I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

La Zenaida


This video brings some sadness to me. Conversely, it is a video of a tropical song very typical of my heritage meant to evoke happiness, fun and partying.

I am Colombian. Born and raised in Cali, a large city southwest of the country. Colombia is the country of Shakira, Montoya, Patarroyo, Botero, Novel Prize winner Garcia Marquez. Where “Juan Valdez” coffee comes from.

The song is about a woman, a “city ant” who sells fruit to make a living.

I remember them when I was growing up. I remember the demeanor of people buying from them. I remember the demeanor of my own family when they took me to buy from them. They are treated as third class citizens; low lives, deserving not as much as the rest of us. Women like the one in the video (she is probably a model) are treated substandardly.

We were conquered by Spaniards. The Virreyes of Spain settled in Colombia and with it, their culture and forcefully their blood. We are 100% European descent. Our table manners, our language, our religion, it all comes from the Old World. This is a culture that glorifies white collar and disregards manual labor. It exalts social status.

There are many “Zenaidas”; women who get a place on the streets of Cali selling goods, foods, whatever will bring revenue to make a living. They don’t live “off the government or tax payers”; there is no such thing there. They live below the poverty level which gives the higher level stratus an edge over them. Why do humans thrive on stepping on the ones that are down is beyond me. The woman on the video depicts a hard working woman who gets up every day “walks far, works hard” and who gets no respect. That is not seen in the video nor acknowledged by anyone just known.

This people who our superiority makes us regard as lower individuals are the ones who have the essence of our culture. The ones who with sweat and hard work overcome all the obstacles our white collar society places on them. Seems that society forgets that if there wasn’t for them, they would not have the satisfaction of stepping on anyone to feel tall.