Today we remember Father Salvatore Carzedda, killed in Zamboanga City in 1992. He was born in Bitti (Island of Sardinia, Italy), a village of intellectuals and shepherds which rises at 549 meters of altitude and today it has little less than 3700 inhabitants. The other PIMEs in the Philippines used to call Salvatore, playfully, `Mouth of gold’ because he was talking a lot, but also for his voice, clear and strong. Perhaps a product of an old tradition of Bitti, where boys at the age of 12 years begin to work on their vocal cords and skills in order to become `tenors’. Later in the years, eventually, they will be put together according to their abilities, but only four of them, four voices of different tonalities called: Contra, Bass, Boke and Meaoke.
The harmony of this chorus of four, or quartet, it begins in choosing the exact counterbalance of the timbre qualities of the Contra and the Bass; a deep and dark timbre must be placed side by side to a metallic Contra and, on contrary, if the Contra’s timbre is hollow it must be placed side by side to a sonorous Bass. The others two elements of the quartet are the Boke and the Meaoke: the first is the soloist, the beautiful voice, that must declaim clearly the verses, the second has the task to guide and to adorn the produced sound of both Bass and Contra with its own voice, but in a discreet way.
In the Silsilah Movement, a NGO organization for the interreligious dialogue based in Zamboanga City, Salvatore had found his own configuration. He was the `boke’ with his friend Sebastiano as`meaoke’ and around them the two guttural, bass and contra, never content voices, of christians and muslims. A dialogue metaphor: different voices in search of an harmony among different traditional values, religious and cultural. In order not to overcome the other part, but to reach a better understanding of each other. This is something that comes out of the mouths of people who, looking for mutual respect, want to be free to tell their stories and, il the case of Silsilah, to raise the same invocations and songs to a unique God.
When someone asked Salvatore what was doing in Zamboanga, he said: “Not to convert, rather to uncover the presence of God within us, within them (christians, muslims and indigenous people) and then to work with them for the total liberation of mankind”. Hard choice indeed. Today the dialogue between different and traditional religions remains difficult. Radical foundamentalism has corrupted the vocal tonalities of religions and very few religious leaders are committed (like Salvatore did) to round off and softening the harshness for a more harmonious and stable understanding among differet voices and thoughts. A difficult configuration nowdays if the voices that are pretending to speak at others are only those coming from the mouths of the guns.
While they are singing, the Tenors of Bitti place themselves in circle, face to face, arms entwined and the hands joined and place hidden behind the back. A non-violent image of a reached agreement and in the respect of the parts. This is what many would like to see and to hear in today’s reality: an harmoniuos song among made by other but different songs.