Monday, March 20, 2006

Carlos Montemayor in India

The Mexican writer Carlos Montemayor was in Mumbai recently, visiting India on an exchange of ideas mission, courtesy the Sahitya Kala Academy. Carlos Montemayor has written poems and prose but it is indigenous literature that he is most interested in - that of the ‘real peoples’ ("Why call them indigenous?" he argues. "Do you call the French indigenous people of France?"). (...)

A tale of the ancient peoples of Mexico - the Mayas, the Tzotziles, the Tzeltalesa and the Zapotecs. Of how they’ve all been lumped together as ‘Indians’. Christopher Columbus may have made a mistake two centuries ago. However many different tribes, distinct in their cultural identities who have never even set foot in Asia, are still called ‘Indians’.

Montemayor dwells on the wisdom in their voices - the poems and stories that recognise the spirit of the earth. Great literature that has, alas, gone unheard for years. Languages disparaged as dialects and literature as merely oral. Subject to a writing of history both unfair and inaccurate- history as recorded by the colonial victor.

Montemayor tells of a friend who went up in the mountains with a Zapotec. The Zapotec complained bitterly of folk tales fiddled with, like one of a Spaniard and a Zapotec competing with each other. Neither won according to the oral version. But the written (mis)records the Spaniard as the winner.

You can find the full article here

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