Lecture in language
Inside the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, there is a nation called Sápara. The village of less than 500 people is preserved by UNESCO as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” because their language and culture are in danger of disappearing. The respected Akameno (authority) of the nation, Manari Ushigua, is perfectly connected to his land and committed never to cease protecting it from exploitation.
Manari’s ancestors, including his father and grandfather, were powerful shamans of the semi-nomadic tribe of Sápara. Manari was designated as their successor to lead the territorial defense and was given the responsibility of taking his father’s role as a healer and leader of the Sápara Nation. He was trained to connect with the spirits of the forest and his ancestors through special diets and medicinal plants. He is also a specialist in interpretation of dreams.
In 2013, Ecuador commissioned two rainforest blocks to oil companies for future development—blocks that make up the homeland of the Sápara people—without their permission. Manari and the Sápara Nation are supported by the Pachamama Alliance to defend their territory from extractive industries and to defend the Rights of the nature. Thus, they are able to participate in international events — like the COP21 UN Climate Summit and the UN Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights — raising awareness about the threat to the Amazon. Manari also meets with decision-makers from all over the world and does not hesitate to raise his voice on behalf of other
As human beings, Manari believes that we have lost our relationship with our land and life itself. The traditional connection with nature is still maintained inside the Amazon, as well as an immense knowledge of medicinal plants, of other worlds that exist in parallel with the one we live in, and about how to connect all these worlds. The Sápara work on deepening their study of the plants of the Amazon to discover new ways of seeing the world and to create new medicines. Manari reminds us that the only way forward is for Westerners to learn to understand the forest, to understand its spirits, to understand how to dream.