Scathing Letters

To: Tracey (Independent) | From: Claudio Modola

Dear Tracey A friend here in Lamu, couple of weeks after your departure had the questionable idea to inform me about an article on the Independent. I used the day after the poor technology available to this remote corner of the empire to find it. The author was you and the profile of the man between your lines was I. My identity it may be not clear to most of the Independent readers but unequivocal to everybody in the archipelago. I feel therefore the right to respond in an amicable manner with no hope that this page will compensate somehow yours but just as a sort of intellectual exercise. A way to translate few thoughts. It seem dear Treacly that for some mysterious reasons you are slightly “Haunted” by the word “mercenary” that in your writing is clearly confused with the word “Hitman” in the most hollywodyan sense of the term. As Swiss citizen and very passionate about History I suggest you to be patient and follow if you can a brief story that at this stage you should learn about in order to grant to your readers a shade of truth or at least.. a less emotional approach to the subject. For centuries on the Alps between Northern Italy and the future Swiss confederation, tribes made out of extremely strong men where defending mountain passes from intruders. At that time the entire bloody continent was just in a constant soldiering mood, travelling from north to south and vice versa. Thousands troops where surviving along the war route trough the most brutal looting. My ancestors where less than sophisticate. Tactics and strategies in Klausewitz terms where unknown, nevertheless they where fierce warriors with long spears lethal to enemies cavalry. Romans and many others after them had the unpleasant experience to be attacked in a freezing region by thus farmers and herdsmen with the utmost brutality and determination. Long beard, dressed often-in animal furs they had the habit to announce courageously their attack with amazingly long horns. The sound of this instrument was echoing from one mountain to the other with devastating psychological effect on enemies. Thus primitive warriors where a genetically combination between Germans, Normans and probably Gaul with a very feeble trace of “Christianity” in their behaviour. Lutherans had sometime after , a fertile ground and won their paganism not without difficulties. After all my fathers where living in an extremely hostile environment, using mountains as fortresses In defence of herds, women’s and children against merciless conquerors. They where not taking prisoners because those are constantly hungry and and often very depressed. Beside the Geneva Convention was at that time very far to come. Their reputation around XVth century was well established all over Europe. One day the usual smart guy at the service of a bigger smart guy, claimed few mountains with just a tiny escort and managed to sit down with few Swiss tribal leaders. The proposal to the impenetrable rough gathering was quite simple: “Gentlemen I do represent a party interested in your services. To work for my master is not only profitable but will help the cause of God and condone your sins” At that time my fathers where not yet involved in Chocolate production ,banking and chronometers but already smart enough to grasp the concept of profit and discard the part concerning God and sins. Voila le jeux sont fait ! The moment was almost emotionally touching in spite the fact that the Swiss could not manage to change a bit their facial expression . Their ice blue eyes where nevertheless sparkling discretely at the light of the meeting fire. They where visualizing the fat Italians plains, and the rare opportunity to march and chant with good friends outside the bloody mountains crown. They where smelling already the hair of passionate Tuscany brunettes and the incense of golden churches. Adventure and money, enough to go back home and enlarge the damn chalet after a long break from overweight and generally aggressive wives. Done! This was probably the first form of official contract between a state and a PMC (private Military Company) It was the begin of a long cooperation that you can see in perfect function in side the Vatican state even today. After breakfast His Sanctity the Pope (That is after all the radio operator of almighty God), is having his little promenade in the Vatican gardens between two row of Swiss guards or Swiss mercenary if you prefer. History is plenty of mercenaries from Julius Caesar golden era to the Nepalese Ghurkhas at the service Of Your Gracious Queen. From the troops of Ferdinand Cortez to the “Affreux” that happily died in the 60’s to save hundred lives of farmers and nuns in the Belgian Congo from Simba rebels. Mercenaries where Sir Francis Drake and the Cubans landed at the bay of Pigs on behalf of J.F.Kennedy and US Government. Mercenary where millions of girls selling their body since the begin of time to millions of men willing to buy it and the Corporations envoys that are selling expired antibiotics to Africa. Mercenaries where the Moroccan troops along allied forces that arrived one day in Southern, Italy to liberate the uncivilized peninsula from Nazi-fascists and in doing this they had to rape some thousand Italian women with the free world blessing. What are the SAS British Commandos protecting oil fields in Iraq? Patriots? Soldiers? Volunteers? What are you Treacy ? I mean when you are selling one of your works for an amount of Sterling Pounds sufficient to 5000 African families to pierce the “Line of bread” over the one dollar a month income ? For somebody you are an artist for others ……... You see darling is just a matter of perspective. To me you are just brutally naïve or maybe not ? Your cry of horror after the dinner at my place was not another “boutade” of your creative mind isn’t it ? Are you usually vatting the background of all people that you are dying with? Lamu is a sort the “End of the river” of Conrad my dear . the limit between something and almost nothing . Drifters, adventures, losers, fanatics, dreamers, parvenus, creative. Soon or later all this typologies of human beings are passing trough this place that is trapped between Islam and Christianity, between Arabia former Felix and black Africa. Thousand miles of arid land and the water distance between us and Sumatra. What do you expect around here Treacy ? To dine with David Copperfield? You should have asked me : “Claudio are you an ex mercenary ?” I could have discussed with you the ethimology of the term or maybe to show you few degree of grey between a bright white and the darkest black. I could have whipped out of the subject the unnecessary load of bullshit and give you a more accurate picture of a common reality where everybody is selling himself to somebody and often as final result , a third party becoming extinct . You had your little safari . From the height of your contemporary eccentricity and within the limit of your Visa you bought a product . We where there for you Tracy . Anonymous extras to compose the scenario that you where intimatelly expecting . A brutal , merciless assassin with some social graces was just the final touch . Regarding having sex with me I was under the impression that you had a very decent guy with you in Lamu and that should be the only reason to decline the experience for both of us. However , never underestimate the caress of a hand accustom to grab the machinegun grip while the weapon is having mechanical convulsions and a bluish tenuous smoke become a screen between us and the rest of your world. Friendly your E.Claudio Modola