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).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Memory of Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora - Part 3 (Memoria de Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora - Parte 3)

Part 3
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 3 (Memoria de Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora - Parte 3)

The war began four hundred years ago.

His race was a free nation
deeply rooted with over tree hundred ancient languages.

His people believed in God
and that one day He could be found
in the intangible line of the horizon.

Their prayer was their hard work.
The hut, the vegetable gardens,
the making of arrows for fishing and hunting,
the stove always on, always,
to cook the meals and to warm up the nights.

But the war came when the white man
penetrated territories that were of their domain.
The people became nomad, walking in the thickness of the jungle,
strong magic archers.

It was a great contrast:
the horrifying thunder of the gunpowder
and the sharp flight of the arrow.

Time began to give Cobaydrá names.

Mauricio became his first name, as a Christian.
He was then called Mauricio Cobaydrá.

When the suitable day came,
he wore the loincloth and took his bow,
now a man without limitations.

Later he was in charge of the first harvests,
the hut, food, the hunt,
and from then on he was known
by a full name:
Mauricio Cobaydrá Bobarishora.

He had learnt the duties
of the tribe.
He utilised with passion the tools
that the harsh land demanded.
He could show new courses
to the rivers
or stop them
to hold and collect
harvests of
water and fish.

And then in the celebration of the arrow
he had to negotiate another pact
to fill the loneliness
of the empty gap in his hammock.

Could he have imagined
his fate
of man at war,
his final death of victory?

I do not recall the name
of the newspaper
that gave the news of your life and your death,
where or how. Only that I have told the story
and that you will never hear it
because my voice will not reach the top of the tree
where you rest in peace,
passing the days with your limitless eyes
the horizon in which your name diffuses
together with the history of your immemorial race.

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