my Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs

Mothers and fathers

Views of the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Views of the Bosphorus

The existence of motherlands and fatherlands (Greece and Turkey respectively) in Cyprus’ past and future has long been a topic of discussion.

In fact, both leaders have made either obviously negative, or veiled negative remarks about their respective mother and fatherlands over recent months. Nicos Anastasiades referred to the negative role played by the motherlands in Cyprus, commenting on the Greek-backed coup to overthrow president Makarios on July 15, 1974. The coup was followed by the Turkish invasion five days later and the continued occupation of 37 per cent of its territory.

While Mustafa Akıncı, during his election speech in April, commented that the ‘baby state’ (yavru vatan) must be allowed to grow up.

Motherlands and fatherlands have been used in a number of negative ways: as a scapegoat for Cyprus’ bloody past or as a way to identify ourselves and our culture.

As someone – probably like most – who has visited both the motherland and the fatherland on a number of occasions, I have to admit that I cannot relate to either. Yes we can communicate with each other and we have some cultural and gastronomical aspects in common, but for me that’s where it ends.

Caryatids in Greece

Caryatids in Greece

It wasn’t until a recent work trip to Turkey that I began thinking about the role of ‘fathers and mothers’ and perhaps the not so negative impact they may have on us.

Both countries comprise a very confident people which makes me wonder why we as a nation are not as confident. Why can’t we follow their example?  It always seems that we’re carrying around baggage, a suitcase full of complexes about our heritage and our identity.

The difference is that they know who they are. Do we? When they hang a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on their wall they truly revere him. When we hang that portrait how can we possibly be revering a man that has little or nothing to do with our history?

Our history is a bid muddied: the English, the Ottomans, the Lusignans and the Venetians to name but a few.

The question of identity comes down to knowing who you are and where you came from, as well as knowing and understanding your history no matter what it is and how painful it may be. And perhaps in knowing that, we will one day be able to put down that suitcase and unpack it of all the things that have been weighing us down all this time.

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