Guaraní hip-hop against land grabbing
Their ancestors were once the undisputed lords of Tekoa Itakupe. Today, the Guaraní settlement lies on the outskirts of Saõ Paulo and is in danger of being swallowed up by the big city. The Guaraní have over 500 years of experience in resisting invaders. Their latest weapon: hip-hop
by Charlotte Eichhorn
Text: Sandra Weiss
"I am tired of crying.
The stories of the past cannot be ignored.
Another child died at dawn/
Where is the solution to infant mortality?
Without war and without struggle- we just want to live.
Is it so hard to understand?"
© Oz Guaraní
Jefferson is indeed a little hard to understand. But that's not because of the verses from the song 'Conflicts of the past' by his hip-hop group Oz Guaranis, but because of the noise from the nearby city highway.
Actually, the indigenous community of Tekoa Itakupe, to which Jefferson belongs, legally owns 1317 acres of the indigenous territory of Jaraguá, between the municipalities of São Paulo and Osasco.
It is one of the few green peri-urban areas - the indigenous people have made sure of that by protecting the Atlantic rainforest, which has already almost disappeared in the rest of Brazil.
Around 1000 people live in five villages in Jaraguá.
The Guaraní, who have been despondent, discriminated against and pushed into ever smaller areas since the Portuguese conquest, have created a small oasis in Jaraguá:
There is a prayer house (Nimungarai), a health station, a Centre for Indigenous Education and Culture (CECI),a municipal school with 170 children and the Djekupe Amba Arandy School for primary, secondary and adult education.
And above all, there is still forest, a lot of forest, without which the Guaraní cannot live. But the open terrain has increased in value in recent years, especially for housing construction, tourism and forestry.
Real estate speculators have their eyes on the area. Influential businessmen and politicians managed to get the Ministry of Justice to revoke Jaguará's boundaries in 2017 - allegedly because formal principles had not been observed during their initial establishment. This endangers the future of the villages and the nature reserve.
This is not the first time that economic interests have overridden indigenous rights. At the end of the 16th century, the area was exploited for gold mining. In the second half of the 19th century, when the gold was completely exhausted, coffee barons grabbed the land.
"When the Portuguese arrived, they killed my relatives.
And here we are now, conscious young people.We tell you that you could be different.
Without war and without fighting, we just want to live.
Is it so hard to understand?
We want the land to thrive,
culture and customs,
we just want to keep.
© Oz Guaraní
The state government of São Paulo then bought the then Jaguará estate and finally constructed a city park on it in 1961, which was reforested with eucalyptus and pine trees. In addition, two motorways were built to improve access from the periphery to the urban centre of São Paulo.
Part of the park is open to the public; the rest was allotted to the Guaraní. The Guaraní set about saving the remnants of the Atlantic rainforest and gradually re-established the original vegetation.
"Eucalyptus and pine consumes water in large quantities," Jefferson says. "On the other hand, our way of life in harmony with the original forest, guarantees the preservation of the watercourses." The Guaraní have thus succeeded in reintroducing wild bees and many native plants. "We are the guardians of the forest," says the young hip-hopper.
But this is becoming increasingly difficult. In 2016, the regional government licensed large forest areas to private companies for the extraction of timber, resin and for tourism. The Guaraní lodged a legal objection against this - but the investors do not want to wait and are producing contrary evidence.
© TV- Globo
© twitter @lais_hmota93
IIn February 2020, 173 acres of an area used by the Guaraní was cleared by a construction company in a night and fog operation. Eleven residential towers with 2000 flats are to be built there. The Guaraní stopped the construction work for two months with a vigil, before giving up.
IIn mid-June 2020, the forest above Tekoa Itakupe was set on fire. Their cemetery was partially destroyed; the water pipes were completely destroyed. The fire brigade was late in coming to the rescue and quickly left, allegedly for safety reasons.
Nevertheless, the Guaraní are not giving up. The younger ones have found a new form of resistance: Music. With lyrics and videos, partly in Guaraní, partly in Portuguese, rappers and hip-hoppers are gaining an ever-larger following on YouTube and social networks. Their lyrics deal with ecocide and genocide, discrimination and the rift between city and country. In this way, they build a bridge between traditional music, political commitment, and urban life culture, appealing above all to the younger generation of Brazilians and often uprooted Guaraní.