I have to assume that Peter G Davis in his letter of May 11, (Sunday Mail) was trying to take a rise out of us. (Cyprus has never been a Greek island). Because if not, he may now be regretting his declaration of ignorance as to the history of the island he (presumably) lives on and doesn’t know as well as he thinks he does.
This island has been my home for more than forty years. Before I came to live here my husband bought me some books to help me familiarise myself with the land that was about to adopt me. My books told me that Greek colonisation took place between 14th-12th centuries B.C. when boatloads of Mycenaeans, among whom Achaeans were in the majority, arrived here. They settled the east and north and then moved on throughout the rest of the island. Mr. Davis can also find the names of heroes of Troy, as stories have it, who visited the island way back then if he does a little research. Indeed, if I recall correctly, his home patch of Paphos is one with connections to that era. Turkish colonisation was from 1571-1878.
As with any colonisers the ancient Greeks set about installing their own language, religion and customs. There are still hangovers here from British colonisation (the Bases being one such), and a trip across the Green Line shows how swiftly Turkish names replaced Greek ones in the occupied North. He mentions ‘the stolen lands of the aborigines’. If Mr. Davis is British, I suggest he takes a good look at his own history in connection with lands that have been stolen before he has to extract his foot from his mouth yet again. Perhaps he doesn’t know about the aboriginal children who were forcibly taken from their parents in Australia – courtesy of its colonisers whose identity he probably knows rather well.
Yes, we need someone to lead us out of the mess we are in but a Mandela has yet to appear on either side. We, the older generation, need to find solutions so that the attitudes which have held us captive for so long will not hinder those who come after us. Whatever we attempt in the form of reconciliation has to be in a vein of stark honesty. Every race is capable of foul deeds, and recognition of the damage they have done needs to be faced and laid to rest. Correct versions of history through which we can learn from our mistakes is also essential, no papering over cracks for the sake of appearances.
I don’t know where Mr. Davis found his historical facts, so I conclude as I began with the hope that he was just trying to get an argument started. Well, he has succeeded.
Colette Ni Reamonn Ioannidou, Nicosia