Back in 1993 – 94, a rather witty London Cypriot released two songs named ‘Stavroulla’ and ‘Vrakaman’, and all of a sudden, pretty much every London Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, American Cypriot (and the list goes on) was singing away to the hilarious and rather catchy lyrics that spoke of ‘proxenia’ (arranged marriages) and London Cypriot life. But these tunes were more than just ‘funny’ songs; Mike was deeply interested in the Cypriot diaspora experience, and was keen to dig deep into British Cypriot culture in particular and bring that back to Cyprus so that people could understand it better.
Soon enough, the song was broadcast on radio stations far and wide, and Mike returned to his homeland, fast becoming a media personality, radio presenter, writer and TV show host. A PhD in Cultural Studies followed, and these days, he is known to many as Associate Professor at The University of Nicosia, where he teaches Digital Media and Communications. Every Wednesday, he DJ’s exclusively on OuttaMiYard Radio from Paklavarie Studios in Nicosia where he selects his favourite reggae and dub music from the past and present. His dub poetry has appeared on many underground artist’s creations while he also keeps busy with performances at various bars, cafes and clubs on the island.
My Cyprus Insider asks him ten questions about his life on the island…read on!
1. Three things you most love about Cyprus…
The weather, the people and the language.
2. Beloved spot on the island?
Akamas because we have to save it. I don’t get to go there often, but when I do, there is a feeling of peace and tranquillity there that you can’t find anywhere else. Just the thought of that being destroyed by developers and arch capitalists makes me very angry.
3. Favourite town?
Paphos mainly, because I started my DJ and MC thing there in the early 90’s when no one else knew me. It holds a special place in my memories.
credit: Leonid Andronov
4. Best memory?
It has to be swimming in Famagusta as an 8-year-old pre-1974. The sea was so clean, so still. My uncle took us there and we swam out to an island close to the shore.
5. Perfect weekend break?
Get to Akamas…find a deserted shore….pitch up a tent…and just enjoy the weekend…no mobiles…no internet…just nature.
6. A day at the beach or mountains?
It has to be mountains and beach as I love both. It’s good to be by the beach in the morning. There is a spot near Pyla I like a lot, there are no beach beds, it’s in front of an old night club called JJ’s. It’s good for snorkelling (although Konnos is better for that) but I like this spot as it’s not too far to drive to Nicosia and usually not too crowded. Then in late afternoon, head for the mountains, Kyperounda as its that much cooler, I love that place….
7. Favourite place to eat?
Val’s Place in Galia. I get to go there a couple of times a year. They have some great family/home cooked food and live music. And at night, the view of the stars and sounds from the sea is truly amazing.
8. Favourite place for a drink?
Brickyard Bar & Grill in Makedonitissa, Nicosia. I love the atmosphere there, its cosy and they have some good themed events.
9. If you were to recommend a visitor tries just one local dish, what would it be?
Louvi me ta lahana (black eyed beans with greens) – this local dish with the extras olive oil, lemon, olives, onion and sardines is everyday Cyprus food for me in a nutshell.
10. Best season in Cyprus?
Spring and it’s flowers and aromas; winter is over and usually the temperature is in the low 20’s. Just right before the heat (lalaros) of summer.
Haji Mike will be playing Reggae Selections at Kyperounda village square on Friday 5th August and a Live acoustic set at Val’s Place in Galia on Saturday 6th August.