These are the tombs of NN (“no name” from the Latin nomen nescio) people–dead bodies thrown mostly to the Magdalena River in Colombia. These corpses, or pieces of corpses, are rescued by the villagers of Puerto Berrio, Antioquia, and then buried in the town cemetary, by this riverbank.
These are tombs of NN (“no name” from the Latin nomen nescio) people—dead bodies thrown mostly to the Magdalena River in Colombia. Those corpses, or pieces of corpses, are rescued by the villagers of Puerto Berrío, Antioquia, and then buried in the town cemetery, by this riverbank.
People choose the NNs, their souls, and ask them favors: “Help me with my daughter’s education…help me to find a job…help me with my health.” Those are some of the many favors people ask of these dead bodies without a name.
In exchange for the favors received, people dedicate themselves to caring for the tombs: painting them, decorating them with flowers, even giving names to the rescued corpses. In some cases, I met people that baptized the NN with their own family name.
I see this rite as one of collective resistance: the people of Puerto Berrío don’t allow, maybe unconsciously, the victimizers to make their victims disappear in the river. Through this rite, it’s like they are saying: “Here, we rescue those human beings, we bury them, we believe in their souls, they perform miracles for us, we give them names and also, we adopt them as if they were our own.”
During multiple trips to the Magdalena Medio, I have visited other cemeteries such as the ones in Puerto Triunfo, Puerto Boyacá, La Dorada, Puerto Nare, La Sierra, among others. In all of them there are NN buried, but in no other place I found a rite as special as the one in the cemetery of Puerto Berrío on the banks of the Magdalena River.