my Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs

Government official turned performer

Kakopetria in the winter

‘Bravery’, ‘mother Greece’ and ‘Greeks of Cyprus’ were just a few of the phrases I heard during an impassioned speech made by Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou at a church service in Kakopetria recently.

The speech, lasting around 30 minutes, was to commemorate the memory of EOKA fighters at the hands of the British from the mid to late fifties.

During Shakespearean times, when the audience didn’t like a particular performance they would hurl dried fruit and oyster shells at the actors (no, it wasn’t rotten tomatoes apparently). The first actor recorded as being pelted with a tomato was John Ritchie in 1883, New York.

According to the New York Times article, titled ‘An Actor Demoralized by Tomatoes’, “the first act opened with Mr. Ritchie trying to turn a somersault. He probably would have succeeded had not a great many tomatoes struck him, throwing him off his balance and demoralizing him”.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of the above items to hurl.

In indignation I made notes during his speech for this very post. I only wish I’d been sitting right at the front so he could see me writing.

Perhaps it’s naïve of me to say that I didn’t expect to hear precisely what I had that day. History was being re-written for us, just as it has been a thousand times before during a church service, the funeral of a missing person, an anniversary or the unveiling of a monument. And terminology that has no place in a potentially reunited island was falling from the lips of a government official of the legitimate part of the island.

Is it even possible to have hope if government officials from the ruling party (DISY), a party which is apparently pro-reunification (bicommunal, bizonal, federation), can debase themselves in this manner?
At the inauguration of an exhibition by Nico Carpentier at the Home for Cooperation recently, Takis Hadjidemetriou gave a speech about how he would ‘often read accounts of events and see statues being erected of people’ that he knew intimately.

“Monuments which signify death and statues often with a gun in hand and words scattered around imbued with various myths divorced from reality”, said Hadjidemetriou, noting that the unveiling constituted a big political occasion with government officials.

“The monument is a painless way to ‘put away’ the dead, lay them to rest, whilst the leaders, who are still alive, reap the glory for themselves and reinforce the epic dimensions which they constantly cultivate”.
It is unbelievable that a supposed pro-reunification government continues to spin myths for whoever will listen, with no respect for those present. And certainly no respect for the true demographics of the island.

At the end of Prodromou’s speech at church, people clapped and then we left.

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