By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Yesterday brought us in my view a greatly significant event–the Ebril, Iraq book launch of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, translated into the Kurdish Language.
The book was formerly banned under the Saddam Hussein regime; rather obviously for its negative portrayal of how a dictatorship can emerge in a nation or community. Coupled with the dark history that for decades nations such as Turkey proscribed the Kurdish language, the fact that such a work can be sold publicly shows the remarkable transformation that has taken place in the former dictatorship.
The translation was penned by Rewshan Husen who teaches English in Ebril, though originally she was a native of Qamishlo, Rojova (Syrian Kurdistan).
In an interview with Kurdistan24, she related how her experiences and her profession exposed her to various international works of literature missing from libraries and repositories within the Kurdish Language community.
“As an English teacher, I have seen many international books which our Kurdish libraries are missing,” Husen stated. “I wanted to bring these important and well-known books to Kurdish readers.”
In my view two prevailing notions show the significance of this event. First is the fact that the Kurds in Iraq have achieved a degree of normality that we in the West largely take for granted. In this respect it is remarkable in that translating a previously banned book does not only fail to result in immediate jailing or confrontation by the government, but the unveiling can be openly celebrated when launched in a very public manner.
There also were no immediate calls for her punishment among opportunists, political or religious leaders for her having the will to bring a controversial work to the populous. I do not fully know, of course, the conditions on the ground in Ebril if her authorship was a brave act or just a labor of love. I would hope that it would be the latter for the sake of the ordinary person there.
Secondly there is the victory of being able to write this in a dialect of a language that historically has been suppressed by authoritarian governments. In a way, just the words themselves shed light to liberty.
Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey prosecuted an ethnic erasure of Kurdish culture and its language. In fact, the mere mention of the word “Kurd” or “Kurdistan” or even singing in the language could result in imprisonment. With the publication of translations such as this that serve to grow the literary foundation within the Kurdish Language, my hope is that it will serve to not only preserve the heritage and its culture, but also craft itself as a righteous insult thrown at the type of oppression that unfortunately still plagues the Kurdish People.
Perhaps they should send a signed, first edition to Turkish President Erdoğan.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.