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  • News arrived that a Hakka boy was born far away in another city.

    So a group of men gathered in the square of the old Hakka village compound in Shenzhen, China. They banged together some ancient instruments. Call it more experimental music with a lot of "it goes this way" and breaks for laughter and instruction.

    Hakkas are the nomadic, gypsy tribe that wound their way down from north-central China. They are the peasants, the poorest of the poor…always in search of land (common global theme). As a group, they’re clannish, feisty and rebellious. Mao Zedong was a Hakka, though he didn’t espouse Hakka values for all, perhaps only himself. Hakka women are fierce and hardworking -- they never bound their feet and worked alongside the men in the fields.

    When they reached Shenzhen and Hong Kong, they boarded ships to destinations all over the world. That’s how my family and thousands like them landed in Jamaica as indentured servants after slavery was abolished in the mid-1800s.

    Now across China, Hakka villages are being restored and refurbished to celebrate the Hakka tradition and history - and likely to attract tourists. In the U.S., I guess we did this with Indian reservations. Same concept. Much of the Hakka culture is fading as children move away from these fortified communal compounds for work in the cities.

    Peaking out from behind this Hakka compound are modern buildings to house thousands of factory workers who migrate here for work. Even the older villagers now live outside, but around, the compound.
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