The Kurdish Globe
By Sazan M. Mandalawi
Celebrating the declaration of an independent Kurdish state
Earlier today I was sitting at a meeting where we were planning a women's project. It was one of those meetings where you keep texting secretly from under the table or behind the tissue box. The times where only your body is there, but your mind and thoughts are somewhere else; the type of meeting where a minute passes like an hour, and it just happens to be that it is in those meetings where people bring up all sorts of ideas that are off topic and irrelevant
(and speak on and on).
Basically I planned with some friends and family members to take part in the Uprising celebration in the streets of Erbil. I watched these celebrations too often on TV and it was time that I felt it in a different way. I got into the spirit with the entire colors--red, white, green and yellow--from head to toe. I proudly wore my "I Love Kurdistan" shirt, put a Kurdish flag in my hair, a traditional Kurdish bag across my shoulders and some other bits and pieces. I even accessorized my camera with a pair of small klash (Kurdish shoes).
March 11, 1991. Every year, on the eve before March 11, I hear the same story from my mother. This year was no different. "Your father left and didn't tell me," she begins. I hadn't even yet turned 2 at the time when Mum and I were left on one side of the border in Kermansha, and Dad crossed to Khanaqin where they took part in the Uprising.
I have no memories of those days--evidently--but after 20 years and at the end of this dreary meeting, I was about to celebrate the result of the Uprising that so many of our people took part in.
As for the 2-year-old back then, she crossed continents and countries, and lived and experienced quite a bit for her age. Since then, a lot has taken place in my own life, but last night was one of those moments of my life that will remain with me for many years to come.
I felt it was an occasion worth celebrating. Putting aside all political and religious affiliations, I was out there as a Kurd only. The feeling of celebration among Kurds cannot be described; the chants, songs, car horns and decorations in many ways brought out this feeling of unity. I had a feeling that together--with such unity--this nation can accomplish many of its aims. But I hoped this unity was stronger, not as brittle as it is today.
I cannot recall any other time in my life when I used car horns this many times, and had the halparke song on the radio as loud as it could possibly go--with the windows open--and Mum not getting mad.
As I waved the Kurdish flag through the streets and took pictures, as I listened to chanting and patriotic songs, I was having some sort of magical visions that maybe, just maybe, one day I might be out here, on the streets. I could imagine being on the streets till early morning hours with friends, family and loved ones. Then I shake my head and realize, no, that day is not yet here. But if we are celebrating the day of the Uprising, it won't be too far off that we will be celebrating Independence Day.
Putting aside the joy of today's anniversary, tomorrow is a new day. And as citizens, we must be working for another Kurdish dream. As an individual Kurdish girl, my dream is for improved health care, a better education system and employment of the citizens of this nation. A dream where we know that we are, and will always be, living in peace, be treated equally despite our personal affiliations, be producers and exporters rather than importers and just consumers. We have to build a nation that functions on a system, where everyone is accountable, and we're all the same when we face the law.
Once we have checked most of these criteria, I am almost positive that our unity will be strengthened to take action--peacefully--to attain the country we dream of having.