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lien | Uyeremu Dapon / Mi Cancionero | Text by Marianela Camacho

Aware of the importance of preserving their identity, indigenous teachers in the Kamarata Valley base the education of their children and young people on the intercultural bilingual approach. To meet this objective, they promote the design of educational and interpretation resources with special attention to documenting the operational processes of daily life in their own language.

In 2003, teachers and students from the school in the community of San Rafael de Wadetöy, a remote community located south of Auyántepuy in the Kamarata Valley, handcrafted ten copies of a small book that collected the illustrated texts of their traditional songs: Uyeremu Dapon / Mi Cancionero. The aim was to have a document that would facilitate the teaching-learning process of this tradition in their schools.

In 2016, through Fundación Etnika, they donated one of these copies to Universidad del Zulia, to work together on a proposal to publish it as a book. In 2018, it was included as one of the objectives of the first international cooperation project implemented in Kamarata in alliance with the Universitat Rovira i Virgili through the Social Commitment Office / URV Solidària.

The book was published by Publicacions URV in two digital versions. One in Pemón-Spanish and the other in Pemón-Catalan. The Pemón-Spanish version was also published in print, with a print run of one thousand copies at the end of 2020.

Teacher Wilfredo Betis Gómez, author of the book, had the support of Epifanía Tello de Betis, Juan Chasconda Torres, Dionisio Castro Carballo, Marino Abrahán Sandoval Lambos, the teachers of the Escuela Integral Bolivariana Wadetöy and the Escuela Básica Nacional Padre Eulogio de Villarrín for the correction of the texts and the validation of the content of the book. Antonio Hitcher wrote the prologue and Peggy Díaz was in charge of the illustration and design of the publication.

During 2023, 300 copies were distributed to the fifteen locations of the schools in Sector II Kamarata-Kanaimö, which are attended by 1,253 students between children and young people aged between 5 and 16 years old; and to the legitimate authorities of the sector, general and community captains and members of the council of elders of Kamarata. The author, Wilfredo Betis Gómez, made the official presentation of the book in the community of Wadetöy. During the event, he was joined by Juan Chasconda Torres and a significant group of community members. It is worth noting that this group, made up of people who participated in the preparation of the original songbook in their childhood, performed the songs and danced to the rhythm of the dance genres described in the book.

The book was also formally presented in the community of Kamarata by the author Wilfredo Betis Gómez and Marianela Camacho, who served as the editorial coordinator. Also, in the community of Iwanamaru by Wilfredo Betis Gómez, Epifanía Tello de Betis and Marianela Camacho. And, the international presentation, held at the Faculty of Tourism and Geography of the URV, in Tarragona, Catalonia-Spain, was in charge of Paul Graham Stanley and Marianela Camacho.

This songbook represents an unprecedented milestone in the documentation and dissemination of the Pemón Kamarakoto culture. Through its pages, the main songs of the different dance genres that are still practiced today in the communities are compiled, thus guaranteeing the transmission of this ancestral knowledge to future generations.

Another purpose of this publication is to motivate the learning and appreciation of different elements of Pemón culture and normalize the written use of their language. It will also serve as inspiration to promote new publications that, together with this songbook, will allow the legacy of ancestral knowledge of the Pemón people to be perpetuated, being an invaluable contribution to the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032) proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly according to resolution A/RES/74/135, in order to draw the world's attention to the difficult situation of many indigenous languages, mobilize stakeholders and resources for their preservation, revitalization and promotion.

In a global context marked by the loss of languages and ancestral traditions, "Uyeremu Dapon / Mi Cancionero" represents a fundamental step in the revitalization of the Pemón language and the strengthening of the cultural identity of this indigenous people. It is an inspiring example of how collaboration between communities and academic entities can result in initiatives that positively impact the conservation of cultural heritage and reminds us of the importance of preserving the cultural roots that define us as peoples and as humanity.