September 22, 2023

Readers Mail ….
From Ismail Veli ….

Many of us have heard about the term ”Arab Brides”, this is a direct reference to possibly thousands of Turkish Cypriot (TC) young girls who were married mostly to Palestinians but also Lebanese and others in the 1930-40’s. Not being an expert on this subject I am not able to look into the why’s or events during that period. Suffice it to say that we now have thousands of children and above all grandchildren of those ”Brides”. Many are in fact in search of their TC relatives.

Pembe Tevfik Mehmet aged 14 years

I recently had a message from a lady named Howaida AL Mordaa who lives in Lebanon. Her grandmother Pembe Tevfik Mehmet was only 14 when her family married her to a Lebanese gentleman named Sobhi Khalil Mordaa. This was in 1932. Fortunately for Pembe there was regular communication with her family, her sister Kevser (A name Arabic in origin and means holy water in heaven) visiting  twice in the 1970’s. Sadly Pembe passed away in 1980 at the age of 62. With the situation in Lebanon and the Middle East being on a constant war footing and with Pembe passing away it became more difficult for her children and her grandchildren to maintain contact with their relatives in Cyprus.

Pembe was born in the Taht-el-Kale area of Nicosia, her parents were Umuhan/Amahan Jafer born in 1893 and her father Tevfik Mehmet also from Nicosia in 1880.  Pembe was born in 1918 and had a sister named Kevser who had 2 children, Sevilay and Sevki. They lived at 26  Atilla Street, but also lived at 4 Haidar Pasha St and 23 Kara Pasha St.

Pembe Tevfik Mehmet & husband Sobhi Khalil Mordaa

Pembe and her husband Sobhi had 5 sons and 2 daughters. Their names Hashem, Samir, Jamil/Khamis. Tevfik, Hasan and the  daughters’ names Wafika and Khadija.  As mentioned above Pembe did get visits to Lebanon from her sister Kevser which made her happy because she was clearly having good contacts with her family.

Jamil – Pembe’s son

Pembe also travelled back to Cyprus. In 1949 she went with her family and stayed with her mother from 16 January until 5th May. Staying for a whole 4 months clearly gave all her children and husband a long period of quality fun time. Those were happy times for all the family and Pembe returned to Cyprus with her family again in November 1953 and November 1963. Howaida writes the 1949 address as Douar Hillas Nicosia, but it’s no doubt the Lebanese version and it’s hard to identify the exact name. It sounds like Hisar Duvar which is the medieval walls of Nicosia. The 1963 visit was at 26 Atilla sokak/Street which is only a few minutes walk from the Lusignan House Museum and Haydar Pasha Mosque.

Howaida is anxious to connect with her Turkish Cypriot roots, and her father Jamil did actually visit his aunt Kevser who lived in Nicosia. Howaida’s mother Sabah Baghdadi also of Lebanese origin was supportive of her husband Jamil’s close connection to his Turkish grandmother. Sadly Jamil has passed away and Howaida has had difficulty locating her cousins. In 1949 Pembe Tevfik Mehmet’s parents also lived  at 7 Timurlenk Sokagi/Street in the Tahtakale area of Nicosia, which is very near to the Famagusta Gate and Hisar Duvari/Fortification walls and also 26 Attila Sokak/street in 1963.

With modern social media many have made contacts with lost friends and relatives, decades after their separation. We can only hope that Howaida is one of those fortunate enough to find her relatives.

If anyone reads and remembers the family or can help please write to   Any help on this would be much appreciated.



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