Cyprus and Its People: Nation, Identity, and Experience in an Unimaginable Community, 1955-1997

By Vangelis Calotychos | Go to book overview

3 An Education in Honor: Patriotism and Rebellion in Greek Cypriot Schools

Rebecca Bryant

One day at the height of the shortages and hunger that afflicted even Cyprus during World War II, a young boy from the Pancyprian Gymnasium left his house in the afternoon and went outside the city walls to cut oranges from one of his family's fields, planning to give them to some of his friends the next day. As always, he wore his school uniform and cap, with the initials [Γ∏] and his student number on each, so he was easily recognizable to the Turkish trooper who stopped him on the road back to his home. The trooper scolded him for carrying a pocketknife in a public place, took down his number, and sent him on his way. The next day, however, the headmaster of the gymnasium entered one of the boy's classes, read the trooper's report to all present, and sternly reprimanded the boy for having brought embarassment to his school. The man who was this boy described the strictness of the school with a wistful note of nostalgia in his voice, and he explained to me the various methods of surveillance, including the infamous paidhonomos or after-school disciplinarian--an institution that the current Minister of Education recently suggested reinstituting.1

Such surveillance and discipline became particularly important less than a decade later, when in 1955 the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston, or National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA), unleashed the first wave of anti-British violence aimed at overthrow of the colonial government and the union of Cyprus with Greece. Since the first British administrators had entered the island in 1878, Greek Cypriot religious and political leaders had periodically demanded that the island be ceded to its mainland "mother," while Turkish Cypriot leaders had cited either the Ottoman legal claim on the island or Greek atrocities against Turks in Crete,

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