On Dec. 28, 2011, late at night, the Turkish warplanes bombed a group of Kurdish villagers, who had gone across the border into Iraq to load packages with cigarettes and tea and barrels with petrol on their mules. They were about to enter the Turkish territory again when the bombing started. Not much later, 34 traders, 19 of whom were underaged boys, were dead. One of the victims was 34-year-old Osman Kaplan, married to Pakize and father of five children. All I ever saw of Osman was a photo of him while working in a small garden where the family grew some vegetables. Spade in his hands, looking up into the camera.
When you grow up with dengbej, as is the case with all Kurds who were born and raised on their ancestral lands, it will be part of you for the rest of your life. For Kurdish singers, that is even more the case.
Acclaimed Kurdish singers Şivan Perwer and Mem Ararat talked to Ahval about the influence the old Kurdish story-telling tradition has had on their art. Even when life took them far from where their cradle stood, it is the dengbej tradition that they continued to build on.