Thirty-seven years have passed since the demise of the renowned Kurdish poet and writer Cegerxwîn, whose work both played a crucial role for the preservation of Kurdish cultural heritage and became a source of inspiration for the Kurdish freedom struggle.
Born to a Yazidi mother in 1903 in the Kurdish village of Hesar, close to Turkey’s southeastern city of Batman (Êlih), Cegerxwîn began writing poetry in 1924. After the collapse of Sheikh Said’s rebellion against the newly-founded Turkish Republic in 1925, he became a member of the Xoybûn (Independence) party, which was established by exiled Kurdish intellectuals in Syria.
As his involvement in politics continued, later in the ranks of Civata Azadî û Yekîtiya Kurd (the Kurdish Freedom and Union Front), the Communist Party of Syria and the Azadî (Freedom) organisation, his widely publicized poetry collection ‘Kîme Ez?’ (‘Who Am I?’) was published in the first half of the 1970s.
At the age of 75, he had to flee Syria for political reasons and he went to Sweden, where he was able to publish several collections of his poetry.
Turkish composer and human rights activist Şanar Yurdatapan spoke to Mezopotamya News Agency about the day he first met Cegerxwîn, while they were both exiles in Europe.
“We met Şivan [famous Kurdish composer and singer Şivan Perwer] in Berlin in 1983. A demonstration was held in Berlin on the day the elections were held in Turkey,” Yurdatapan recalled.
“We decided to work together. They lived in Sweden at that time. They organised a concert in Stockholm where Melike [the famous Turkish singer and actress Melike Demirağ], Gülistan [a Kurdish singer and Şivan Perwer’s ex-wife Gülistan Perwer] and Şivan would sing together. Cegerxwîn was living in Upsala. They arranged a meeting with him and we went there to visit him at his house. Although he was not well at the time, it was a very pleasant conversation.”
Yurdatapan recalls asking Cegerxwîn for a ‘gift’ for his three-year-old daughter. ”He sang ‘Gulfiroş’ with his beautiful voice. That recording was one of the most important recordings in my entire life,” he says.
Referring to Cegerxwîn’s legacy, he says, “Unfortunately, I cannot fully grasp his poetry because I do not speak Kurdish, but understanding is not always the equivalent of understanding the language. You can recognise the impact one creates when you see it. Just as Nazım Hikmet’s poems make a deep impression on people speaking Turkish, the poetry of Cegerxwin has the same effect on the Kurds.”
Cegerxwîn died on 22 October 1984, only a year after Yurdatapan visited him in Sweden.