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.