“Allah is He Who made for you the night for resting in and the day for seeing. Surely Allah is Full of grace to men, but most men give not thanks. That is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of all things. There is no God but He. Whence are you then turned away? Thus are turned away those who deny the messages of Allah.” –Holy Qur’an, Surah 40, verses 61-63
I recently attended the 7th International Festival Conference called “La Nao” held in Acapulco, Mexico. This historic conference demonstrated the cultural impact of the naval commercial enterprises of the Spanish Colonial Gallys or ships on the high seas during the period when Spain set out in her conquests from the Horn of Africa to Madagascar, Southeast Asia and India ultimately making her way to the country of Mexico from the 15th to the 19th centuries. image1The Spanish trading post for commercial goods was established in Manila in the Philippines. From there, voyages were made across the Pacific Ocean to the famous Port of Acapulco in Mexico.
This festival and conference was entitled, “La Nao” meaning Barcos or Navy Ships Traversing the Seas. The Spanish Crown, following in the steps of the Portuguese established their trade routes from the Indian Ocean into the Pacific Ocean, ultimately reaching the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
In our previous series on the Cave man’s civilization of Europe and the spread of the Caucasian people from Europe throughout the world, we focused mainly on their geographic location and early beginnings as tribes and clans, pointing to a unique marker stone called Stonehenge built in southern England which demonstrates their evolving knowledge base in building a civilization beginning 4,000 B.C. This is the period when Moses was commissioned by our scientists to help civilize the cave dwellers in the caves and hillsides of Europe. We had not yet covered Southern Europe’s development from Italy, Spain, and Portugal who were dominated by the Moors from northern Africa for 800 years.
This period of European history led to the Renaissance and a period of enlightenment that further brought Europe out of the “Dark Ages.” It is this part of European history with her outward expansion which introduced the first slave traders from that part of the world with Portugal and Spain taking the lead.
This period also introduced the European explorers in Maritime history such as Magellan, a Portugese navigator, who circumambulated the African Coast and South America bringing together the Atlantic and Pacific crossings between these large bodies of water. To this list we must add Christopher Columbus who reached the Americas in 1492 and other oceanic explorers who learned navigation skills and cartology from the Arab civilization in the period of the Moors.
This knowledge took them into the Indian Ocean, the coastal regions of Arabia, into the Gulf of Hormuz, Indonesia, and India with cross trading with China and Japan with their colonial base in Manila in the Philippines. From there, commercial products and laborers with trafficking of slaves from East Africa made up the cargo on the Spanish fleets or ships transported to Acapulco, Mexico.
The Nao Festival exposed the spirit of conquest ushered in by the Spanish conquerors in their exploitation of Afro-Asian people, who ultimately mixed with the native population of Mexico. This surge of activity during the colonial period spread beyond the coastal regions of Mexico into its interior and reflects the ethnicity of the Mexican people today. The main host country invited by the government of the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, was Indonesia representing the largest Islamic country in Asia today.
We had an opportunity to engage many exchanges of ideas in culture, in social life and economic development, with representatives of the Indonesian delegations which included meeting the Ambassador of Indonesia to Mexico City. We were received as V.I.P.s in most of their gatherings. Particularly impressive were their dance techniques and their batik (hand painted and embroidered) costumes and music concerts which featured the famous Gamelan Orchestra composed of resonant drums, gongs, and bells in an extraordinary performance along with members of the Indonesian Dance Company.
I remember many years earlier hearing these instruments in a performance in the U.S.A. and visually I incorporated these sounds into the fabric of my own musical compositional works. Never could I have imagined that in a short distance from my home in Mexico that I would be seated in such an auspicious gathering of people from so far away as Indonesia, China, India and the Pacific Islands. Many years ago, I purchased recordings made by Voyager I and Voyager II of NASA’s space program in outer space at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. It was these recordings and the music of the Gamelan Orchestra from Indonesia which were strikingly similar to the cosmic sounds in outer space.
In another occasion, we were invited to see a performance of a young, Mexican Folkloric Dance Troupe from Costa Chica in neighboring Acapulco where the population is mostly of African descent with Mestizo racial roots. For several years, we have had the privilege to travel with a small group of the Mxodus Team to the Costa Chica area, to attend conferences held in their communities.
In our last journey, we were accompanied by Brother Jabril Muhammad and his wife Dr. Patina, Ministry of Agriculture head, Brother Dr. Abdul Ridgeley, and world renowned historian and scholar, Runoko Rashidi, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We visited the San Diego Museum designed in a pentagon shape as an old Spanish fort. The museum houses several rooms showing the history of the Spanish conquests of Southeast Asia and Africa and their journey through Manila, Philippines, and their ultimately settling into the country of Mexico with their cargo and merchandise from the East.
“Allah is He Who made the earth a resting place for you and the heaven a structure, and He formed you, then made goodly your forms, and He provided you with goodly things. That is Allah, your Lord–so blessed is Allah, the Lord of the worlds. He is the Living, there is no God but He; so call on Him being sincere to Him in obedience. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds!” –Holy Qur’an, Surah 40, verses 64-65
To be continued.