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  A Message from the Heart of the World ...


The Kogi are an indigenous people living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of northern Colombia, in South America. They are the only civilisation to have survived the Spanish conquests and to have kept there individuality. They are perhaps the only indigenous people in the world who, because of the particular nature of their surroundings, have been able to keep them selves apart and sustain their culture inviolate. And not only that. The one anthropologist who managed to study them in the 1940's and 50's concluded that though they are similar in some ways to the other Indian peoples around the Caribbean, northern Central America and south to the Andes, there are such profound differences that "in the end the Kogi stand alone".

They have survived to this day, keeping their traditions and relying upon, and looking after, the mountain environment. They believe it is their duty to look after the mountain which they call 'The Heart of the World'. They call themselves the Elder Brother and refer to the new- comers as the Younger Brother, who they believe is destroying the balance of the world. In 1990 the Kogi decided they must speak out to the rest of the world. They had survived by keeping themselves isolated but they decided that it was time to send a message to the Younger Brother. They could see that something was wrong with their mountain, with the heart of the world. The snows had stopped falling and the rivers were not so full. If their mountain was ill then the whole world was in trouble. The Mamas sent one of the Kogi who spoke Spanish to contact a British film maker who was in Colombia at that time - They asked the BBC to make a film to tell the Younger Brother about their concern.

It was called 'The Elder Brother's Warning 'or' The Message from the Heart of the World'. Alan Ereira, the producer, has also written a book about the Kogi called 'The Heart of the World'. It was this film and book which were the inspiration for this work in this pack.

Since the film was brought out many changes have taken place. The film had a major impact on the Colombian Government and also on the grave robbers. The grave robbers felt that they should stop because they felt bad about disturbing their ancestors. There are now two Kogi members of parliament. The Tairona Heritage Trust was set up to support the Kogi and to buy back some of the original Kogi lands to give them a passage to the sea.

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  Kogi Message...

The Kogi Message

'From the beginning in Colombia everything, everything remained as it was among us, the native people; the same belief, the same mask, the same dance.
Everything well organised, in order, a terrace for every animal.

'Younger Brother was permitted in other places, other countries. There was a dividing line, the sea. 'He said, 'Younger Brother that side, Elder Brother this side. You cannot cross it.' Because this Colombia was the heart of the world, of the whole universe. 'But Younger Brother came from another country and immediately saw gold and immediately began to rob. There were golden images, golden oracles. The Mama prophesied with golden bowls, he had a golden tuma, he had everything and

Younger Brother took it all to another country.

'Now the Mama grows sad, he feels weak.
He says that the earth is decaying.
The earth is losing its strength because they have taken away much petrol, coal, many minerals. 'A human being has much liquid inside. If the liquid dries up we fall with weakness. This same thing can happen to the earth, weakness makes you fall, weakness. 'So the earth catches diseases of all kinds.

The animals die.
The trees dry up.
People fall ill.
Many illnesses will appear and there will be no cure for them.

'Because the Younger Brother is among us,
Younger Brother is violating the basic foundation of the world's law.
A total violation.
Building highways, extracting petrol, minerals.

'We tell you, We the people of this place, Kogi, Asario, Arhuaco: that is a violation.

'So the Mamas say, 'PleaseBBC no one else should come here, no more ransacking because the earth wants to collapse, the earth grows weak, we must protect it, we must respect it, because he does not respect the earth, because he does not respect it.'

'Younger Brother thinks, 'Yes! Here I am! I know much about the universe!'

But this knowing is leaming to destroy the world, to destroy everything, all humanity.
'The earth feels, they take out petrol, it feels pain there. So the earth sends out sickness. There will be many medicines, drugs, but in the end the drugs will not be of any use. 'The Mamas say that this tale must be learnt by the Younger Brother.'

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