Cyprus’ Independence Day to be celebrated in Sydney with glenti

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By Michael Kyriakou.

Age is just a number — but sometimes it’s the wrong one.

Hollywood icon singer, dancer, actor Doris Day celebrated her 93rd birthday until the Associated Press found her birth certificate, discovered she was “born” in 1922 not 1924, revealing her to actually be turning 95.

“I’ve always said that age is just a number and I have never paid much attention to birthdays,” Doris said.

So it is with Cyprus.

A peoples with 35 centuries of recorded history, culture, language, cuisine, philosophy, institutions, sporting and battles feats, well known as linguists, sailors, traders, miners, scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, diplomats, artists, actors, engineers, medical practitioners, chemists, pharmacists amongst other endeavours all predating the existence of Britain, the Britons (from France) the Anglo Saxons (from Germany) the French and Spanish tribes or the tribes roaming the plains and cliffs of central Asia later to “settle” (invade and occupy) Asia Minor and  recently adopt the name “Turks.”

It’s fair to say of all the peoples who invaded Cyprus – which exceed more than 60 different nations, war lords, religious crusaders, tribes, pirates, gangs, ranging from Persians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Britons (French speaking) Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, Germans, Venetians,  Ottomans (central Asian tribes) – all left their mark and still others went back for more.

How do you celebrate a birthday?

Usually, it’s the day you come about.

Cyprus has been about for 3,500 years at a minimum. It has had an impact on Christianity, Buddhism, the works of Picasso and Freud, on the cuisine of millions. It is truly a melting pot of cultures, ideas and aspirations, and it has remained predominantly part of the Greek world.

Few Greek provinces can boast a mention in Homers Odyssey, a record of their people’s feats at the Olympics from 680 BC onwards, prominent members of the Hellenic forces led by Alexander to Persia to India and Sri Lanka and of course, well known contribution to drafting the New Testament and the establishment of Christianity as a global universal institution – and these feats are only a sample of Cyprus’ highlights!

The Bishop of Arnica founded by Lazarus himself found the world’s first bishopric. St Andrew preached it has the oldest Orthodox autocephalous church in the world, it is equal to the Pope in the Christian hierarchy.

From architecture to mining, shipping, trade, finance, technology, a small outpost of western civilisation was in fact the “centre” of the birth of western civilisation, but as the demographics and geopolitics of religions swept through the region it changed it for ever, as a band on nomads now dominate the culture and language of the region. Cyprus is still there, like a stubborn rock with enterprise, initiative and the spirit to fight for its identity.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with ANZAC forces in World War One and Two, joining the ranks of the French and Greek forces to fight fascism, the peoples of this little island seem to have an appetite for the causes of liberty, freedom, for all!

Cyprus is not for sale
Community fighting for Cyprus. Photo: The Sydney Morning Herald.

Every nation has a day to commemorate its founding or invention, whether by settlement, colonisation, or war. It’s the common thread of the narrative that creates “nationhood.” For “new” civilizations like the USA or many of the Latin American nations, the “birth of the nation” is symbolised by a struggle a victory and a declaration of nationhood.

October 1, 1960, is the modern “rebirth” of Cyprus, not quite the birth of a nation rather a recognition of a fact.

As distorted the causes and consequences of that day of independence and liberation from foreign occupation may be, the fact is the occupiers did not quite leave Cyprus they just moved their home to the new “self” declared “sovereign” area. Yes, a little bit of England in Cyprus.

Can’t blame them. The soldiers did not want to go home, the food, the fruit and the people seemed much better in Cyprus then going back “home” even after the war of liberation.

This explains why more than a quarter of the occupying forces married locals’. Others just asked the new Cyprus government “can we stay please?”

With 37% of the island occupied by another foreign power, together these powers represent just over 42% of the island.

Birthdays are usually happy occasions. So it should be for Cyprus.

Not because it is the “birth” of anything. It’s not. It’s an old soul finding its way in a modern world, it’s step one to get the recognition it deserves as an ancient state seeking to survive in a world of larger players.

In 2024, another milestone will be reached – 50 years of occupation by Turkey and 63 years occupation of British forces living within their enclave.

When the British arrived on July 22, 1878, Bishop of Kitium Kyprianos addressed the commander of the British occupying forces upon their arrival in Larnaca saying, “We (Greeks) accept the change of the government, because we believe that Great Britain will eventually help Cyprus, just like with the Ionian islands, unite Cyprus with mother Greece.”

We all live in hope, and so did Bishop Kyprianos.

A Swedish archaeologist specialising in Cypriot archaeology was once asked “what is Cyprus?” and her response was “hope.”

Obviously hope without action is aspiration without purpose.

Cyprus has both the right to aspire and has a purpose as one of the guardians of the eastern Mediterranean. Together with her allies, Cyprus, as small as she is, plays a part beyond her calling to ensure trade, commerce, movement of people is safe and fair. A big ask in these days of turmoil.

Cyprus continues to punch beyond its size on many fronts from noble laureates, artists and athletes of global significance to global maritime leadership and pioneers in so many sectors ranging from technology to IT, science, medicine and agriculture and energy, it has much to celebrate.

It’s also a time to reflect, honouring the thousands who sacrificed so much over the centuries for an “independent” Cyprus. A hope and sacrifice that was not in vain.

Cyprus was “Europe” even before the concept was invented on the European mainland.

A little piece of Europe, the home of many of Europe’s ancient ideals, is as important a piece of world humanity as its largest neighbours would aspire to be and more.

Happy birthday for a lady with an unknown date of birth, an unknown age, with plenty of vigour, youthfulness and energy and the appetite to protect its survival for the next 35 centuries and beyond.

Happy birthday Cyprus, to the next 35 centuries and beyond!

The Board of Directors, members, and the sub committees of the Cyprus Community of NSW invite all our friends, supporters, all Cypriots, our compatriot Greeks to party with us as we honour Cyprus this Sunday October 1, 2023, from 7 pm till very late, at a glendi in honour of the home of Aphrodite.

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