Peasant Autonomy
go to the previous page     Nederlands     go to the next page
Story 135

Anatolia and Ankara, Turkey – 1978

A flock of sheep in the capital

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Scott Dexter)

Anatolia, Turkey.

There are so many people, cars, and buses! The streets reek, and the noise is unbearable. The city is full of high buildings and statues. Shop windows are stuffed with expensive home goods and precious clothes. Although it was not the first time that Sivan visited Ankara, he continues to be shocked by its filthy extravagance every time.
Sivan is a young herdsman and nomad from Anatolia. He is travelling with his father and two brothers to bring their herd of 370 sheep to Ankara by train. They had reserved four cattle cars to make the trip.
When they led their flock from the train station to the cattle market across the busy traffic, well-dressed people look at them in surprise and amazement. Some appear amused while others irritated by the traffic jam they cause.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Reskaros)

Ankara, Turkey.

Finally, when the flock has arrived at the market, Sivan sits down in a corner to take some rest. So many thoughts tumble through his head. What should he do? The city life doesn't attract him, but the nomadic life is a blind alley. Sheep rearing is no longer profitable. With more mountain meadows being ploughed by tractors to grow grain, they have less space for grazing their flocks of sheep.
His father is struggling to accept the decline of the nomadic life and the pride it brought to the Veysikan family. He frequently erupts in anger, shouting, hitting, and kicking violently. He has become unbearable to be around.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Sarah Murray)

Ankara, Turkey.

In the evening Sivan goes to see an old friend in Ankara who is a guard now at a building under construction and hopes to become the gatekeeper when the building is ready. “Life is hard in the city,” says the friend, “here the rich are really rich, and the poor really poor.” His son is a communist and talks about 'workers', 'bourgeois' and 'capitalists'.
In the night Sivan cannot get to sleep. So many thoughts race through his mind. Nomadic life is a blind alley. His father behaves terribly. In Ankara he could become a construction worker. He is strong enough for it, but how awfully he will miss his family, the outdoor life with the sheep and the independence. Thinking that he will return with the train from time to time to see his mother and the others and to breath fresh air, he restlessly falls asleep.


The movie The Herd (1978) of the Turkish film-maker Yılmaz Güney shows the contrasts between nomadic and city life. The movie also tells about a bloody feud between two nomad families, and about everlasting love.

Go to:
= the next page:
Soldiers at the border - Şanlıurfa Province, South-eastern Turkey – 1980, story 136.
= the Table of contents, story 135.