Bi-communal Youth Festival

On Sunday 26th of March four bi-communal teenage youth groups organised a very succesfull festival that took place in the park area in Pergamos. More than 1000 persons attended, mostly young people from both communities. Festivities included singing by the bi-communal choir, dancing by Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot folklore groups, modern music by a bi-communal band, poetry reading by teenagers as well as other events. During the festival Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots gave blood samples for the case of six- year old Andreas Vasiliou who is suffering from leukemia.

The four young organisers of this purely Cypriot event are:

Brief account of events as witnessed by Adonis Florides in words and still photos:

The picnic area of Pergamos is a beautiful place. It was my first time there. It is actually within the boundaries of the bases just next to the TC village of Pergamos. When we arrived there the place was already packed with people - mostly young. I knew that these young people had to face many problems in order to organise everything. There was even no electricity in the area and they had to borrow electric generators. But they did manage to set up a platform, loudspeakers and everything else needed for such a festival. The adjacent communities did a lot to help them.

At its peak point according to my estimation people reached a number of 1500 -2000 in their vast majority young people. I have the impression that TC's were more than GC's. It was a very moving experience. The essense I think was expressed in the words of one young student " .... We deserve a better future than what the paranoia of the previous generations has bequeathed us...".

It was something between a picnic and a concert. People meeting each other, laughing, joking, singing and dancing. I witnessed a meeting between two young girls who have been communicating through e-mail for several months but had never met each other until that day. There was a lot of teenage fun and I felt at a certain point that I did not belong there, in fact I was so jealous of them. I laughed with those 20 or so young guys climbed on an old car having such fun driving up and down, or those young TC's singing and dancing and having a bath with beer...!!!!

Then in a more silent corner a blood donation unit. The tragic figure of Andrea's father next to a priest thanking personally all those GC's and TC's who volunteered to donate blood. I could see a bitter/tragic smile on his face. But he was there all the time, thanking everyone. He is such a gentleman.

The tune of the day was Tyllirga song. Almost each group, folk or hard rock played its own version. There was such an enthusiasm every time this song was heard. I have the impression that this song will one day become Cyprus's "national" anthem or something.

The programme included short speeches by the representatives of the youth groups, songs by the bi-communal choir, followed by a GC folk group. I was so happy to notice that in two folk groups one GC and one TC there were two very young girls playing the violin, so far exclusively a man's job.

Then a bi-communal hard-rock group with Pink Floyd's "Teachers leave the kids alone" .... well the singer went a bit over the line at a moment when instead of "teachers leave the kids alone..." he said "teachers !" ... Wild teenagers. But everybody seemed to be enjoying it, even their ...teachers who helped them organise the whole event....:-) Then some little symbolic gestures, so important for the kids: hundreds of white balloons were and pigeons were released into the air and two girls exchanged olive trees which they will plant and take care of, so that these trees of peace will grow and cover the whole island.

The Greens were also there. Some of them were MP's participating in the conference of European Green parties in Larnaca organised by the Cyprus Ecological Movement. I felt that they were happily surprised to witness such an event. They gave short speeches. The message was clear; "we can help you but it is you you have to solve the problem....". They hung around for quite a long time.

Then another folk dance group, a TC this time. The same music, the same dances but in somewaht different manner. Although the girls steps are the same there is a slight oriental touch in their movements in contrast to the more "reserved" style of the GG's. And that dance with the scythe was great. The young TC dancers are so keen with this dance and did some excellent acrobatic figures like twisting it and throwing it up in the air and then catching it again in tempo. Excellent.

Then more folk groups and more rock bands. More Tyllirga song versions. From violin and accorderon versions to hard rock and post punk orchestrations.

Ice-cream vehicles all around, bambatzi (candy-floss), Sandwich- and soft drink - sellers, while further on some Turkish Cypriot families were enjoying their picnic having their kebab. It was like a panayirin (fiest) and it was great.

Then the last battery of my camera gave out and I couldn't catch the best shots at the end of this beautiful afternoon where people were really enjoying themsleves after the "official" programme. Well, as one of these beautiful young people told me " Don't worry next time. This is only the beginning"

It was a day full of hope.

Adonis Florides

Bi-Communal Event At Pergamos (Sunday 26 March 2000)

" ........ warming up ...No Tyllirga song yet...."

"..... Bambatzi or candyfloss .... it was a real fiest..."

".... white baloons before they were released in that beautiful spring blue sky..."

"... a bi-communal rock band...... teachers leave the kids alone they sung..."

" ... Turkish Cypriot young men in their traditional costumes....."

".... warmer....someone on the stage must be playing the Tyllirga tune.... "

"...colour....Greek Cypriot girls in traditional costumes...."

".... more colour .. Turkish Cypriot girls in traditional costumes..."

" .... a blood donor for Andreas and not only.... any distiction between Greek and Turkish Cypriots is useless..."

".... anoher donor..... "

".... Antreas's father.... He is such a gentleman.... "

".....A Green representative....."

"....warmest.... in fact crazy... Too much tyllirga song and beer.... twelve on top and another six or seven inside the car ....... "

"...Tanyel and Kyriakos ... two of the young organisers...."

"...Aliki collecting signatures for a petition... .I also signed but can't remember what was about...."

"... A young girl playing the violin in a folk group, so far exclusively a man's job.....".

Copyright 2000 Adonis Florides. All rights reserved.