Incredible Okçular!

Okçular’s Photo Archive

Okçular, my home village, is a simple farming community peopled by folk who are best described as ‘Salt of the Earth’. The village as we know it came into existence in the early to mid 1960s when the villagers of what had earlier been known as Kapız Köyü, together with their neighbouring hamlets, picked up picks and shovels and set about digging a drainage canal that would not only help to eradicate malaria but would make the fertile flood plain available for arable farming year-round. Building became possible and by-and-large families moved from the scrubby, rocky soil of Kapız (where I now live) to the new, rich land that was opened up to them.

Bayram Özal - soldier of the new Republic 1923

People’s health and material lives began to improve and histories that were once only told in stories, passed by word of mouth from granny to grandchild, began to be recorded in photographs. There had been a few treasured snaps from earlier years but they were very few and far between.

Bahar Uysal and Dudu Çakır

As part of the research for my original Okçular Village Guide book, I asked my neighbours to lend me any old photos they had that might be useful to illustrate some of the old folks’ stories. As sales of the book took off and the Okçular Book Project became a reality J and I looked round for ways in which we could give something back to our friends and neighbours that would be useful and life-enhancing. Most of you already know about the play park for the kids and the mural project at the village school; you can re-cap on them by following these links

What you won’t be familiar with is the Photo Archive – as more photos than I could ever use were handed over for the book, I began to float the idea of a ‘Photo History’ that would make these treasures available to everyone. It was an idea that has captured the interest of most of the villagers to such an extent that whenever a display is put up, J and I get overwhelmed by the response.

It was apparent that what was needed was a permanent way to display the pictures. As we now have a new village centre with a tea house, barber, offices and an education room we have started to enlarge and frame the pictures and have them on permanent loan where everyone can enjoy them.

Here are just a few treasures from Okçular’s Photo Archive – a brief glimpse into a lost world – I hope you enjoy them.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Ali and Bahar Uysal 1955


Bayram Özal 1923


Okçular menfolk circa 1965


Omar Aydoğan circa 1982


circa 1960


Osman Çetin pretends to be a village dandy

11 thoughts on “Okçular’s Photo Archive

    1. Talking with the old folks – ‘Yasli Cinarlar’ (sorry, no Turkish chs etc on this machine) as they call them locally and getting their stories for the book was a wonderful exercise. Even had some of the old dears confessing to eloping all those years ago – such memories. Since the book was published several have died but their memories live on. Glad you enjoyed the pics – we’re still putting them up at the new village centre for all to see.

    1. anything that doesn’t change is ‘dead’! Defining the ‘right’ sort of change is the difficult bit – mostly humans get that bit very wrong; or rather, those who seek to administer the rest of us for our own good and the profit of themselves and their cronies, get it wrong! Wrong for the planet and the 98% of humanity who don’t control everything.
      So easy to set me off on this road 😀
      Lots more pics to get displayed; glad you enjoyed them.

  1. Such awesome photos! I love looking at old pictures – I wonder if something will be lost when future generations only have digital to look back on. We just booked two weeks in Turkey in September today and I’m so excited to explore!

    1. Hello Andrea, thanks for the compliment – I have many more pics from our villagers so I’ll be doing a follow up at some stage. As you are so excited about coming to visit this wonderful country why don’t you take a few minutes to check out the village website I put up – there are more pics there. Where are you visiting in Turkey? You could use surmanfenn at gmail dot com

  2. I love old photos, the older the better. It may be just the history nerd in me but I can’t help but look at the photos and think about when and where they were taken as I create a story of what was going on in their lives at that moment.

    1. Hello to you! There is a charm about a lot of these old pics that seems lacking in modern ones. There are few truly old ones from our village as this was an impoverished area until very recently. few outsiders ever came by and even dirt roads to the outside weren’t constructed till the 1960s. J and I interviewed many of the old folks to get their stories for our village book project; you can read parts of them at

  3. Every time I see old images I understand the value of a real photo camera. These days, everyone is using a smartphone to take hundreds of pictures of the same event, but they lack the emotional value, the connection with the world and ultimately the natural touch of light.

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