Some of you will know that the Galician city of Santiago – or Santiago de Compostela, to give it its full monicker – has been the end point of a pilgrimage for more than a thousand years. But you may not know that the first comprehensive guide – complete with pictures – was produced in the 12th century. By a monk, I believe. And, of course, in Latin. This has now been translated into Gallego (Galician), which seems only too appropriate. Though I blinked at the reported cost of 180,000 euros. Nice work, if you can get it. And somebody obviously did.
Talking of the pilgrimage – or the Camino, as it’s normally called – a Spanish friend who’s done it was telling me this week that not only is it far from religious these days but it’s now seen as a pretty good way to, shall we say, make friends. Or ligar, in Spanish. When she reminded me, ahead of my own trek in May, that 2010 is one of the special years called Xacobeo (pronounced shackobeo in Gallego), I was compelled to ask whether it wouldn’t more correctly be called Xagobeo . . .
I wonder if that will mean anything to American readers.
I’ve had quite a few dialogues with Galician Nationalists over the years. Most have been civil and, while I may not share the opinions voiced, this has certainly brought me to a better understanding of their viewpoint. Moreover, I’ve occasionally wondered whether I’d be a Nationalist if I were a young Galician now. In the same way as I’ve asked myself, over the years, whether I would have been a Scottish or Welsh nationalist if born there. Anyway, the latest dialogue was with an anonymous reader and can be found in the Comments to my post of Jan 9. In the end, we agreed to disagree but I couldn’t help think back on the exchanges when I read this comment today from the writer I mentioned last week, Rysard Kapuscinski:- Nationalism cannot exist in a conflict-free situation: it cannot exist as a thing devoid of grudges and claims. Wherever the nationalism of one group rears its head, immediately, as if from the ground, this group’s enemies will spring up.
Or, putting it the way it often is – Nationalists define themselves by their enemies.
Now, wouldn’t it be a wonderful coincidence if Mr Kapuscinski came from that other Galicia, in his home country of Poland?
Finally . . . Reader Ferrolano will be interested to hear the Spanish government has ordered that the last (equestrian) statue of Franco in the country be removed from its resting place in the Arsenal Militar in Ferrol. It was shifted there a few years ago, after several decades in the pride of place of the main square of his city of birth. Given the little fellow’s attitude to Gallego, I doubt the plaque is in this language. Now, there was a non-Galician-Nationalist who merited the accusation that, if you’re not one of these, you must – by definition - be a Spanish Nationalist. But who wouldn’t want to be defined as an enemy of the Generalisimo? So, we're all Galician Nationalists now, I guess.