Athens, Greece | May 16th, 2024

Through April 22-26, Greenwood Energy [“GWE”] and a delegation of Mamus and Authorities of the Arhuaco People visited the capital of Greece with the purpose of promoting a cultural bridge between the indigenous community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Hellenic Republic. The trip, organized by Libra Group and LEA Festival, was based on a mission integrated by Greenwood Energy’s CEO, Guido Patrignani, the Principal Mamu of the Main Kankurwa of Seykúmuke, Gabriel Izquierdo [“Mamu Kuncha”], the Head of the Mamus Council of the Arhuaco Cabildo for Magdalena-Guajira, Camilo Izquierdo [“Mamu Camilo”], the Governor of the Arhuaco Cabildo for Magdalena-Guajira, Luis Salcedo, the Secretary General of the Mamus of the Main Kankurwas of Seykúmuke and Numa’ka, Noel Torres, and the Youth Defender of the Arhuaco Cabildo for Magdalena-Guajira and environmental leader, Ati Viviam Villafaña. In turn, the delegation was joined by the writer, producer and film director, Daniel Ferguson, who, together with the CEO of Cosmic Picture, Taran Davies, and a film crew, initiated the shooting of a documentary about the Arhuaco community, whose production counts with the support of GWE.

As the epicenter of a vibrant cultural agenda, on April 22, in the International Mother Earth Day, the conference ‘Cultural Bridges in Athens: Discovering the Wisdom of the Mamus of the Arhuaco Community of Colombia’ was held in the auditorium of the Benaki Museum in Athens, which was broadcasted live at the Bogotá International Book Fair [“FILBo”], and translated simultaneously into Greek, Spanish, and English. The conversation was moderated by the journalist of the Catalan newspaper ARA, Queralt Castillo, and provided a space for reflection and knowledge where the Arhuaco leaders shared their rich cosmogony, extensive oral tradition, and profound message of environmental preservation with the global audience, in which Mamu Kuncha highlighted that “The earth does not need us, but we do need her, and this is why we should take care of her and protect her, so that new generations can also enjoy her.” In an auditorium with over 200 people from different geographies, the event brought together journalists, artists, businessmen and diplomats of great experience such as the ambassador of Cuba, Aramís Fuente Hernández, the ambassador of Brazil, Paulo Roberto Caminha, the Consul of Argentina, Nicolás Pasamán, and the Honorary Consul of Colombia, Michail Skoufalos, who hosted a reception for all the guests of the event after the conference.

Throughout the week, the delegation also attended introductory meetings with political leaders from Greece, such as the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth of the Municipality of Athens, Eleni Zontiraou, the Member of the European Parliament, Alexis Georgoulis, and the Honorary Consul of Colombia in Greece, Michail Skoufalos. In all these meetings, the most recurring theme has been the unavoidable need to promote sustainable development, driven by the serious consequences that climate change is generating throughout the European continent. Through the vision and wisdom of the Mamus of the Arhuaco People, the Greek politicians were able of learning a different perspective, which is rooted in a world view based on the synergy and respect that must prevail between human beings and Mother Earth.

The delegation also participated in numerous educational activities in different schools across Athens, among which the Athens College, the Moraitis School, and the Pierce American College of Greece, stood out for their warm reception and deep cultural interest. Through close interaction with hundreds of students of all ages from different educational institutions in Athens, the Arhuaco leaders were able of learning about the Greek culture, including its dances, cuisine, traditions, and history, while the Greek youth learned about the indigenous culture and ecosystem importance of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Through talks, presentations, classes, and Q&A sessions, these visits enabled a nourishing cultural exchange where students and representatives of the Arhuaco People managed to identify numerous similarities between both worlds, discovering common points in Greek mythology, agricultural practices, craftmanship, and stories of resilience where the preservation of language and traditions played a key role for the continuity of their cultures in times of foreign occupation.

As part of the intercultural program organized by Libra Group and LEA Festival, the delegation also led different visits to ancient Greek temples, such as the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, and the Acropolis of Athens, from where the Arhuaco leaders gave various interviews to international media that shared their knowledge and perspectives with the rest of the world.

We thank Libra Group and LEA Festival for their initiative and dedication in organizing this nourishing intercultural journey, which has provided an invaluable opportunity to bring together two seemingly different ancient cultures, but as we were able of discovering throughout the week, deep down they share numerous similitudes expressed in their values, resilience, and history. This kind of intercultural bridges not only help us honor our origins, but also understand the importance of respecting and protecting the different perspectives that nurture the cultural and human prism of our planet.

The summary video of this journey is available at bit.ly/4dFSLYa [Το βίντεο είναι διαθέσιμο στα ελληνικά στη διεύθυνση https://bit.ly/4dYxmtx].


About LEA Festival

The Greek-Ibero-American Literature Festival in Athens [“LEA”] was established in 2008 under the presidency of the award-winning Greek writer Petros Márkaris and the direction of Adriana Martínez, with the purpose of promoting respectful and creative intercultural dialogue between Ibero-American countries and the Hellenic Republic. Through strategies to promote and encourage Ibero-American literature and arts in Greece, the LEA Festival provides a space for the celebration and exploration of language and culture through literature, art, music, cinema, and theater. https://lea-festival.com


Links of Interest

  • ‘Cultural Bridges in Athens: Discovering the Wisdom of the Mamus of the Arhuaco Community of Colombia’ conference video: https://bit.ly/3KewFhG.
  • Greek Reporter article about the Arhuaco trip to Greece [English]: https://bit.ly/3wqQGyF.
  • Climática article about the LEA Festival conference [Spanish]: https://bit.ly/3WOU40G.
  • Athens College article about the visit of the Arhuaco delegation to their school [English]: https://bit.ly/4alal0G.
  • EFE interview with the Arhuaco leaders published by Forbes Colombia [Spanish]: https://bit.ly/4bHU6vP.
  • ABC interview with Arhuaco leaders during the visit to the Acropolis of Athens [Spanish]: https://bit.ly/3V35zR5.