Tuesday 17 September 2019

Sinead Ryan: 'Ancient tribe escapes woes of 21st century'


A Sentinel tribal man aims with his bow and arrow at an Indian Coast Guard helicopter. Photo: REUTERS/Indian Coast Guard/Handout/File Photo
A Sentinel tribal man aims with his bow and arrow at an Indian Coast Guard helicopter. Photo: REUTERS/Indian Coast Guard/Handout/File Photo
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

There are few remaining untouched parts of the planet, but one, a tiny island called North Sentinel in the Indian Ocean, is one.

An ancient tribe, the Sentinelese, have made it their home for 30,000 years, without any contact with the outside world. As one of the very few "uncontacted peoples", they are a tribe protected by law from any approach by modern humans. Apart from anything else, they have no immunity to disease and could well be wiped out if we plonk our fat feet down.

Explorer Marco Polo described them, in the 13th century, as a "most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch", while a posse sent to study them in 1970 was buried in a hail of arrows after reporting signs of a sex-crazed "frenzied community mating" ritual. Mind you, everyone was having frenzied communal sex in the 1970s, right?

In 2006, the lesson still hadn't been learned and two fishermen were impaled on bamboo stakes after they approached the tribe following a bracing encounter on the beach.

So, despite legal protection from the authorities, they seem well able to protect themselves as 26-year-old American Christian missionary John Allen Chau discovered in his brief life. The Oklahoma Bible-thumper decided it was high time the secretive community discovered Jesus.

Earlier this month he bribed four fishermen to drop him off at the island.

It seems neither the tribe nor Jesus was inclined to save him, and he was shot dead with a poison arrow.

But despite their astonishingly violent nature, there's every possibility the Sentinelese, in fact, live an enviously serene life. After all, they've never heard of Brexit … or Donald Trump.

Flasher stirs some high emotions on Facebook

Possibly also involved in a sex-crazed ritual was the flasher North Yorkshire police sought to find after a promisingly precise description of him appeared in a recent public appeal on the force's Facebook page.

The arresting statement warned citizens he was a "naked, overweight white man, with a very pale complexion, little chest or pubic hair, no tattoos and what was described as a small penis".

Calls streamed in - mainly from people offended about the level of detail the police had provided, causing them to back track and amend the post. The revised appeal omitted description of the man's appendage. More calls were received; this time from people saying they preferred the original.

Honestly, you can't please anyone these days.

Is there life on Mars? I have a suggestion...

Perhaps both would be better off living on Mars. But it turns out even the remote red planet may not survive the absence of humans much longer.

I'm a bit of a space anorak so watched Nasa's InSight probe's dramatic landing with bated breath. The first photo was, admittedly, underwhelming, looking like a blob of contaminated jelly. We're promised more once the dust settles (literally).

Of course, eight probes already clutter the planet's surface from previous missions, so at least we're treating it as we would our own - lots of waste metal and plastic left lying around. The boffins are expecting great things as they gear up to find a way for us all to escape the planet we're quickly ruining and colonise somewhere else to spoil. We already know there's a salt water lake beneath the surface, and that means there could be primitive life.

My vote, for now, is to send up all the Brexiteers along with the entire DUP and leave them to it until they get a bit of perspective. Perhaps the bacteria could teach them something.

Irish Independent

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