My summer in the buffer zone
Summer nights in Nicosia are always permeated by the incessant yet rhythmic sound of the cicadas (ζίζιρος/τζίτζικας/cırlavık/ağustos böceği), fading in and out of the foreground.
This summer, the bass sound of the beating drum and the shrill sound of the whistle also joined my summer orchestra. I was in the buffer zone every day for two months and twice a week thereafter.
And just in case you were wondering, Unite Cyprus Now continues to organise events in the buffer zone of the Ledra Street checkpoint in Nicosia.
A space usually exclusively reserved for people headed from one checkpoint to the other, was privy to the sounds of jazz, traditional Cypriot songs and even Latin music this summer. Words heavy with emotion were released into the air like peace doves, as Cypriot poets recited their poems to all who came to hear them. Some of us even had the honour of reading out the translations of these heartfelt pieces of writing in English, Greek and Turkish.
Several Saturdays in a row, as the oppressive Cyprus sun beat down on us, we joined hands across the buffer zone to form a human chain. We called upon friends and family to join us – ‘join us in beating the drum and blowing the whistle, join us in reunifying our island’. Meanwhile, our arms grew stronger from holding a sign high above our heads for an hour every day.
And while our arms grew stronger, so did our resolve in reunifying our island.
When the talks collapsed in Crans Montana we found a place to mourn in the buffer zone, but mourning never lasts forever, does it?
We organised photo exhibitions and invited cartoonists from both sides of the divide to exhibit their unique peace cartoons, we even had ladies crocheting onsite; the creations of which are still visible encircling the buffer zone’s trees.
This no man’s land became a place to heal wounds. As I’ve mentioned before, I spent many years not knowing enough about the history and political situation of the island and not asking enough questions – not a good combination. This summer, I almost went mad from spending every day in the buffer zone, but I also had the chance to heal my own wounds, meet great, like-minded people and share stories.
For more info on Unite Cyprus Now check out the FB page: www.facebook.com/unitecyprusnow/
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- On the wrong side of the divide
- The delicate nature of peace work