Özcan Akyol looks for what fraternizes instead of what alienates in ‘Cousins ​​of Eus’

The high point of being funny at my seventies primary school was scribbling acapital T on the map of the Netherlands on the wall of the play-learning roomnear Urk. Woahah. With pencil, it was that cowardly. I can’t recall exactlywhy that was liked, but I fear that children in the last century used ‘Turk’as a container swear word for anyone who was not a native Dutchman.

Well takes Özcan Akyol, in the second season of The Cousins ​​of Eus (NTR).the viewer already three weeks to the country of birth of his parents. Thefourth time, Sunday evening, he was able to explain with reasons that ‘the’Turk does not exist, not even in Turkey. He says that he belongs to a minoritynot only in the Netherlands, but also in Turkey. He is Turkish in theNetherlands, but Aleliet in Turkey. Alevism is a liberal-humanist offshoot ofIslam. In this episode he speaks with Kurds and Armenians, with Arabs andSuryoye. And then there are the Lazen and Circassians, the Zaza and Turkmen.

Travel programs also come in different types. You had Ruben Terlou in China,Jelle Brandt Corstius in Russia. They spoke the language, and they sought outthe people who told them the stories of the land. But they remained strangers,outsiders. And that’s not Eus. At least, that’s what I think, when I see howeasily he talks to people there too.

‘Happy and joyful’

Eus is looking for the ‘common denominator’ of all those population groups inthe country that has barely existed for a century (Turkey will celebrate itscentenary in 2023). Seems sensible to me, safer too, to look for whatfraternizes instead of what alienates. In Sanliurfa, a city of two millioninhabitants, he finds all togetherness. Kurds, Turks and Arabs live there andwhoever he speaks to, everyone is so “happy and happy” that you suspectsomething in the drinking water. Eus is there at the time of Ramadan, themonth of fasting, that certainly contributes to the best mood. Eus concludesthat faith brings and keeps the people in this prophetic city together. Andthat common denominator went just a little too fast for me. I was stillchewing on what the young men he spoke to on the street said. They raved abouttheir city, everyone was each other’s brother. One had been to Istanbul once,but he didn’t like it. Why? The girls. They were dressed too naked. This givesthe impression that people are not only kept there in Sanliurfa, but alsobelow it. No fasting during Ramadan for Eus, by the way. Not that he ate thewrap with lamb liver and lamb fat, prepared especially for him. But that wasbecause he doesn’t like liver.

Eus visits an Armenian village in southwestern Turkey where 130 people stilllive. A Suryoye village where of the 150 families, fifteen are left. Theinhabitants still speak their own language, profess their own (Christian)faith and they have their own culture and customs. They don’t have only youngpeople, one after the other leaves for the big city, or rather to Europe.Young people gone, culture gone, language gone, Eus argues. In the lastArmenian village he talks about it with ‘grandpa Musa’. He has been writingfor years about the history of his village and the seven neighboring villagesthat are already extinct. In what language?, asks Eus. Turkish, Grandpa says.Eus, surprised: “You are Armenian, aren’t you?” Grandpa, equally surprised:“What does that have to do with it?” In a single gesture he wipes Eus’snostalgic conservatism off the table. He is a ‘Turkish citizen’ and thuswrites in Turkish. Is it not a pity that his language is disappearing? Willgrandpa be a concern.

In the Suryoye village he meets a Turkish German who comes to live thereagain, his German-born adult sons also want nothing more. In Europe, he says,you remain that stranger. An outsider. To which Eus says more than asks: “And