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Iraqi Association: Reminiscences by Fran Hazelton

 

At the suggestion of Sadika al-Sarraf—an active participant in the Discover Mesopotamia through Storytelling project 2009-2012—eighty people attended an event at the Rivercourt Methodist Church in Hammersmith to celebrate Fran Hazelton’s 66th birthday. The event was organised by the Iraqi Association and hosted by its chairman Muhy Shakir.

Salaam Saadi spoke warmly of Fran’s work as a campaigner for human rights in Iraq when she was the honorary secretary of CARDRI (Committee Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq) in the 1980s.

Fran illustrated her reminiscences of those days with a PowerPoint presentation. She described how her interest in Iraq had led to the formation of the Zipang Mesopotamian storytellers in 1996 and the Enheduanna Society in 2002. This is an education charity dedicated to popularising the literature of ancient Iraq through the art of oral storytelling.

Professor Farouk al-Rawi praised the work of the Enheduanna Society, of which he is one of the academic patrons.

Fran was presented with a plaque commemorating 25 years of the Iraqi Association by its director Jabbar Hassan. She was also presented with her name written in Arabic calligraphy by Behnam al-Agzeer and with personal gifts from old friends. Greetings were received from Baghdad sent by Noaman Muna, a former chairman of the Iraqi Association.

The event concluded with a telling in Arabic of the Adapa story from ancient Iraq by Zipang Mesopotamian storyteller Badia Obaid, accompanied on the oud by Ehsan Emam.