UEU quarry

Mujika, Alfontso

Elhuyar Fundazioa

José Ramón Etxebarria

I believe that those who want to live in Basque in the future Basque Country are part and co-founder of a very broad project: that is, we are part of a country or nation project. And if I allowed the analogy, I will take the image of the project of the old cathedrals, in order to bring to the reflection an allegory that has been taken frequently before me.

As we know, the cathedrals made centuries ago are made of stone and thanks to it they continue to stand. What less can we do in our stone village than basing ourselves on stone to lay the foundation for the future! If we want to stand firm and stand. That is why I do not consider it out of place to start from the image of the cathedral, because although our project is not sacred, the beauty of intention deserves the effort of all life.


Surely you have heard on more than one occasion that famous anecdote of three stonemasons of the quarry. The three worked the stone, each of them, the three equals, with simple parallepid forms, that is, rectangular stones, but among the postures of the stonemasons there was a difference, as can be seen clearly in responding to those who were wondering. Precisely when asked what they were going on, the first responded roughly as follows: “I’m winning the bread every day.” The second said “I’m working the stone for a wall” or something like that, since being a very fine stonemason well dominated the technique. The third, however, surprised with his response: “I’m building the cathedral.”

I know that there can be many more attitudes and that these can be considered topical, but I will take the opportunity to express the attitude of local stonemasons – pardon, participants – in a less short history of the EU, because the reader knows in advance what the EU is. However, for there to be no doubt, I will remember that I refer to the Basque Summer University, an unofficial university that was born and lives only in Basque twenty-five years ago; although it was born in Baiona, from where it passes to Pamplona and that today its activity extends to all the Basque territories, above all the brambles, or administrative-state borders, and below all the effort of the skies. I refer to the only university that fully accepts and in practice the territoriality of the Basque peoples.

The USA is part of a national project, such as the demangun cathedral, which requires many other architects and construction directors, if we want all areas to be well coordinated. And the project is underway, since the field of education is a quarry for this construction, since you can not build this village without proper training of citizens.

Since the project has to be written in some language, it says that those of us who believe that we are many, if we want a true Basque cathedral you can only write it in Basque. Therefore, aware of the need of the Basque quarry, from the route of other previous quarries, since it was the ikastolas that marked the north, some pioneers saw that in the years before the arrival of 1973 we needed a new quarry, which I will not list here, but that they will not be eliminated in the collective memory of all. And responding to his call, in the coming years we approached San Juan de Luz, Uztaritze and Pamplona, among others, to work our stone language for the Basque university.

In these years, inevitably, they have approached the events of the UEU stonemasons of different types. The doors have always been open to all public, with the sole condition of participating in the events only in Basque. Because this project is for everyone, because otherwise it will be impossible to build a stone cathedral in this village. However, the truth is that over the years also those who wanted to use other material other than stone have approached the quarry, for example, those who, in the name of the level of scientificity, said that language was less important and that the most important thing was the subject, but we have preserved ours, thinking that in any case the cathedral needed stone.

As in the story of the quarry narrated at the beginning, I found at least three types of stonemasons. Since I'm not going to give a name, I don't think anyone has to get angry, because he can judge himself in which group; I'm just going to give him the idea, because everyone can feel about himself.

On the one hand, many have considered the EU as the way to get bread. Prudent or selfish, who knows that?, some have seen the possibility of getting the job dressed in Basque more easily and have gone to it. On the other hand, although it has not been played so fat and that is not the initial intention, there have not been few who have worked there the Basque language and achieved a better profession and have totally abandoned the EU. However, we know that those who go to the quarry in search of bread will never fail and perhaps constitute the majority. And they also work in the quarry.

Former UEU directors, main "dinosaurs". From the left: Martin Orbe, Kepa Altonaga, Inaki Irazabalbeitia and Baleren Bakaikoa.

There have also been fine stonemasons in the EU, who have done a very concrete job and are doing it every day, who is a technician or a perfect scientist, who works perfectly the Basque language, which has much to do with the boom of quality, but which has no other objective or, if you prefer, does not see it beyond the stones. Some of them consider that the EU has fulfilled its obligation and that it is necessary to start giving the relay; more specifically, they believe that, being already organized by the official institutions, the responsibility of Basque culture must be left in their hands and that the future is integrated into the official.

It is to be assumed that in all quarries can be found good technicians, who close with great precision the shape of the parallelepiped, that allow the correct execution of the walls. I have no doubt that these stonemasons can provide a great help for the construction of the cathedral to be correct and adequate, since the stone is the essence, but in the design of the cathedral they will not participate, they have no intention, and perhaps they will never realize a cathedral, since they are sufficient with a rectilinear wall and without height.

I have seen less of those who have the cathedral at their head while working the stone. But there are and not a few, they can also be enough if they maintain the project. Because this project is of great inspiration, unattainable in a single generation, as were the cathedrals we admire today. It is a supernatural project, a renewed people who want to live in the future.

Despite dreams and images, I sincerely believe that in the simplest work of the EU we are also building a Basque Country of stone, but in the long process (which may be infinite) we are not only working well stones, working as fine as the best technicians or scientists, but when we are trying to channel new ideas, when we are gestating the environment and respect among the members of a same project, we should never forget the Basque construction. Otherwise it is not possible to build a stone cathedral.

Eusko Jaurlaritzako Industria, Merkataritza eta Turismo Saila