“Look at oceans as pathways, (like Tonga) land as an extension of our bodies and make a vow with oceans around us. The same oceans (of Tonga) have reached Peru again…We are not drowning, we are fighting”. said Fui Fuilupe and Loa Niumeitolu on radio interview with POOR News Network KEXU, 96.1, Both sisters are land protectors and stewards through the Sogorea te’ Urban Land Trust. They are also of the POOR Family HOMEFULNESS, a poor peoples’ led revolutionary movement based in East Oakland.
The Tongan islands erupted January 14, 2022, setting off a ripple of devastating land loss throughout the Pacific Islands. Tonga, meaning “south” is west of Australia, east of Fiji and Samoa. On a map, these islands are tiny dots, seemingly unimportant, but as voyagers, Tongans are warriors and the people have chosen to name themselves against imperialist aggression.
Loa and Fui remind us that “these places (Tonga and Peru) are protected indigenous places and now are destroyed. The fish, the bird interconnections, interdependency, are all connected to the Berkeley Marina”. There are “so many acts of violation against the land (of Tonga and Pacific South)… talk about oceans, how you exploit oceans. … the big cables got cut underground...and communication with Samoa is now cut off. The sisters, gratified that more lives were not lost, reflected that the “land is destroyed, but (our people) are grateful to be alive”.
Coincidentally, heavy rains, pouring down in Las Gasca, Quito, Ecuador, flooded and left residents up to their knees in mud soaked streets around the same time as the volcano eruption.. Home to over 14 indigenous nationalities, Las Gasca surrounds Pichincha volcano, a sacred living monument to the indigenous peoples.
Over 2,000 employed by the Rapsal corporation of Spain are now cleaning up after January 15, 2022 after an oil tanker spilled millions of gallons of oil on the coast of Ventanilla, Peru. Fishermen and villagers are holding protests to force Rapsal to leave. In the sky, the water, the soil and infecting millions of people’s health, imperialism is the ignition of the climate crisis.
While these may seem far and out of our reach, here in Oakland, on indigenous Ohlone Huichin land, imperialism’s hold on our lives is real and pounding on us every minute. When real estate and the government value the land and determine its use, it is escalating the price of suffering.
Everyday I learn the real meaning of connected lives and effects when I work at the Self Help Hunger Program. The area around 61st and Adeline in North Oakland used to be thriving with thousands of Black people and their families living and working in town. “We don’t just feed the homeless, we feed the hungry '' said Darnel Parks, co-founder with Aunti Frances Moore of Self Help Hunger Program (SHHP). Anyone can take fresh produce, vegetables, groceries and hot meals for free. Our respect and maintenance of the land, this sanctuary of compassion, is a the hub of connections. Feeding and supporting the hungry and houseless in an increasingly shrinking Black neighborhood, SHHP looks beyond the immediate war on the poor. From Tonga to Peru, Louisiana to North Dakota and Ecuador to Oakland, join us in protecting the land and sea.