Are We Aware?

According to the legend, an old oracle tells Byton the founder of the city of İstanbul that Kadıköy is “The Land of Blinds”. I’m living there and I feel both privilaged and unfortunate.

I feel privilaged because when I look from Moda, I always see the historical peninsula of İstanbul. During sunset, there is no match for this view. Impressive colour symphony in the sky has a different taste every evening. I think we have the most magnificient panorama of the world during sunset with the siluette of İstanbul.

I feel unfortunate because I’m a cartoonist. Cartoon is my enthusiasm, my desire, my joy and my job in a sense. The reason of the existance of the cartoon is to critisize the society in the most effective way by the help of humour. Cartoonist tell what they observe by drawing. Because of this, their eyes are open. In other words, they see what they look at. When I look at the historical İstanbul Peninsula, I see that the magnificient siluette is changing fast. Skyscrapers grow up between Sultanahmet Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and Beyazıt Tower. When I see people from Kadıköy taking selfies, being enthusiastic about what they see, I think that the old oracle told the truth. We really live in the land of the blinds!

I did some quick research on Unesco’s web site. At the moment, there is 1052 recorded assets in Unesco World Heritage List. There are 1630 candidates waiting to be in the list which is 1,5 times more than the ones in the list. Turkey is below in the list with 16 recorded assets. However, it is at the top of the candidates list with 69 assets. If all the candidates are accepted, Turkey will be the third in the World Heritage List with 85 assets after China (104) and Italy (92).

What is interesting here is, the accepted assets in developed countries such as France, Italy and Spain are above the number of candidates. Besides Turkey, the situation in Egypt and Iran is on the contrary.

I don’t know the criteria requested to be on the Unesco World Heritage List, I’m too lazy to find out. But according to the numbers I mentioned above, my outcome is this: We live on a geography that is very valuable in cultural variosity but WE ARE NOT AWARE OF IT!

When I was a little boy, my grandmother always told me that we have to remember our past and related the fairy tales she told me with the historical facts. I understood the reason when I grow up. Future generations knowing the past constructs the foundation of being a free society. Societies that have a past, have future also.

The main way to transmit the past is, as explained in the theme part of this activity, to protect local languages, local productions, monuments, acrhaeological sites, rituals, traditional dances, concrete heritage elements that define the collective memory of mankind. Some people realize that to protect the values come from the past is to secure the future of mankind but don’t like this idea and try to destroy it with all their forces. What we can do is to raise awareness in order to stop them. Cartoons are a very effective force that can be used in this direction.

İzel Rozental
Cartoonist

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