Parking, politicians and the impartial implementation of policy – 3 P’s that come to mind in the place where I live. Nothing personal against any one or party in particular – whether in power/government or out-of-power/opposition. Assuming this is correct, then no political force in Cyprus is powerless. The point is, no matter who is in power, no matter what the government chooses to call itself ideologically and who or where they ally themselves to, the essence of The Banana Republic remains the same.

Before any one jumps on a sanctimonious high horse on the 50 years of Cyprus Independence, this blog has nothing to do with that. I celebrated just like every one else, minus of course the military paraphernalia, which no matter what the excuses, will always remind me of a cold war era.

My concern is more personal. Now every one who has ever dealt with state officials in Cyprus, those worker ants who get paid triple money for working half the hours the rest of us do, will have a story to tell. I will not go into too much detail as there are way too many stories to tell from the time I returned to Cyprus for good in 1994. What interests me is the spirit of The Banana Republic, the etymology of the term and how state employees, not all of them, but some of them, live by the dictum ‘when in Rome, do as the Cypriots’.

Now I am sure such an outspoken concept will get me on more stop lists from state and even private broadcasters, resonating throughout the diasporic network of people and places that dare not utter a word of critique against Republique Bananez, but that’s how it goes, it’s the price of being outspoken, and free minded blogger in cyberspace.

The essence is this. The whole concept of the Banana Republic goes back to Glafcos Clerides, who was bold enough to state it but did not, due to all the Bananoits he had surrounded himself with, and could not do anything about it.

No matter who is in power the surrounding ambiance and corruption of some state employees lives on. In my life in Cyprus I have been asked the most ridiculous things by a plethora of state employees, such as:

‘Please bring your primary school reports’ to prove my identity during military service.
‘I am sorry sir, you will have to go back and bring your first passport’ to prove my clapped out old Citroen car was mine – I had to make 14 visits to the said office.

And more ridiculous than anything I ever experienced, I have also been asked to produce receipts for money I have not spent to reclaim a smaller sum of money that I did spend. Work that one out.

So I could have played along with this and lived by the dictum of when in ‘Rome do as the Cypriots’, which seems to be what every one else does, accepting the corruption and mediocrity. But I chose not to as that would make me just as bad as the rest.

Finally, I am not an ageing anarchist who never votes in elections and none of this has to do with who is President and who is not. It’s just a series of observations, from a variety of lived experiences that have made me question the existence of a huge state mechanism, which truth be told, keeps expanding every time there is an election.

So raise your glasses of zivana ladies and gents to the spirit and practice of The Republic Bananezik…Long may we all resist the temptations of getting a state employment position….E – iva!!!

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