This article is about the Wymgani people. For the language of the same name, see: Wymgani (language).
The Wymgani, also referred to as Indigenous Ariddians, are the native people of the Ariddian Isles, and make up about 30% of the Isles’ population, although their numbers are rising. They are found in the People’s Democratic Social Republic of Ariddia, the Sovereign State of West Ariddia, the City of North-West Ariddia, the Sovereign Village of San Adriano, Lwellsl and the Ariddian Arctic Islands. Additionally, small numbers of Wymgani are found amongst expatriate Ariddians in countries such as Knootoss, Pacitalia, Andossa Se Mitrin Vega, Audioslavia, Tanah Burung or Uhuh-Topia.
- 1 Ethnic characteristics
- 2 Names
- 3 History
- 4 Culture & traditional society
- 5 Land
- 6 Stories
- 7 Wymgani today
- 8 Lank Jan
- 9 See also
Wymgani of unmixed ethnic heritage have fairly pale brown skin, brown or black hair, and eyes that are usually dark. Their features are reminiscent of those of Polynesians, although Wymgani form a distinct ethnic group of their own.
Today, many Wymgani are of mixed ethnic descent. Blood quantum is not a factor in determining Ariddian aboriginality, and an individual in the Ariddian Isles is considered Wymgani if he or she is of at least partial Wymgani ethnic descent, if he or she is recognised by an Indigenous community, and if he or she identifies as being Wymgani. Thus, individuals such as Ariddian head of State Nuriyah Khadhim and Ariddian female boxer Aa Shey are Wymgani, although their ethnic appearance is not predominantly Wymgani.
Although Wymgani in the Ariddian Isles share a common language, albeit with regional variations, centuries of cultural evolution in distinct (but inter-communicating) groups has produced some differences in naming conventions. However, almost all Indigenous Ariddians with an Indigenous name have a given name and a second, "family" name. The latter often indicates a person's genealogy, although in somes cases it may also be an ancestor's name, or a name linked in some way to the individual's place of birth. In most communities, there is no clear patrilineal or matrilineal convention in terms of genealogical names, and parents either reach an agreement or confer with their wider family or community.
Of course, some Wymgani today have a name which does not reflect their Indigenous heritage. The most famous example being Nuriyah Khadhim, who is of primarily Arab ethnic background.
main arrtcle: History of the Wymgani.
The Ariddian Isles have been inhabited for over three millenia. During that time, the initial settlers have evolved a unique culture and society. Wymgani history has primarily been marked by a long tradition of exploration, which led Wymgani sailors to discover many distant lands... including in Africa, Europe and the Arctic area.
Culture & traditional society
Pre-colonial Wymgani culture in the Ariddian Isles and elsewhere was notable in a number of ways, but the most striking to outsiders they encountered was the utter absence of the concept of spirituality. Wymgani were all atheists, conceiving neither of a monotheistic God nor of polytheistic deities or ancestral spirits. Wymgani today remain overwhelmingly atheists, except in San Adriano where a significant number (albeit still a minority) have adopted one religion or another. The A'ae Eil Church, present mainly in West Ariddia, is a unique Wymgani Christian religion born in the 17th century; it has few followers.
Wymgani held a deeply respectful, symbiotic relationship with nature, and the thick, semi-tropical forests of the Ariddian Isles. They practiced sustainable economic and agricultural practices, mindful not to over-exploit resources. Today, Wymgani who still live in rural areas or even in the forests continue to uphold the wisdom of their ancestors in these matters.
Wymgani traditional society is communistic, democratic and egalitarian. In pre-colonial times, Wymgani communities had no leaders, decisions being instead made communally. All Wymgani who had reached puberty were allowed a vote in community decisions. This is still the case today in fairly small Wymgani communities in the Ariddian Isles.
There is no individual ownership of land. Land is managed collectively by small communities and extended families. Land management implies a form of custodianship and care, which excludes exploitation beyond the scope of reasonable needs.
Land is inalianable, and inherited from the extended family, along very flexible traditional laws which emphasise consensus and fair sharing. No person is ever fully deprived of access to land.
Wymgani practiced (and still practice) small-scale agriculture in communal gardens. Agriculture in Ariddia is thought to be at least 2,300 years old, and may be a lot older. Interestingly, Wymgani in pre-colonial times did not domesticate animals (with the exception of a very small number of communities).
Land ownership is justified through stories which links features of the landscape to historical events. A Wymgani is at home on an area of land when his ancestors are connected to these stories. Hence there was no conflict between communities over land; the idea of seizing land which you have no historical connection to was always alien to the Wymgani.
Burial sites are among the most important marks of historical custodianship of land. Such sites are very often located on the boundaries of a community’s traditional lands, close to the burial sites of a neighbouring community.
The Ulju rocks
main article: Ulju rocks
The Ulju rocks are one of the Ariddian Isles’ most distinctive natural features. They are located just off the south-western coast of Wueliw island, and are under the custodianship of the coastal Lilwie people. The following oral story was recorded by sixty-nine year old Des Iish of the Lilwie in 1953.
- The Ulju say, forever, that this is Lilwie land. It is written into the landscape, and can never be changed. Those rocks are our history book. They have been here longer than the Lilwie, of course, but now for a very long time they have had meaning for us. It was about a thousand four hundred years ago. It was not clear in this part of Wueliw whose land was whose. There had been illnesses, old people had died, stories had been forgotten. Boundary markers, where there were no burial sites, were forgotten. There were disputes. People from the Sal came and buried one of theirs on land our ancestors said was Lilwie land, and there was fighting. We were not used to fighting for land, so we knew there had to be a decision.
- So the old people from five of the communities around here, seven old and knowledgeable people in all, got together. They said, ‘We best of all know the old stories. We must compare what we know, and decide whose land is whose. We will talk as long as it takes, and we will have consensus.’ And Uilso, an old woman of the Sal, pointed out beyond the coast, and said, ‘Look. There are the Ulju rocks. We all agree this part of the coast is Lilwie land. There are seven of us here, seven old, wise people who are going to decide something very important. There are seven rocks. When we make our decision, the rocks will be our witnesses, forever. They will carry our story for all of time. And as this is Lilwie land, the Lilwie will remember the story most of all. It will be their duty, forever. And we, our descendants, of all our peoples, will all remember too.’
- And so the old people agreed on where each group’s land was, and it has always been so. The Ulju rocks remind us of the agreement that was made, forever. We know where and what the boundary markers are. This land will always be Lilwie land, and that over there will always be Sal land, and so on.
The colonial land wars
When European settlers arrived in great numbers in the seventeenth and mainly eighteenth centuries, disputes over land, between settlers and Wymgani, were sometimes violent. For more on this topic, see the article on the eighteenth century in Ariddia.
Today, the Wehela Aui u Sheho (Indigenous Land Court) exists in theory to handle issues of uncertain land ownership, but in practice all land ownership has been settled. Wymgani communities own all land, some of which is leased permanently to the State (most notably where towns and cities now stand).
Stories remain an important part of Wymgani culture and society. Stories tied to historical events and to features of the land may serve to justify a community’s claim to custodianship over an area, but stories also have other practical purposes. They are cautionary historical tales, told to children to teach proper behaviour. Such stories are still told today.
They have no spiritual content, no religious element, since spirituality was completely absent from pre-colonial Wymgani societies.
The following examples were narrated orally by Hau Es of the Awsal people of Ahwa’u island, and recorded on tape in 1928 at the request of Espérence-born Wymgani anthropologist Pierre Lue’a.
The girl who went to swim
- This was about seventeen generations ago. Seventeen before mine. The younger sister of Iun, who was the ancestor of my father, was called Ele. She was nine, about nine. Now, we live on the coast, and the sea has always been important. But it’s also dangerous, and children are told very young that it’s not safe. That you can go wading, paddling, but you mustn’t swim. There are currents, they can take you away when you go where human beings are not supposed to go, beyond dry land which is our home, our ancestral land, where we’re designed to live with our environment.
- Now, Ele, she was adventurous, she wouldn’t listen. She was a very bright child, very curious, and her family, her community encouraged her to be curious, but they also told her there are laws that must be followed, for everyone’s safety. Maybe they didn’t make her understand properly, maybe she just didn’t believe it, but Ele, she went out swimming. She came back, and the adults told her not to do it again. She went swimming again the next day, swimming, swimming out as far as she could, right out over there, where it’s very deep. She was laughing, and the adults on the beach were very worried, because they knew best, they knew it was dangerous. And then a big creature from below, from the ocean, came up under her and swallowed her down.
- And since then children here have always been told Ele’s story. My grandmother told it to me, and my father did too. And my grandmother said, when you hear the waves, almost like a whisper, you can imagine they’re warning you away. Reminding you of Ele. When you can really hear the waves, there’s danger. So children today listen to the waves, and to the adults, and only paddle in the water, where everyone can see them and everyone’s close by.
The man who wanted to help
- This was more recent, ten generations on my mother’s side. This man, Teuwe, was born a cripple. He could walk, but he limped very badly, he was very weak. All the community looked after him. He contributed, he worked in the garden, growing food, but he felt ashamed. There was no reason to feel shame, but he was ashamed because he thought he was not contributing enough. He wanted to help, do like others, fetch wood from the forest. So one day he went off on his own, one morning very early, when it was still dark and there was no moon. He walked slowly, but he left early, off into the forest. Then people woke up, and couldn’t find him. They followed his trail, and he had slipped and fallen, and bruised his ribs and hit his head against a rock, and couldn’t move. So they carried him home and helped him back to health, and after that he understood, that he was doing a lot by working in the garden, that he was part of the community. But he had almost died, by not understanding that he could not do too much, and that he was already doing all he could.
- Today this story is told to all the children, but also sometimes to our old people. Our grandparents, they are very wise and know a lot, but they sometimes forget they are getting weak, they don’t want to understand that they cannot do as much as they used to. So we remind them of Teuwe, and they find new ways to help without putting themselves in danger of hurting themselves.
In the PDSRA
Wymgani in Ariddia exercise self-government to a significant degree, and have their own Parliament, laws and courts. Historically, expropriation of Indigenous land by settlers was a source of inter-ethnic conflict, but today traditional ownership of most Wymgani land has been restored, and an Indigenous Land Court (Wehela Aui u Sheho) deals with the few remaining contentious cases.
Wymgani culture and traditions remain strong, and are respected by non-Indigenous Ariddians. In the city of Haven, the Wymgani Cultural Centre coordinates Wymgani cultural exhibitations and events throughout the city and the nation, and contains a permanent indoor and outdoor museum dedicated to Wymgani culture, history, society, beliefs, way of life and art. Autonomous Wymgani communities maintain traditional ways of life, in rural communities and small towns but also in cities. Many Wymgani have become urbanised, but retain ties to their traditional lands, and others still live in the forests as they have for three thousand years.
The political empowerment of Indigenous Ariddians is reflected not only in the existence of the Wehela Iolih (Indigenous Parliament), but also in the fact that the country’s head of State (Aj Ud) and acting head of State (Nuriyah Khadhim) are both Wymgani.
Wymgani also feature prominently in sports, represented for example by Ue Alt, captain of the national football team from World Cup 25 to World Cup 28 included, or speedskater Linda Uosh, first ever Ariddian to win an Olympic medal, a gold at the Aeropag Winter Olympic Games.
On television, Channel Seven (Shanal 7) is operated by Wymgani for Wymgani in Wymgani, with programmes partaining to various issues of interest to Indigenous Ariddians.
In West Ariddia
The relations between Wymgani and the government in West Ariddia are somewhat less harmonious than in the PDSRA, although they possess fairly similar rights of self-government.
Aqeyr’s capitalist, individualistic policies are anathema to traditional Wymgani values, and Indigenous West Ariddians are amongst the most outspoken critics of the stark environmental effects of West Ariddia’s economic laissez-faire doctrine. Many West Ariddian Wymgani have called their country an “ecological disaster”, and have responded to the destruction of its natural environment in various ways. Some, unable to stay and watch, have emigrated to communist Ariddia. Others have stayed, and swelled the ranks of the West Ariddian branch of the Democratic Communist Party, hoping to bring about a change in government. The DCP is headed by a blind Wymgani woman, Ea L'lew, who intends to stand for President in the country’s next elections.
In North-West Ariddia
The situation in North-West Ariddia is fairly similar to that in the PDSRA, although the City-State is far more urbanised, a fact which has pushed some North-West Ariddian Wymgani to emigrate to Ariddia.
In San Adriano
Wymgani have been living in San Adriano, on the Uhuhland mainland, since the seventeenth century, and helped establish it as a sovereign village-nation. The country’s tiny population is of predominantly mixed ethnicity, and Wymgani of course are not an Indigenous people. Wymgani cultural traditions have evolved (some might say diminished) over the centuries, merging into a national Sanadrianese culture. Thus, being Wymgani no longer has the same meaning as in the Ariddian Isles. Nonetheless, San Adriano maintains close diplomatic ties with Ariddia, due to their shared cultural heritage.
The island of Lwellsl is a protectorate of West Ariddia. It has a population of about seven hundred, all of them descendants of Wymgani who settled there almost two millennia ago. Over the centuries, the Lwellsl Wymgani evolved their own distinct culture, language and society. Lwellsl is fully self-governing, and has a queen who rules through consensus with the island’s elders and a partially democratic council.
Lwellsl Wymgani still live in a “stone age” society, technologically speaking. West Ariddia has promised not to interfere with their traditional way of life, and keeps the island off limits to outsiders.
Lwellsl Wymgani have acquired some measure of fame due to the ulek, an ancient war chant and dance originally from the Ariddian Isles but long forgotten by Ariddian Wymgani. It is now sung and performed by Ariddia's football team at the start of every match, as a marker of Wymgani (and Ariddian) identity, and to impress the opposite team.
In the Ariddian Arctic Islands
It was in the fifteenth century that Indigenous Ariddian explorers settled in what would later become the Ariddian Arctic Islands. Just like Sanadrianese and Lwellsl Wymgani, their culture and language has evolved over the centuries since they left the Ariddian Isles. In the Arctic Islands, Wymgani were integrated into a society composed of Indigenous Arctic Islanders and Korean settlers who had lived there since the twelfth century. A multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society evolved from the mix.
Arctic Islanders of Wymgani or part-Wymgani descent are by no means Indigenous, and hence their sense of identity is somewhat different to that of Wymgani in Ariddia. Many do, however, feel some sense of cultural affinity with their ancestors’ homeland.
Ariddian Arctic Wymgani, the language derived from that of the fifteenth-century Wymgani settlers, is considered an endangered language, and efforts are underway to revive it.
Expatriate Wymgani often live amidst immigrant Ariddian communities in richer, more developed countries. Many appear to identify as Ariddian first and Wymgani second, maintaining ties with fellow Ariddian immigrants of all ethnic backgrounds. They mostly inhabit major urban centres. Ariddian expatriate communities, containing small numbers of Wymgani, can be found in cities such as Timiocato and Saronno (Pacitalia), Knootcap (Knootoss), Soundgardiana (Audioslavia), as well as various cities and towns in Andossa Se Mitrin Vega. Ariddian expatriate communities wishing to retain their own cultural practices often establish a cultural centre (the most notable being in Saronno), and Wymgani expatriates contribute greatly to these endeavours. There is also one or more Ariddian vegetarian restaurant in most of these cities, and some are owned and operated by Wymgani.