LEFKONIKO, the Pride of Mesaoria
What shall I first remember about you,
my beloved Lefkoniko?
Your whitewashed houses, your clean yards and gardens
the vast plains of Mesaoria
which were the source and inspiration of all that is deemed good?
And as she so aptly writes about our life in Lefkoniko with her personal style, our poet and our favourite teacher, presbyter Koula Paraskeva:
“On the hanging sheets
the crop is wealthy.
Every home an “euphoria” of goods.
And “euphoria” of joy, gentleness and hilarity.
And above all “euphoria” of self-sufficiency.
They had all they need. Nobody complained.
And “Glory to God“.
Yellow hued rays to warm the earth and her people”
The first house was whitewashed, and thus it was named Lefkoniko
“From all the other villages
you had a different grace
you were the jewel
and Pride of the Messoria!” A. Antoniou
Blessed land of our Lefkoniko!
Greek land, the land of the Achaeans, the Mycenaeans, the heroes of Homer. From the 7th century BC the excavations of archaeologists brought to light a sanctuary, dedicated to the God of Light, Apollo!
True witnesses to the statues that adorn the Cyprus Museum.
Here, the people developed culture for 3,000 years! Our testimonies are the stones, the earth, the statues, the hidden treasures of our land, the language, the traditional ethics and morals, the icons, wonderful examples of Byzantine art. Fortunately, by Divine Providence, the best works are to be found at the Byzantine Museum in Nicosia.
Lefkoniko, in the Franco era, the revolutionist Re Alexis made you her abode!
During the Ottoman domination, Lefkoniko at the beginning of the 19th century was the largest and the richest producing village of Cyprus! In order to understand the difference between Lefkoniko and other villages in terms of the size of their production, it can be said that “Lefkoniko had 139,750 kilos of Cypriot wheat, Athienou 72,960, Aradippou 60,160, Assia 88,960, Morphou 16,000, Dhali 52,480, Lysi 37,760, Trikomo 10,240, Prastio 26,240”.
Then, as they came to our island, the great ones of Old Albion, the first English commander of Famagusta, Captain Swaine, stopped by Lefkoniko during his itineration. It was the most important village of the province, therefore the Governor preferred to spend the night there.
Land of grain, land of richness, depth, blessed.
Honest people, industrious and philosophers, lovers of their land who richly rewarded them with each fruitful year. Full to the brim were the Grain Warehouses that were, and still are, the largest on our island!
In recent years in Agios Fokas, to the north of Lefkoniko, the orchards with the apricots and the ‘kaisia’ began to ripen early.
Humble people, hospitable, people of morals, measure and nobleness, decency, fervent and faith in God.
We had two churches, the Archangel Michael and the Church of our Saviour, additionally six chapels: of the Holy Cross, Prophet Elias, Saint Theodori, Agia Zoni, Agios Fokas and Agios Georgios in Melounda.
Archangel Michael’s church was in danger of collapsing, and thanks to the efforts of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Culture, together with our Municipality, it was restored, and today our church stands proud and majestic.
People of duty and responsibilities, with aged old values and ideals unparalleled.
Present at every call of and for the homeland.
Many brave men gave their scarlet blood for the freedom of this soil. From the October Events of 1931, in 1945, the EOKA struggle, the inter-communal riots, the battles of Tillyrias and the 1974 Invasion.
I could not omit the participation of Lefkoniko in the Liberation Struggle of EOKA. The Lefkoniko High School, in particular, from where boys grew into active warriors for the cause.
Who could forget the Commander-led operation of the five-member Afxentiou team on November 4, 1955, against the Lefkoniko Police Station, from where they removed all their weapons?
Another event which marked life in Lefkoniko was the burning of our Post Office on 3rd December 1955, during a demonstration by the High School students against the measures imposed by the Governor Sir John Harding. A 5-day curfew followed and our fellow citizens were forced to pay a £2000 fine.
It is also worth mentioning the events during the March 25, 1945 parade, when the police forces in the centre of Lefkoniko opened fire against members of the Popular Organizations who insisted on reaching their clubhouse and dissolving. Three people were killed this day. A dark page in the life of our town.
People of knowledge!
With a crown of education placed upon their heads.
From 1840 there was a Community School in Lefkoniko, which was supported by the students’ parents.
Our High School was not only the pride of Lefkoniko but of all the surrounding area. In 1938 it was founded by a progressive teacher, Andreas Loizidis, as a private school called the “Lefkoniko Commerce College“.
In 1940 the school became communal and was renamed the “High School of Lefkoniko“, which in 1947 was transferred to a new school building on the hill of Profitis Elias and took the name of its benefactor, George Kamintzis. Then in 1960, the “Kamintzis High School of Lefkoniko” and therein
along with Cyprus’ Independence, was called the “Hellenic Gymnasium of Lefkoniko” and later in time “High School of Lefkoniko”.
With her Ionian Rhythm monumental gateway
majestic, imposing, archaic
the pediment, the cornice, the columns.
With the jasmine intoxicating our souls.
Our envious pride was the magnificent Ceremony Hall, which Archbishop Makarios inaugurated on May 26, 1968, one of the few on our island, imposing and magnificent, once again constructed by the donation from our benefactor Georgios Kamintzis
It is worth mentioning the ‘A’ District Festival of Lefkoniko in 1959 with the ancient Greek costumes, with the girls dressed in all white tunics and with carriers on their heads, with their crowns,
and the girls who embodied the Goddess of Snakes
the Minoan Goddess of Fertility, barefoot, with him
a small panther on the head, holding a snake in each hand. The festival was also applauded in GSP, where it was also presented, and it received excellent reviews.
Our last High School Principal was the late Lykourgos Kappas, who also served as Minister of Education and Culture, a remarkable spiritual man, a well-loved man, a nobleman.
People who believed in social justice and humanism!
This is why in our town on 22 November, 1909, the Cooperative Movement was founded.
As people from Lefkoniko, we took pride of our ancestors who were the pioneers of the Cooperative Movement on our island. We commemorate them, because Lefkoniko in the first decades of the 20th century was the zenith of the Cypriot countryside. There, the first Pancyprian agricultural meetings took place; the first Greek Cooperative Agricultural Bank was founded, where the farmers were relieved from the clutches of the loansharks, the “Lefkoniko Co-op Bank“. The two pioneers were Markos Charalambous, a teacher and Ioannis Oikonomidis, lawyer, parliamentarian, director of the Bank of Cyprus, who proposed the Cooperative Societies Act which was passed by the House in 1914.
People who were distinguished for their joy of life, laughter, love for entertainment.
The summer and winter cinema of Fyrilla, Panorama’s summer restaurant and cinema which belonged to Panagiotis Charalambous, the Acropolis Confectionery centre, Panikou Hatzikakou’s “Farmhouse”.
Progressive people, socially contributing, involvement of the community.
The Municipality of Lefkoniko was founded on April 1, 1939. The first mayor was Dr Christos Michalopoulos.
The women of Lefkoniko were well known for their intelligence, dynamism, neatness, honour, homeliness and their worthiness.
“Wherever I go, i see your streets in front of me,
your white houses,
your yards open.
These good Lefkoniko women
compete in household and hospitality” K. Paraskeva
Many have partaken, since the middle of the last century, the benefits of education. Many teachers and lecturers since the last century.
The women from Lefkoniko were also infamous weavers. They weaved their colourful linen always prepared with good taste and enthusiasm.
“What colours, in harmony! Those colours were a miracle!
The white of Lefkoniko
The red of flames
The deepest sky-blue
The green of the grass of the Mesaritiko plains
The yellow hue of the golden wheat
And many embroideries. How many embroideries … “K. Paraskeva.
The dedicated and talented housewives of Lefkoniko, as with the surrounding areas, were unsurpassed in the production of all sorts of pastries, with the specialities ‘τουμάτσια’ (toumatsia), the ‘διπλοπουρέκκια’ (diplopourekkia – double pourekkia), the ‘διπλοπισιήδες’ (diplopissiedes – double pastries) and the ‘τσιπόπιτα’ (tsippopitta – clotted cream pie). They were also distinguished in the making of wedding loukoumia (individual cakes given to guests at weddings).
Lefkoniko was also renowned for the ofton, oven-baked roast that was made with mastery, as well as for their yoghurt.
Indisputably, Lefkoniko took pride for the poet of 9th July 1921, Vasilis Michaelides, the Bishop of Kiti Kyprianos, the Archon Protopsalti Theodoulos Kallinikos and others.
Ultimately, Lefkoniko had a Courthouse, a Hospital, pharmacies, private clinics, a Dental clinic, a Police Station, a cattle-breeding station, a Sanitary station, a Governmental Agricultural office, a nursery, a Kindergarten, a bakery, an Elementary school, a Gymnasium, Clubhouses, bakeries, flour mills, industrial factories, soft drinks factory, furniture makers, gas stations, many commercial shops, goldsmiths, machine shops, olive mills, confectionaries, Municipal Slaughterhouse, dress manufacturing factories, a Power Station. Amongst the excellent craftsmen were those who invented the first threshing machine on our island.
At that time, Lefkoniko was at its peak. It was creating. It was progressing. It was writing History.
Nowadays, the children of Lefkoniko have grown up far away from it, in different directions as refugees. May God help them to live in the land of their ancestors. We have a duty to teach the young about our History and the Culture that we have brought with us. To impart this knowledge to
the next generations. Until the Sacred time of our return.
“The Turk took you and has chained you up
but I carry you in my heart ”
Zena Lysandrou Panayides
Mayor of Lefkoniko
(Data was obtained from the work of Archpriest Kyriacos Rigas)