by MAGNETOWhen I realized that Bekah was really serious about going India by car, the first thing that came to my mind was San Fernando.
We needed to start there. But what is there in San Fernando? Why does this small city on the Baja Andalucía have something so valuable and special for the purpose of the trip?
San Fernando was the birthplace of the Flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla, born as Jose Monge Cruz. Camarón was born in a humble Roma family of blacksmiths. His father died when he was just a child and he started to sing in many theaters and Tablaos, and sometimes in the streets, where some rich gadjo would pay to listen to him. He was born humble, in the postwar, in a period of extreme poverty. He suffered many times from humiliation and racism, and as most of Roma today he suffered all kinds of prejudices in relation to his identity.
Till this point, the life of Jose can be relatable to many; it can match perfectly what millions of Roma have faced during all ages, fighting hard to sustain themselves and their own families while their own neighbourhoods blamed them for stealing.
But Camarón was not an standard person, he received an extraordinary gift from God, a gift in the way of a voice that was above and beyond any comprehension; and so humble as he was, so shy, rarely talking in interviews. His voice was like thunder of truth, and in every breath he would inhale and exhale all Roma suffering for 700 hundreds years of slavery and pain, expressing them in the deepest possible way.
When he was just 17 years he started to record music, and by the end of his career he had recorded more than 20 albums. He travelled all over the world, from Brazil to New York, gained the admiration of people like Mick Jagger, Bono, Michael Jackson or Quincy Jones, and recorded with the Philharmonic Orchestra of London. He represented in his music the dreams and the fears of a whole generation of Roma.
But moreover, he married a humble Roma woman, he became father, and he sang while he was guiding hundreds of thousands of persons, he sang I’m Roma!!!
Camarón died of Cancer when he was just 42. For his funeral more than 40.000 persons, mostly Roma, came to the little city he was from to say goodbye to his most valuable legend. Now the cemetery of San Fernando where his grave stands magnificent receives thousands of visits every year —not juts from Roma, but from persons all over the world, from every background possible, all of them respectful and amazed for the huge legacy of this child of a Blacksmith who raised his voice higher than no hate speech in the world.
I tried to come San Fernando many times. Once I arrived till Sevilla but I did not have time or money, another I booked a train ticket to San Fernando but serious personal issues forced me to cancel it, and other times my job as volunteer and activist didn’t allow me to visit this sacred place… And yesterday, when I finally arrived my disappointment was just stunning, when I meet the Doctor of Camarón and he told me that the cemetery was closed….
Today, after trying 8 times I arrived to San Fernando, Bekah and I bought some flowers, and we entered the cemetery with a total respect, we let there the flowers, to HONOUR my uncle Camarón, the strongest representation of everything I personally consider purely Roma.
I think we started the trip in the best way possible, with respect, with love, recognizing the ones that, as Camarón showed us, know how wonderful and special it is to be Roma.
Wherever the trip Will bring us, I’m Happy I fulfilled one of my strongest desires. I feel at peace.
As Camarón once said:
to live and to dream,
to live and to dream,
and just searching for my liberty.