Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Memory of Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora - Part 1 (Memoria de Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora - Parte 1)


The Motilón or Bari are names of a Native American ethnic group, part of the Chibcha family, remnants of the Tairona Culture. They concentrated in north-eastern Colombia and western Venezuela in the Catatumbo River basin, in the Colombian Department of Northern Santander and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. They have been the subject of the French ethnologist Robert Jaulin's, who redefined the concept of ethnocide by observing their particular fate.


A history lesson about the leader of the Motilón tribe, original inhabitants of Cúcuta. In three parts, from my Dad’s book Boundaries (Confines).

Memory of Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora - Part 1 (Memoria de Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora - Parte 1)

Only when Bruce Olson told the story
of Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora, after his death,
we surrounded this name with goodbyes and hymns
children of the sudden knowledge of the brother
then travelling toward the horizon.

It is possible now that when we pronounce the name
Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora,
my tale reflects the testimonial
of that friendship told with pain
by the enigmatic white man – who was his brother by a pact,
from his habitat
which is a place
on the earth near a river.

However, my word is not that.

When I say Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora
I get closer to the currents of the race,
I remember mysterious rivers (Aricudisá, Antraylvoqui)
and other more familiar ones (Catatumbo, Río de Oro, Tarra)
I go deeper into the mountains and pass the ranges,
I drawn in the origin of life
and in the life of today
of an immemorial town.

Like a black stain
over a map of Colombia
I will identify the empire
of Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora.

In the portion of land
that is left to his race.

Old books tell how it was, large
and like both the ignorance
and the fear of the white man,
his nation was framed by rivers
that never knew dissimilar nationalities
nor they divided motherlands, they travelled
to a common destiny.
Of what is left, valleys and plains
and rivers and roads and rains and lightening,
over the vegetable gardens and the petroleum
that belonged to others,
among the jungle creator of silences,
Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora, 25 years of age,
was the Chief of the Council of Caciques.

Small immense jurisdiction.
Beautiful task to be completed without measure or limit.
The space surrounded by ambition and crime.
Its people united in the narrow field.
And progress being born in the harvest
of cereals, children of the audacity
and of the travels of the supreme leader. 

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