As we approach a new year, a new era, I have been watching a remarkable DVD - Tracks Across the Sand, directed by Hugh Brody - a Canadian who was a powerful quiet innovator during the Mackenzie Valley Pipelines (70's) and throughout the Arctic in Canada. It tracks the grotesque exclusion of the Sans people of the Southern Kalahari in South Africa. They were declared non-people; expelled; their language was pronounced extinct, and then in the 90's, a family/clan emerged and began a claim. With others, Hugh Brody's unique Canadian creation of 'mapping' by story was engaged, and gradually, people, language, culture and community were rediscovered - and even 'restituted' to their land.
It is a powerful 'global' story of attempted cultural annihilation that has thousands of parallel stories around the world. If you are remotely engaged in language and cultural reclamation, this is a powerful lesson in hope, possibility and resilience. It is not perfect now, but it is possible. It is a good way to welcome in 2013 with another example of remarkable leadership (and partnership) from the margins to full life.
Here is a link to a CBC podcast: