The recent clueless babblings of Panama’s consul in Miami should make every red blooded Panamanian who has any inkling of his/her national history bite his tongue before betraying a chuckle. Tomás Guerra is not the only Panamanian (let alone high ranking Panamanian) to reveal his total ignorance of his own country’s history and the complex history of the renowned Panama Canal. Rather than take offense or feel the slightest bit embarrassed at this official’s lack of coherence on the subject of Panama Canal history, we beg for more of our countrymen to be diligent in reading this web site, The Silver People Chronicle.
It was this sweeping lack of knowledge on our very own historical legacy that induced us to start this Chronicle, with the added perspective of a view from one of the descendants of the Black Canal Zone or the Silver Roll, a history with a definite cultural heritage whose contributions are truly unknown in our modern world. I bet if we took a on-the-street poll today we would come away with a clearer picture of the unabashed state of ignorance we live in much as the local media has discovered in their yearly informal “man-on-the-street” surveys here in Panama.
In fact, as I was growing up in Panama, I can remember learning the history of the formation of the United States in great detail. I knew more of the intricacies of the U.S. Constitution, the lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and about the role of the United States in WWII, but next to nothing about the history of the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World- the Panama Canal- the Canal my people built hands on.
I didn’t know the life of great patriots such as Victoriano Lorenzo, and I couldn’t really list almost any of the presidents of our little “democratic” republic. Although I was living during very important, historic times, I was in as much darkness about my own country’s history as all the rest of the youth and adults of my time.
Seems like nothing much has changed, with one exception. Today we have the Internet and the possibility of shoring up our drearily mindless educational system, with sites such as this one and other, similar sites that offer real content in reference to our contribution to Panamanian history and culture.
We can stop pointing the finger at who’s to blame for the collective amnesia our educators have and continue to instill in our younger generations. To the question of “Who needs them?”-referring to us the Afro-Panamanians- revealing a historic pattern of shunning the issue of Black heritage in our country, our children will have to be wiser than we were and seek wisdom from whatever sources at their disposal.
This story continues.