abraham

Upsidedownworld.org and various other sites report the unfortunate news that Abraham Bojórquez, the frontman for Bolivian hip-hop group Ukamau y Ké, passed away in El Alto, Bolivia. Although reports vary slightly he was likely 26 years of age and died in an accidental vehicular homicide, hit by a bus late at night either Wednesday May 20th or Thursday May 21st, on his way home from a studio session.

This is very unfortunate as I was recently introduced to his music and activism and was looking forward to his progression as an outspoken artist. On the eve of his friend’s death, Benjamin Dangl, author of “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia,” has written a touching article on the rising star which explores the young man’s history, accomplishments and trajectory. Besides his political rapping he was a radio host and pillar of the cultural center Wayna Tambo, a sort of hip-hop base for Bolivians.

Directly below is a song from Ukamau y Ké’s 2006/2007 album Para La Raza. It incorporates a sample from Andean folk music and is performed in spanish and the ancient indigenous language Aymara, which is still spoken to this day throughout Bolivia and neighboring countries.

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Ukamau y Ké – Tupak Katari
From the 2006/2007 album Para La Raza

Also, here is part one of an excellent student film from 2006, created by Eli Breitburg-Smith and Meredith Webb, which features a performance and panel discussion with Bojorquez. Clearly he was a determined and thoughtful young man. Articulating the racial tensions that exist, and are currently in flux, in Bolivia is no easy task.

Two weeks ago, a few days after posting the video to the song Tupak Katari and reaching out via mysp*ce, we received this message from the Ukamau y Ké account:

Subject:

saludos

Body:

desde los andes de Bolivia UKAMAUYKE
saludos atodos los hermanos hiphoppers
en los estados unidos juntos
ROMPEREMOS LAS FRONTERAS CREADAS
POR EL SISTEMA KE SON VARIAS
PERO TODAS SON IMAGINARIAS

Ukamau y Ké is loosely translated as “Asi es, y que?” or “That’s how shit is, and what?”

RIP|QEPD Abraham Bojórquez