«Kusunda» is a voice-driven Virtual Reality narrative about the dormant Kusunda language in Nepal. Co-created by shaman Lil Bahadur and his granddaughter Hima, the intergenerational story invites you to support the revitalization of their mother tongue.
Every two weeks a language falls asleep. Most languages at threat belong to indigenous communities such as Kusunda in Nepal. The Kusunda language has been categorised by linguists as a language isolate, meaning it’s unrelated to any other language family of the world. Due to their nomadic way of life, the Kusunda call themselves «Kings of the Forest». Currently, there are only about 150 people in Nepal who identify as Kusunda.
Lil Bahadur lost his mother tongue when he gave up his hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settle in the village. «When my parents died I had no one left to speak my mother tongue with. Slowly the language started fading away. I started speaking another Nepali language with people in the village. That’s how it happened,» he says with a sense of resignation.
Lil’s granddaughter Hima, a bright teenager detached from her grandfather’s hunter-gatherer identity, represents a modern Kusunda identity and is taking on the challenge to revive her mother tongue. «I haven’t lived in the forests and I don’t want to! I’m studying hard to become a teacher. But I am proud of my heritage and culture. I’ll do whatever I can to preserve it and I’m confident of being successful.»