Let’s meet Hama. His father is sitting in front of the television screen, swearing at every face he sees. His mother is complaining about this and that and blaming the government for everything, including the lack of ripe okra at the grocery store down the road. After graduation, he hasn’t got his ‘taeen’ yet, so Hama decides to take out his anger by commenting on every social media post and using every swear word ever written. In fact, he becomes so creative with the swearing he makes up some new ones for extra likes on the Facebook comments section. Of course, he does this on the keypads of his phone.
Hama was born in 2001. He didn’t see the hardships of his parents. He didn’t experience war himself. He opened his eyes in the transition phase of Kurdistan. Hama, and his entire generation, didn’t see or experience the before phase of Kurds in the Kurdistan Region.
The first ‘dw daftar’ he saves, he will give to a smuggler to take him to Europe, where Hama may or may not spend the few years washing dishes at a restaurant, something he would have never, ever allowed himself to do in Erbil. And while doing that, he will continue to swear in his Facebook comments and angrily show hate towards every party, leader, and individual – good and bad – within the Region.
He will come to Kurdistan, find a bride in a few weeks, get married and take her to Europe too. He will have children as well. Hama’s children will automatically ‘hate’ Kurdistan because even with grey hairs, he will spit at the TV when as watches Kurdistan news.
Do you know why? Hama never learned to love Kurdistan.
And that is where we went wrong.
You can love your land, love your people, have national feelings and constructively criticize anything and everything you wish to comment on.
The most significant danger I fear for this nation is the lack of love for the land among the youth. To me, it’s a threat. The idea of ‘I am a citizen of the world’ in my part of the world doesn’t exist, you have a passport that takes you through hell to get to the other side of the border, and you want to refer to me as a citizen of the world?
How can we grow this love?
History class should be the favourite class. Let’s make it Kurdish history. Let’s teach it in creative ways, with participatory learning methods and interactive pedagogical approaches. Forget about the current dry subject of learning dates and events by heart. Let the children visit Halabja, let them meet older men there who will tell the stories of the chemical attacks, and let them walk through the sea of graves, allow them to read the names, the ages… one by one. Feelings are created in moments like these. Let the children watch documentaries, write essays about how they felt, and let them interview victims. Let them feel and understand what it means to be an Anfal victim, from those feelings emotions towards the motherland emerge.
We need to create videos of victims of genocides speaking, of the uprising, peshmerga telling their stories, of young men telling their memories of what they remember… before it’s too late. These videos need to be shown in classrooms, they need to be studied and presentations and posted will be done about them.
Allow older children to research the impact of genocide on different groups like those in Barzan, Halabja, and the Faily Kurds. What happened? How it happened? Why it happened? What was the impact? Not just giving knowledge, but posing questions, opening a space for discussion and expression.
Today’s youth need to know and feel the pain of yesterday’s generation, to love this land and appreciate where it is. To not complain but give constructive criticism on what is upsetting them.
In art class, let people like Nask and Asuda come and tell the students about the Hawri pattern, Kurdish art, colours, patterns, and designs – let them study the citadel and the different homes within.
My friend, Asuda, has a master’s in the designs that were on older Kurdish furniture – the colours, illustrations and patterns. So many art related education ideas can be born from her thesis alone.
Allow the children to design their own version of the traditional Kurdish clothes and do presentations on it. Let them learn about the different clothes in different parts of Kurdistan. Let them see the Klash and how it is made, or the different designs on the klaw.
Private schools, well, with more resources, they should be learning to make Kurdish food instead of vanilla cupcakes, halparke class should be an option next to ballet, have the guitar but the Saz as well in music class… the love for Kurds and Kurdistan must be embedded in every subject at school, some more subtle than others. Schools must raise good citizens, but also youth who know, understand and appreciate what being a Kurd means. In grade nine students should have exams on books like Love in a Torn Land by Jean Sasson, or the many other novels written that tell the a story of a Kurd.
If we do not take steps to do this today, we are in trouble ten years down the road. Big trouble!
My ideas can go on and on… yet my heart cries every time I read comments and realize the depth of hatred some youth have for this land. Critically criticize all you want, but hate… oh no, we have given far too many martyrs to hate. Far too much blood has been shed for us to hate… far too many sacrificed for Hama to live today, but poor Hama, he has no clue!
My Nest in Kurdistan
Post Blog Note
I grew up in a home where my father spoke of my hometown Mandali as if it was Disney Land, my parents reiterated stories of challenges faced as Kurds. Until today I hear stories of how it was to be a Peshmerga, every time I make a comment, I am reminded of how we were ten, twenty and thirty years ago. Every time my father explains the meaning of my name, I am reminded of an eternal love for Kurdistan.
When I was older and complained about anything and everything in Kurdistan, at home I was told: “when you start doing something about what you don’t like, then give yourself permission to complain.”
Today, the younger generation, who are raising children don’t have stories of my father, or my mother. The next generation will not have the feelings we do towards ‘our nest’ – if it isn’t coming from the home, then it becomes the school’s duty!
The country goes forward with critical criticism, but no one goes forward with complaining and hatred. No one.
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