Thursday, 18 September 2008

Adventists, Rivers and Tribe Separations

photo by Natalia Ipince

Along the basin of the river Negauche, that later joins with the Nazarategui to form the river Pichis, live an Anshaninka community called the New Nevati. Not many schools exist in the area - particularly secondary schools - so the children have to walk and sometimes paddle for up five hours per day. When the summer months come, the dry season commences and rivers retreat and dry up. Beaches appear with pristine sands much closer to the schools. Half of the community migrates to the beaches whilst the rest –mostly men- stay with their farms.

The first colonists to arrive in the area were Adventists, who founded the school. Adventists preaching the end of the world. Most Nevati stayed with them, abiding by their strict customs, forcing them to cover themselves up, prohibiting them from playing drums, or eating animals dictated outside of the Bible Leviticus 11, or of drinking Masato, a fermented drink made of saliva that remains to this day a hugely important social tradition to all Ashaninka. Some Nevati fled, now New Nevati, though after a couple of years reluctantly decided they would still send their children to the school in order to educate them. In 1978 an earthquake further enhanced the fear of impending Armageddon from where more and more Nevati were converted. Years went past and nothing happened. They were waiting for Christ but he never arrived. The Nevati started questioning themselves. They also started questioning the Adventists. Finally the Adventists left.

To this day apart from the school the Nevati stay divided. Thanks be to God.

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