The Republic of Kurdistan

The Republic of Kurdistan.

Sadly, does not exist.

But it persists in the dreams of 20 million Kurds in the world. Seven million live in Iran, the rest live in Iraq, Turkey and Syria. They are the largest ethnic group in the world without a country.

Kurds, in the past, suffer brutally in Turkey and Iraq and Syria. Ties between Kurds and Iranians are a little healthier. But everywhere Kurdish independence is a bad joke. Recently, Kurdish fighters, the Peshmerga, turn the ISIS tide! They reclaim the Kirkuk and Mosul cities in northern Iraq. But this does not bring a promise of independence any closer.

We meet the Kurds in the mountainous west of Iran, along the border with Iraq. They are the Salt of the Earth. Their men bulk in heavily pleated baggy trousers. Some still wear tasselled headscarves. Their women scurry around in colourful long dresses. They are super industrious … on land they cannot call their own. They are larger than life. “Country! Country?” they bellow at us. Our “Africa, South Africa, Johannesburg, Cape Town” draws no flickers. But our “Nelson Mandela” does! Broad smiles! Open arms! Like we deserve it! Nelson Mandela is a global icon, but even more so for the landless.

Kurds have their homes destroyed so regularly. By the 18th century they decide to forgo villages. Forgo villages! Most Kurds become nomads. Only villages buried away in mountains linger. We visit two of these, Nalan and Howraman. In more recent times, they settle again. And yes we see that today, most Kurdish towns are new.

But old and new, it all feels so thoroughly KURDISH. We swear the sun and the moon feels Kurdish too. Harry and I get all hot under the collar. We are raring to go like impatient teenagers. For Kurds sake! A Kurdistan! While all the Kurds around us display patience only ages and ages foster. And all the while they keep busy with the work of life, on land that is not theirs.

Yet.

The Homeland of the Kurds …

… is spectacularly beautiful.

Some Kurds still make a living as nomads …

… here a Kurdish shepherd brings his sheep down from the mountain …

… to home sweet home.

Today, Kurds have once again settled down and many work the soil …

… and tend to animals …

Behind these beautiful mountains, we visit an old village that has survived the turbulent past experienced by Kurds.

The tiny village of Nalan, with less than 50 families, tucked away in the mountainside …

See the baggy pants worn by the Kurdish men and the colourful long dresses worn by Kurdish women.

A mountain stream gushes through the whole village. See it slip past these guys ….

… to this water trough and onto every single house.

A good opportunity to practise English again. Look at the wee soul in the middle.

Here they declare their ages, even the young boys in the background.

Here I have a short chat with young ladies …

… sitting on a balcony above me.

And these huge guys come down to talk bike with Harry.

A few days later we set off to another old village that survives as it is hemmed in by massive mountains …

Just on the otherside of this range is Iraq, the Kurdish part of Iraq.

… and there at the base of the mountain is the village of Howraman …

Look at the road zigzag down to Howraman. No wonder it proved to be a safe haven for Kurds.

Here, closer to Howraman …

With residents at home …

… and at work.

Young Kurds and …

… older Kurds …

… some at rest.

… Ok, agreed, it is time to get up now.

We drive past many relatively new Kurdish settlements, which mark their re-settlement, like this …

… and this.

And here is the capital of the Kurdish province in Iran, Sanandaj, with less than 400,000 people.

Where women shop …

… and men do what men do …

… what is not to love.

8 Responses to The Republic of Kurdistan

  1. Anonymous

    Lots of great photos of the Kurdish people, looks like they have a tough life to lead. Alot of mountains and narrow roads to pass by with. Stay safe on your journey till next time Debbie – Durban.

  2. Anonymous

    So much behind the photos. Love, p&p

  3. Naude.K

    Lots of friendly faces

  4. gail van der mey

    An amazing report. How well done to the Kurds for keeping their unique identity and it all looks cosy and friendly.
    Viva Kurds!!! Thanks for the photos from such out of the way villages.

  5. DB

    Wonderful narrative and mouthwatering photos! Many thanks for sharing.Keep safe and keep the stories flowing!

  6. Mike

    Those look like some hectic mountain passes for the bikes – a bit like dropping down into “Die Hel” here in the RSA. It all looks so awesome, I wish I was with you……………..

  7. Louis van den Bergh

    Dear Linda and Harold,
    Thanks again for your truly unique travel reports, so enjoyable to see the pictures and read your comments!
    I wish you safe travels and I look forward to your next messages.
    Kind regards,
    Louis

  8. Colin

    Wow Nelson Mandela really left his mark on the world. When will the Kurdish people ever find independence? Tough situation to live with. Thanks for another great post. Keep well and have a safe journey on your further adventures Colin from Durban.

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