24
Sep
09

Marechal Rondon

RondonRecently I read The River of Doubt about President Theodore Roosevelt’s journey on an unmapped river in South America, also called the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition.  A friend lent me the book.  It is a fascinating account and coming from the desert the detailed explanations of the river, the amazon environment and its adaptive nature was intriguing given the stark contrast to my own environment.

My friend who lent it to me said that Marechal Rondon, the Brazilian Military Officer who led the journey with Roosevelt, was a remarkable figure so prominent in the history of South America.  In that region his name is recognised extensively.  The book gives account after account of Rondon’s philosophy and approach towards the indigenous peoples; how he refused to support confrontation despite being in the face of danger and hostility; how his practice was to leave food and goods as gifts; how his discipline and honour and strong sense of nationalism was highly regarded.  My friend asks why we don’t have similiar figures recognised by our own Australian history?  

Judging by our own account of history during the 1800s it seems Rondon’s philosophy and approach would have been quite a departure from accepted opinion.  His was progressive in the sense of accepting pluralism but different from many established opinions (such as responding to hostility with strength and force).  The fact that Rondon received such widespread recognition accounts to the fact that this position and philosophy was recognised as central to the development of general identity and recognition in South America.  My friends question opens up important thoughtlines!

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