After 20 years, man reunited with Venezuelan tribeswoman mother
David Good was born while his anthropologist father was married to Yarima
Monday 26 May 2014
The son of a famous anthropologist and a Venezuelan tribeswoman has been reunited with his mother after spending nearly 20 years apart.
David Good grew up without his mother, Yarima, who lived with her Yanomami tribe.
It took him three years to raise the money for a ticket to the Amazon, where he arrived in August 2011 and recognised his mother at first sight.
“That trip was all about uncertainty,” Good told the New York Post. “I didn’t know if she would like me, or if I would like her, or if she would reject me.”
Good told the Post that he wanted to hug his mother, but it wasn’t customary in their culture to do that. So instead, he touched her shoulder and told her what he waited years to say.
“I said, ‘Mama, I made it, I’m home. It took so long, but I made it.’”
Good is the product of a love story between an anthropologist, Kenneth Good, and his subject, Yarima. Kenneth Good went to the Amazon to study the Yanomami tribe in 1975, and married a tribe woman after studying them for several years.
In 1978, aged 36, Kenneth Good married Yarima, then aged about nine to 12. In the tribe’s culture, it’s customary to betroth their girls to tribesman, and it’s possible for the girls to refuse their betrothal.
Yarima was born and raised in her village, which rarely encountered outsiders. Her age is unknown because the Yanomami don’t count past two.
For a while, Kenneth Good and Yarima had a long-distance marriage, he in the US and his wife in Venezuela, but when Yarima was pregnant, they both moved to Pennsylvania.
Yarima gave birth to David Good in November 1986, and in five years had two other children, Vanessa and Daniel.
In 1991, the whole family went back to tribe for a documentary, and Yarima told her husband that she was going to stay with the tribe because she felt isolated without her tribe in the city.
On a class trip to the Museum of Natural History, aged 10, David Good saw a blown-up picture of Yarima that was taken by his dad, in a tribal exhibit.
“I just froze,” he said. “All the blood drained out of me. I ran to a dark corner and hid for 10 minutes.”
After graduating college, Mr Good finally decided to find his mother. During his initial visit, he stayed with the tribe for two weeks and made another trip for a month in 2013.
Since being there, he’s got food poisoning and contracted parasites, but he’s still happy and wants to immerse himself in the culture.
“I really want to be Yanomami,” David Good said. “I want to trek through the jungle like they do.
“It’s not like there’s closure. We’re at the beginning of our story, in so many ways.”
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