I am currently trying to clear my backlog of blog posts. Weirdly/Appropriately/Awkwardly enough, I found a months-old stub on Walk of Truth, the NGO for which I now work. I suppose, now, in case they read it, I also have to state that I did not write it at work…(1) This is just a brief note on the background to Walk of Truth, based on founder Tasoula Georgiou-Hadjitofi’s interview in the Cyprus Mail, and her exhibition catalogue article.
Georgiou-Hadjitofi (2011: 15) is a refugee from Famagusta, who became a Cypriot activist in the Netherlands.(2) When she became a successful entrepreneur in the Netherlands, she was made an Honorary Consul of the Republic of Cyprus. And when a Dutch antiquities smuggler and dealer, Michel van Rijn, gave her the opportunity to recover certain Cypriot antiquities from the black market, she became a cultural heritage activist. (She has personally repatriated 60 Cypriot antiquities; and she has played a role in police operations that have recovered 5,000.)
As noted in the Cyprus Mail, confronting her ‘unresolved anguish’ and ‘antipathy’ towards Turks, Georgiou-Hadjitofi studied Turkish; and she and her teacher, Erhan Gürer, went on walks, discussing Cypriot, Greek and Turkish history, politics and society. Thus, the idea of the NGO was born.
The charity hopes to contribute to peace-building through cultural property protection. Alongside other activities, keeping to the theme of the NGO, it will run walks to and around cultural heritage sites in divided communities, in order to help re-establish communication, understanding, trust and cooperation.
1: I created the first draft of this blog post on 17th January 2012, months before I had electronic contact with a member of staff, let alone became one.
2: Georgiou-Hadjitofi has been a cultural representative of the Church of Cyprus, has recovered and repatriated cultural property, and has published scholarly work on repatriation (e.g. Georgiou-Hadjitofi, 2000). However, contrary to a cringeworthy mistake in my PhD thesis, Georgiou-Hadjitofi is not an archaeologist; she is, as the article says, an ‘activist’.
Georgiou-Hadjitofi, T L. 2000: “Cyprus: The long return home”. In CPCHC (Committee for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Cyprus), (Ed.). Cyprus: A civilization plundered, 222-235. Athens: The Hellenic Parliament.
Georgiou-Hadjitofi, T. 2011: “Your truth might not be mine but am I entitled to my truth?” In Paraskevaidou, P, (Ed.). The location of culture, 15-17. The Hague: Walk of Truth. Available at: http://walkoftruth.com/tasoula-hadjitofi/