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“Well, the morning after the road was “finished” […] what should we discover but that the road builders were back at work. They have instructions to continue the road […] on its present course right through the village of Olinka. By the time [the villagers] were out of bed, the road was already being dug through Catherine’s newly planted yam field. Of course the Olinka people were up in arms. But the roadbuilders were literally up in arms. They had guns, Celie, with orders to shoot! […] Fortunately, we were able to save all of our things, but with a tarmac road running straight through the middle of it, the village seemed gutted.

Immediately after understanding the roadbuilders’ intentions, the chief set off toward the coast, seeking explanations and reparations. Two weeks later he returned with even more disturbing news. The whole territory, including the Olinka’s village, now belongs to a rubber manufacturer in England. As he neared the coast, he was stunned to see hundreds and hundreds of villagers much like the Olinka clearing the forests on each side of the road, and planting rubber trees. The ancient, giant mahogany trees, all trees, the game, everything in the forest was being destroyed, and the land was forced to lie flat, he said, and bare as the palm of his hand.

At first he thought the people who told him about the English rubber company were mistaken, if only about its territory including the Olinka village. But eventually he was directed to the governor’s mansion, a huge white building, with flags flying in its yard, and there had an audience with the white man in charge. It was this man who gave the roadbuilders their orders, this man who knew about the Olinka only from a map.”

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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