Tairona Part II




As stated in the first part of the article, the 16th and 17th centuries suffered from hard mining,  gold exploitation and slave importation( starting with 1518 ).

It is said that South America managed to win its freedom partially helped by Napoleon’s Wars which distracted the invaders because they lacked control.  Colonists wanted to become independent from Spain and even  tried to conquer Venezuela, but by 1826 Spanish presence in South America was coming to an end.

There are two big heroes involved in this story: “El Libertador” Simon Bolivar(1783 – 1830) and General José Francisco de San Martin. Simon fought for the north and San Martin for the south. However, General José “but was no match for Bolivar” so he soon left the political world.


Bolivar was educated in Europe and during this period he came up with the idea of independence of the South America. He started the implementation of his plan one year after his return to his native lands. He also wrote two manuscripts: “El Manifiesto de Cartagena” and “La Carta de Jamaica”. El Libertador envisioned a series of constitutional republics which copied the British form of governance. In fighting the spaniels, bolivar, received help from Haiti which succeeded to free “itself from French rule, British and Irish mercenaries”. Absolution  of Colombia happened in 1819. Unfortunately, his political view of the continent was not meant to happen because of the impediments created by the newborn national identities.


More history:

The descendants of Tairona people are: the Kogi, Wiwa, Arhuaco and the Kankuamo. These groups speak different languages but share the common belief, inherited from the Taironas, that they “are the guardians of the heart of the world”.


Kogi’s society is a village based-one. The economic activity varies depending on the geographical position “major food crops include sweet manioc, potatoes, beans, cucurbits, maize, plantains, sugarcane and some fruit trees (bananas and oranges). Secondary crops include onions, sweet potatoes, avocados and pineapples. Raising of domestic animals, including oxen, pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys, is a secondary activity, and the animals are but frequently eaten. Wild food collecting, hunting, and fishing are minor activities.”


One of the most important thing about the Kogi is their hierarchical society. The big ”bosses” are The Mamas (”derived from `mamos` or the sun”), they are the spiritual leaders. The mamas benefit from a strong and firm education. They are chosen by divinatio, at birth, which is also when they start their education. Full training lasts 18 years and undergoes in some of the darkest caves in Sierra, during this period the future Mamas are deprived of light as much as possible. Education process is “split into two periods of nine years with puberty in between, at which point either the “moro” or his teacher, can decide to discontinue the process”. Girls were supposed to enter the training too, but the situation is uncertain. When The Mamas return to their society to guide it, they have no practical skills, therefore they are destined for “the delicate task of preserving the universe”, therefore they avoid physical work. After The Mamas come the Comisario who deal with the practical work.  Cabos are the help for both Mamas and Comisario, they do not have that much of authority. Mayores refers to the elderly who have some authority grace to their status but only with kinsmen(relatives) or the younger people.


Religion is the heart of their culture. Their creator name is Gaulcovang(“from the root gau – to create”), is feminine and they preach with the help of cosmology and spirits. Aluna “is the generative spiritual force in which all things exist and from which all things take their being. The Mamas train so hard in order to achieve the power to connect in Aluna. “Kalguasiza, created in the Gaulcovang , are the ‘images of everything that was to exist…essence, image, model’. Yuluka has the connotation of both being in balance, and the sense of agreement with Aluna that is a prerequisite for that balance.

The 21th century, also known as:

Unexpected, at least I did not see this coming.

According to smithsonianmag.com there is a Kogi village, a ”transitional” one, buil with the help of the government. Tradition found a different way of meeting the new century.

These Kogi people are not that isolated, they are ”visiting the city regularly, to trade handmade backpacks and chatting with friends on cell phones”, though, all this time they keep on their traditional white clothes. This group is called Dumingueka and people worry that their way of life might affect Kogi’s lifestyle, but at the same time, they seem to be protecting their “upper neighbours” by stopping the foreigners into their village, distracting the, even satisfying some of the curiosities about the “heart of the world”. I find it mandatory to mention that on their territories, Kogi have all the landforms, even glaciers. Domingueka is connected with the modern world by a 45 minutes truck ride. Another unusual but positive thing, I think, for this village is that it has a health clinic and a meeting room for negotiators from the outside, or the “younger brother”.

Personal thoughts:


This new way of approaching the “younger brother” is actually a very smart strategy after you get over the cultural shock.

Why? It is quite simple. After the Kogi realized that the world was not listening to them, they thought of different methods of reaching out. Domingueka is a risky move, but this way the people get to know the a little bit better without being intrusive.

Villagers seem to be sacrificed because they will never be authentic Kogis nor regular inhabitants of Colombia, they’re some sort of a hybrid, but they are existential for the Kogi’s perpetuation.Nowadays they represent the direct link with the “guardians of the world”. I am curious if Mamas can be born here.  


Do I believe in them? I do not think it matters if I believe in their powers, but to hear and act upon their message.





“Colonial History after Invasion.” Colonial History after Invasion. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://tairona.myzen.co.uk/index.php/history/colonial_history_after_invasion/.

“History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian.” History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian. Accessed March 31, 2014. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/colombia-dispatch-5-the-kogi-way-of-life-87912606/?page=1.

“The Kogi in the 20th Century.” The Kogi in the 20th Century. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://tairona.myzen.co.uk/index.php/history/the_kogi_in_the_20th_century/.

“The Kogi: An Urgent Call from Guardians of the Heart of the World | Cultural Survival.” The Kogi: An Urgent Call from Guardians of the Heart of the World | Cultural Survival. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/kogi-urgent-call-guardians-heart-world.

Reddy, Jini. “What Colombia’s Kogi People Can Teach Us about the Environment.” Theguardian.com. October 29, 2013. Accessed March 31, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/colombia-kogi-environment-destruction.

“Simón Bolívar “El Libertador”.” Geopolitics.ro. Accessed March 25, 2014. http://geopolitics.ro/simon-bolivar-el-libertador/.

“Un Grup De Oameni De știință Credibili Cred Că Umanitatea Se Apropie De Sfârșit.” VICE. Accessed March 31, 2014. http://www.vice.com/ro/read/un-grup-de-oameni-de-stiinta-credibili-cred-ca-umanitatea-se-apropie-de-sfarsit. (foto)


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