Reunification: A Last Chance to Save the Sanna Language
During the Turkish military invasion of the northern third of Cyprus in 1974, the great majority of the Maronites were forced to relocate south to the Greek-Cypriot controlled part of the island.
As of 2000, all remaining speakers of Sanna were 30 years of age and older, and in 2011 a census revealed that of the nearly 5,000 Maronites living on Cyprus today only 900 people “spoke the language at different levels.”
Now the latest round of Cyprus Talks have brought some hope to the remaining Maronites on the island that maybe they could reunify their minority community as well and keep their ancient language and culture alive.
“The problem is that because we have lost our village it’s very difficult to keep our language,” Katy Foradari, who teaches Sanna in Kormakitis explained to AFP.
Despite living in the Greek-Cypriot section of the island, since 2008 many young Maronites have been able to visit the northern Turkish-occupied sector and attend summer classes learning Sanna and participate in a summer camp. Around 100 students from the age of 5 to 17 attended this past summer, learning the alphabet, grammar, and songs in the native, and almost forgotten language.
Yiannakis Mousas, represents the Maronite minority community in Parliament in Nicosia, and says that the only way to save the ancient Sanna language and culture is a solution to the Cyprus dispute.
“Only through the return of the Maronite people, of their property, of their schools, of their churches, only in this way do we have a good chance to revive the language,” he told AFP.