Shortly before 7 a.m., while his mom stirs the thick hot chocolate and slices cheese to heat in the pan, 6-year-old Brian Castro puts on his ch’iwqu (hat) and skips off to the garden with his well polished shuki (shoes). Like all children of Tupe, a district in Yauyos province, he doesn’t have breakfast until he has fed the animals.
Half an hour later, the young child steps out onto the cobbled streets, welcomed by a fine drizzle and dense fog that just barely lets you see your feet, and the biting cold. In this area temperatures rarely exceed that of 8° C. Nevertheless, Brian puts one foot on the sidewalk,and all around him it seems to heat up due to the good energy he radiates and the unique, melodic tone of his words spoken in Jaqaru, the native language of his parents and grandparents. He happily repeats “amruchatxi” (how are you) to whomever crosses his path as he heads to school. “Bien, ‘jilatxi’ (thanks),” they answer him.
Jaqaru is one of the 47 languages native to Peru. Nieves Payano, a natural linguist from Tupe and interpreter of Jaqaru, explains that his native tongue descends from the Wari and that is has been spoken in this part of the Yauyino valley (240 km southeast of Lima) since 750 AD.
“Within the indigenous territory we have always been proud of who we are, of Jaqaru. But now the credit has grown because it is as if they see us better, as if we were finally on the map. Valued. Heard,” says Nieves.
Carlos Fernandez de Cordova, Civil Records manager at Reniec (National Registry of Identification and Civil Status), the feeling and sensation that Nieves speaks of has much to do with the start of operations to gain the first bilingual civil registration of Tupe.
This office, which opened in August 2014 and is the only one in the country that issues certificates in a language other than Castilian, has enabled almost 50 babies and 490 adults of Tupe to have a document of identification, printed in their native language.
This article originally appeared in El Comercio on May 3. You can read the entire article here.