Translations:Alfredo Molano/5/en

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He studied sociology at the National University of Colombia, where he was a disciple of Camilo Torres, Orlando Fals Borda and Eduardo Umaña Luna, from whom he learned about the ‘possible country’, the ‘real country’ and ethics, respectively. These three masters influenced his life and he maintained a close friendship with them. Between 1972 and 1975 he worked as a professor at the University of Antioquia, where he met the philosopher Estanislao Zuleta and took part in his social gatherings. Between 1975 and 1977 he was a student at the École Pratique de Hautes Études in Paris, where he did not fall in line with the academic rigor imposed by the Cartesian method. He chose instead to recount the voices of the people that he spoke with, listened to and empathized with, succeeding in using his fine pen and shrewd, meticulous gaze to provide a thorough analysis and accurate account of the problems of the peasant farmer movements and ethnic communities affected by violence in the country. I wrote, Molano said, by “looking for people’s depths on their surfaces, in their afflictions, their bravery and their dreams. I erased more than I wrote; I dug around, I sought out the harmony between the feelings experienced by people and those that I myself carried around in a backpack. A swollen river, a dark night, a gasp, and the terror of hearing weapons in the shadows were paths along which the life that was at stake in the jungle entered, along which its breath reached my words. I believe that only there, in lying in wait, in danger, in fear, only there did the demand for justice appear that I was seeking in order to recount it” (from Molano’s speech at the ceremony of the 2017 Simón Bolívar Prize).

Alfredo Molano. Private file. Courtesy of the Molano family