Feb 282018
 

The first example of nylon (nylon 6,6) was produced on this date in 1935, by Wallace Hume Carothers at DuPont’s research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station. In response to Carothers’ work, Paul Schlack at IG Farben developed nylon 6, a different molecule based on caprolactam, on January 29, 1938. Nylon was first used commercially in a nylon-bristled toothbrush in 1938, followed more famously in women’s stockings or “nylons” which were shown at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and first sold commercially in 1940. During World War II, almost all nylon production was diverted to the military for use in parachutes and parachute cord.

DuPont, founded by Éleuthère Irénée du Pont, first produced gunpowder and later cellulose-based paints. Following WWI, DuPont produced synthetic ammonia and other chemicals. DuPont began experimenting with the development of cellulose based fibres, eventually producing the synthetic fibre rayon. DuPont’s experience with rayon was an important precursor to its development and marketing of nylon. DuPont’s invention of nylon spanned a nine-year period, ranging from the start of the project in 1930 to its exhibition at the World Fair in New York in 1939. The project grew from a new structure at DuPont, suggested by Charles Stine in 1927, in which the chemical department would be composed of several small research teams that would focus on pioneering research in chemistry that would lead to practical applications. Carothers was hired from Harvard University to direct the polymer research group. Initially he was allowed to focus on pure research, building on and testing the theories of German chemist Hermann Staudinger. He was successful in his pure research because it greatly improved the general knowledge of polymers.

In the spring of 1930, Carothers and his team had already synthesized two new polymers. One was neoprene, a synthetic rubber greatly used during the war. The other was a white elastic, strong paste that would later become nylon. After these discoveries Carothers’ team was made to shift its research from a pure research approach investigating general polymerization to a more practically-focused goal of finding one chemical combination that would lend itself to industrial applications. It wasn’t until the beginning of 1935 that a polymer called “polymer 6-6” was finally produced. The first example of nylon (nylon 6,6) was produced by Carothers on February 28, 1935, at DuPont’s research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station. It had all the desired properties of elasticity and strength. However, it also required a complex manufacturing process that would become the basis of industrial production in the future. DuPont obtained a patent for the polymer in September 1938, and quickly achieved a monopoly on the fiber.

The production of nylon required interdepartmental collaboration between three departments at DuPont: the Department of Chemical Research, the Ammonia Department, and the Department of Rayon. Some of the key ingredients of nylon had to be produced using high pressure chemistry, the main area of expertise of the Ammonia Department. Nylon was considered a godsend to the Ammonia Department which had been in financial difficulties. The reactants of nylon soon constituted half of the Ammonia department’s sales and helped them come out of the period of the Great Depression by creating jobs and revenue at DuPont.

DuPont’s nylon project demonstrated the importance of chemical engineering in industry, helped create jobs, and  advanced chemical engineering techniques. DuPont developed a chemical plant that provided 1800 jobs and used the latest technologies of the time, which are still used as a model for chemical plants today. The success of the nylon project thus had to do with its ability to achieve the rapid mobilization of a large number of DuPont’s chemists and engineers. The first nylon plant was located at Seaford in Delaware, beginning commercial production on December 15, 1939.

DuPont went through an extensive process to generate names for its new product. In 1940, John W. Eckelberry of DuPont stated that the letters “nyl” were arbitrary and the “on” was copied from the suffixes of other fibers such as cotton and Rayon. A later publication by DuPont explained that the name was originally intended to be “No-Run” (“run” as in stockings), but was modified to avoid making such an unjustified claim. Since the products were not really run-proof, the vowels were swapped to produce “nuron”, which was changed to “nilon” “to make it sound less like a nerve tonic”. For clarity in pronunciation, the “i” was changed to “y.”

An important part of nylon’s popularity stems from DuPont’s marketing strategy. The fiber was promoted to increase demand before the product was available to the general market. Nylon’s commercial announcement occurred on October 27, 1938, at the final session of the Herald Tribune‘s yearly “Forum on Current Problems”, on the site of the approaching New York City world’s fair. The “first man-made organic textile fiber” which was derived from “coal, water and air” and promised to be “as strong as steel, as fine as the spider’s web” was received enthusiastically by the audience, many of them middle-class women, and made the headlines of most newspapers. Nylon was introduced as part of “The world of tomorrow” at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and was featured at DuPont’s “Wonder World of Chemistry” at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1939. Actual nylon stockings were not shipped to selected stores in the national market until May 15, 1940. However, limited numbers were released for sale in Delaware before that. The first public sale of nylon stockings occurred on October 24, 1939, in Wilmington, Delaware. 4,000 pairs of stockings were available, all of which were sold within three hours.

Another added bonus to the campaign was that the release of Nylon meant reducing silk imports from Japan, an argument that won over many wary customers. Nylon was even mentioned by President Roosevelt’s cabinet, which addressed its “vast and interesting economic possibilities” five days after the material was formally announced. However, the early excitement over nylon also caused problems. It fueled unreasonable expectations that nylon would be better than silk, a miracle fabric as strong as steel that would last forever and never run. Realizing the danger of claims such as “New Hosiery Held Strong as Steel” and “No More Runs”, Du Pont scaled back the terms of the original announcement, especially those stating that nylon would possess the strength of steel.

Also, DuPont executives marketing nylon as a revolutionary synthetic material did not at first realize that some consumers experienced a sense of unease and distrust, even fear, towards non-organic fabrics. A particularly damaging news story, drawing on DuPont’s 1938 patent for the new polymer, suggested that one method of producing nylon might be to use cadaverine, a chemical extracted from corpses. Although scientists asserted that cadaverine was also extracted by heating coal, the public often refused to listen, as in the case of a woman who confronted one of the lead scientists at DuPont and refused to accept that the rumor was not true.

DuPont changed its campaign strategy, emphasizing that nylon was made from “coal, air and water”, and started focusing on the personal and aesthetic aspects of nylon, rather than its intrinsic qualities. Nylon was thus domesticated, and attention shifted to the material and consumer aspect of the fiber with slogans like “If it’s nylon, it’s prettier, and oh! How fast it dries!” After nylon’s nationwide release in 1940, production was increased. 1300 tons of the fabric were produced during 1940. During their first year on the market, 64 million pairs of nylon stockings were sold. While nylon was marketed as the durable and indestructible material of the people, it was sold at almost twice the price of silk stockings ($4.27 per pound of nylon versus $2.79 per pound of silk). Sales of nylon stockings were strong in part due to changes in women’s fashion. By 1939 hemlines had inched back up to the knee, where they were in 1929. The shorter skirts were accompanied by a demand for stockings that offered coverage without the use of garters to hold them up. However, as of February 11, 1942, nylon production was redirected from being a consumer material to one used by the military  DuPont’s production of nylon stockings and other lingerie stopped, and most manufactured nylon was used to make parachutes and tents for World War II.

Once the war ended, the return of nylon was awaited with great anticipation. Although DuPont projected yearly production of 360 million pairs of stockings, there were delays in converting back to consumer rather than wartime production. In 1946, the demand for nylon stockings could not be satisfied, which led to the Nylon Riots. In one case, an estimated 40,000 people lined up in Pittsburgh to buy 13,000 pairs of nylons. In the meantime, women cut up nylon tents and parachutes left from the war in order to make blouses and wedding dresses. Between the end of the war and 1952, production of stockings and lingerie used 80% of the world’s nylon.

Nylon is commonly used in kitchen utensils and it has a number of advantages over other materials. Of major importance is that nylon utensils do not scratch non-stick and other sensitive cooking surfaces. Conversely, cheaply made nylon utensils may melt if exposed to high temperatures. They should be able to withstand 450˚F/230˚C, and should be so rated. If utensils are not marked with a heat rating, chances are they cannot withstand high heat. Also, nylon utensils crack over time, creating places where harmful bacteria can hide, and cannot easily be cleaned out. Nylon is also non-biodegradable, so your worn out utensils will sit in landfills a very long time.

Oct 232017
 

Today is a public holiday in Cambodia (where I currently live) celebrating the Paris Peace Accords of 1991 (សន្ធិសញ្ញាសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីស), formally titled Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict, which were signed on this date, and marked the official end of the Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1975 – 1991). The agreement marked the first occasion when the UN took over as the government of a state. The last quarter, or so, of the 20th century was a horrific time to be living in Cambodia, so that as the century closed with the Paris Peace Accords there was a sense in the country that a modicum of equilibrium and normalcy in the country was possible. I’ll highlight a few salient points in the history of Cambodia here as a way of underscoring two themes I return to in my writing quite often: (1) Nationalism has been an unmitigated disaster since the 19th century. (2) The vast bulk of Westerners are quite contentedly ignorant of the history, culture, and politics of Asia as a whole and of SE Asia in particular. Obviously, all I can do is scratch the surface. You’ll have to learn more on your own.

Sihanouk

Independence of Cambodia and Vietnam from France in the 1950s led to civil war in both countries but in different ways. Cambodia’s independence was reasonably straightforward at the outset, Vietnam’s was not. When France divested itself of Indochina in 1953, Cambodia became a kingdom under Sihanouk, but Vietnam split into a pro-Russian communist northern region and a pro-Western southern region. We all know what happened there next. Cambodia’s history in that era got very complicated because it not only split ideologically between the kingdom under Sihanouk and the Chinese-communist Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot, but also had to battle incursions from Vietnam.

Pol Pot

During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge communist armies had formed an alliance to fight U.S.-backed regimes in their respective countries. Despite their open display of cooperation with the Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge leadership feared that the Vietnamese communists were scheming to form an Indochinese federation with Vietnam as the dominant force in the region. In order to pre-empt an attempt by the Vietnamese to dominate them, the Khmer Rouge leadership began purging Vietnamese-trained personnel within their own ranks starting in 1975 when the Lon Nol regime, which had overthrown Sihanouk in 1970, capitulated. (Are you following so far?) Then, in May 1975, the newly formed Democratic Kampuchea, dominated by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, began attacking Vietnam, beginning with an attack on the Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc. In spite of the fighting, the leaders of reunified Vietnam and Kampuchea made several public diplomatic exchanges throughout 1976 to highlight the supposedly strong relations between them. However, behind the scenes, Kampuchean leaders continued to fear what they perceived as Vietnamese expansionism. As such, on 30 April 1977, they launched another major military attack on Vietnam. Shocked by the Kampuchean assault, Vietnam launched a retaliatory strike at the end of 1977 in an attempt to force the Kampuchean government to negotiate. In January 1978, the Vietnamese military withdrew because their political objectives had not been achieved and the Khmer Rouge remained unwilling to negotiate seriously.

Small-scale fighting continued between the two countries throughout 1978, as China tried to mediate peace talks between the two sides. However, neither country could reach an acceptable compromise at the negotiation table. By the end of 1978, Vietnamese leaders decided to remove the Khmer Rouge-dominated regime of Democratic Kampuchea, perceiving it as being pro-Chinese and too hostile towards Vietnam. On 25 December 1978, 150,000 Vietnamese troops invaded Democratic Kampuchea and overran the Kampuchean Revolutionary Army in just two weeks. On 8 January 1979, the pro-Vietnamese People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) was established in Phnom Penh, marking the beginning of a 10-year Vietnamese occupation. During that period, the Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea continued to be recognized by the United Nations as the legitimate government of Kampuchea, and several armed resistance groups were formed to fight the Vietnamese occupation. Behind the scenes, Prime Minister Hun Sen of the PRK regime approached factions of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) to begin peace talks. Under heavy diplomatic and economic pressure from the international community, the Vietnamese government implemented a series of economic and foreign policy reforms, which led to their withdrawal from Kampuchea in September 1989.

At the Third Jakarta Informal Meeting in 1990, under the Australian-sponsored Cambodian Peace Plan, representatives of the CGDK and the PRK agreed to a power-sharing arrangement by forming a unity government known as the Supreme National Council (SNC). The SNC’s role was to represent Cambodian sovereignty on the international stage, while the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was given the task of supervising the country’s domestic policies until a Cambodian government was elected by the people through a peaceful, democratic process. Cambodia’s pathway to peace proved to be extremely difficult, because Khmer Rouge leaders decided not to participate in the general elections, and instead chose to disrupt the electoral process by launching military attacks on UN peacekeepers and killing ethnic Vietnamese migrants. In May 1993, Sihanouk’s FUNCINPEC movement defeated the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), formerly the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP), to win the general elections. However, the CPP leadership refused to accept defeat and they announced that the eastern provinces of Cambodia, where most of the CPP’s votes were drawn from, would secede from Cambodia. To avoid such an outcome, Norodom Ranariddh, the leader of FUNCINPEC agreed to form a coalition government with the CPP. Shortly afterwards, the constitutional monarchy was restored, and the Khmer Rouge was outlawed by the newly formed Cambodian Government.

If the alphabet soup and other complications confuse you, don’t panic. To be customarily simplistic I’ll boil it down for you. In the post-war era European colonial governments granted independence to the nations that they had colonized and created where previously ethnicity and governance had been fluid for centuries. Here’s where my fury against nationalism comes in. You really have to be a complete simpleton (which unfortunately too many people are), to think that nations have rigidly defined borders that were established in some misty past (perhaps by God?), and that all the people within the borders of that nation belong to one stock speaking one language. ALL nations are inherently multi-ethnic and linguistically diverse. I’m not talking about the complexities of immigration for the moment; I’m talking about people born and bred on the soil for generations. Even if you take away the problem of defining borders you are left with a mess. Look at Italy, which has water surrounding it on most sides with the Alps in the north to define the northern bit. Within those geographic borders you have a complete hodge-podge of languages, dialects, and ethnicities of long standing. When I taught in Mantua I had a fair sprinkling of red-haired, blue-eyed students who would look quite at home in Glasgow, yet were as Italian as they come.

Nationalism was the great evil perpetrated on Europe by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 — http://www.bookofdaystales.com/congress-vienna/  — allowing the powerful nations it solidified to spend the rest of the century dominating the world via colonization. Prior to the Congress, Spain and Portugal had done the job of colonizing the New World only to see its empire crumble when they were weakened by the Napoleonic Wars, so that local forces were able to fight successfully for independence.  The aftermath, especially in South America, was a century of civil war as local factions sought to carve out their own nations. In place of Spain, Britain and France took the initiative, colonizing much of the rest of the world (fighting over colonial territory among themselves when they weren’t fighting the locals), with Germany and Italy joining the fray rather late once they had unified into nation-states in the latter 19th century.

What happened to South America in the early 19th century happened in south and southeast Asia in the post-war era. When France felt compelled to release its colonies in Indochina all hell broke loose as I have summarized above. Cambodia does not have God-given boundaries that contain a unitary ethnicity speaking a single language, but Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot thought it should be, though, and set about killing everyone that was not “Cambodian” enough. Pol Pot slaughtered roughly 25% of the population (somewhere between 1 and 3 million out of a population of 8 million), because they were not ethnically pure enough (or were not agricultural enough, or too well educated, or simply a threat to his vision of Cambodian nationalism). The deep irony was that Pol Pot was himself part-Chinese and had been to university. I’m sure someone has written about this before, but the common thread among tyrannical nationalist dictators is that their own ethnic bona fides are far from pure. Hitler had some Jewish ancestors, Napoleon was a Corsican, Stalin was Georgian . . . etc. etc.

It has not been plain sailing in Cambodia since 1991 but the Paris Peace Accords were a start. In 1993, Norodom Sihanouk was restored as king of Cambodia, but all power was in the hands of the government established after the UNTAC sponsored elections. The stability established following the conflict was shaken in 1997 by a coup d’état led by the co-Prime Minister Hun Sen against the non-communist parties in the government. In recent years, reconstruction efforts have progressed and led to some political stability through a multiparty democracy under a constitutional monarchy. Elections next year are a toss-up for the moment with a lot of trepidation in the country.

In July 2010, Kang Kek Iew was the first Khmer Rouge member found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in his role as the former commandant of the S21 extermination camp and he was sentenced to life in prison. However, Hun Sen has opposed extensive trials of former Khmer Rouge mass murderers. In August 2014, a U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal), sentenced Khieu Samphan, the regime’s 83-year-old former head of state, and Nuon Chea, its 88-year-old chief ideologue to life in prison on war crimes charges for their role in the country’s genocide in the 1970s. The trial began in November 2011. Former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary died in 2013, while his wife, Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, was deemed unfit to stand trial due to dementia in 2012. The group’s supreme leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.

As has become my custom here I ought to simply suggest that you buy a ticket to Phnom Penh if you want to taste Cambodian food and leave it at that. Normally for breakfast I find a stall in the market that serves some kind of noodles in broth with meat or fish and vegetables. That is a very common Cambodian breakfast. Noodles in broth with bits added is ubiquitous throughout SE Asia with seemingly infinite regional and local varieties. Without the proper noodles, vegetables, and flavorings you don’t stand a remote chance in the West of replicating even the simplest dish that you can find at a market stall in Cambodia for $1 or less (Cambodian rials and US dollars are used interchangeably in Cambodia). They simmer their broths over wood fires for hours and then heat your chosen ingredients in them for a minute, serving them in deep bowls with a generous portion of broth, (which gets richer the more ingredients are added), and giving you side dishes of condiments. I’m partial to fiery pepper condiments, but I enjoy the pickles also.

What can I say? Pork is a very common broth base. You could start by making a stock from meaty pork bones from a roast. Green onions, garlic, cardamom, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves can be added in various quantities to enrich the broth. The secret is to simmer the broth for hours, refrigerate overnight, and then simmer again in the morning. Then cook some rice noodles of your choice in the broth augmented by vegetables such as bean sprouts or Chinese greens and a little sliced pork. Really though – come to Cambodia if you want the real thing.

 

Sep 012017
 

Cetshwayo kaMpande (c. 1826 – 8 February 1884) became king of the Zulu Kingdom on this date in 1873, and remained king until 1879 when he was deposed by the British following the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. His name has been transliterated as Cetawayo, Cetewayo, Cetywajo and Ketchwayo. He famously led the Zulu nation to victory against the British in the Battle of Isandlwana. Let’s get a few things clear at the outset. First, the idea that the British were in South Africa to shoulder the “White man’s burden” of civilizing Africans is rank nonsense. The Zulu had their own nation and social structure that was certainly equal in many ways to British culture. The British army had a tough time defeating them. Superior weaponry turned the tide, and the result was virtual enslavement and apartheid. Not exactly my idea of “civilization.” The British (and Dutch) were in South Africa for economic gain (both cheap labor and greed for resources), pure and simple. Cetshwayo was murderously ruthless, and he and his ilk were equally ruthless in training Zulu warriors. Therefore, I am not holding him up as someone to emulate. Cetshwayo’s great uncle was the legendary Shaka, the Zulu king who established the Zulu as a regional power. His methods were brutal and no mistake:

As he conquered a tribe, he enrolled its remnants in his army, so that they might in their turn help to conquer others. He armed his regiments with the short stabbing assegai, instead of the throwing assegai which they had been accustomed to use, and kept them subject to an iron discipline. If a man was observed to show the slightest hesitation about coming to close quarters with the enemy, he was executed as soon as the fight was over. If a regiment had the misfortune to be defeated, whether by its own fault or not, it would on its return to headquarters find that a goodly proportion of the wives and children belonging to it had been beaten to death by Shaka’s orders, and that he was waiting their arrival to complete his vengeance by dashing out their brains. The result was, that though Shaka’s armies were occasionally annihilated, they were rarely defeated, and they never ran away.

Cetshwayo was a son of Zulu king Mpande and Queen Ngqumbazi and grandson of Senzangakhona kaJama. In 1856 he defeated and killed in battle his younger brother Mbuyazi, Mpande’s favourite, at the Battle of Ndondakusuka. Almost all Mbuyazi’s followers were massacred in the aftermath of the battle, including five of Cetshwayo’s own brothers. Like Nero, he killed his own mother, and then caused several people to be executed because they did not show sufficient sorrow at her death. Following this he became the effective ruler of the Zulu people. He did not ascend to the throne, however, as his father was still alive. Stories from that time regarding his huge size vary, saying he stood somewhere between 6 feet 6 inches (198 cm) tall and 6 feet 8 inches (203 cm) and weighed close to 25 stone (350 lb; 160 kg).

His other brother, Umtonga, was still a potential rival. Cetshwayo also kept an eye on his father’s new wives and children for potential rivals, ordering the death of his favorite wife Nomantshali and her children in 1861. Though two sons escaped, the youngest was murdered in front of the king. After these events Umtonga fled to the Boers’ side of the border and Cetshwayo had to make deals with the Boers to get him back. In 1865, Umtonga did the same thing, apparently making Cetshwayo believe that Umtonga would organize help from the Boers against him, the same way his father had overthrown his predecessor, Dingaan.

Mpande died in 1872. His death was concealed at first, to ensure a smooth transition. Cetshwayo was installed as king on 1 September 1873. Sir Theophilus Shepstone, who annexed the Transvaal for Britain, crowned Cetshwayo as king in a rather shoddy and farcical ceremony, but quickly turned on the Zulus because he felt he was being undermined by Cetshwayo’s skilful negotiating for land area compromised by encroaching Boers, and the fact that the Boundary Commission established to examine the ownership of the land in question actually ruled in favor of the Zulus. The report was subsequently buried. As was customary, Cetshwayo established a new capital for the Zulu nation and called it Ulundi (the high place). He expanded his army and readopted many of Shaka’s methods. He also equipped his impis with muskets, though evidence of their use is limited. He banished European missionaries from his land. He also may have incited other native African peoples to rebel against Boers in Transvaal.

In 1878, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, British High Commissioner for South Africa, sought to confederate South Africa the same way Canada had been, and felt that this could not be done while there was a powerful and independent Zulu state. So, he began to demand reparations for border infractions and forced his subordinates to send carping messages complaining about Cetshwayo’s rule, seeking to provoke the Zulu King. They succeeded, but Cetshwayo kept his calm, considering the British to be his friends and being aware of the power of the British army. He did, however, state that he and Frere were equals and since he did not complain about how Frere ruled, the same courtesy should be observed by Frere in regard to Zululand. Eventually, Frere issued an ultimatum that demanded that he should effectively disband his army. Cetshwayo’s refusal led to the Zulu War in 1879, though it should be noted that he continually sought to make peace after the first battle at Isandhlwana. After an initial crushing but costly Zulu victory over the British at the Battle of Isandlwana, and the failure of the other two columns of the three-pronged British attack to make headway (one was bogged down in the Siege of Eshowe), the British retreated, other columns suffering two further defeats to Zulu armies in the field at the Battle of Intombe and the Battle of Hlobane. However, the British follow-up victories at the famous Battle of Rorke’s Drift and the Battle of Kambula restored some British hope. While this retreat gave the chance for a Zulu counter-attack deep into Natal, Cetshwayo refused, his intention only being to repulse the British, not provoke further reprisals.

However, the British then returned to Zululand with a far larger and better armed force, finally capturing the Zulu capital at the Battle of Ulundi, in which the British, having learned their lesson from their defeat at Isandlwana, set up a hollow square on the open plain, armed with cannons and Gatling Guns. The battle lasted approximately 45 minutes before the British unleashed the cavalry to rout the Zulus. After Ulundi was taken and torched on 4 July, Cetshwayo was deposed and exiled, first to Cape Town, and then to London, returning to Zululand only in 1883.

From 1881, his cause had been taken up by, among others, Lady Florence Dixie, correspondent of the London Morning Post, who wrote articles and books in his support. This, along with his gentle and dignified manner, gave rise to public sympathy and the sentiment that he had been ill-used and shoddily treated by Bartle Frere and Lord Chelmsford.

By 1882 differences between two Zulu factions—pro-Cetshwayo uSuthus and three rival chiefs UZibhebhu—had erupted into a blood feud and civil war. In 1883, the British tried to restore Cetshwayo to rule at least part of his previous territory but the attempt failed. With the aid of Boer mercenaries, Chief UZibhebhu started a war contesting the succession and on 22 July 1883 he attacked Cetshwayo’s new kraal in Ulundi. Cetshwayo was wounded but escaped to the forest at Nkandla. After pleas from the Resident Commissioner, Sir Melmoth Osborne, Cetshwayo moved to Eshowe, where he died a few months later on 8 February 1884, aged between 57 and 60, presumably from a heart attack, although there are some theories that he may have been poisoned. His body was buried in a field within sight of the forest, to the south near Nkunzane River. The remains of the wagon which carried his corpse to the site were placed on the grave, and may be seen at Ondini Museum, near Ulundi.

Cetshwayo is remembered by historians as being the last king of an independent Zulu nation. His son Dinizulu, as heir to the throne, was proclaimed king on 20 May 1884, supported by (other) Boer mercenaries.

Current-day Zulu cooking is an eclectic mix of influences including indigenous ingredients along with ingredients and cooking methods from Europe and India courtesy of European colonization and a heavy influx of indentured workers from India. I’ve already given a traditional recipe here: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/freedomunfreedom-day-south-africa/

Here is Zulu cabbage:

Zulu Cabbage

Ingredients

vegetable oil

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 small head white cabbage, sliced

12 oz can tomatoes, with juice

1 tbsp curry powder

salt and pepper

Instructions

Heat a little oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and pepper until they are soft. Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste if you are so inclined.  For me the curry is sufficient.  Simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes depending on how well cooked you prefer the cabbage. I prefer mine al dente. You should let the water from the tomatoes evaporate, but do not let the dish get completely dry so that it sticks.

Serve hot.

Oct 052014
 

np9

On this date in 1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce surrendered to General Nelson Appleton Miles, thus ending the Nez Perce War. I feel the need to recount this tale in order to ensure that the cruelty, perfidy, and injustice of the U.S. government and army against indigenous people is never forgotten. This episode in the history of the U.S. is an unmitigated disgrace for which there is absolutely no excuse.

Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt or Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it, popularly known as Chief Joseph, or Young Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904), succeeded his father Tuekakas (Chief Joseph the Elder) as the leader of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce, a Native American group indigenous to the Wallowa Valley in northeastern Oregon, in the interior Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

He led his band during the most tumultuous period in their contemporary history when they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in the Wallowa Valley by the United States federal government and forced to move northeast, on to the significantly reduced reservation in Lapwai, Idaho Territory. A series of events which culminated in episodes of violence led those Nez Perce who resisted removal including Joseph’s band and an allied band of the Palouse tribe to take flight to attempt to reach political asylum, ultimately with the Lakota chief Sitting Bull in Canada.

They were pursued by the U.S. Army in a campaign led by General Oliver O. Howard. This 1,170-mile (1,900 km) fighting retreat by the Nez Perce in 1877 became known as the Nez Perce War. The skill with which the Nez Perce fought and the manner in which they conducted themselves in the face of incredible adversity led to widespread admiration among their military adversaries and the American public.

np5

Coverage of the war in United States newspapers led to widespread recognition of Joseph and the Nez Perce. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker.

Chief Joseph was born Hinmuuttu-yalatlat (alternatively Hinmaton-Yalaktit or Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, Nez Perce: “Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain” or Hinmatóoyalahtq’it, “Thunder traveling to higher areas” in the Wallowa Valley of north eastern Oregon. He was known as Young Joseph during his youth because his father, Tuekakas, was baptized with the same Christian name, later becoming known as “Old Joseph” or “Joseph the Elder.”

While initially hospitable to the region’s newcomers, Joseph the Elder grew wary when settlers wanted more Indian lands. Tensions grew as the settlers appropriated traditional Indian lands for farming and grazing livestock. Isaac Stevens, governor of the Washington Territory, organized a council to designate separate areas for Indians and settlers in 1855. Joseph the Elder and the other Nez Perce chiefs signed a treaty with the United States establishing a Nez Perce reservation encompassing 7.7 million acres (31,000 km²) in present-day Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The 1855 reservation maintained much of the traditional Nez Perce lands, including Joseph’s Wallowa Valley.

An influx of new settlers caused by a gold rush led the government to call a second council in 1863. Government commissioners asked the Nez Perce to accept a new, much smaller reservation of 760,000 acres (3,100 km2) situated around the village of Lapwai in Idaho, and excluding the Wallowa Valley. In exchange, they were promised financial rewards and schools and a hospital for the reservation. Chief Lawyer and one of his allied chiefs signed the treaty on behalf of the Nez Perce Nation, but Joseph the Elder and several other chiefs were opposed to selling their lands, and did not sign.

Their refusal to sign caused a rift between the “non-treaty” and “treaty” bands of Nez Perce. The “treaty” Nez Perce moved within the new reservation’s boundaries, while the “non-treaty” Nez Perce remained on their lands. Joseph the Elder demarcated Wallowa land with a series of poles, proclaiming, “Inside this boundary all our people were born. It circles the graves of our fathers, and we will never give up these graves to any man.”

Joseph the Younger succeeded his father as leader of the Wallowa band in 1871. Before his death, the latter counseled his son:

My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold his country. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more and white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.

Joseph commented “I clasped my father’s hand and promised to do as he asked. A man who would not defend his father’s grave is worse than a wild beast.”

The non-treaty Nez Perce suffered many injustices at the hands of settlers and prospectors, but out of fear of reprisal from the militarily superior Americans, Joseph never allowed any violence against them, instead making many concessions to them in hopes of securing peace.

np3

In 1873, Joseph negotiated with the federal government to ensure his people could stay on their land in the Wallowa Valley. But in 1877, the government reversed its policy, and Army General Oliver Howard threatened to attack if the Wallowa band did not relocate to the Idaho Reservation with the other Nez Perce. Joseph reluctantly agreed. Before the outbreak of hostilities, General Howard held a council at Fort Lapwai to try to convince Joseph and his people to relocate. Joseph finished his address to the general, which focused on human equality, by expressing his “[disbelief that] the Great Spirit Chief gave one kind of men the right to tell another kind of men what they must do.” Howard reacted angrily, interpreting the statement as a challenge to his authority. When Toohoolhoolzote protested, he was jailed for five days.

The day following the council, Joseph, White Bird, and Looking Glass all accompanied Howard to look at different areas. Howard offered them a plot of land that was inhabited by Whites and Native Americans, promising to clear them out. Joseph and his leaders refused, adhering to their tribal tradition of not taking what did not belong to them. Unable to find any suitable uninhabited land on the reservation, Howard informed Joseph that his people had thirty days to collect their livestock and move to the reservation. Joseph pleaded for more time, but Howard told him that he would consider their presence in the Wallowa Valley beyond the thirty-day mark an act of war.

Returning home, Joseph called a council among his people. At the council, he spoke on behalf of peace, preferring to abandon his father’s grave over war. Toohoolhoolzote, insulted by his incarceration, advocated war. The Wallowa band began making preparations for the long journey, meeting first with other bands at Rocky Canyon. At this council too, many leaders urged war, while Joseph argued in favor of peace. While the council was underway, a young man whose father had been killed rode up and announced that he and several other young men had already killed four white settlers. Still hoping to avoid further bloodshed, Joseph and other non-treaty Nez Perce leaders began moving people away from Idaho.

The Nez Perce War was the name given to the U.S. Army’s pursuit of about 750 Nez Perce and a small allied band of the Palouse tribe who had fled toward freedom. Initially they had hoped to take refuge with the Crow nation in the Montana Territory, but when the Crow refused to grant them aid, the Nez Perce went north in an attempt to reach asylum with Sioux Chief Sitting Bull and his followers who had fled to Canada in 1876.

np4

For over three months, the Nez Perce outmaneuvered and battled their pursuers traveling 1,170 miles (1,880 km) across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. General Howard, leading the opposing cavalry, was impressed with the skill with which the Nez Perce fought, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications. Finally, after a devastating five-day battle during freezing weather conditions with no food or blankets, with the major war leaders dead, Joseph formally surrendered to General Nelson Appleton Miles on October 5, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains of the Montana Territory, less than 40 miles (60 km) south of Canada in a place close to the present-day Chinook in Blaine County.

np1

The battle is remembered in popular history by the words attributed to Joseph at the formal surrender:

Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.

The popular legend deflated, however, when the original pencil draft of the report was revealed to show the handwriting of the later poet and lawyer Lieutenant Charles Erskine Scott Wood, who claimed to have taken down the great chief’s words on the spot. In the margin it read, “Here insert Joseph’s reply to the demand for surrender” Although Joseph was not technically a war chief and probably did not command the retreat, many of the chiefs who did had died. His speech brought attention – and therefore credit – his way. He earned the praise of General William Tecumseh Sherman and became known in the press as “The Red Napoleon.”

np6

Joseph’s fame did him little good. By the time Joseph surrendered, 150 of his followers had been killed or wounded. Their plight, however, did not end. Although he had negotiated a safe return home for his people, General Sherman forced Joseph and four hundred followers to be taken on unheated rail cars to Fort Leavenworth in eastern Kansas to be held in a prisoner of war campsite for eight months. Toward the end of the following summer the surviving Nez Perce were taken by rail to a reservation in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) for seven years. Many of them died of epidemic diseases while there.

In 1879, Chief Joseph went to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes and plead the case of his people. Although Joseph was respected as a spokesman, opposition in Idaho prevented the U.S. government from granting his petition to return to the Pacific Northwest. Finally, in 1885, Chief Joseph and his followers were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest to settle on the reservation around Kooskia, Idaho. Instead, Joseph and others were taken to the Colville Indian Reservation far from both their homeland in the Wallowa Valley and the rest of their people in Idaho.

Joseph continued to lead his Wallowa band on the Colville Reservation, at times coming into conflict with the leaders of 11 other tribes living on the reservation. Chief Moses of the Sinkiuse-Columbia in particular resented having to cede a portion of his people’s lands to Joseph’s people, who had “made war on the Great Father.”

In his last years Joseph spoke eloquently against the injustice of United States policy toward his people and held out the hope that America’s promise of freedom and equality might one day be fulfilled for Native Americans as well. In 1897, he visited Washington again to plead his case. He rode in a parade honoring former President Ulysses Grant in New York City with Buffalo Bill Cody but he was a topic of conversation for his headdress more than his mission.

np10

In 1903, Chief Joseph visited Seattle, a booming young town, where he stayed in the Lincoln Hotel as guest to Edmond Meany, a history professor at the University of Washington. It was there that he also befriended Edward Curtis, the photographer, who took one of his most memorable and well-known photographs. He also visited President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington that year. Everywhere he went, it was to make a plea for what remained of his people to be returned to their home in the Wallowa Valley. But it would never happen. An indomitable voice of conscience for the West, he died in September 1904, still in exile from his homeland, according to his doctor “of a broken heart.” Meany and Curtis would help his family bury their chief near the village of Nespelem.

Helen Hunt Jackson recorded one early Oregon settler’s tale of his encounter with Joseph in her 1902 Glimpses of California and the Missions:

Why I got lost once, an’ I came right on [Chief Joseph’s] camp before I knowed it . . . ‘t was night, ‘n’ I was kind o’ creepin’ along cautious, an’ the first thing I knew there was an Injun had me on each side, an’ they jest marched me up to Jo’s tent, to know what they should do with me …

Well; ‘n’ they gave me all I could eat, ‘n’ a guide to show me my way, next day, ‘n’ I could n’t make Jo nor any of ’em take one cent. I had a kind o’ comforter o’ red yarn, I wore rund my neck; an’ at last I got Jo to take that, jest as a kind o’ momento.

The Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce Indians who still live on the Colville Reservation bear his name in tribute to their prestigious leader. Joseph is buried in Nespelem, Washington, where many of his band members still live.

np2

Traditionally, the Nez Perce were migratory foragers and would travel in seasonal rounds, according to where the abundant food was to be found at a given time of year (hence the need for large territories). This migration followed a predictable pattern from permanent winter villages through several temporary camps, nearly always returning to the same locations each year. They were known to go as far east as the Great Plains of Montana to hunt buffalo, and as far west as the west coast. Before construction of The Dalles Dam in 1957, which flooded this area, Celilo Falls was a respected and favored location to fish for salmon on the Columbia River. They relied heavily on q’emes or camas root (Camassia quamash)as a food source; it was gathered in the region between the Salmon and Clearwater river drainages.

I am not sure if you can buy camas root, but you can forage for it. This site is a useful resource if you want to have a go at finding it and cooking it:

http://honest-food.net/2011/07/26/cooking-blue-camas/

What I have to say here draws in part from it, and the image of the bulbs is also from the site.

np11

Camassia is a genus of six species native to western Canada, and the western United States, from southern British Columbia to northern California, and east to Utah, Wyoming and Montana. Common names include camas, quamash, Indian hyacinth, camash, and wild hyacinth. It grows in the wild in great numbers in moist meadows; they are perennial plants with basal linear leaves measuring 8 to 32 inches (20 to 81 cm) in length, which emerge early in the spring. They grow to a height of 12 to 50 inches (30 to 127 cm), with a multi-flowered stem rising above the main plant in summer. The six-petaled flowers vary in color from pale lilac or white to deep purple or blue-violet. Camas can appear to color entire meadows when in flower.

np12

While Camassia species are edible and nutritious, the white-flowered death camas species (which are not in the genus Camassia but in a number of genera in the tribe Melanthieae) that grow in the same areas are toxic, and the bulbs are quite similar. It is easiest to tell the plants apart when they are in flower. After being harvested in the autumn, once the flowers have withered, the bulbs were pit-roasted or boiled. I gather a pit-cooked camas bulb looks and tastes something like baked sweet potato (sometimes described as like chestnuts or figs), but sweeter, and with more crystalline fibers due to the presence of inulin in the bulbs. The amount of sweetness depends on the length of cooking time and, hence, the degree of caramelization. When dried, the bulbs could be pounded into flour.

Narcissa Whitman and her new husband Marcus Whitman traveled the Oregon Trail and crossed the Rocky Mountains in 1836 as missionaries to the peoples of the northwest. She recorded this in her journal:

We nooned upon Grande Ronde river … The camas grows here in abundance, and it is the principal resort of the Cayuses and many other tribes, to obtain it, as they are very fond of it. It resembles an onion in shape and color, when cooked is very sweet and tastes like a fig. Their manner of cooking them is very curious: They dig a hole in the ground, throw in a heap of stones, heat them to a red heat, cover them with green grass, upon which they put the camas, and cover the whole with earth. When taken out it is black. This is the chief food of many tribes during winter.

So there’s your recipe!

np10

Otherwise I suggest following the directions in the above website and cook the bulbs in a slow oven for 12 hours or more. Apparently after 12 hours they turn golden. Maybe as much as 24 hours is needed to turn them black and fully caramelized. Living in China with no kitchen, I am not in a position to experiment for myself.