“Love for each other, Peace for us all”

Once again we are with Hasan Akgun, whose childhood and life in Arakli, Trabzon where he shepherded lambs and collected plums from tree branches leading to a political post was in our pages last year. He now manages to find a long lastving place in our memories as he organizes the International Buyukcekmece Culture and Arts Festival where he hosts hundreds of participants from 64 countries under the slogan “Love for each other, Peace for us all”…

Mayor Dr. Hasan Akgun of Buyukcekmece, who managed to fit almost half a century long Local administrations career has become even more popular as he has been working steadily to create social benefits with culture and arts events informing: “Culture and arts are considered to be the basic components of social and econom- ic growth worldwide. The social welfare level is frequently measured according to accessibility to culture products and arts production. It is also possible to say that culture, arts and social events have an important role in the progress of cities and countries. We are doing the best we can to redound creative industries involved in culture and arts to our countries.”

You have organized the festival for the 19th time this year. What would you like to say?
Our preparation for the festival was never ending. On 27 July we held hands with representatives of 64 countries around the Monument in Taksim Square as we delivered the message, “Love for each other, Peace for us all” and so began our festival. We have been named the Best Culture and Arts Festival by The International Folklore Festivals and Traditional Arts Organization Committee (CIOFF) for 7 times. The 19th International Buyukcekmece Culture and Arts Festival will be embedded in everyone’s memories as a perfect organization in all aspects.


What is the reason for organizing the festival internationally?
Festivals are held to contribute to the cultural life of the society. ‘Social Responsibility’ includes education, science, sports as well as culture and arts. Therefore in order to achieve continuum and growth of cultural sectors there has to be an infrastructure and mechanism applied. In civilized countries municipalities bear 95% of the responsibility in festivals. The ‘International  Buyukcekmece Culture and Arts Festival’ is a very good example of this. And why did we organize this internationally? Until 1990 we danced to our tune on the Architect Sinan Bridge. Then I asked myself ‘Why can’t we make this international?’. We wanted to invite arts ambassadors from around the world to promote our hospitality. We wanted to greet the world with peace and love from Buyukcekmece. Since 2000 the world has been dancing to our tune and we are dancing to theirs on the Architect Sinan Bridge and Culture Park, Kervansaray. We hold hends with over 1500 art ambassador from 64 countries and we bring everyone together. We want to carry the Culture and Arts events to a cultural level, so this is the aim of the festival.


Could you talk about the content of the festival?
This festival serves culture and arts. It is inspected by a group of 13 judges for the  World Festivals Association. The official opening gala was on 30 July 7:00 pm. The opening was with the audio, light and water show on the historical Architect Sinan Bridge. Then at 8:00pm the arts ambassadors from 64 countries joined hands over the bridge. As each country opened their national flags and said “Love for each other, peace for us all.” Then we took stage and an average of thousand participants danced their folk dances in their traditional outfits. We did not have any sort of political statements in the official opening ceremony of the festival, to prevent any kind of curving from the festival’s purpose. In the first stage of the program we had the ‘World Statue Symposium’. All week long world renown sculptors worked on special statues in Buyukcekmece. In the second stage of the festival was the: ‘International Altinkopru Folk Dances Contest’ to present the old life style of the world.There were 30 countries in the contest. We were able to watch beautiful scenes. This contest has been organized at the Ataturk Culture Center open to public for 19 years now. The third step was; ‘World Photography Contest’ there were 11 thousand photographs by one thousand photography artists. The jury of national and international members were under the leadship of World Photographers’ Association Chairman and elected the ones to be awarded. The winners were announced at the festival. The fourth step was: the “Handcrafts exhibition” at Kervansaray. These were the main events of the festival. There was a section entitled “Children”. On 2 August Buyukcekmece housewives presented examples of the Turkish Cuisine. Our committee also organized two award ceremonies as part of the festival. Rutkay Aziz and Nevra Serezli were awarded “Lifelong Success Award” within the Culture and Arts section; Journalist Ismail Saymaz was awarded “Press Success Award” under the press section while Altan Oymen was awarded the ‘Honor Award in Press’. Our traditional, national food was served to guests of the event in a massive tent. We took all our foreign participants on a Bosphorus tour by ship, courtesy of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. There were almost thou- sand people who dined at this trip. We organized the number of guests that would go to certain business owners to keep things fair. Our local residents were very tired during the festival. The elections had been over recently and the political process brought its own type of fatigue. We believe to have enabled our people com- fort in our one week long festival to help distance themselves from current events.

Did the 19th International Buyukcekmece Culture and Arts Festival go as planned?
The festival was a flawless organization from the first day to the finale. We hosted the 1500 culture ambassadors from 64 countries the best way we could, along with presenting our country. The 1500 young culture and art ambassadors who are now back home will be our honorary ambassadors for the rest of their lives and they will talk about Turkey, Istanbul  and Buyukcekmece everywhere they go from now on. This is major gain on our behalf. And we have already begun the preparation for the 20th International Buyukcekmece Culture and Arts Festival. Everyone can rest assure that we will have an even better festival next year. We started our journey along with Turkish Folklore Association; as a result of the cooperative efforts we contribute not only to Turkey’s but to the entire world’s culture and arts. I would like to present my deepest appreciation and thanks to the Turkish Folklore associa- tion, my team, related NGOs we worked with and our Buyukcekmece family that have assumed the role of host making it their own.

Akgun was born in Arakli district of Trabzon, completed his primary school education in Kaynarca, Adapazarı and graduated Middle School in Senlikkoy, Florya. He graduated 50th Anniversary High School in Yesilkoy in 1974. He was among the first group of alumnus of both schools. Hasan AKGUN started working for Sefakoy Municipality in October 1974 and Graduated University  while he worked. He graduated from Istanbul University Foreign Languages Academy in 1978. He participated at the Middle East Public administration Institute trainings entitled “Urbanization and Municipality Management” through 1979-1988 and conducted detailed research on the topic. He studied the local administration management and structures in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France through 1989-1993 and presented a detailed study of the comparison of the applications of the municipalities with their Turkish counterparts. He completed his Master’s Degree in Istanbul University Business Management Faculty presenting his thesis on “Universal Development of Municipalities and Analysis of Budgeting” in 1992. He began his PhD at the Istanbul University Marine Sciences and Management Institute in 1993, during PhD he especially studied the urbanization planning of Southern Coasts of France and Barcelona, Spain focusing on the use of land and compared the information he gathered with the applications in Turkey. He completed his Doctorate thesis titled“Buyukcekmece in the Process of Urban Development” in 1996 and was awarded the title Doctor upon his presentation.

*This article was  published in the  September – October issue of Marmara Life. 


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