Friday, 31 January 2014

Bodrum's Oral History Group.

Plenty of posts on this blog look back two or three thousand years  to when Lelegians, Carians, Persians, Greeks or  Romans were busy settling, raiding, overthrowing or abandoning this region of Bodrum. There are multiple ancient historical sources and a couple of centuries of archaeological reports to sift through, most of which are now accessible on line.  A small post on one archaeological site can lead to hours and often days of fascinating research as one university paper leads to another.  Unfortunately the same can not be said of the recent history of Bodrum, so I was extremely happy to sit in on a meeting of the Bodrum Oral History Group, who are trying to record the memories of Bodrum's oldest residents before their stories are lost for ever.  The group are traveling to different villages and towns in and around the Bodrum peninsula, asking questions and prompting recollections, recording as they go.  Their aim is to open a local museum where all the recordings will be indexed so that future generations will be able to visit, look up their forebears and listen to their stories on dvd or mp3.  It's an ambitious and exciting project and I hope it bears fruit. 

On Wednesday, the group's attention was focused on Mumcular and surrounding villages and I went along to listen first-hand to some of the stories.  There was a lot of laughter, songs and a few tears as life without running water and electricity (which didn't arrive until 1974) was described.  All the speakers had spent their early lives rising before dawn to plant and tend tobacco or herd goats and sheep, with beekeeping and carpet making as sidelines.  At one time or another, the majority had also seen their yearly profits disappear in the hands of unscrupulous rogues who would make off without paying their dues.  What came across in bucket loads while listening to the stories, is the great sense of humour these folk possess. It was a joy to witness. 

Yusuf Özkara giggling at the fact that nothing interesting happened in his 18 years as a night watchman. 

Mustafa Bacaksız, nicknamed "Steel Uncle"  - A musician and songwriter. 


Yusuf Akgöl, nicknamed "Chinese Yusuf" travelled the world as an engineer before returning to Mumcular 
and Orhan Tan who worked for the municipality - " when water arrived I became a plumber, when electricity arrived I became an electrician and when vehicles arrived I became a driver". 


Organisers and participants in Mumcular's splendid meeting hall which doubles as a wedding venue. 


30 comments:

  1. Lovely, B to B. Really, it made me so happy to read about this event. I often wish that Turkey's history could be recorded and published by talking to people like this. It is very moving and it's easy to understand how happy it made you.

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  2. That's why I like Alan's book about Okcular so much. He ha some great stories from the village elders.

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  3. I think it's wonderful that this kind of thing is happening.

    Here in Selcuk they opened up a Memory Museum about eighteen months ago. They went round town interviewing people and created this museum out of what they were told. People who have arrived recently, people who have been here a long time. Children drew pictures and wrote about the town. It's very diverse. The museum contains memories of hardship, joys and migrations, links back to the places many of the people living here came from before they lived here.

    The museum is mostly for locals and domestic visitors, there is nothing in there in English, but it is all easy enough to understand. At the last Selcuk festival they showed interview with some of our Elderly residents, projected onto the big screen. So many memories!

    I love that this is being done in so many places here. That people are telling their own (hi)stories and that people are listening.

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    1. I'm so glad Selçuk has succeed ın gettıng theır "kent muse open.

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  4. A brilliant concept but what about adding your story to the mix?

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    1. I was dragged up to the front at the end of the meeting - not sure what I was expected to add.

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  5. What a worthwhile project,
    I remember George Ewart Evans books on the folk memory of East Anglia...so much recorded that would otherwise have been lost.

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    1. It's a pity non of the folk who came over in the 1920's population exchanges are still alive.

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  6. . . this gathering together of recent history in stories, songs, music, a few old photos is such a worthwhile thing to attempt. It doesn't matter that the time and memories are bent or mixed-up - the essence of a time will be captured for a generation that is fast fading. There are plenty of histories from the great centres but little or nothing from the villages - power to the elbow of this group.
    The history of the Village Institutes here in Turkey and the authors that came out of them is well worth following up.

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    1. Asking the right questions is crucial to theses projects.

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  7. I love listening to stories from elders....so much history. I still remember the stories my Grandfather us to tell me when he was a lil' boy growing during the Czar's rule.
    My Mother in Law also told us stories about when she was growing up in Bergama and on their life on the family Cotton farm....love this post. :-) Life was so much harder then.......

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    1. Hope you can remember your folks' stories. Maybe you could put them on your blog

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  8. It's a wonderful project, B2B and so lovely that you captured the capturing! They look like they have some good tales to tell.
    Axxx

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    1. I wish I'd made it to the first meetings

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  9. How I wished to be in that room, listening to them, so wonderful. I hope they continue, grow, have their voices heard - thanks a lot for sharing.

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    1. I must follow up some of the recipes mentioned.

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  10. What a brilliant project B2B - it would be great if evry area in Turkey had a similar project. I love hearing the stories of the olden days - which are in fact not so old!

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    1. Not old at all really but rapidly being lost. I was waiting for the phrase "...and if you tell young folk today, they don't believe you" I only had to wait about 20 minutes.

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    2. Sometimes they are being lost because people are ashamed of their village origins which is also very sad. Also times of hardship, early deaths and very high infant mortality are not always times folks want to remember. So it is good to capture those testimonies now.

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    3. At this meeting there was a great enthusiasm for the project. I do hope momentum can be maintained.

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  11. What a great opportunity to attend this. There's a couple of great Facebook groups who post old photo's of the Bodrum Peninsula, and I love looking through them. So much has happened in such a short space of time... the museum sounds like a great idea to keep this history alive ....

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    1. I like the Eski Bodrum sites too. I was surprised to see myself in one of the 1983 photos.

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  12. A wonderful project! Thanks for sharing this.

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  13. Everything above is absolutely true! What a great project! Super! The stories must have been amazing! I love the pics too - great faces. Thanks for posting, BtoB!

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    1. I wonder if there is a similar project in Istanbul

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  14. What a brilliant project. I really hope it thrives and is extended to other places.

    I do wish something similar had been in existence when my grandparents were still alive to capture their memories of a very different world. Interestingly electricity didn't reach our bit of Mid-Wales until 1964, so not so long before it came to Mumcular.

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    1. In the imperial war museum they have recordings of servicemen's memories.

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  15. Dear Annie, this project is truly exciting. Here in the United States two museums have done the same thing. One museum--in New Orleans--is recording the thoughts and experiences of those men and women who fought in WWII. The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C., is recording the remembrances of all the Jewish immigrants to the U.S. who suffered through the Holocaust. I hope to visit both museums and listen to some of these recordings. We need to do this. Only if we remember and learn from the past, can we have a better future. And just think how wonderful for your neighbors in the future to be able to listen to the actual voice of a relative! A loved one! That is so wonderful. Peace.

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    1. I'd love to visit these museums if I ever get the chance to spend time in the US

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