There are many ways to build the nation. Praising Basque culture and its authors is one of them. Because a People that does not extol its own cultural values is a People that is dying, that is in an advanced stage of assimilation, drowned in the whirlwind of denationalisation.
Bernart Etxepare, a pioneer of Basque literature, has had until the present no monument in his hometown, Sarasketa (Lower Navarre). It is hard for us to imagine that Cervantes, in Alcalá de Henares, or Molière, in Paris, would have had no monument to commemorate their persons. We believed that Etxepare deserves the same honour. Although he was not the best writer of our classical literature, he was the pioneer who opened the way for Basque literature, a literature that Leizarraga, Axular or Etxeberri later developed masterfully.
In our group Naziogintza Taldea we thought it was urgent to give Bernart Etxepare the recognition he deserves. So that not only his countrymen, but also all the Basques would get to know the most illustrious son of Sarasketa when they visit this charming village. That is why we thought of erecting a monument in his honour in front of the town hall. To progress this idea, we contacted the Duzunaritze-Sarasketa town council, the local group Hergarai Bizi, the Basque Cultural Institute of the Northern Basque Country and the Royal Academy of the Basque Language (Euskaltzaindia). We presented our idea to them, and from the beginning they supported it enthusiastically. After several meetings, the town council of Duzunaritze-Sarasketa decided to set the project in motion, and commissioned a local sculptor, Piarres Erdozaintzi-Etxart, to fashion a stone monument in homage to Etxepare.
On 17 September this year, a ceremony of tribute to Etxepare was held in Duzunaritze-Sarasketa, in front of a large audience. On the one hand, a plaque was placed on his birthplace (“Etxeparea”). On the other hand, a 2.30 metre stone statue was unveiled in front of the Town Hall. In this way, not only his hometown, but the whole Basque Country paid the debt it owed to the pioneer of Basque literature.
Etxepare praised Basque, our language. Through his book, as he himself confessed, he wanted to awaken pride in being Basque. In these times when our collective self-esteem is so weak, it is essential to revive our Basque spirit and strengthen our symbolic universe.
Because a People that do not exalt their own culture are dead.
Here is the coverage by some Basque media of our event:
-NAIZ Digital newspaper: https://www.naiz.eus/eu/agenda/evento/bernat-etxeparek-eskultura-izango-du-duzunaritze-sarasketan
-KAZETA Digital newspaper: https://www.kazeta.eus/eu/info_kz/20230918/bernart-etxepare-emozioz-beteta-omendu-dute-duzunaritzen