Heidi Trautmann

373 - Fatma Sevem – A woman of Cyprus

By Heidi Trautmann


My first CD “Sen Gideli”, Fatma said, or rather Fatoş as everybody calls her, and she hands it to me with pride. A CD with folk music, love songs, one of the songs is based upon her lyrics from her book of poems “Vurma Savurma Beni”. The music has been written by Bekir Kara, writer and theatre man, musician and….. football fan, as he told me one day.

I have met Bekir Kara for an interview two years ago and on that occasion I met Fatoş and her friend Zeynep who helped interpreting. We had talked about music and Bekir had shown me his instruments, the Saz in various sizes, very like the Greek Bouzouki, or as I was told, the Saz is the grandfather of the Bouzouki. Bekir has composed songs, around 45, for folk songs and written the lyrics as well. Both Fatoş and Bekir played and sang some pieces for me at that time.

Fatoş has a strong voice with much vibrato in the old traditional way, fascinating. And she sings to me a lullaby, an old one with many sweet words and hush hushes.

Fatoş was born in Engendere/Aylavarva near Paphos in 1950 and attended primary school there. She started secondary education in Limassol at the 19 Mayis Lycee when a serious illness changed her life dramatically. She had to stop school and stayed in hospital for a whole year.

She was a young girl and to pass her time she learnt to play the Bağlama which is the Saz as explained above.  She made up her own songs, the lyrics and the music, and from that time on this passion remained with her. She could not go back to school as she had problems walking and had to stay at home. She filled her time with writing, composing and playing. “I am the only woman playing the Saz in this country, usually only men play this instrument.”  She says to me very proudly.  “You can listen to my story on Vatan Radio on 102 and to my songs!”

Fatoş, Bekir Kara, his wife Sabiha, and Zeynep are close friends, all from Paphos. “You know, we from Paphos can do anything, we are the greatest in everything, nothing can bring us down!” She says laughingly.

When she recovered she joined Bekir Kara for the theatre; it changed all their lives to play at the Belediye Theatre of Piskobu, as Bekir had told me once, and that gave another aspect to the life of Fatoş. Then came 1974 and they all had to leave their homes and go to the North, Bekir and his wife went to Güzelyurt, Fatoş and Zeynep to Kyrenia. Fatoş got married, and they had a café in the main road; her passion for music and poetry had to stay behind, they had to survive first. “It is when my husband died, I picked up my hobby again, a way to survive morally, it gave me peace of mind.”

The result I can now see and hold in my hands, her CD and her poetry book.

Well done, Fatma Sevem!

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