Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby
In her deepest sleep, Madam Lisette Talate returns to Chagos,
leaving the Mauritian slums, where so many continue to follow
her example, standing in protest against the lies and chaos
orchestrated by the officials, who claimed there were no
indigenous people on Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos,
none on the sibling islands of Salomon, Egmont, and so
the islands were ‘swept and sanitised’. An albatross
was spared, and the order given: ‘a few Man Fridays’ must go.
The slave ancestors who fished, loved and prayed across
the centuries, the generations who dried the copra, coco,
extracting oil from the kernel of the nut, even the boss
of the copra plantation struggled to see over the rainbow.
On the main island of Diego Garcia, the US base, Camp Justice
squats. The Chagossians are still chanting, Rann nu Diego
thirty, forty years later, fighting for the right to return. Their loss
is unimaginable, these guardians of the Chagos Archipelago.
Extract from Sounds Like Root Shock: A poetic inquiry into the depopulation of the Chagos Archi-pelago. ‘Over the Rainbow’; music by Harold Arlen and Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg (1939).
Poem dedicated to Aurélie Marie-Lisette Talate (b. 19 March 1941, Diego Garcia, Chagos Archipelago, British Indian Ocean Territory; d. 4 January 2012, Port Louis, Mauritius).