Benan Oregi, responsible for External Affairs with the Basque Government, and Joseba Etxarri, director of EuskalKultura.com, are both experts on the Basque Diaspora. They shared their views last week in a video published online by Basque newspaper Berria on the current situation of Basques living abroad: their achievements, their obstacles, and the example they have set for Basques in the Basque Country.
Being Basque and part of the Diaspora myself, I can identify with pretty much everything Benan and Joseba mention in the video. It seems so distant now, 14 years later, but there was a time where I was completely unaware of the Diaspora. It seems impossible – and almost a sin – that I didn’t know this great Basque world existed outside of the Basque Country. For this reason I wanted to share the video with all of you. It is in Basque, though. I have done my best to transcribe Benan and Joseba’s commentaries into English (sometimes quite freely, I might add). I apologize in advance for any mistakes I might have made.
You can find the video here.
I came to talk about the Basque Diaspora. Today was the last day of class, however, being the last doesn’t mean it is less important. I’ve tried to convey a message that, looking at the Basque Country of tomorrow, the Diaspora can be something to talk about: what does it mean to be Basque? A lot of consideration has been given to this topic, to what it means to be Basque outside of the Basque Country, how the thousands and thousands of Basques living abroad experience their Basque identity. I wanted to bring back a basic knowledge of the Diaspora, the deeper the better. We’ve often looked down on Basques from the Diaspora because they frequently stop at the folklore. But in reality, we need to pay attention, in the first place, to what it means to emigrate to another country, to find a place in another society, and to keep their identity, culture and ties to the Basque Country. Looking into the future, that can be a lesson for all of us. We need to take into account that there are cultural organizations as well, and they have often been very helpful to us from a political standpoint.
I wanted to talk about the Basque Diaspora. We often talk about the Diaspora, but it is really a little known phenomenon within the Basque culture. Even though it’s been mentioned quite a bit in radio and television programs during the last few years, there is still much to learn and, this is something very important in my opinion, it would be useful not only to learn about it, but if at all possible, to travel so one can see and experience the Basque identity among Basques in America, in the Diaspora. To see they are also part of the Basque culture. We have tried to explain in today’s program what contributions have been made to Basque culture and Basque language from America, Argentina, Uruguay, and many other places.
We talk about the seven provinces in the Basque Country, each with their own Basque culture. But even in today’s Basque Country there is great unawareness about Basques from one province with regards to the others. For example, a person from Bizkaia might not know what’s in Zuberoa, what their issues are, the towns, or even where it’s located. From a language standpoint, there are many Basque dialects, and some times the differences between them are quite significant, which make it difficult for Basques to work together and get in the habit of doing things as a whole. This is something the Diaspora has been able to achieve. The Diaspora has been the leader in uniting the seven Basque provinces. Our objective was to share this and other achievements by the Diaspora through this program.
- Annuale, I’m ready
- A happy medium