When I started working with indigenous communities, I knew it was the women who are mainly in charge of this job because historically has always been so, and cause the knitting activity always had been related to the feminine aspect.
Once, Lucia Yagari, (Embera indigenous grandmother who has worked with us), told me: “I am going to bring my grandson Emanuel to help us”. I said yes, of course, but I little bit esceptical. From that day, Emanuel has become the most important link in our group of Embera indigenous artisans. He is the one who prepares all the initial samples from all our collections and with whom I work hand in hand to materialize an idea. But besides all the talent and skill that characterizes him, what I want to tell and share with you is above all the incredible human being that he is.
Emanuel Panchi is 22 years old, married to Lily Tascon (Embera Chami indigenous woman) and they have a 4-years-old boy named Xavi Panchi. Emanuel’s father is a professor of the Embera dialect several years ago in Cristiania (indigenous reservation in Antioquia), since childhood Emanuel has learned the importance of caring and preserving the culture of his community, that the Embera dialect does not disappear, and the writing it does not get lost with the passage of time. This is sad, because after several years of working with communities I realize that although most indigenous people speak the dialect, very few know how to write.
Emanuel, thanks to his father’s teachings, and a proud bearer of his culture, does not want it to disappear. He is one of the few indigenous people who perfectly practices and writes the dialect. But also Emanuel is a “millenial” like any other we know. He loves technology, uses social networks, is part of his community’s soccer team and participates in tournaments in other departments. He recently came to Medellin, he became friends with a Thai boy, and they exchange messages from time to time.
For me it is the perfect example that today being indigenous does not mean being isolated from society, or being someone different from the people who live in modern society. He simply possesses an immensely valuable cultural legacy, and feels happy and responsible to keep it.
Emanuel mixes two fundamental activities in his life: the crafts he makes in our work team of MAKUA jewelry, but he also works on coffee crops in the lands he inherited from his ancestors. Cristiania is located in Antioquia southwest , land that is characterized by being suitable for this type of crops. Then in the times that he needs to dedicate himself to the land, Lily his wife “relieves” him, but when they passed the coffee activities he is 100% dedicated to working with MAKUA.
Sometimes when we are in the workshop working and we begin to talk, he tells me some indigenous stories that he knows, because his grandmother always told him stories when he was a child. They are beautiful stories that speak of the magic of the indigenous world and their sensitivity to nature and animals, and Emanuel proudly shares them with us and with his son Xavi. You can’t talk about Emanuel without talking about his wife Lily, because they are always together, sharing the family tasks or working with the crafts. She is possibly the sweetest girl I know, and only reflects kindness and love.
I feel an immense gratitude to be able to share my work spaces with people like him, from whom I learn all kinds of life lessons, and with whom I would like to continue sharing stories and work projects for many years.