Far from the gold chains and bimbos of American video clips, Abraham Bojorquez raps to his American Indian fans at 4000 metres above sea level.

Material compiled with the help of our regional editor for South America, Johana Kunin.

"You can be modern and still stay true to your roots"

Abraham Bojorquez is a native American rapper from El Alto, Bolivia:

I live in a very poor town near La Paz (Bolivian capital), at 4,100 metres altitude. In El Alto we support Evo Morales, the first ever Native American president in the history of the country - a country where the majority of the population is Native American.

We started up Aymara [American Indians living on the border of Chile, Bolivia and Peru] rap a few years ago, to denounce neoliberal politics and the discrimination that we're all victim of. We mix up ancestral beats and play Andean flutes and other local instruments, along with raps invented by our African brothers 35 years ago in marginalised districts in the US.

At school we only learnt Spanish. And our parents didn't want us to learn Aymara either, to avoid us being discriminated against by white and multi racial people. Now, we sing in Spanish and a bit in Aymara, because we're having to re-learn our original language. A new political context has let us express pride for culture and language. We wear a combination of American and American Indian clothes: baggy jeans, basketball vests, ponchos and uchus [a type of Andean hat].

We can't, and don't want to, talk about the same things as American rappers -sex, cars, gold jewellery. We talk about our poverty, our people and our fight against imperialism. We want to wake up young Bolivians. Politics got too corrupt and it needs to be talked about in a fresh way so that young people are interested in it.

For some years now, political parties, NGOs and some local councils have called on us for civic education campaigns. We've done rap workshops and created songs for various groups: prisoners of La Paz prisons, minors' children, shoe shiners and the Afro-Bolivian community. We even played in the first half of a Manu Chao concert in Bolivia a few years ago.

I'm a modern Aymara: you can be modern and still stay true to your roots. You shouldn't close yourself in and neither should you let your culture die. I discovered rap in shantytowns in Brazil when I moved there, alone, to work in the textile industry. I was 12. I rap because it's a type of music that doesn't need any instrument. It costs less than rock or traditional music."

Tupak Katari

The title of this video refers to an Aymaran hero who organised two uprisings against the Spanish in 1781 and ended up quartered by four horses.

Extracts:

We are the immortal incarnation of the Pachamama [mother earth]

Many lie in the ground from the traitors here (...)

I still remember the day when they shot at my people

Since a helicopter

Killed my peasant brother,

And a minor who fought for his rights

Instead of settling the problem

They left us with our dead

Shattered hearts

We're here now, more than ever, immortal

Those of you tough; friends, from the dark suburbs

Remember this story

Don't forget it and it will be marked in your memories

They say that we should have respect for the army and the police

But why do they shoot at my people?

With their machine guns

Rapid fire shooting down the voice of the people, the people who fight, the people who work

Love, fight for freedom

We are revolutionaries like Che Guevara

We are the children of the Cholas [Native American peasants]"

Photos of Aymara rappers

Photos: Johana Kunin