Rafael Segundo Mercado Epieyu is a direct descendant of the extensive matrilineal clan e´iruku Epinayuu. He is a poet and writer from Manaure (La Guajira, Colombia), as well as a linguist from the National University of Colombia, with a Masters in Education (University of Antioquia.) He has experience in training processes with Indigenous organizations, associations and youth groups who belong to urban communities. He has worked on many community and film projects and has served as a consultant and translator of his native language, wayuunaiki. In 2010, he received the National Award from the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the Caro y Cuervo Institute for his research entitled “Blazonry and Wayuu rock art.” He is currently a professor in the Pedagogy of Mother Earth Program (University of Antioquia, Colombia), and in the Ethno-education and Interculturality Program (University of La Guajira, Colombia). As a poet and writer, he has published: Narraciones indígenas del desierto –AKÜJÜÜSHI SULU´U SUUMMAINPA´A WAYUU (Norma, 2018), Sentimientos tejidos desde la oscuridad del vientre de mi madre (Antillas, 2009), y “Tü wuinkat shia akujaka süchiki we’iise / This Water Tells of Our Origins” (Indigenous Message on Water 2014). He has also published the following scholarly work: La palabra en la cultura Wayuu (Fondo Editorial Wayuu Araurayu, 2014), Diccionario Bilingüe Wayuunaiki – Español – Español – Wayuunaiki (Editorial Educar, 2009), and the articles: “Educación Conquistada y Propia”, “Jóvenes indígenas y globalización en América Latina”, y “Ser Wayuu y la escuela tradicional de occidente”.
“Lapü / Sueño” © Rafael Mercado Epieyu ~ Siwar Mayu, July 2021
“Dream” © Translated from Spanish by Lorrie Jayne and Juan G. Sánchez Martínez
If you prefer, read the PDF HERE
Listen here to the voice of the author in Wayuunaiki
Tanülia Tiko´u Epinayuu. Yalashi taya Akuwalu´u, eere ichiijain tü palaakat sutuma suwawala jouttai. Tü pütchi yaainjatükat tashajüin akumalaasü sünainjee tü pütchi sümaiwajatü, nojotsü pütchin takumalain, eesü kojuyasü achikii eekalü tashajüin, ma´aka tü jaleekualüin tü wayaawatakalü au, jaralüin komotsoin waya. Shiaja´a tü lapükalü kama´anejeekat tü watüjaakalü au, tü sa´anasiasee tü jiyeekalü, tü jülakalü ta´in sünainjee sünüiki tü wayuu toushi Mejieriita, süchiki nülapüin chi watuushikai Ma´leiwa.
Wayakana wayuukana süikeyuu wuishii waya. Apünüsejese´e wamüin sa´inpia atpana. Apünüsejese´e wamüin sa´inpia ka´ula. Apünüsejese´e wamüin sa´inpia pa´a. Apünüsejese´e wamüin sa´inpia irama. O´ojushii joo waya süka´aya süpüla anainjanain waya sünain wakuwaipa.
Sünainjee tü walapüinkat Wayaawata a´ulu alatajatetkat wamüin watta ka´i, müinka wayuule waya kaka´liainjanain süpa´a mma´kat, motso´opünainjatüle ne´e wama´a. Shia tü lapü aluwataakalü sau wakuwaipa wayakana wayuukana, wanaa sümaa sirumatajüin aikat, eere shiliwa´ala joo eere kashi.
Jolototooshi shiinalu´u toula´ yüütataashi taya ma´aka yüütatain alekerü. Yaajechipata ne´e taya sa´akapüna tü atulushikat pütchi, katsa´ antawalin wanee jejerawaa sünain tache´e wanaa sümaa tatunküin, müsü shiekai sa´in aküjeein süchiki tü jülüjakat ta´in.
¿Kasa jülükata ta´in? Shia sümaa shiain lapü kakumalain wakuwaipa. Jamüsa´a sa´anasiase tü jieyuukat yalejeejatü sünainjee lapü. Kamalainsüjese´e tamüin tü jieyuu wopuje´ewatkalüirua kasutatajataasü sükasulain uuchikat eere sukulemerain, eere jajatatairua tamüin shejejaaya tü ipa´kalüirua chinatakat, achüttutnawaikat sutuma wuin samaatüsü süchi´jeejat. Kachonweesü ma´in tü nale´elakat ma´aka perakanawa, jemetüsü ma´in tü süsanalaayakat na´in ma´aka joktai uuchejeekuat. Kamalainsüjese´e tamüin tü jieyuu anoijewatkalüirua, seeju natoutta mataasüka sa´in seeju süsii mokochira jee aipia, anacheinsü tü noukta ma´aka maloukatataain süsii ata´, samaatataasü seemiouse nawayuushe´in ma´aka ichi´iulia, maintataasü tü na´anasiesekat süka sükorolo soi jee shi´ira mo´uwa. Kamalainsü tamüin tü jieyuu cheje´ewaitkalüirua palaalejee, nousajaaya jee müsüja nanüiki palaatasü jemetüsü tamüin ma´aka tü kataakalü o´u tamüin, wattama´in saalin sukumaalaya na´anasiase ma´aka sukutulaaya nawayuushe´in, alika wa´i weinshi antawaishi tatchon Jepirachi sünain namülerain naya. Kamalainsü tamüin tü jieyuu wuimpeje´ewatnuukat, sa´anasiese jierü walunkaa nanaika eere palatatain wuin püloi, eere shi´iyalain nouppuna sünain kachepa pali´ise, akumalaasü wanee tatalataa tamüin püloina, teirakawee amüina monsomüinra´ane´e, ma´aka teirakain sümüin sho´owou ipa´ kama´anakat wachiki. Tü sa´anasiase tü jieyuukat akulaasü sünainjee eere jemeyuluin shiairua. Tü lapükat antüsü wanaa süma maintüin kasa supushua, wanaa süma e´erain jimatui. Yalejee shiinalu´ujee woula, jiettachonsü wasanalaaya wa´in waya atunkushiikana, wattasü türüttüin sulu´upuna wattashaana saalin wopu eepünaale süwataain jouktain sawaijatkat, shi´ipünawalin wane´ewai sukuwa pütchi chejeejatü nama´anejee naa ayolujaakana. ¡Wush! ¡wush! ¡wush! ¡wush! ¡wush! Majataasü shi´irainru´u süchiki sülü´üjalakat, sülatirüin süka pütchi samatüsü, pütchi jouktaleulajatü, suwalakajüin süka´ shi´irain sulu´upuna suikalüirua.
Süka tü jiettachonkat wasanalaaya wa´in waya atunkushiikana, sünain sulu´uin wa´in tü pütchi süma´leiwajatkat, süpüla waküjain joo mapeena sü´ütpa´a maachon siko´u, wanaa sümaa chiittajüin sünüiki jaisükat. ¡Chish! ¡chish! ¡chish! ¡chish! ¡chish! Müsü shiimata´ira sünain süchijirüin waya. Eere joo tü siko´uokat, nojolüiwa´a jayuuin, waapajüin pütchi süchiki lapü, laülaasü watuma wa´in sünainje waapajüin. Latu´u rülapü sünülia eere joo Lapü, yalalu´usaja yalapüna sulu´u süpa´a jutatui, nojotsü jaralüin erajüin eere, sümaa süttawalinja sünain antiraa pütchi wamüin wayakana wayuukana.
Naa laülayuukana akaijawaishii süpülapünaa tü atünka. Kaitataasü yüi natuma. Joo sümüsain joo yüikat ounüsü sümaa pütchi nanüiki joo naa akaijüshiikana. Kalapünsü kasa supushuwa´a, jamüsaja yaawasan saajüin naküjala naa wayuu laülayuukana, chi Ma´leiwakai, nutkeje´erüin sünülia tü wuchiikalüirua. Antanuwaya müsüirua joolu´u. Antüshi ului, wainpirai, mo´uwa, nojotsü jaralüin ouneein. Atunkeesü wa´in mayaa müsüirua. Niyaka anülia ounüin kaarain. Chi nojoikai atünküin souka´i jee sawai. Ounajachi pia nümüin Ma´leiwasa, nümaka sümüin Lapü. Choujaashi pia nümüin mojusuma´in na´in sutuma nülapüinsa, nünta tamüin nüküjaiwa jamalu´ulüin, nümaka Kaarai nümüin Lapü. Anasü nümaka, manümüin na´atapaiwa taya, nutunkajaya nümaka Lapü. Antüshi Lapü nünaimüin Ma´leiwa, atunküshi nüpüla, nu´unaka Lapü. Jalashi joo nian nümataalaka nümüin Kaaraikai, yaajachiyüi atunkushi pia nuulia, nümaka nümüin, püsaaja sejee nia tamüin kateechi o´u joo taya nüpüla nümaka.
My name is Tiku’ u Epinayuu. I can be found in Akuwalu’u, that is to say, where, by dint of the running wind, the sea waters change to salt. The words I write emerge from ancient words; they are not words which I have created. The origins of all that we know begins in the world of dream, Lapü. My thoughts spring from the words of my grandmother, Mejieriita, and from the stories of dreaming from our Grandfather Ma’leiwa.
We are grandchildren of the plants. A plant gave herself to us to quiet the heart of the rabbit. A plant gave herself to us to gentle and raise the goats. A plant gave herself to us to tame and breed the cattle. A plant gave herself to us to quiet and hunt the deer. We bathe ourselves in herbs that all may go well in our lives.
Beginning from Lapü we know what we will be in the distant days, whether we will last a long time on the earth or only a moment. It is Lapü who orders our days, during the cloudy night, the star-filled night, the night lit by the full moon. In the depths of my hammock, I fall away, Iike Alekerü. And so, I continue here within this weave of questions, although sometimes the voices my senses hear, as I sleep, try to help me to weave answers.
What does my heart think? It thinks that it is Lapü who has created our essence. The beauty of women sprouts from the spirit of Lapü. I like the women from Wopumüin, a region with countless paths. The beauty of their smiles is reflected in the whiteness of the snowtops. In their roaring laughter I hear the murmur of smooth stones watered by the cool waters of Süchimmá, also known as Río Ranchería. Their wombs are fertile like the snake Perakanawa. Their breath is delicious like the breath of the mountains, Uuchiirua.
I like the Anoii women, a region of savannahs. Their breath smells of the flowery aromas of Mokochira- of the Guamacho, and Trupillo trees. Their eyelashes are the yellow of the tiny flowers of Atá, the pui. The shadows of their dresses are as fresh as if they were from Ichí ulia, the innumerable groves of Divi-divi. The silence of their beauty is adorned with feathers and songs from Mó uwa, the wild dove.
I like the women from Palaamüin, the coastal region. Their kisses and salty words give joy to my own life and words. Their gestures are as countless as the infinite ripples of their dresses. Every afternoon Grandpa Jepirachi comes to caress them with oceanic tenderness. I like the women from Wuimpümüin, the water region. Their Walunka beauty is filled with the mystery of desert creeks. When their faces appear, painted with reddish pali’ise stone, they inspire in me an emotion charged with the sacred energy of Püloi. I can only contemplate them, without so much understanding, just as when I look at Sho’owou, the stone that tells of our origins. A woman’s beauty is manifested in the land of her birth. Her beauty is like Lapü who comes when everything is quiet, when you feel that you are in the presence of silence alone. In the depths of our hammocks, at the gentle sigh of all we who sleep, Lapü runs the countless paths where night breezes rush and releases words that come from the ancestors. Wush, wush, wush, wush, wush. That is how Lapü goes on singing the stories she has brought. Lapü conveys messages in cool words: in summer words. It goes on spreading them in songs throughout the hammocks.
We keep these ancient words in our hearts so that we may repeat them later in the presence of our Grandmother Kitchen-Fire. She sparks her ardent words as she kisses us awake, saying “chish, chish, chish, chish, chish.” Right there where the fire is located, before dawn, we listen to words that tell about Lapü. Right there our hearts become wise. Latu´u rülapü is the name of the luminous region where Lapü is located. Somewhere, in the infinite space, it must be. No one knows where it is exactly. What we do know is that Lapü comes to bring us words of advice.
The wise old ones, before sleeping, smoke tobacco. They expand the smoke. The smoke rises with the words of those who smoke. All beings dream, so say the ancient wise ones. Ma’leiwa had summoned a meeting of all the birds. They all attended. The turpial, the palguarat, the wild dove, all arrived. “We have dreams,” they said. The curlew, he who never sleeps, day or night, was the first to dare go. “Ma’leiwa has ordered you to call upon him,” he told Lapü. “He needs you because his dreams are tormenting him greatly.” “May he reach me to tell me the meaning of these dreams,” said Ma’leiwa, according to the curlew. “Fine. Tell him to wait for me- not to fall asleep,” said Lapü. She came to Ma’leiwa in dreams, but Ma’leiwa was sleeping. Upon seeing him asleep, Lapü returned. “Where is the one whom you went to find?” asked Ma’leiwa of the curlew. “She was here, but you were sleeping,” curlew told him. “Go and find her again. Now I’ll be awake.” Thus is the way the ancient wise ones say that Ma´leiwa conversed with Lapü.
Alekerü: is the daughter of Isashii (she is nature in its purest state). She is the one in charge of teaching the Wayuu women the art of weaving: Alekerü is the grandmother spider.
Anoii: the verdant plains.
Ata´: a tree with yellow flowers, similar to the Cañahuate tree.
Ichi´ulia: Ichii is the name in Wayuunaiki for the Divi-divi tree. Ichi’ulia refers to countless groves of Divi-divi.
Jepirachi: the Grandfather who possesses the knowledge of fishing and the marine world. Gentle wind that comes from the northeast.
Latu´u rülapü: luminous region within the infinite universe.
Ma´leiwa: for us, the Wayuu, four generations of creation exist. The first is born from the great mother, the mother of all mothers, the Grandmother of all of the grandmothers: Sawai-Piushi (Darkness-Night)- the constellations, sun, moon, ocean and land. The second is born of Mma (Earth), the plant world. The third is also born of Mma, the animal world. Ma´leiwa is the son of the earth with Juya’ (the rain); he is born between the second and the third generation of life. Ma´leiwa would be the Grandfather who, with the aid of Mma’ and Juya, is in charge of organizing the birth of the 4th generation of life, we the Wayuu.
Mejieriita: little gourd, possibly a compound name: Mejieetai (did not grow much), and Iita (gourd made from the totumo fruit).
Mokochira: the breath of Spring. It is a tree.
Mo´uwa: the one without eyelashes, this is the name of the wild pigeon.
Palaamüin: towards the sea.
Pali´ise: facial painting extracted from the plant called by the same name.
Perakanawa: is the name of the snake that symbolizes fertility; his habitat is the Ranchería river. Perakanawa may be the thousand year old name of the Titanoboa Cerrejonensis.
Püloi: sacred feminine spirit, keeper of both the beings from the ocean and the desert.
Sho´owou: stone where the symbols of the e’iruku (clans) are engraved.
Süchimma´: where the foam from the salty water meets freshwater, the thousand year old name of the city, Riohacha, the capital of the Department of La Guajira.
Tiko´u Epinayuu: Tiko´u means flaming kindling. Epinayu is an e´iruku (clan) and refers to those who have a spirit for clearing the ways. E´iruku signifies the extended family through the maternal line.
Uuchiirua: the mountains.
Walunka: ancestral woman who had teeth in her vagina.
Wopumüin: the innumerable paths that can be found heading south that lead toward the dominions of Grandfather Epeyü (Jaguar).
Wuimpümüin: “wuin” and “pümüin” means water and towards the surface respectively; Alta Guajira is known as “towards the surface of the waters”.
For more about Rafael Mercado Epieyu and the wayuu territory
“Toward the path of the waters”: From Uchumüin to Wüinpumüin. https://waterandpeace.wordpress.com/tag/rafael-mercado-epieyu/
About the translators
Lorrie Jayne, a collaborator in Siwar Mayu, teaches Spanish, Portuguese, and Personal Narrative in the Languages and Literatures Department at University of North Carolina Asheville (USA). She lives with her husband and daughters in the Appalachian Mountains where she enjoys plants, people, and poetry.
Juan G. Sánchez Martínez grew up in Bakatá, Colombian Andes. He dedicates both his creative and scholarly writing to Indigenous cultural expressions from Abiayala (the Americas.) His book of poetry, Altamar, was awarded in 2016 with the National Prize Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia. He collaborates and translates for Siwar Mayu. Recent work: Muyurina y el presente profundo (Pakarina/Hawansuyo, 2019); and Cinema, Literature and Art Against Extractivism in Latin America. Dialogo 22.1 (DePaul University, 2019.)