An Introduction to Land Abuse & Trauma



Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven,
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows
Where you are.  You must let it find you.

by, David Wagoner

It’s the Global Story and it’s happening right now. Maybe it’s the forest fires displacing the indigenous tribes of the Amazon and destroying to worlds lungs simultaneously. Maybe the derelict state of “Native Reservations in America” or maybe it’s right here in Observatory,  Cape Town where a housing and office development aims to build over one of the most ancient human settlements in the world.

As a European living in South Africa, it’s easy for me to understand the land question from the Highland Clearance of Scotland to the Forced Removals of the Apartheid era. Land is the pivotal questions affecting our cities, villages, town and wild spaces. We are all searching for somewhere to belong only to find somebody got there first. Our planet is populated and with the human’s population continuing to explode it’s hard for many of us to resolve the land issue both historically and currently.

The more radical would argue that no-one can own land and that access to it is the essence of true humanity. After all, we can’t survive without it. It seems strange that as a human I have to explain that to anybody. Human’s have needed land and water since the beginning of time even the ancient hunter-gathers like that of the Khoi San need somewhere to roam to forage and rest. So what is about the land question that seems to baffle us so much? Why does it cause so much dis-ease that someone might want their land back or that communities might want to harness the power and resource beneath their feet?

We shoule all have the ability to grow our own food, harvest our own crops and work collboratively in order to create full rich sustainable lives that is created through the resources that surround us. For millenia that is exaclty how we have made our way through the world. Yet since the beginning of the industrial revolution land disposseion has become a phenomion of the capitalist system. Where land was utilised for provit rather than for living. Millions of humans have been forced out of the rural communities into urbanisation. Leading to a degradation of culture and wellbeing both core componants of a healthy humans life. Only now are we fully beginnign to understand the impact of displacement and city living.

For me the land question is at the center of my mission to heal humans how can anybody heal if they don’t have somewhere to belong? How can anybody heal if they don’t feel safe where they are. It has been this drive for human security that has driven the capitalist cause. That without property, work and job human lifa has become inviable. We have been trapped in a system of dispossions where corporations and bacnk own land, rather thne the people who tend to it.

On a deeper level, there is far more the land than is the ability to produce food, graze cattle and at this point in the game grow our own oxygen. What about the spiritual aspect of the land, a sense of belonging. Witnessing seasonal weather and celebrating the turning of the wheel or even more interestingly the energetic portals of the planet. That we are deeply connected to the Earth beneath our feet.

There are solutions if we are willing to change the way we think about land.


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