about my life, memo in turkey

My name is Memo Guenesch Schachiner.
I was born in Istanbul on June 27, 1948.
My origins are Kurdish and Greek.
I visited Zihni Pascha primary school in Erenköy /Istanbul, where I was discovered to be an infant prodigy. I suffered this definition hardly. My family was rather isolated and I was educated in the traditional cultures of my parents. At school I could not conform with the official ideologies of the state.
At primary school I learned that I was an unwelcome foreigner in the land in which I was born. Thanks to my parents´ origins as well as to my life in Istanbul I not only get to know Turkish, Kurdish and Greek folk music, but also the music of alevite , sunnite and orthodox religions.
My aunt in particular, who played the lute and had a beautiful voice, taught me the music of the Ottoman court. As a young boy I learned how to play Saz and Djura (Kurdish folk instruments). I discovered European classical music by taking violin lessons.
Since I could not conform with the official ideologies, I was removed from several middle schools, such as Kozyatagi, Haydarpascha and Pendik. I was not allowed to continue with any kind of studies.
I was a street urchin since my sixteenth year . In order to survive, I worked as shoe-shine boy, street vendor and porter.

From 1964 until 1967 I studied at the conservatory of Istanbul.

In 1965 I performed my first political functions in the Kadiköy- district group of the Turkish labour party, cleaning the floor and proof presses. In 1966 I was removed from the party because of my attitudes concerning sexuality and nationality.

Between 1966 and 1968 I played at the Oraloglu-Theatre.

I started earning my living as translator, actor, commercial artist, cartoonist, caricaturist and musician.

When my class-mates finished middle school, I was allowed to take an extraordinary exam.

In 1967 I passed all the exams within 20 days and took part in the entrance exam at university.
Out of 30 000 candidates, I won first place.
Until 1971, I studied at the faculty of economy at the university of Istanbul.
I worked for the Federation of Social Ideas SFKF and for the Revolutionary Youth Dev Genc (a legendary organisation of revolts in 1968).
1967: I studied at the Language and Cultural Centre.
1969 – 71: I acted in the People´s Theatre.
I also travelled around Turkey with a touring company. I played Saz and sang folksongs at soirees.
I translated several books by V. I. Lenin and F. Castro into Turkish and published them.

I also worked as editor for the journal Dogu (=East) which pointed out the Kurdish problems.

I also published my own poems.

I made expeditions into almost all parts of Turkey which were mostly inhabited by Kurds and Alevites. I also wrote several books about traditional folk music, dances and games.

When I left Turkey I had to leave this part of my work behind.

The court martial in Istanbul wanted to sentence me to 56 years in prison because of my activities as a writer.

After the military coup in 1971 I was forced to leave Turkey.




mail to: mail to: memo schachiner

start: 3 july 2000, up-date: 22 may 2005