Last week the Wayuu tribe, an ethnic group from the Guajira Penisula on Colombia’s north-east Caribbean coast, celebrated their 26th annual Festival de la Cultura Wayuu – Wayuu’s Cultural Festival. The festival, which takes place in the town of Uribia (the Wayuu’s largest settlement), is a demonstration and promotion of the Wayuu’s traditional rituals, customs, skills, socialization, music, and more. This year’s theme was the La Cocina Wayuu – Wayuu’s cuisine. The three-day event included cultural talks and lectures, music and dance presentations, plays, exhibits, the popular traditional games (think horse and donkey racing, wrestling, archery, and stone-throwing) and, of course, offerings of typical Wayuu dishes – particularly goat, which forms a principle part of the cuisine.
The Wayuu, who number approximately 145,000 in Colombia (and around another 293,000 in neighboring Venezuela), are divided into 16 clans, each with its own territory, symbol and animal. The Wayuu language is Wayuunaiki; new generations also speak Spanish however, but much importance is placed on the preservation of the native language. Though the tribe follow traditional gender roles (women are responsible for the household chores and taking care of the children, while men fish, rear goats and fetch firewood), Wayuu identification is passed on through the women: the youngest daughter inherits property, and, in cases of alijuna (marriage with a non-Wayuu), the child is only Wayuu if the mother is. Women are also the leaders of Wayuu society.
Find out more about Colombia and its indigenous groups in VIVA’s new Colombia Adventure Guide, available in a variety of e-book applications directly from VIVA, as well as in print format from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.