Watch videos with subtitles in your language, upload your videos, create your own subtitles! Click here to learn more on "how to Dotsub"

A Thousand Suns

0 (0 Likes / 0 Dislikes)
  • Embed Video

  • Embed normal player Copy to Clipboard
  • Embed a smaller player Copy to Clipboard
  • Advanced Embedding Options
  • Embed Video With Transcription

  • Embed with transcription beside video Copy to Clipboard
  • Embed with transcription below video Copy to Clipboard
  • Embed transcript

  • Embed transcript in:
    Copy to Clipboard
  • Invite a user to Dotsub
[Go Project Films] [city noises] I can't see any lands or any fields. There is nothing. These people just live on concrete surfaces. [♪mellow music playing♪] There are two worlds: natural and manufactured, ancient and modern. [♪ music ♪] Over the last 200 years, these worlds have collided, and the last bastions of the old ways have all but vanished. [♪ music ♪] The African Rift Valley has long been known as the birthplace of our species. Its densely populated Gamo Highlands in southwestern Ethiopia have remained the haven of agricultural diversity and organic farming since the birth of the agrarian age 10,000 years ago. Here human civilization and the natural world it relies on are still interdependent and intimately linked. It is in this fragile harmony that the people of the Gamo might be holding the keys to our own survival. In our modern world, we've become gods controlling nature. [Mary Evelyn Tucker, Author, Professor at Yale Divinity School] And that's in large measure because in one century we went from 2 billion to 6 billion people. We've become this huge presence on the planet. [explosion] And so all of a sudden, we do perceive ourselves as invincible. We can do anything. And that's where technology without limits has pushed us to this precipice of almost self-destruction because we have viewed nature as simply something to be used for humans for economic growth and power. [♪ music ♪] [♪ music ♪] [A Thousand Suns, a global oneness project film] [Part One: The Gamo Highlands] As an ecologist, [Leah Samburg, Ecologist, Gamo Biodiversity Expert] you hear all the time people talking about wild landscapes versus human landscapes. And one of the reasons that I just was so drawn to the Gamo is that the people living there have evolved along with that landscape for such a long time that it's a landscape in which humans are part of nature. [♪ music ♪] When I got to the Gamo, the biggest surprise for me was how little this landscape has been touched by the past century. We would interview farmers who were 100 years old and we would say, "What's the biggest change over your lifetime?" And they'd kind of look at you funny and say, "Change? What?" which in this century is just mind-boggling. [♪ music ♪] I am Kapo Kansa here standing in southern part of Gamo Highlands. [Kapo Kansa - Indigenous Elder] You know, everything in the world, it is not explored. You know there is spirituality. People think that the air is not speaking, the soil is not speaking, the sky is not speaking. But there is a kind of spirituality when the sky is roaring with thunderstorms and rain is coming, and the clouds are rising. There is a spirit in it. [♪traditional drumming and singing♪] Fundamentally, religious stories and cosmologies in particular have helped to really ground humans in this immense universe and give us this tremendous sensibility of the aliveness of the world around us— in the animal world, in the plant world— starting, of course, with indigenous traditions who knew this in very fundamental ways. [♪drumming and singing♪] [city noises] People believe that they are part of the nature and they don't think that they are dominant [Abera Ogato - Indigenous Elder] and they can exploit everything existing in the environment. They want to co-exist with the mountain, with the river, with the road. When they make a prayer they always give thanks for their creator. Then next to the creator they say thanks to the mountain. And then they offer gratitude to their road they walked up to their home. And the forest they crossed inside. So this is to show that they are friends of the environment. In the Gamo, they have a system of laws called Wogas that have been developed over thousands of years to ensure their survival. A local elder serves as the custodian and enforcer of each Woga. There's a Woga for how to bless a planting and how to give thanks when harvesting crops. There's a Woga for where animals are allowed to graze. There's a Woga for which trees are to be cut down and Wogas that govern relations between people, like marriage or disputes. [♪ music ♪] The custodians perform rituals to give thanks to the earth for the resources it provides. For the people of the Gamo, the delicate balance with nature is ensured through these laws and rituals. If any one aspect is neglected, then the entire system is at risk. [♪ music ♪] [Part Two: Come to Jesus] [♪spiritual song♪] Some pretty vocal evangelical Christian Protestant organizations have moved in and really created a lot of turmoil in this region. They started building churches right and left. Every community has a Protestant church, sort of not in any traditional style, just sort of slapped up there very hastily. They basically have been doing what Christian missionaries do best, which is handing out a lot of Bibles, handing out a lot of seeds and food, and it's working and a lot of people are converting, especially young people. We Christians [Samuel Otto - Protestant Pastor in the Gamo] we are committed to obey what the Bible teaches to us. We see that people are worshipping other things as a part of God but this is ignorance. So we refute that one when we understand the Gospel. You know, in the past here, the church was not so arrogant, but now the Protestant church, it wants to increase its members. When they preach, they make the traditional leaders to feel ashamed. They say that you are demonic people. Because they are convinced that to follow tradition is something to go to the hell. You know, you have a car. Car is not god for you. so trees and animals and water and river is not god. We have to worship God. We have to use these for us. God created for us. [♪traditional song♪] Not only is that tacitly opposed to a lot of traditional beliefs about how you should treat the landscape and how you should live your life, it's very vocally opposed to a lot of those things. They sing these really beautiful songs as they're harvesting, as they're working, and a lot of these church groups have sort of forbidden them to use those. They're building churches on sacred landscapes. I've seen it be really incredibly disruptive to not only people's spiritual lives but relatedly, to people's working lives and community lives. The challenge, of course, is that indigenous peoples [Mary Evelyn Tucker - Author, Professor at Yale Divinity School] have had this very unique worldview of the aliveness of the universe. And by and large, the monotheistic traditions, the Abrahamic traditions, of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have suggested that God is above the world, a transcendent god, a creator god, that orders and has a presence but is lifted up out of the world. Now, removing God from nature certainly many people would say has desacralized the world and therefore opened it up for consumption and for abuse and for exploitation. There's some definite truth to that. You know, we in our lives are all about maximization. The maximization of profit is seen as this huge good, whereas it's not really the case there. No one's out to maximize; it's not really a concept. People are out to continue, to sustain. We can say it is just two different worlds, and we are depending on nature here, and there people are depending on scientific facts. [Part Three: Test Tube Harvest] Through science, the industrial world has developed technologies to maximize agricultural output. These pesticides and fertilizers were first used in the Green Revolution of the 1950s and '60s. Miracles from Agriculture Supermarket: Symbol of the high standard of living today. These products come from farms and ranches despite distance and season. They are the result of a miraculous agriculture. Tremendous advances on the farm and in the marketing system have created this miracle, the miracle whereby agriculture has advanced more in the space of a single lifetime than world agriculture had in more than 7,000 years. Today, agriculture is going far beyond nature to produce new miracles for an even better, more abundant life. I wasn't there for the first Green Revolution, [Dr. Joe DeVries - Director of AGRA's Program for Africa's Seeds Systems] but some of my colleagues at the Rockefeller Foundation were. And the story they tell is that the world was really concerned that Asia was going to hit a population bubble and there was no foreseeable way to feed the population. And so there was really a concerted effort, sort of like a space program type grand challenge, to develop ways to allow Asia to feed itself. And those focused really on two principle crops: wheat and then on rice. These crops really took off and really solved, for the time being, that population problem— fed a massive amount of people on a small amount of land. That was what it was all about was maximizing yield. And it worked. They maximized the yield. But the problem is that a) you have to have a very, very small genetic base in order to find that sweet spot, as it were. [Leah Samburg - Ecologist, Gamo Biodiversity Expert] And b) if conditions aren't perfect for it, then it doesn't do very well. If there's variable conditions, some years it can fail entirely. So it's set up a system where if you had all the inputs and you could set it up exactly right, you would maximize your yield and you would do great, but if there was any other circumstances, then you were worse off than you started. Despite the detrimental effects of the first green revolution worldwide, and especially in India, international organizations and agricultural corporations are reusing these technologies and preparing Africa for a new Green Revolution. Here in Africa we've got a problem. There's not enough food available to the poor. People are losing their lives over that problem on a daily basis. We feel that this is an overdue priority. Hunger in Africa cannot continue. In 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation formed AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. AGRA's goal was to fight hunger by bringing Green Revolution technologies to small scale farmers. But not all African farmers are welcoming these new saviors. Now, who are the proponents of the Green Revolution in Africa? [Samuel Muhunyu - Network for Eco-farming in Africa] Does it have its origin in Africa? The concept in itself is foreign. It's not like supporting the farmers to develop their own and grow with their technology. It's bringing in, grafting the foreign technology, grafting the foreign idea, on the farmers. If you look at this elder here, he has a lot of knowledge about herbs that are medicinal in this area. But he has no space to give that knowledge, [Mburu Gathuru - Executive Director, Institute for Culture and Ecology] to pass that knowledge to the younger generation. People here in Africa, they know the solutions to the most pressing problems, especially of hunger and famine, but rather than be given opportunities to harness their knowledge, what we are seeing is that quick fix solutions are being formulated out there, like prescriptions in medicine, and they are brought and we are told, "Take these to deliver you." To get to the core of AGRA, you need to unwrap several layers. You need to see who the players are who have come out as philanthropists, come in to help, but whose ultimate goal we are sure is not philanthropy. We're aware that there's skepticism [Dr. Joe DeVries - Director of AGRA's Program for Africa's Seeds Systems] whether AGRA is simply trying to pave the way for American businesses or businesses from other parts of the world, and I honestly don't know where that skepticism comes from because if people would come out and see who we're working for, they would immediately realize that this is all about local. We work with local farmers, local technicians, local plant breeders. I don't agree that by involving a handful of farmers it's actually a farmer-driven process. If anything, this is a behind-the-scenes, corporate-driven process. [Mburu Gathuru - Executive Director, Institute for Culture and Ecology] AGRA is about profits. It's about making profits for those who are producing the chemical fertilizers, the chemical sprays, and the improved seeds. If AGRA started a project like that here in this village, we are going to see reduced income for the people because they are going through banks, assisting banks to offer loans to farmers. So you go get a loan from the bank, you go and you buy seeds, you buy fertilizer, and you buy chemical sprays. You go and plant. You have no control whatsoever about the climatic changes, so instead of rains, there is dry weather. The crops fail. So what happens? You have a loan at the bank. So that means that you go dig deeper into your pocket. If you have a cow, you sell; if you have a goat, you sell so that you can finance the loan in the bank. So rather than improve the livelihoods of the people, it's going to make them more deeply in debt. I think the answer that we are often hearing right now [Achim Steiner - Executive Director of UNEP] to the challenge of food security in the future on a planet with soon 8-9 billion people to just invest in more herbicides, pesticides, hybrid seeds, irrigation, and fertilizers clearly does not hold the full answer. First of all because we have learned that that kind of high input agriculture has a very high price on the very productive capital that the farmer has: land, water, the resources that are around him or her. In 2008, the United Nations Environment Program conducted a study comparing organic and conventional agriculture in Africa. What we found is that particularly in East Africa there were actually significant increases in yield; in fact, 128% increase in yield. And that is certainly outperforming traditional agriculture and even outperforming some of the modern industrial agriculture. According to the report, organic agricultural systems are making a significant contribution to the reduction of food insecurity and poverty in areas of Africa. The study found that average crop yield increased by 79%. [♪ music ♪] [Part Four: Down to Earth] In many ways, this coming in of all this Green Revolution technology parallels the sort of coming of these evangelical Christian voices to the Gamo in that taking the landscape in which you live and making it something that's external to you, understanding this landscape is actually designed for productivity and it's not a part of your belief system; it's not a part of your cultural heritage, this piece of land which is designed to feed you, which is sort of how we view our landscape in a lot of ways. If we view the world as a machine, we become a machine. The machine mentality that has simply said the universe, nature, are mechanistic processes, that's brought us only so far, and that's exactly the crossroads. One of the things that we see now in our current economic crisis is that was, in large measure, driven by an abstraction of economics apart from ecology, apart from nature itself. It became a global casino, a roulette, just building on itself. [♪ music ♪] On a planet where nature has evolved over millions of years, we need to learn more about the principles that nature has developed to cope with crisis. And the simple answer is resilience. Resilience you get through diversity. [♪ music ♪] There's a massive trend away from diversity in commercial agriculture. I mean, of the 5 or 6 crops that feed most of this planet, we've gone from having thousands of varieties of those crops to maybe 2 or 3 that are really commercially produced. And those 2 or 3 varieties are designed to be incredibly productive to feed a lot of people but it makes them very vulnerable to change, it makes them vulnerable to pests, disease, to outbreaks because there's very little genetic diversity among them. So if one thing gets knocked out, all of the corn in, you know, South America gets knocked out. [♪ music ♪] The Gamo Highlands are considered a huge center of diversity for agricultural species. There's a lot of species which originated there or which have just been grown there for so long that they've diversified into hundreds of varieties there that don't exist anywhere else. [♪ music ♪] So it's to places like the Gamo that people need to turn to sort of collect the genetic material for the crops that feed not just Africa but all over the world. [♪ music ♪] Clearly, the Gamo Highlands are an ecosystem that is vital to our survival. But its precious agricultural diversity is inextricably linked to its cultural diversity. In just 300 square kilometers, there are 54 different tribes, and every year they gather to celebrate and preserve their cultural heritage at the Thousand Stars Festival. [♪traditional tribal song and dance♪] Some of them put the horn of an animal, some of them with the skin and some put on grasses or leaves. And I think that all shows that the connection of each group to the environment, to the nature. And all of the group have their own expression of connection to nature. Whether we can understand the language they are singing. [♪ music ♪] It is not permitted among Gamos to take out whatever he likes from the ground. There is a limit. There is a limit. You are taking grasses which you need. You don't destroy others. You are taking trees for your consumption, not to destroy others. So you want to pass a resource for the next generation. [♪ music ♪] Sustainable agriculture is holistic [Samuel Muhunyu - Network for Eco-farming in Africa] and it addresses the needs— the spiritual, the cultural, the social— the needs of the person. So it's not like mining the land for today's or short-term benefits. We are looking into this renewable use of the land. [♪ music ♪] Agriculture in a lot of ways is the primary human signature on our world. It's how we relate to the earth more than any other way we do it. We shape it to help sustain us, and that's not something that's foreign and that has to be this horribly disruptive, unnatural process. It can be a very natural process. It can be a real integral part of our lives. [♪ music ♪] In 2008, three elders from the Gamo Highlands were invited to the United Nations to attend the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City. We have ways of governing our resources. We have ways of engaging with various aspects of life and these can be of benefit to others not only to us, but to others. We've been trying to articulate this, and to be understood. We want to die seeing that our Wogas, our systems, are still intact. [Mazge Gazeto - Indigenous Elder] And we can't do these things individually. People who are looking at the relationship between spirituality and ecology are realizing that biodiversity ecosystems are being destroyed because Africans have severed the relationship between ecosystems and spirituality. It is very, very important for people to reintroduce that link, that relationship, between themselves and the ecosystems and then their spirituality becomes the key pillar in joining the two. [♪ music ♪] Many indigenous peoples have had this what we could call traditional environmental knowledge about hunting or farming or planting or practices of the seasons to bring in that universal power of the cosmos and bring in that immediate power of nature itself. And part of what we have lost is we're trying to rely only on our own energy. But it's nature's energy that pours through us and which we need to draw on right now in our search for sustainable energies. It's spiritual as well as physical. [♪traditional song and dance♪] [♪traditional song and dance♪] [audience applause and cheers] [elders speaking native language] [♪singing traditional song♪] [directed by Stephen Marshall] [produced by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee - Gayatri Roshan] [written by Gayatri Roshan] [executive producer Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee] [narrated by Robert Wisdom] [edited by Adam Loften - Stephen Marshall] [director of photography Stephen Marshall] [music by H. Scott Salinas] [additional music by Asaf Sagiv] [additional camera Emmanual Vaughan-Lee - Adam Loften - Denise Zabalaga] [sound recording Stephen Marshall - Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee - Adam Loften] [sound design re-recording mixing by D. Chris Smith - Will Riley] [visual acquisitions producer Rivkah Beth Medow] [Interviewees - Mary Evelyn Tucker, Mazge Gazeto, Leah Samburg, Kapo Kansa, Abera Ogato] [Interviewees Samuel Otto, Dr. Joe DeVries, Achim Steiner, Samuel Muhunyu, Mburu Gathuru] [special thanks to The Christensen Fund, The Pachamama Alliance, Ole von Uexkull, Mariam Mayet, Kalpesh Solanki, J. Ngugi Mutura] [special thanks to Ethiopia Transport, Ato Solomon Tesfaye, Driver Kenya, Dr. Twolde Berhan, Prelinger Archive, Robert Wisdom] [♪ music ♪] [global oneness project] [global oneness project,]

Video Details

Duration: 27 minutes and 33 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Views: 807
Posted by: global on Sep 10, 2009

The Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia, one of the world’s last bastions of biological and cultural diversity, has been densely populated—and sustainable—for 10,000 years. The region is uniquely relevant today not just for its much-needed genetic diversity, but because the area’s remarkably intact culture represents a way of seeing the world that is fundamental to our long-term survival.

Caption and Translate

    Sign In/Register for Dotsub to translate this video.