Dear Editor – Lately you published a front page story about a large sculpture of Alvaro de Mendana in Honiara.
You reported that the Spanish Ambassador to Solomon Islands was present at the unveiling of that object.
I recall from my school days that Mendana’s encounter with the ancestors of the Santa Cruz people was not a good one.
In fact I learnt from my history teacher that Mendana and his men killed a number of Temotu people when they visited back in the 16th century.
According to history, no native living in the Islands that we now call Solomon Islands ever invited Mendana to visit his or her Island at that time. Hence Mendana came uninvited.
Some historians have claimed that European civilisation in the period between 15th to the 20th century was superior to others including those of the South Sea Islanders. In fact Melanesians were described simply as “ignoble savages.”
Thus Mendana did not only visit Islands in the South Seas uninvited, but he was also brutal and ruthless.
He ended up killing Islanders who were simply minding their own business by looking after their own people and community.
Mendana was supposed to be a civilized Christian man. But he behaved like a real savage.
I therefore wonder why should Solomon Islanders in the 21st century honour the memory of a foreign savage? What good did Mendana bring to Santa Cruz and our nation?
If we need to preserve stories of our history, why not preserve the full story? Let us not be selective or try to preserve only one part at the expense of the other?
Perhaps in a gesture of true friendship, Spain ought to have funded a hospital for the people of Temotu at Santa Cruz. Then they can name it Alvaro de Mendana Memorial Hospital.
Such a gesture would go a long way to atone for the injustices caused by the Spanish visitors many years ago.
And the benefit to the Temotu people would be immense.
Having a sculpture in Honiara of Mendana will not mean a thing to the people of Santa Cruz. Already I have heard one of them say “sculpture draenomoa”.
I am told an anchor from one of Mendana’s ships is at Santa Cruz. That anchor could nicely feature in a Memorial Hospital at Santa Cruz.
So the best memorial for Mendana should be a hospital in Santa Cruz built by the Spanish. What was a bad encounter at first could turn out into something positive and objective for future generations of Solomon Islanders.
If Japan could fund a hospital in Gizo after fighting in the Western Province in World War 2, why not Spain doing something positive in memory of Mendana?