Friday, 03 December 2021 10:14 GMT

Peru Teen Aims To Revive Quechua

(MENAFN- Arab Times) Renata Flores Rivera has teenage cuteness, a velvety voice and a mission: to revive the Quechua language with songs like "Chaynatam ruwanki cuyanaita" - better known as "The Way You Make Me Feel."

Flores, a 14-year-old from the Peruvian highlands, has racked up more than a million views since posting her cover of the Michael Jackson hit on YouTube on July 27.

The sleek video features the almond-eyed high schooler, sporting a jean jacket, a schoolgirl skirt and a Peruvian hat with earflaps, performing the song against the backdrop of the ruins of Vilcashuaman, an ancient Incan administrative center.

She made the video as part of a campaign called "Young people speak Quechua too," which aims to combat perceptions of the indigenous language as unhip and backwards.

Quechua, the language of the Incas, has faced such stigmatization since Spanish conquistadors colonized Peru in the 16th century.

"I sing in Quechua as a voice of warning, because the language is being lost. Children and young people are ashamed to speak it. They think only poor people in the Andes mountains speak it," said Flores, who lives in Huamanga, the capital of the Ayacucho region in southern Peru.


"We did this in Quechua so the world sees that we have an identity and that we're proud of our culture, that we're not at all ashamed of our culture or the Quechua language," she told AFP.

Around 3.6 million of Peru's 30 million people speak Quechua, particularly in the highlands.

Another 4.4 million people speak it in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil.

In Peru, it is an official language, alongside Spanish. But experts have been warning for years that social stigma could eventually endanger its survival.

"For young people, Quechua is synonymous with backwardness and poverty, because the colonial mentality of discrimination, contempt and racism still persists in Peru," said Elena Burga, the head of an education ministry program to promote bilingual education.

She said more funding is needed to protect and promote the language.

The campaign that Flores sings for was launched by her mother, Patricia Rivera, a 41-year-old music teacher.

"This project came about because we realized our children were no longer speaking our language," said Rivera.

"We older people speak nicely. We tell jokes that sound funnier in Quechua than in Spanish and our children weren't enjoying it as much."

She called Quechua a language that "sounds lovely, a language to woo your lover."


Others working to boost the language include hard rock band Uchpa and language teacher Demetrio Tupac Yupanqui, who has translated Cervantes's "Don Quixote" into Quechua ("Yachay sapa wiraqucha dun Qvixote Manchamantan").

Flores admits she is not fully fluent in the language, which she is "learning phonetically," she said.

She translated "The Way You Make Me Feel" with the help of her 72-year-old grandmother, Ada.

She is working on another song that will feature the traditional Andean music known as huayno.


LONDON: Norwegian band A-ha, whose "Take On Me" track remains one of the most popular songs from the 1980s, are reuniting temporarily, releasing their first new material in six years.

The band split after a worldwide tour in 2010 and vocalist Morten Harket, keyboardist Magne Furuholmen and guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy went on to pursue solo projects.

The trio are now back together for a two-year reunion to write new material. Their 10th studio album, "Cast In Steel", is out Sept. 4 and a European tour will follow next year.

A-ha will first perform at the Rock in Rio music festival this month.

"It's incredible how quickly you fall back into where you left off," Harket told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

"One of the good things about being away is to digest things and maybe learn from things and see if there are better ways to get to where you want to be."

A-ha formed in 1982 and this year marks 30 years since the release of their debut album "Hunting High and Low", which has sold more than 10 million copies.

"For us you have to make peace with that song because it's stronger than you in a way. It's not going away," Harket said when asked about the continued popularity of "Take On Me".

"We played it to death " but the public don't get sick of it somehow."

Harket said the band now are getting to grips with the popularity of social media - especially within the music industry - a big change from when they started out.

"I have always been a recluse really and to bring me out in the open like that is not easy," he said. "I think it has a lot of good things to it."

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