THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR AFRICAN TRIP
The multi-diverse African continent has attracted much deserved attention of travellers from all over the world. We picked ten essentials that will make your travels across the dusty African roads easier
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Kristina Tamašauskaitė
13 May 2020
Visiting Africa is a dream come true. Every country on the continent has something different to offer. The more places you explore, the more obvious it becomes that they are all connected and do the continent equal justice. When you head to Africa, there are essential things you need to take that will prove to be useful at many stages of your travels. Regardless of the time of the year you are planning to go, Africa’s traditions, culture and travel conditions will require some gear. We made a list of some of the essentials that you’ll love to bring along with you when heading to explore the continent.
If you are heading for a place that cannot be any more different than your hometown (and possibly most other places you have been to), then stocking up on plenty SD cards is a must. Africa is a beautiful country and the more you explore it, the more memories you’ll wish you can take back with you. Shopping online for SD cards is generally cheaper and the most convenient option. Even as an amateur photographer, we recommend stocking up on a few big capacity SD cards so that once you take all the snaps of elephants and cheetahs in the wild, you’ll still have enough space to capture the essence of Africa from the more rural areas and take a few selfies along the way.
Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt – wherever you are, there will be so much beauty, culture and natural wonders to see and explore. Your days will be interesting, each different from the others, yet there will possibly be one thing that combines them all: you’ll travel long distances at a time. At times the route will be uncertain, and the conditions will make you feel grateful for bringing your water bottle along. This is a must-have item as it is important to hydrate regularly throughout the day. A refillable bottle is a great idea to pay attention to your travel habits and do your bit to keep the planet clean. Deserts of Egypt, here we come!
The sun is heavy and will feel like it’s way hotter than your typical summer. Be prepared to protect your skin and don’t underestimate the importance of it. Take some sunscreen with you and apply it as often as every 2-3 hours for optimal coverage and sun protection so that you avoid burning and prepare your skin for the sun rays.
Cash is king when travelling, especially in places around Africa. Whenever you find an ATM, you’ll probably quickly come to realise that they are not as reliable as they should be. Often, they would have ran out of cash or charge a huge sum to withdraw money. Whatever sum you’ve planned to take with you, it’d be a good idea to increase it. It is better safe than sorry and will definitely be handy to have extra cash to spare in case things turn out to be pricier than you would have anticipated. Safari trips and tours, accommodation places and restaurants, smaller shops and bigger food supplier supermarkets all accept cash so the USD should be something you have with you at all times.
Another continent, another place for your immune system to get used to altogether. Catching malaria may seem a bit extreme, but it’s a possibility in many places across Africa. Make sure to pack enough mosquito repellent spray bottles to last for your entire trip. Consider buying a bite relief pen if you get bitten by mosquitoes easily. We recommend taking extra precautions, such as visiting a local nurse if you have any additional health conditions that worry you. There are simple thing you can do on daily basis to make sure you’re staying safe from bites such as wear long sleeved tops and long trousers at night and avoid using all unnecessary toiletries such as perfumes.
Caps, wide brimmed hats, oversized sun hats… Whatever your style is, make sure to pack a hat. Generally, the bigger it is, the better. The sun feels great and having the opportunity to explore countries under the endless warm feel of the sunshine touching your skin is great and it is also an amazing excuse to fashion your travel style up with a stylish hat.
This will come in handy if you visit certain places on the continent where it is expected, especially from women, to cover up. The cool thing about a thin scarf such as a sarong, is that you can adapt it to your needs. Use it as a beach towel whenever you end up around the water in the incredible African beaches or wrap it up around your waist or head whenever you visit the more religious areas. On the plus side, it is light and doesn’t take much space so if you think about how useful it can be, a scarf can turn out to be one of the best things you can find in your luggage on your African travels.
FIRST AID TRAVEL KIT
Hopefully, you won’t need to use a first aid kit, but nevertheless you need to be prepared. Exploring the wild side of any place is as exciting as it can be unpredictable. You’ll more likely than not experience life on the road for long hours at a time and you’ll travel non-stop until you get to little villages as far away from civilisation as possible. Sometimes this adventurism comes with risks and you can feel ill at times. Better safe than sorry has never been as important so make sure to bring along a travel size first aid kit so you have all the bandages, antiseptic creams and typical medications handy if the situation requires it.
Batteries will be your best friend. As important as it is to connect to a place when you visit, it is equally crucial to do your research in advance. Africa is a unique place known for the wilderness and the total isolation you’ll experience in certain areas. Electricity is a luxury and cannot be relied on to find everywhere. Bring along a torch with you to be able to navigate at night. This will require having enough batteries to be prepared for the fall of the night. There is nothing scarier than having to make your way at night in the wild with no light and the soundtrack of lions roaming in the near distance.
Showering everyday is great, especially when you travel for a weeks and months at a time. Certain places in Africa won’t have the much loved facilities for taking a shower and considering that maintaining a high level of hygiene at all times, even as a long-distance traveller, you need to make sure you have as much things as you need to stay clean on the road. Wet wipes are very handy for all kinds of situations. You’ll be grateful to yourself for taking a pack or two… or three along for your dusty African trip.