The other day I read a Facebook status that read ‘Not Greek or Turkish – Cypriot!’ A few decades ago when I too was a radicalized student the slogan may have been appealing. It’s not that I have all of a sudden switched or turned away from or to anything. Thats far too difficult as being, existing, is such a complex, multi-layered series of entities in our lives. It took me a really long time to come to terms with having a British passport, born in Cyprus, making reggae and residing in Nicosia, the last divided capital on earth.

So whenever any one has any kind of essentialist agenda, irrespective of the nationalism being articulated I tend to feel an aversion, a kind of gut feeling of resistance because in being that thing and one thing only, no matter the label, some on else is being excluded.

Its like the worn out clichéd slogan ‘Cyprus for the Cypriots’. It does sound great as an anti-imperialist chant on a demo echoing along babylonian walkways in say Oxford Street. There was a certain resonance to it back then. But now its somewhat weak, if not faint hearted as Cypriots have more than any one else sold their lands, legally and illegally to a plethora of people who live here. We have also developed a globalised form of acculturalised tourism which has for far too long completely contradicted the aforementioned slogan. How can you in seriousness say Cyprus for the Cypriots when most seaside restaurants in Protaras serve bacon and eggs sunny side up! Or when a song will be going to represent us at Eurovision by a bunch of people who have nothing remotely to do with Cyprus.  In fact on their marathon promo tour of the UK the group referred to us as ‘The Cypriotic Community’. Nearly as bad as Akon who declared a couple of years ago at GSP stadium ‘ Hi to all The Cyprasians!!!’

There are also the much more evident things experienced through the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, a process of colonisation felt first by Turkish Cypriots, plus all of us who were and remain affected by the invasion and its long and unwinding aftermath.

Cyprus is also changing radically. Our multicultural environment, Sri Lankan, Phillipino, African, Latin American, East European and many more must in more ways then one find the slogan ‘Cyprus for The Cypriots’ as offensive as I found ‘Keep Britain British ‘.Growing up as I did in a very hostile and racist school environment in east London in the 1970’s such slogans were an affront to our very existence and dignity.

So overall, its complicated and will get even more complicated. Lets stop excluding and start to develop forms of civic identity that are more all-embracing and inclusive, of every one, no matter what they want to call themselves.

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