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akarsuMuhlis Akarsu was prolific in his composition and recordings (in the pre-CD days) and fortunately many have been subsequently released on CD. The more I listen too these recordings, both solo and as part of the Muhabbet series, the more his brilliance is evident. This deyiş is from his last recording prepared shortly before he was killed in Sivas on 2 July 1993. The album was released after the Sivas events with the title Sivas Ellerinda Ömrüm Çalınır which includes the recording of that re-written version of the Pir Sultan Abdal deyiş performed by Arif Sağ (see my previous post). Akarsu’s voice is extraordinarily rich – singing in the deep baritone he favoured from the time of the Muhabbet recordings in the early 1980s –  and the songs very strong, mostly his own compositions, including the deyiş that became, after his death, so poignant Yine gönlüm hoş değil (Again my heart is not happy). Akarsu also performs the Turna semahı and Pir Sultan’s Bir güzelin aşığım. Interestingly, Arif Sağ begins his 1993 recording called Direniş (‘Resistance’, recorded only a few days before the Sivas massacre and still only ever released on cassette) with this deyiş although he credits the source as Davut Sulari while the music is credited to Akarsu on his recording.

The deyiş translated here however is an unabiguous statement, straightforward, direct. The main complexity in the translation is what to do with the word Hak. It means God, especially in the context used in the song and evokes the Alevi concept of enel-hak (I am God) often considered as an expression of the humanistic qualities of Alevi belief. However, while this translation must prevail, it does lose the other meaning of hak as ‘right’, ‘justice’ or ‘true’. Akarsu does help out however by making a slight change to the repeated last line on verses one and three. Here he uses hak in the sense of human rights, insan hakkı. I have taken the text from the book Muhlis Akarsu, hayatı, yaşamı, sanatı, şiirleri by Süleyman Zaman published by Can Yayınları in 2006. Besides the change to the repeated last line, the only other difference between the printed and sung version is in the 3rd line of verse two where Akarsu sings bilinmez (is not known) rather than görünmez (is not seen).

Demokrasi nerde ise ordayız  (Presently democracy will be with us)

Translation: Paul Koerbin


Friends, what we believe is clear

Presently democracy will be with us

We are not duped by the words of bigots

Presently democracy will be with us

(Presently human rights will be with us)

Our dead don’t come back to life again

Ignorant fatwas are not given against humans

Not among us do class divisions appear

Presently democracy will be with us

Our ways are not reconciled with division

No meddling with the beliefs of humans

No conceit, no competition with anyone

Presently democracy will be with us

(Presently human rights will be with us)

We know mankind is God and God is mankind

Our rose opens within our hearts

I am Akarsu, all of us are sister and brother

Presently democracy will be with us

———————————————————————————————————–

Dostlar bizim inancımız bellidir

Demokrasi nerde ise ordayız

Softaların sözlerine kanmayız

Demokrasi nerde ise ordayız

(İnsan hakkı nerde ise ordayız)

Bizim ölüler’mız geri dirilmez

İnsanlara boş fetvalar verilmez

Bizde sınıf bölücülük görülmez

Demokrasi nerde ise ordayız

Yollarımız ikilikle barışmaz

İnsanların inancına karışmaz

Benlik yoktur kimse ile yarışmaz

Demokrasi nerde ise ordayız

(İnsan hakkı nerde ise ordayız)

İnsan Hak’tır Hak insandır biliriz

Gönüllerde açar bizim gülümüz

Akarsu’yum bacı kardaş hepimiz

Demokrasi nerde ise ordayız

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