Sunday, 1 April 2012

A song for Grigoris Afxentiou



Χαλάλιν της Πατρίδος μου
ο γιος μου η ζωή μου
τζι αφού εν επαραδόθηκεν
τζι έμεινεν τζιαι σκοτώθηκεν
ας έσιει την ευτζιήν μου

My country is welcome to him
my son, my life
And since he never surrendered
And held true and was slain
Then he has my blessing


Above is a song (Ξύπνα Γληόρη) for Grigoris Afxentiou, with words by the hero’s mother, music by Giorgos Theophanous; and sung by Marinella. Afxentiou was the pre-eminent EOKA hero in the struggle that began on 1 April 1955 to end British colonial rule in Cyprus and unite the island with Greece. He was killed in his hideout near Macheras monastery in March 1957 after a 10-hour battle against overwhelming British forces, who couldn't dislodge the hero and resorted to pouring gasoline into the cave he was holed up in and burning Afxentiou alive. It’s worth stressing that EOKA’s aim wasn’t just to liberate Cyprus for the benefit of Cyprus and Cypriots but also for the benefit of Greece, to expand Greece’s frontiers and horizons, make it a greater country with a presence and influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. Another thing worth remembering, which is perhaps slightly tangential but strikes me as important nonetheless, is that the acronym EOKA stands for Εθνική Οργάνωσις Κυπρίων Αγωνιστών (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters), i.e. there was no need to call the movement, for example, the National Organisation of Greek fighters of Cyprus or the National Organisation of Greek Cypriot fighters, because, by definition, to be a Cypriot meant to be a Greek, as it always has done and always will. Indeed, the term Greek Cypriot (and Turkish Cypriot) is a neologism, concocted by the British as part of a strategy to elevate the status of the Muslim minority on the island and introduce Turkey as a player in Cyprus’ politics.

Below is a video of the hero’s mother, Antonou Afxentiou, reciting words she composed on the sacrifice of her son; and below is a drama-documentary (in Greek) – The Eagle of Macheras – from 1973 on Grigoris Afxentiou’s life and death in EOKA.



12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The struggle for a free Cyprus is a Greek struggle but too often we non-Cypriot Greeks fail to acknowledge this. We like to pretend the Turkish occupation is an international or a european issue, or worst of all, a "cypriot" issue, that does not directly offend our national honour.

At the same time we fail to appreciate the enormous contribution that Cypriots have made to the security of Greece. Due to the truly heroic efforts of the Cypriot people in demanding justice and in tirelessly reminding the world of the barbaric occupation of Northern Cyprus,the Turks have had their hands stayed from striking other blows against Greece.

The Cypriots steadfast refusal to allow the Turks to sweep their annexation and crimes away from International attention has made its annexation a festering wound that will not heal until Turkish troops and settlers are withdrawn.

All Greeks should follow the Cypriots in refusing to forgive or forget Northern Cyprus!

John Akritas said...

Many Cypriots would regard the price they've had to pay for defending Greece in Cyprus as too high, especially since, as you say, most mainland Greeks and certainly their governments don't give a toss about Cyprus and wish the island would go away. And it is occupied or, if you have to, northern Cyprus, never Northern Cyprus – upper casing the 'n' is part of Turkish naming. The Turkish invasion created a North and a South Cyprus – and since they do not express the geography of the island accurately, they are in fact political terms.

John Akritas said...

Also, don't leave Anonymous comments. They go into my spam folder and unless I catch them in time, they will be deleted.

Hermes said...

Gents, the negligence of Cyprus by Helladic Greeks is not because of a Greek disdain for Cypriots. This negligence is borne out of the modern Greek's provincialism which manifests itself in a misguided xenomania, materialism, internationalism and so on at the expense of the genuine needs of their fellow Greeks. The same negligence is shown towards northern Epirotes, the recognition of the Pontian and Asia Minor Genocide, the Greek Orthodox in the Middle East and so on.

The price Cypriots pay for Greece in Cyprus is irrelevant. Because if they were not prepared to pay that price, they would cease to be Hellenes, and there is nothing worse than not being a Hellene.

Hermes said...

John, I have been reading parts of Makrygiannis's Memoirs recently, which I believe in certain respects is equal to Thucydides. Do you know of a similar historical or autobiographical account in Greek or English of the EOKA struggle which is now considered the definitive or paradigmatic account?

John Akritas said...

It's somewhat of a cottage industry, books on EOKA and EOKA heroes, in Cyprus. However, I'm not familiar with it. Grivas published his memoirs of the conflict – presumably a deliberate attempt to elevate his status to an 1821 fighter. I read a copy in English years ago, and wasn't that impressed, fairly mundane, but then I'm not much of a Grivas fan anyway. The EOKA hero who left a lot of writings behind is probably Kyriakos Matsis, another hero who preferred death to surrender, and was killed in a shoot out with the British in 1957. He was a little older than most EOKA fighters and perhaps more reflective. There's a site on Matsis here (http://www.kyriakosmatsis.com.cy/index.shtm), which also has a useful, if dated, EOKA bibliography. There is some video material on Matsis here: http://bit.ly/Hi7IMI

Anonymous said...

Hermes,
We should be careful not to use stupid phraseology like "the Pontian and Asia Minor genocide." A far better and more accurate "Greek genocide" will suffice. This has hurt us in the past: see http://www.pontiangenocide.com/index.html for a good overview on things.

Also, the Israel-Greece-Cyprus axis seems to be to a large extent an American-Israeli inspired ploy to keep Russia (and by extension others) out of the Eastern Mediterranean, and out of Greece's and [especially] Cyprus's politics (energy wise etc – although, this is only one aspect). Do we really want to go down that route? With Israel (along with the US) controlling Cyprus and Greece, and the US controlling Turkey, they are left laughing while we… well, I wouldn't like to speculate at this stage, but it doesn't look good. Being so closely allied with a state like Israel will in the end probably bring more harm than good, especially when such an alliance is made to the detriment of other, more important and certainly greater in many respects, allies. Obviously to some extent, due to their falling out with Turkey, we have to improve our ties, but it seems from some of the things I am reading and hearing, we are planning gung-ho on forming some sort of all-out alliance (automatically excluding other nations) – which would be very stupid of us.

Andreas. (Sorting out my Google account soon; have to post as anonymous for now.)

John Akritas said...

Andreas

I don't think Russia-Israel relations are as hostile as you imply; the Russians and Israelis seem quite keen to at least talk about Russian involvement in Israeli gas exploration and transport. I read somewhere that the Russians want to buy Israel's gas and sell it elsewhere other than Europe, which will continue to depend on Russia for energy. Naturally, the Americans don't want this, but does anyone really care that much what the Americans think anymore. Obama is a president who seems to want to manage US global decline.

As for the Israelis controlling Greece and Cyprus, what makes you think the Israelis are so strong and Greece and Cyprus so weak? No one can 'control' Greece and Cyprus, if Greece and Cyprus don't want to be controlled.

And who are the other more important and greater allies in the region Greece and Cyprus are overlooking in favour of Israel?

(Regarding names on posts, why do have to register on google, can't you just put in your name in the part of the form that says Name/URL?)

Andreas said...

John,

I am sceptical about your first paragraph (though I hope it's true). The Israelis are livid with the Russians over Iran (the former wanting to see it destroyed; the latter desperate to prop it up) and Syria, two of the most important, but not only, issues which separate the two. They practically oppose each other on every major issue in the region and beyond, and have done for decades.

"No one can 'control' Greece and Cyprus, if Greece and Cyprus don't want to be controlled." – – this is precisely what I was trying to get at: hopefully Greece and Cyprus don't want to be controlled in any way by anyone. Though you can bet your dollar that if the Americans and Israelis had their way, this is what they would like to see happen. They are already dictating terms to us. It is our job to not fall blindly into bed with them on these terms, and do instead what's right for us. Naturally, however, if we go into some crazy isolationist formal alliance with Israel, we would become somewhat dependent on them seeing as they are more powerful than us in many ways, and we then won't be afforded any other protection (which we shouldn't expect from anyone) in a military/diplomatic sense. Once again, I'm not sure (in fact very doubtful) this is going to happen, and hopefully the government of Cyprus will involve a plurality of players in this game.

On your third paragraph: I wasn't necessarily talking regional wise (which they would be); but even so, that is counterbalanced by the fact that in such a volatile region, which could at any moment be engulfed in a regional war, we may, if we are in some isolationist formal alliance with Israel, come under fire ourselves: e.g. Who's to say, if Iran is fighting for its life, it wouldn't attack us with some of its missiles (which I have heard are more than capable of reaching us; "give the Israelis a military base" I hear some say?!!?). What about all the Arab nations surrounding us – who, to be honest, I think very little of. They have to be taken into account. Would we then lose the likes of Russian support in other arenas? A more balanced approach is required. Also, we seem to be forgetting that the Israelis have actively been working against us for so long (and the Americans who continue to do so, to lick the arse of their number one satellite, and stop Russia's penetration into the region). What exactly does this alliance stand on? If something crazy happens in Turkey, say in 20 years time, and a regime is in place which would like to fall back into bed with the Israelis (if they haven't fallen in the first place, that is), they would drop us and our lame energy and Cyprus issues quicker than they or we could say Happy Chanukah!

(I wasn't aware of your last point)

If I am not able to comment again before next Sunday, John, I would just like to say Happy Easter to you and your family.

John Akritas said...

Your point about Russia and Syria and Iran is correct; yet I still detect a willingness on behalf of Russia and Israel to engage, particularly when it comes to gas exploration. The Israelis have also been strangely quiet about Syria. They perhaps do not want a Muslim Brotherhood regime allied to Turkey on its borders. Better the devil you know, etc.

Καλό Πάσχα to you and your family too.

Andreas said...

Thanks John.

Just reading back, I forgot to mention that I feel Greece for the most part is simply a US puppet. It enjoys taking orders from its master.

When I said "to lick the arse of their number one satellite," I meant Turkey (not Israel).

On the point you made about Syria: I guess the Israelis have calculated that a Syria so closely allied as it is with Iran is simply unacceptable, and must be done away with, whatever the cost. They have been planning to go to war with both (in the event of a strike on Iran) for some time now.

Andreas said...

Okay, let's try this (correcting myself) for the last time here:

"I forgot to mention that I feel Greece for the most part is simply a US puppet. It enjoys taking orders from its master." – – – As if I needed to spell that out. Most of what I have said above is not particularly novel, and I apologise if I came across as if I was trying to educate you (!).

I'm ascribing number one satellite status to Turkey on the basis that the relationship between the US and Israel runs deeper – though technically, Israel is "number one".