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Living the Language
Bolivia: The Aymara
Previously untold stories are now being heard in Bolivia, often in languages once excluded from public discourse.
Last Modified: 09 May 2012 11:19

The streets of the Bolivian capital La Paz have changed, as have the faces of power. Previously untold stories of colonisation and hardships are now being told, often in the form of colourful murals lining the main thoroughfares of the city.

In Evo Morales the country has its first indigenous president and he has made promoting indigenous languages a part of his agenda. Indeed, 75 per cent of Bolivia's population is indigenous. Still, many feel that speaking languages such as Aymara publicly signals low class and backwardness.

"When I'm on stage I see a bit of admiration from the public," says musician Rufino Machaca Mamani. "But if I speak Aymara with my friends, they will discriminate. They think that I'm a peasant and an Indian."

However, culture is the first step to changing perceptions of Aymara and other indigenous languages. A lot of modern music is now being made and sung with lyrics in languages previously excluded from the public discourse.

Aymara rapper Abraham Bohorquez says: "We do hip-hop, and at the same time we reclaim the cultural identity of our communities. Five years ago, many young people were ashamed of being Aymara or Quechua."

In Bolivia, the movement for change from within is starting with pride.

Every 14 days a language dies. Follow the people battling to save theirs.

Living the Language can be seen on Al Jazeera English each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2230; Wednesday: 0930; Thursday: 0330; Friday: 1630; Saturday: 2230; Sunday: 0930; Monday: 0330

  • Australia: The Aboriginal People - from April 17
  • Guatemala: The Maya - from April 24
  • Canada: The Ktunaxa - from May 01
  • Bolivia: The Aymara - from May 08
  • New Zealand: The Maori - from May 15
  • Over the Airwaves - from May 22
Source:
Al Jazeera
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