CECILIO CALLE SANKA
Cecilio Calle Sanka is the leader of the official group of sikuris [large panpipes] of the village of Italaque, in the Bautista Saavedra district of the department of La Paz, Bolivia. According to Bolivian traditional musician Oscar Corihuanca, musicians from the area traditionally go to the mountains and dedicate their songs to the protective spirits.
INTERVIEW – august 2016
What is the tradition of the sikuri?
The sikuri is original from Italaque. It is called hacha sikuri [or sikuri mayor, the big sikuri]. Nowadays, some bands from other areas have used the sikuri, but don’t get mistaken: it really comes from our village, from our culture. Those bands have stolen our heritage: they wear our traditional clothes, they play the songs we play, and they claim it is the sikuri of Italaque. But the sikuri of Italaque is genuine from this area, and it is played here only!
Italaque used to be a great place. There were 39 communities living here. Imagine, this same main square, full of people. Each community had its own space and each one belonged to this culture. During the Corpus Christi celebrations, the main square was completely filled up with people from these 39 communities. Over time, the communities became more divided. New cantons were created. Our region is bordering Peru. The village of Humanato for example, and Cancanali as well, and other villages are almost in Peru. Italaque used to represent all that area. In the end, there only remains our village, and we are more motivated than ever to continue the tradition of the Italaque sikuri.
We also have another band in the city of La Paz, and they also make live performances there. We are not going to let the sikuri music die, neither our traditional clothes. These are ours! We are organized as a union group to protect our culture.
How did you come to music?
I was always interested in music. The elders had to transmit their knowledge to younger generations, and I so learned with my grandparents.
Why is it important to continue the traditional music?
Traditional music represents our ancestors, from a very long time ago. The music is what they left us, and this heritage still lives today and toward the future. We have to go on, because the peoples from the past created the sikuri of Italaque. It is our symbol. People are trying to steal it, but we have to keep going on.
The youth are eager to learn our traditional music. For example I have grandchildren, still very young, and they show interest in it.
How do you envision the future of the sikuri music?
The music won’t change. Why would it change? Our clothes, our traditions, none of these can ever change. Our ancestors created this music; they always performed it this way. So we have to respect it and we cannot make it modern.
Do you have a message for the world?
We are not going to let our culture and our tradition die. We are going to keep maintaining our culture and our vision.
I congratulate you on coming down to this remote village and on looking for the true, original culture. I want to thank you for your interest.
PORTFOLIO – A SIKURI PARADE