Each evening’s news hack spotlights a personality who may have passed under the news radars.
Raoney ended his nearly month-long European tour on Sunday 4 June with an appointment at the Elysee with Emmanuel Macron. Even if he appears regularly in Europe – this is his ninth global campaign dedicated to the protection of the Amazon jungle – he keeps such appearances in complete exoticism with that recognizable dome-shaped lip. His clothes, his constant rants of concern for the environment and even his language which is a headache for the performers every time. He speaks a little portuguese to translate it to french for example you need a translator first from his language to portuguese, and a second from portuguese to french.
>> Amazonia: “I need you” to save the forest, declared the chief of the indigenous Raoni in Paris
Even if he comes regularly to Europe, he is out of his world here. His real name, Reubeni Metouketer, says himself that he was 20 years old the first time he saw a white person. born in the early thirties, Maybe in 1932. says raoni.com, in the heart of Mato Grosso, a state in midwestern Brazil. He lived a Bedouin childhood, under the responsibility of his brother who had a labret fitted to him at the age of 15, this ornament on the lower lip, which he changed several times and reached its final size very quickly, after four months. At the age of fifteen, he was identified as a warrior willing to die for his land.
Crucial for him is the meeting with the Vilas-Boas brothers, two natives who come to spend time with him and take him into town to do some shopping. This step will be fatal. In the aftermath, diarrhea and influenza appear. He loses his grandmothers and his father. He then leaves the village, full of anger, as he will not return until much later to become the chief kayapo of this region of Xingu, his father having passed on to him all the ancestral rituals and knowledge.
the film Rooney At the Cannes Film Festival in 1977
His name appeared for the first time in Europe on the occasion of the Cannes Film Festival in 1977, with a film directed by Jean-Pierre Duteleau bearing his name, Rooney. The film pinpoints this actual battle against the Brazilian government to preserve its cultural identity and territory. They are then 120,000 in reserves against four million “before the conquest” He also wrote at the time in Le Monde. In this article, it appears that the fight is not just informational because that summer, “In Haut-Xingu, 11 laborers who had begun to clear the forest near the reservation were murdered by the Indians under the leadership of the Raoni”. “All white people must die!” He has said.
The real trigger was in 1989. The whole world found out when he had his big tour with singer Sting. They travel to 17 countries. This is the first time Raoni has set foot outside of Brazil. He is almost 60 years old. Cameras and photographers never let go. He created the still existing Rainforest Foundation which would raise 20 million francs that year. Awareness is so global, that four years later, in 1993, the boundaries of the Kayapo region were officially demarcated, forming the largest reserve of tropical forest on the planet.
Heads of state flock to get it. The first will be François Mitterrand, followed by Jacques Chirac, King of Spain, Prince Charles, Emperor of Japan, Pope John Paul II. G7 releases the money. He is present at all international summits, especially in Paris, during COP21, where he warns heads of state against false good ideas, such as hydroelectric dams that threaten the jungle: “Another big concern for us is these hydroelectric dams because they can cause a lot of trouble for the Indian people.”.
“If politicians decide to put up such barriers, it will make our lives much more difficult.”
“We will fight against these projects. I hope that with this summit, we will have help demarcating the lands of all the indigenous peoples of the world.”He said.
Dams are one of his big fights, especially his fight against the Belo Monte project in northern Brazil. Ronnie is now almost 90 years old and the next generation is ready. On this European tour which is drawing to a close, he is accompanied by other indigenous chiefs: a Yawalapiti chief named Tapi, 45 years old, the first to study in Brasília. There is also the Wattatakalu that holds fighting Amazonian women. His nephew Bimoru was also on the trip.
>> Video. The Indian chief Raoni still refuses to build the Belo Monte Dam
In 2020, Raoni is hospitalized, very weak and depressed, after the death of his wife, Pkojka, his advisor of more than 60 years. Today, it seems that he has regained all his strength and will need it, since leaving the Elysee Palace on Sunday 4 June he will head to Brasilia where he is due to take part in a major event scheduled for Wednesday 7 June.