was occupied by the Soviet Union. During that time, for example, a memorial to Latvian history was built in Tobago.

      Of course, the “pride of having had an empire” is rarely felt among the nations which were the perpetrators of the genocides and other most significant crimes (e.g. Germany), but more in the countries which had a more benevolent relationship with their colonies, or where such relationship was too insignificant to create much harm to the indigenous people. In the particular case of Gambia, the area was so small and insignificant and ruled so shortly, that it is treated, I believe, in some historiographies more as a “proof” of the influence and power their country had in the era (similar to the tenets such as “Courland had a navy one third of the size of the legendary Spanish armada”). No stories of bad treatment of the local population by the Latvians/Germans/Lithuanians/Courlanders/Poles or whoever could be deemed to really have controlled the colony survive and so they could not influence the opinion.

      I think should this colonial regime have been more bloody, and would have included e.g. mass murders of the local population, nobody would feel proud of that today. In fact, in Lithuania, a great part of the story of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which Lithuanians are proud of is about its benevolence to the indigenous people (in the foreign lands it controlled, e.g. Ukraine and Belarus) – that is the tolerance of the other cultures to the extent where a Lithuanian duke sent to rule some land would convert to the local religion and learn the local language (this, especially the religion part, was otherwise unheard of in the times when inquisition, religious persecutions and “militant Christianity” prevailed in much of Europe). Due to this benevolence, in no country which was formerly mostly ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is this history treated as that of conquest – e.g. while Ukrainians view the Polish and Russian periods of their history negatively, they view the Lithuanian period in a positive or neutral light, which is reflected in the fact that monuments commemorating the Lithuanian grand dukes are still built in the independent countries of Ukraine and Belarus (to the Belarusians, in fact, they are treated as *their own* dukes, see http://www.truelithuania.com/was-grand-duchy-of-lithuania-really-lithuanian-9868 ).

      Another issue is that even the worse forms of colonialism leave traces in the form of heritage. Not the case in the Gambia, but in Lithuania itself, for example, while the Russian, German and Polish former regimes are typically viewed with despise for what they did, they have also left much Russian, German, and Polish heritage behind themselves in the form of buildings, monuments, etc. (e.g. Russian Orthodox churches of Vilnius) – and that heritage may still be interesting or have a cultural value. The architects and artists who created such heritage typically (though not always) were not the perpetrators of crimes. Obviously, there are exceptions, such as colonial-propaganda-art which clearly has negative reasons to be created and is typically removed after independence (as was the case with the Soviet memorials in Lithuania, and various statues to the colonial “heroes” (villains) in Africa).

      It is such “heritage in foreign lands” – in my case, Lithuanian heritage – that I document in this website. In the case of Lithuanian heritage in the foreign lands, however, such heritage is not related to extra-European colonies but rather to the massive diaspora communities which themselves began mostly because Lithuania was occupied by the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union.

      P.S. That said, I would clearly differentiate “feeling pride in history” from “promoting imperialism/colonialism today”, the latter of which is always very dangerous. In some countries, such as Russia, unfortunately, imperialist ideas are still a reality and they still fight the wars of conquest (as happened in Crimea or Georgia). There is a widespread belief among these nations that their former imperial possessions should be returned. Such beliefs, however, are more of an exception in today’s world, being widespread merely in a few countries. Clearly, next-to-no Lithuanians would believe that any of the lands Grand Duchy of Lithuania may have ruled in the Medieval era should be “returned” to it even if that would be possible. The same goes for Poles, Latvians, and others. This history is understood as just that – an interesting history that contrasted with sadder histories of the 19th-20th centuries, and not some glorious time that “should be returned”.


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