We always salute and say that education is the solution to everything. I have learned a different lesson when travelling and visit other parts and people of the world.
First of all nearly all education has its roots and values in western civilisation. So when we bring education to remote villages and tribes in the most obscure places in the world we also bring a lot of western culture as well. For good and bad!
I tell you of an experience that I had when visiting a few tribes in Colombia. One of them lives in the amazones ”the jaguar people” and another tribe, the Khogi, living in Sierra Nevada close to Santa Marta in the northeast corner of Colombia. These tribes are very different in lifestyle, choice of clothes and rituals etc. Of course there is a big difference of climate, the jaguar people living in a humid warm enviroment with the mighty amazon river as it closest neighbour and a dense jungle, the amazon forest! The Khogi live up in the mountains of Sierra nevada, often several 1000 meters above sea level which makes the climate and temperature quite different from their neighbours in the amazon jungle.
But they have one thing in common and that is that they both live off what the nature gives and they never take more than they need. There is a balance and respect of the nature and you can almost say there is a mutual respect because the nature is constantly giving of itself and this is to me a perfect balance, that we in our culture are lacking and have completly forgotten.
We had a wonderful guide at the amazon excursion that spooke perfect english and paid a lot of attention to us the only foreigners. He was very personal with the J.P. (jaguar people) and it was a very coosy nice meeting. The JP did a special dance with some masks imitating a lot of the jaguars behaviour and how the hunt took place. And the dance was also like a preparation for the hunt. One thing that struck me and that is the high respect they have for the animal and they treat it as an equal, with respect. It was fascinating and it was very educational for me, but the thing that struck me when you looked behind where they lived you could see paraboles, cocacola and also liquers. Already then I could see how the western culture and education was moving in on this 1000 and 1000 year old culture and in one generation nearly wiping it out.
So back to my subject of the pros and cons of education. First of all I give you a description of my two visits to the Amazonas and then a detailed description of the Khogis in Sierra Nevada.
I first visited the amazonas 2010. You reach the amazonas very easy in Colombia by flying from Bogota to Leticia. You land right in the heart of amazon river/forest. To see the amazon river was one of the strongest nature experiences that I have had in my life! So overwhelming it is hard to describe. Anyway we (my 2 daughters also) went out for an excursion on the river. We went upstreams and made a few stops along the way and it is at one of these stops my story centers around.
My first encounter with the jaguar people was amazing. At this time, 2010, we were a small group and there were not so many tourists at all, by the way. This changed to my second trip. So we went ashore and had to climb a long wooden stair up to the place where we going to meet the jaguar people. Why we had to climb a long wooden stair is because it was low water in the amazon river, the difference between low and high water can be as much as 12 meters. And this was in november which meant low water.
Anyway we came into kind of a small show room with a tent roof and wooden benches in a circle. At one end was a small souvenir table and the floor was of sand. The people that came from somewhere behind was dressed in customary clothes, but with a touch of being prepared for a ritual dance. Some had masks over their heads and in came also the orchestra! It consisted of drums/congas and some sticks to keep the rythm with. So the show began at it was a ritual dance they do before they go out hunting and especially for the Jaguar, remember they call themselfes the Jaguar People. They do the dance very respectfully and try to show what it takes to catch a jaguar and the difficulty it is to kill and catch. The whole dance showed a respect for the animal. Much to say about this. Anyway the show was over and we were able to go behind the scene so to say and walk into where they were living and this is where I was in for a chock!
When I walked there I saw the paraboles, the cocacola, the western tshirts and clothes. Here we have a culture that have existed for 1000 of years in co-existanse with nature. Having no problems in surviving and going about every day life. Now this 1000 year old culture is about to be wiped out in one generation, not by sickness, war, famine but by western culture, soapoperas, cocacola, music, food….etc!
The only place where their culture exists is under and in the staged tent covered roof, a dirt floor with some wooden benches for us to see what it was like before the western culture and education came to tell them that we have a better solution. Fuck that solution!
When I came back 5 years later, 2015, the tourism had literally exploded. Just so you understand why I wanted to come back is that the first time in 2010 it was low water and now in februrary 2015 it was highwater, 8 meter difference this year, and it was a big/huge/fantastic difference. By the way the speed of the river as it rushes toward the atlantic is phenomeal! A fact is that where the Amazon river reaches the Atlanic ocean, it comes with such a force and enormous quantity of water that it dilutes the saltwater of the Atlantic 160km out in the ocean!!
So here we travelled on this majestic river visiting the monkey island, full off one species of monkees that are small and very naughty and playfull. Out on the river we stopped to see pink dolphins jumping in the middle of the river. And then we made a stop at the jaguar people, where I had been 5 years ago. But this time there was not only one boat but maybe 3 or 4 boats with about 75 to 100 people in this small tent. The show was just about the same but the souvenir tables had increased 200%! At least. But now it was more of a commercial show where the jaguar people gets paid in hard cash and the number of paraboles had increased also by 200%. And you dont have to be a professor to understand what this does to the original culture. Add education to this and soon their 1000 of years culture will be history! So who is the winner and who is the looser? Is it a happy story or a sad story? You tell me!