This year, with the same degree of spirit and commitment as in previous years, the Basque Studies Society is once again organising the International Day of the Basque Language (ENE). Over the last three years in particular, it has worked exceptionally hard to achieve the ENE's objectives. It used the internet as the principal broadcast medium and by converting different messages into rhyming slogans it reached millions of people throughout the world. It is trying to repeat this for this year’s event, for which an outstanding programme has been drawn up.
Last year Benito Lertxundi was the celebrity responsible for publicising the ENE, as was Nestor Basterretxea in 2005. On this occasion, thanks to the initiative of the young people of the Basque Studies Society, it is the young bersolaris that have been chosen to ensure that the ENE achieves the best possible results. To this end they set about making a video with five bersolaris which will be broadcast by internet and on television. The five young composers are Xabi Paia, Sustrai Kolina, Uxue Alberdi, Oihane Perea and Etxabe, and the video was filmed in five different places in the Basque country: El Peine de los Vientos (Wind Comb) in San Sebastian, el Puente Colgante (Hanging Bridge) in Portugalete, Iruña-Veleia, and the city walls of Pamplona and Larralde.
The bersolaris, taking the Basque language as their medium, composed two verses each, which have been translated into four languages, so that those from outside the Basque Country who do not speak the Basque language can hear the young people’s thoughts regarding our language. The video can be seen from the 15th November to the 3rd December and the public can add their messages on the website. It is worth mentioning that in previous events thousands of messages from every continent were received supporting the use of the Basque language.
Photo: Ekain Velez de Mendizabal.
The on-line weekly “Euskonews Gaztea” will be the foundation of the 2007 ENE campaign, as this will be the principal medium through which the contents of the Day will be broadcast, although the Society is open to giving any other pro-Basque language media the possibility of collaborating with the campaign. By doing so its effectiveness would be considerably increased. The Euskosare website will also work together with Euskonews Gaztea in carrying out this work, since the objective of Euskosare is to influence the Basque speaking community throughout the world and, in this respect, it is a perfect tool for spreading the word about the ENE.
Although the most noticeable initiative this year is the young people composing verse in Basque, the Basque Studies Society also wants to offer other opportunities to Basque language enthusiasts. The most important of these is, without a doubt, the opportunity to read Joannes Leizarraga’s book “Iesus Christ Gure Jaunaren Testamentu Berria” (The New Testament of Our Saviour Jesus Christ), dated 1571. In addition, this year the second Premio ENE (ENE prize) will be awarded. The aim of this prize is to recognise work promoting the Basque language carried out by an institution outside the Basque country. Last year the prize was awarded to the Mar de la Plata’s “Artaburu” Collective and on the coming 3rd December the name of this year’s winner of the ENE prize will be announced.
In addition, although the International Day this year will be the 3rd December, as the young people who have participated in the event this year want, on the 7th December a special event will also take place during the Durango Fair. Advantage will be taken of the opportunity provided by the Kafe Antzokia to project the video recorded with the bersolaris and there will also be a verse session to provide the ENE with a new expressive dimension.
In this way, with these initiatives, the Basque Study Society is launching with the same enthusiasm in 2007 an initiative that emerged some seventy years ago. However, the whole programme is no more than a sample of the work carried out by the Basque Studies Society throughout the year, with the Basque language as its principal focus. The internet has become an ally of the Society for disseminating issues related to the Basque language. The increase in the number of daily hits on the website and downloading of content is palpable. The Basque Studies Society is clear that the celebration of the ENE is extremely important for strengthening our language, but before achieving international prestige the Basque language must achieve respect, impetus and general use at a national level. If not, we will be doing no more than than putting on publicity stunts.
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