Oral Traditions from Parents to Children, Colombia’s Indigenous for Peace

In Colombia’s indigenous cultures the oral tradition is passed from parents to children, giving birth to a new generation of poets committed to peace in a country looking for a negotiated solution to the armed conflict that has ravaged it for more than half a century.

“It is like seeing the light through our ancestral fabric,” explains Lindantonella Solano, from the Wayuu people, explaining the kind of poetry that is deeply rooted in indigenous tradition.

For Solano, her poetry is “like the swell of waves that is the poetic ocean of the peninsula” of La Guajira, an area situated in the north of Colombia and where the Wayuu people are from. “From theses narratives,” Solano adds, “come the stories of our grandparents that tell everything that happened where she was born,” a tradition to which Solano has added her people’s situation, where infant mortality is high and suffering from the armed conflict continues.

All this led her to follow the “poetic torrent” to express the pain and suffering of her people and to express the need to “make freeways toward the post-conflict.” a time which should come if the FARC and the government reach a definitive agreement in the talks being held in Cuba.

Solano’s endeavors are multiplied in her work in a number of schools, which according to her are “seedbeds where a new mentality can be sewn in future generations.”

Solano’s voice resonated deeply in the Medellin International Poetry Festival celebrated this week. The event also included other indigenous poets, including Franky Chikangana of the Yanacona people. According to Chikangana, the center of his people’s lives has been the struggle for Yanacona territory, and that violent repression has only delayed their vindication and prolonged their struggle.

Spirits that Speak

            This adversity has led to a struggle to defend their subsistence culture, a struggle in which poetry “has been with us since we were very little, since a time when we could all see the magical poetry of our grandparents,” said Chikangana.

From his ancestors Chikangana recalls how “spirits spoke to us,” a tradition passed down orally that he now uses in his own work as a poet. “In all [indigenous] cultures this speaks greatly to us, how as we go on and as we observe, how these spirits guided us,” he said.

For the Yancona poet images form “first, from the oral world,” which allows for a “thread of memory.” Then, he says, “Our people’s struggles are carried in our hearts and one begins to see that the tongue is like treasure chest where one can observe everything that has happened in our history.”

The Medellin Poetry Festival began July 11th, providing an important space for poets from different Original Peoples from throughout the world. For more information, visit: http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/2516364/0/tradicion-oral/padres-hijos/poetas-indigenas-colombianos-paz/#xtor=AD-15&xts=467263

 

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