Aluna; In My Own Words
by Alan Ereira
November 1st, 2012
Film-maker Alan Ereira explains why he was called back by the Colombian Kogi people to send out a new warning of the hidden damage we are still inflicting on our planet
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
The Kogi once traded with Maya and Aztecs. Their ancestors were semi-urbanised farmers and fishermen. Most unusually, they were not overwhelmed by conquest, and although their material civilisation was shattered they were able to withdraw into their own towns in a very difficult mountain region and continue their lives quite isolated from the rest of the world. Their civilisation still survives hidden on Colombia’s highest mountain.
In 1990, convinced that we were destroying the Earth, they asked me to help them send us a warning. Together we made a film, which was shown on both BBC1 in the UK and PBS in America. They then withdrew. They have now concluded that we cannot have grasped the warning and they have to explain it better if the world is to survive. So they recalled me and instructed me again to film their demonstration of these connections.
In his book The Sacred Mountain of Colombia’s Kogi Indians, the leading anthropologist of these people, Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, described their traditional education, which continues unchanged to this day, as including geography, zoology, botany, astronomy, meteorology and cosmology. The Kogi represent a treasure-house of preserved knowledge and culture and an extraordinary window into a world of traditional understanding that has elsewhere been swept away by our colonisation of land and minds, and by our own scientific and intellectual revolutions.
We know what we have gained. The Kogi have set out to reacquaint us with what we have lost.
They wanted to make it clear that they have demonstrable knowledge of the world that they want to share with us. To do this they asked to connect with our scientists, who they thought would understand what they are saying.
So begins a wonderful journey. We see people who have no wheel or writing, who know nothing of our world, seriously discussing dark energy with a leading astronomer and correctly identifying objects seen by the Hubble telescope. They argue with a biologist, struggle to explain that the water cycle is more precise and specific than we suppose, and take us up into their mountain to show exactly what they mean.
The main thrust of their argument is that we do not understand the interconnections between different locations (threads between different places), and so cause extensive damage where we do not expect it. In particular they concentrated on the effect of industrial and agricultural ‘development’ of river estuaries. They argue that these interchange areas between fresh and salt water are essential to the life of both land and sea, and that the drying out and reshaping of estuaries has a direct effect on rivers, right back to the source. Freshwater flow diminishes, mountain lakes dry out and the supply of fresh water to the sea shore is fatally compromised.
The academics they encountered, including leading conservation scientists, each individually concluded that the Kogi had things to say that we need to listen to and understand. The new film, ALUNA, is now complete. It is a unique and compelling experience.
Alan Ereira is a historian and award-winning documentary producer. He left the BBC 10 years ago to work independently. Ereira founded the Tairona Heritage Trust, www.taironatrust.org.
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