By Pedro Aibéo*
The World Music School Helsinki decided to make its first event joining two minorities of Helsinki: British and Kurdish, but why these two?
First the practical reasons: as any starting event of an organization we need to be sure of its quality. Meaning, we must have 1) experienced musicians and dance teachers and a 2) good crowd. British folk is well spread worldwide (from the explosive blend of a solid internal organization and the always entertaining colonialism), so point 1 is solved.
The Kurdish community in Helsinki has been very active in mobilizing, almost monthly, political and cultural gatherings. They are a strong tied community, family bounded and supportive of their diaspora. They are, as far as we know, the only cultural group in the Middle East which has mixed men and women traditional folk dances . Point 2, crowd, will be most favorable with them.
To our surprise, and also due to the incoming refugees in this young city of Helsinki (founded in 1550), we discovered here many high level musicians playing Kurdish traditional music and dances.
Added to the above points, we want events that tackle social local cohesion by both addressing the Dionysian and Apollonian side: 1) Music + 2) Politics (to take politics as Apollonian is wishful thinking, but let’s stay positive on this).
1) Music has the unique effect of unifying people and their conflicting ideas into one beat. Music is a universal language as much as mathematics. We can and should use this humanitarian power to improve 2) political and ideological conflicts. Bringing together minorities into this beat humanizes their constituents and will prevent that manipulative political powers picture certain groups of people into some sort of alien monsters, as so often happened throughout history and lead us into meaningless wars.
Picture 1: The Kurdish community and supporters of the cause remembering here the 3 murdered Kurdish women activist in Paris and to raise awareness about the northern Kurdistan/Bakur and the Kurdish peoples situation in Turkey.
Photo by Yhdessä Rojavan puolesta in early 2016 at the main railway station of Helsinki.
So added to the practical reasons explained above, we have two (almost) Nation States with very interesting and interrelated political paths:
The British is a union on its downfall and the Kurdish is a union on its birth! Do we not agree that the struggle for self-determination is legitimate either through unions or divisions?
Despite the Sykes-Picot agreement, portraying the Brits unfavorable to a Kurdish nation, one can find contradictory documentation along the period of the Treaty of Sevre of 1920, such as in the minutes of the Cairo Conference of 15th March 1921, where the British policy aimed in support the creation of Kurdistan. There are many interests involved in these matters, as there were before in the 1920s and 1930s and it is close to impossible to define a single truth for it. So, before pointing fingers to the Brits for awkwardly drawn borders, take the “you see, its a rather funny complex story” for Sunday, as a chat starter during the dance breaks.
Take, Erbil, the Kurdish capital of Iraq, as well as Edinborough, the capital of Scotland, both fight to gain control over their oil resources which leak respectively to the bellies of Baghdad and London. The Turkish Kurdistan (northern Kurdistan) has been constantly repressed (from 1925 till 1965 it was even closed down to foreign tourists). The Turkish government has tried to eliminate Kurds by mainly killing its culture and language (also people). In Western Kurdistan (Rojava), in Syria, the fight is bloody and similarities are drawn to the anarchist dream of Catalonia of the 1930s. In alike terms, the minorities among British rule such as the Scots or Welsh have endured centuries of cultural repression, which include the repression of the local language, sending their people overseas for the empire wars, etc. Tales of sorrow that can be listened today on many folk songs of the regions. Actually refreshing, otherwise these would be of love only!
We invited for this event, several governmental and cultural entities. From all of these, we got a single, but kind answer from Reetta Purontakanen of the British Embassy in Finland. From all of the underneath, we received no answer:
– The Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq
– The embassy of Iran in Finland
– The Turkish embassy in Finland
– The Iraqi embassy in Finland
– The Finn Brits language center
– The British Council of Finland
– The British embassy in Finland
The standard email sent to them was:
Dear Madam, Dear Sir,
I am writing to tell you about the new World Music School Helsinki, and ask you for your support on its upcoming event on September 25, 2016 at Bokvillan (Hämeentie 125, Helsinki), where there will be British and Kurdish folk dancing and live music.
At Bokvillan on September 25, a variety of musicians from diverse backgrounds will perform. They come from all corners of Kurdistan — Turkish, Iranian, and Iraqi areas — and from the UK.
We would be delighted to welcome a representative of your embassy and if possibly please inform us if any financial support is available for such.
I invite you to take a look at our website, where we explain our new method in further detail.
World Music School Helsinki website: http://worldmusic.school/
Attached: Flyer for our first event
Chairman of the World Music School Helsinki
To conclude, we , the World Music School, do not intend to use such Music and Dance events to oversimplify public discussion. There has been a tendency towards exaggerations and simplifications to make points across. The boundary between knowledge and opinion or science and religion can grow thin in such way, stopping us from reflecting on the true natures of things. We wish to use these Dionysian experiences of music and dance to promote healthy discussions while aware of each other’s humanity.
We can and should use local minorities, get them together, to gain better insights of our own culture as “truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion” (Kierkegaard).
As much as urbanization overturns all traditional structures, it does make it open to a remake of these. Such events, as we propose, can be favorable to a better understanding of our differences, away from nationalistic jingoism but aware of them. And this brings us to the last reason why we chose British and Kurdish: none of them are truly nation states. Despite the growing trend of nation states after the Westphalia agreement, cultures are not bounded by these, but surpass them in far greater number. We want hereby to make a clear stand that we will use states as guidelines for a cultural contextualization embedded in a political discussion. Hopefully witty!
*Article by Pedro Aibéo, the Chairman of the World Music School Helsinki, Helsinki 22nd of September 2016.
Pedro Aibéo is a trained Design Architect (M.Sc., Dipl. Ing., TU Darmstadt, Germany) and Civil Engineer (M.Sc., Licenciatura, FEUP, Porto) with over 50 buildings designed and built on 15 countries. He is also a Visiting Associate Professor at UNAM University, Mexico and at Wuhan University of Technology, China, and a Doctoral Candidate at Aalto University, Finland on Architectural Democracy (research funded by the Kone Foundation). He is the Artistic Director of Cidadania theatre group (Germany) with written and directed theater plays at the United Nations and the Staatstheater Darmstadt on urban slavery and astronomy. He is a professional Musician at “Homebound” and the Chairman of the World Music School Helsinki ry. He is a drawing teacher at the croquis nights in Kiasma, Helsinki, a published comic novelist on mathematics.
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