Youth and Education news
Rise Of Indigenous Actress Marks Change In Peru
Condensed by Native Village
A Peruvian film,
The Milk of Sorrow, won top honors at
the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. When lead actress Magaly Solier accepted
the award, she did something surprising — she accepted it
singing a song in Quechua, an indigenous language of Peru.
More than 50% of Peru's population are indigenous people, and about
50% of Peruvians live in poverty. The country has long been run by a
small elite. But that's beginning to change as Solier and others
with indigenous roots move into the cultural and political
Solier grew up in a family of Quechua farmers in Peru's highlands.
She speaks both Quecha and Spanish, but was first cautioned against
speaking Quechua in public.
"People thought that I would be laughed at," Solier says. "My
family, my friends — they told me, 'Don't speak in Quechua. You'll
be humiliated; you'll get knocked down; you'll be made fun of.'"
Magaly grew up in a region affected by violent repression in
the 1980s, She learned when to be quiet, but she also witnessed
the power of taking a stand.
"If you made noise, the Shining Path guerrillas would come, take you
away, and kill you," she says of the Maoist insurgency that
terrorized her town. "In
the end, it was the local people who
got rid of the violence; who began to arm themselves and make rounds
to keep the community safe. We all took part in those patrols —
women, children too — and we all had weapons, whether it was just a
rock, or a gun. That was how we conquered our fear."
In The Milk of Sorrow, Solier plays a modern day Peruvian
woman affected by the same rural violence.
"When I got to Lima
[Peru], the music I'd sung growing up was looked down
upon," Solier says. "It was something that people thought was only
good for getting drunk and getting into fights. I said to myself,
'People in the capitol and foreigners, they don't know what the
music is really like where I'm from.' I wanted to do something
Solier's rise to international stardom represents a cultural
shift in Peru. As the economy improves and democracy takes force,
other indigenous Peruvians are becoming more prominent. This
includes Ollanta Humala who was
elected to be Peru's next president.
While many were jolted by Humala's election, Solier believes people
should wait to make up
their minds about him.
"Whether he'll do good or bad, no one knows yet," Solier says.
"Human beings that haven't had the same opportunities — you have to
give us a chance in order to find out what
we'll actually do."
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