I wrote this out of my frustration with how Anglicized we have become linguistically and culturally. The latest census data says that only 18% of our people speak the language and 44% of people live in households where only English is spoken. While I will use following blog posts to talk about the urgency of language revitalizaton, I thought I would use this one to share a piece that I wrote out of a sense of frustration. It still needs to be perfected, but here is the first draft of what I am hoping to incorporate into a song.
My Weeping Tongue by Kenneth Gofigan Kuper
“Too often these words burn
my tongue—this poison
the soil of this land
These words so foul, so foreign, so devoid
of our values
And yet, this weeping
shared by all of us.
Our combined words spewing venom onto our beautiful trees and vast ocean, seeping and eroding the graves of our ancestors who are mournfully crying and pleading to be heard and understood.
Slowly, but surely, poisoning the ocean of our cultural life source.
These foreign words coming from brainwashed tongues controlled by colonized minds.
It seems like all hope is lost. The venom has oozed its way too far infecting everything in its path with a sickness too powerful to heal. Every step we take ends in our feet being completely covered by the bane that we ourselves have excreted. In the path moving forward, in the path to consciousness, in the path to internal liberation, we attempt and struggle to sprint to the end. Yet, these corrupted, contaminated feet weigh us down making every single step nearly impossible. What is this venom you may ask? What exactly are our tongues inflicted with? THE CURSE OF ONLY SPEAKING ENGLISH. The curse of a tongue that has betrayed the owner’s heritage! Is there any hope for us people of Guahan? Will there ever be a cure?
HUNGGAN! there is a antidote. If we try hard enough, our tongues may one day stop spewing venom but rather exude life and sustenance to our island. One day these tongues of ours may protrude through the soil and communicate with our ancestors, heal the oceans and fertilize the land. The day when Fino Chamoru rolls off all of our tongues is the day the plants regain their color and our feet can move easily once again. The use of Chamoru will dry the tears of our mañaina, revive the culture, and plant firmly the ifit of Nina’matatnga. Let us ask ourselves today, do we want to spew poison or give life? Let our tongues weep no more.”