Foreword: In Sami Abdul Rahman Park [chapter]

Brendan O'Leary
2013 Identity and Nation in Iraq  
Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and it produces flowers and vegetables. A love of highly gardened public parks was one of the many dispositions that Sami Abdul Rahman acquired in England, and that he took back to his homeland. Archeologists suggest that his homeland may have been one of the first places on the planet where people started steering water to garden on a large scale. A graduate of the University of Manchester, in that wet city of the north of England, Sami lived much of his life
more » ... as an exile from his homeland, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Sentenced to death in absentia by Saddam Hussein's regime, Sami and his wife, Fawzia, lived out their exile in Syria, Turkey, Iran, and England. He and his family eventually found an ordinary family home in Chislehurst in Kent, which overlooked green fields where horses grazed. In his younger years Sami had been an officer in the guerrilla army of the legendary Mulla Mustafa Barzani, the Pershmerga-"those who face death." In that role he had planned and led a daring raid on the Kirkuk oil fields in 1969. "Sami's Park," as it is known in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, was named after Sami Abdul Rahman. After all, he had initiated it. Its opening was delayed to let the trees within grow taller, and stronger, before Kurdish children clambered all over them. Trees and flowers are now in abundance in the manicured park, and so are fountains and artificial lakes. Kurdistan has always been rich in rivers and water if not in other ways. Aside from the high pollen count, there is now an abundance of children's climbing frames, playground challenges, and toys. Old couples in Western clothes walk by toward evening. Young couples follow later, sometimes in more traditional clothes, though the women wear the bright colors and make-up frowned upon by puritanical mullahs. Most promenade in their Friday best, but the occasional jogger, skateboarder, and huckster can be seen, though we saw no beggars. Students can be seen looking at their books, in between looking at each other. It is but a short walk to the Parliament, the Kurdistan National Assembly, and to the Council of Ministers behind it, where Sami once had his offices. He was the deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government until February 1, 2004. As well as landscape gardening, Sami Abdul Rahman was determined to bring parliamentary democracy to Kurdistan and federalism to Iraq. I recall watching him instruct young Kurdish civil servants on how to take notes: to be unobxi
doi:10.1515/9781626370791-002 fatcat:6bekem7hxnav5peuabo2hfawza