Vincenzo Lauriola

Vincenzo Lauriola

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Brazil-Guyana exchange: Raposa Serra do Sol and North Rupununi

Macushi group from Maturuca, Brazil, visit Bina Hill, Guyana

June 3, 2014

Vincenzo Lauriola reports on the ongoing best-practice exchange between these two Macushi speaking communities separated by national borders. Despite a number of challenges, the project to set-up a community radio station, inspired by Radio Paiwomak, is well underway.

Following up their first training visit in late January 2014, three Brazilian Macushi COBRA participants from Maturuca, Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land, Roraima, returned to Bina Hill, Annai, North Rupununi, Guyana from the 23rd until the 28th March. Besides Jacir de Souza Filho and Beatriz André da Silva – on their 2nd visit to Guyana – Charles Gabriel joined the Maturuca COBRA team on this trip.

5Charles was appointed to join the group by his community, due to his fluency in the Macushi language. In order to facilitate and enhance best practice exchanges between Guyanese and Brazilian Macushi communities through videos, the team chose to give priority to the use of their common Amerindian language, mainly in spoken recordings, leaving English and Portuguese to be used in subtitles.

During the week’s workshop, coordinated by COBRA staff Ryan Benjamin and Rebecca Xavier, the Maturuca team reported on their work over the previous two months, namely Brazil-Guyana Macushi best practice sharing and video production. Concerning the Brazil-to-Guyana best practice exchange video, the team reported on the community’s choice to focus on the “Cattle project” idea, and presented a preliminary video. This enabled a positive assessment of work-in-progress and participants discussed what changes would be needed in order to complete the video.

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Two main challenges were identified. Firstly, condensing 30 years of complex history into a short video is a major challenge indeed. Besides the obvious technical aspects directly linked to an agricultural production practice, the “Cattle Project” involves historical, socio-cultural, political and ecological considerations.

The second challenge is to provide appropriate narration in the Macushi language. This is particularly important, given that, over the last four decades, ongoing socio-cultural processes in Brazil have led the younger generation to stop using their native Amerindian languages. However, over the last decade, pro-active processes to rescue native Amerindian languages have begun to occur, reversing the previous trend: in this way, the language choice of the Maturuca COBRA project team perfectly fits and strengthens that movement, being a concrete example of how the rescue of an Amerindian native language can be appropriated to enhance cross-border relations. Two main solutions to these challenges were identified: to capture more video recordings of cattle management practices and to conduct interviews with selected Macushi speaking leaders.

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The choice of Radio Paiwomak was eagerly endorsed by the Maturuca community. The future Maturuca community radio was chirstened“Radio FM Turukka”, and a team of community members were appointed to take charge of the station: 5 young radio speakers, 1 radio director and 1 translator. Funding for equipment and a broadcasting license is the next challenge, this will require more people to get behind the project. Hence the team decided to focus on producing a video to help promote the idea amongst other communities of the Raposa Serra do Sol, as well as to prepare audio material in Macushi from Brazil to be broadcast on Radio Paiwomak.

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