|problem of providing an intelligent watchman was solved by the muhtars|
brother taking the job, and drawing his pay without doing the medial tasks, or
any more of the public duties than were absolutely essential to maintain
appearances with the authorities.
Every year the village appoints herdsmen. Altogether there are nine of these,
three boys and six men, whose duty it is in the various appropriate seasons to
pasture the sheep and lambs, cows and calves, oxen and buffaloes. They are
appointed, with the muhtars consent, by a general agreement reached at a
more or less haphazard gathering of the senior members of the village. They
are usually taken from the poorer villagers such as Ali (AK 3), Huseyn (BA 3)
or Mehmet (VA 11), though Haci (AG 2), who was by no means poor, was
among them both in 1949 and 1950.
The schoolmaster, Ali Osman, was a native of the village who, on finishing his
military service, had received a six month course in reading and writing and
in teaching. He taught one class of children for three years, then selected
another batch for the next three years. Most of the young men under twenty
had been taught by him to be able to read fairly easily and write letters home
while on military service. He had to teach four hours a day, from October to
May, and for this he received a tiny salary direct from the government. He
was also ex officio village scribe, and, in fact, at least while Mustafa was
muhtar, had a lot to do with the conduct of village affairs.
The only other person publicly employed by the village is the imam. He is
hired from year to year by the village, and in this matter the village is led, not
by the muhtar, or the official Council of Elders, but by the true village elders.
The man employed must be approved by the local mufti, the religious
official for the area, himself appointment, in this secular Republic, by the
Department for Religious Affairs, which is under the Prime Minister.
Practice varies greatly. In some villages the imam is a local man, in other
villages, as in Sakaltutan, an outsider. Sometimes he may remain for years,
sometimes change are frequent. His duties are religious leadership, giving the
call to prayer, leading prayer in the Mosque at Friday noon, when he reads
|from the Koran in Arabic and says special prayers; he also leads prayer in the|
Mosque at any other time that the spirit moves him. He officiates at weddings
and funerals and in some villages, at least during the winter months, instructs
in religious matters children who are too old or too young to attend the state
school. His pay is agreed at the beginning of his term of office, and he
collects it in grain at the threshing, but he makes a certain amount in cash
from private fees, including the provision of charms, especially for sickness.
It is sometimes said that the imam in a village is an influential person and may
even wield political power. On one occasion, the mudur, wishing to give an
order in the village in the absence of the muhtar, sent for the imam and
delivered it to him. He, being a stranger with very little prestige, simply
passed it on to one of the villagers. In the villages which I visited the
influence of the imam varied greatly, depending mainly on his personality. It
is an office which confers automatically great formal pre-eminence.
Everyone defers to the imam. If a man has the necessary personal qualities to
take advantage of this, he may gain great influence, even wealth. In
Sakaltutan, the imam for 1949-50 attempted to cover ignorance of his duties
by loquacious bombast and thereby won respect from no one. His successor
was a mild and gentle old man, respected for his reputed knowledge of the
Koran but hardly likely to exert influence. In general an imam probably has
little influence in any village where he is a stranger, unless he settles and
marries into the village.
|6.||Direct Relations with Government|
|The villages have, under the Republic, been brought into an ever closening|
contact with the government administration. Quite a stream of officials now
visits the village, and the muhtar is often away on business in Talaz or
Kayseri. Two kins of tax collectors from different departments come
regularly to the village; both are entertained by the muhtar and treated with an
apparently friendly respect. One especially - ex Talas man - is far from
harsh, and I think in spite of his unpleasant duties, genuinely liked in the
villages. He was kept, against his expressed wish, one Sunday, as guest at a
|wedding, when he would normally have gone home for his day off. Other|
officials of the tax department visit the village independently to count the
there is an inspector of schools for the area, called travelling head teacher,
who visits periodically to check up on school registers and so on. There is
also a newly appointed Health Officer who is supposed to live in Kz village
where a special building has been put up for him, but in fact mostly lives in
his home village about five hours away. He is one of the new trainees of the
Village Institute near Ankara.(2) He did not seem very clear about his duties.
He did perform a few inoculations and vaccinations, but otherwise his efforts
to reform village hygiene, to alter the latrines, for example, and have all
village dogs except sheep dogs killed, met with a stone wall of indifference.
Himself a villager, he seems to be loath to have recourse to higher authority to
enforce his orders. He was no more successful in coping with sickness, or in
ministering even to simple cases who could not for physical or financial
reasons go to town to the doctor.
Every nahiye has a sergeant of gendarmes with a few men under him.
Although only conscript village lads, these men are the messengers of
authority, for there is no post office or telephone. Hence they are constant
visitors in the villages where they are treated with great friendliness and
respect. Their sergeant visits less often. He treats the villagers much like
children, and the villagers show him very great respect, more, if less
effusively, than to the mudur himself. The mudur is an educated townsman,
and is changed fairly often, the sergeant is one of their own sort, and changes
rarely. In fact, I suspect that since he has a far greater knowledge and
understanding of what goes on in the villages, he wields more power and is
more to be feared than the mudur. Nevertheless, he was always cordially
welcomed and was well spoken of behind his back. I called on him once in
Talas, and was given a seat in his office while he dealt with a bunch of men
from one of the upland villages where there had been some fighting. Having
made them all sign statements which he had previously typed out, he then
addressed to them collectively, regardless of proven guilt, a homily on
|keeping the peace. They were, he knew, a poor village, but if they were in|
trouble, they should come to him, not take the law into their own hands. It
was precisely the fatherly N.C.O addressing a bunch of recruits. The village
reciprocate, standing to attention if they enter his office, and treating him
generally as a military superior.
The mudur himself was also cordially welcomed and entertained in an oda.
Relations were superficially friendly and the villagers, while respectful, were
not in the least overawed or afraid to speak their minds before him. He too,
both here and in his own office, would treat them much as a schoolmaster
might treat his pupils, sometimes affable but always conscious of his
superiority and responsibility. The first time I visited Sakaltutan the mudur
accompanied us, and while talking with the villagers in the oda, turned to me
in front of them and said how kind and thoughtful was he, the government
representative, to his villagers, and how unlike the governors of old. The
mudur, like his superiors, the Kaymakam and the Vali, has very great powers.
The only method by which those below him could obtain redress for abuse of
this power would in practice be direct appeal to his superiors. The law gives
him wide powers, if he chooses to enforce it, for bringing pressure to bear on
those below him. In practice, all initiative in the area in such matters as
building roads and the enforcement of regulations such matters as building
roads and the enforcement of regulations such as the provisions of village law,
depends on him. In fact, much of the law in Turkey is treated as though it
were permissive legislation, giving the appropriate authorities, especially the
minor officials such as these mudurler, the right to enforce it when they
consider conditions favourable, or even when it suits them personally. The
elasticity is in many ways an advantage, perhaps an inevitable condition, in a
country where there is a gap between the concept of the cultural and social
framework which underlies the law, and actual social conditions in which it is
to be applied. Many of the provisions could not possibly be applied at present,
or not without severe disruptions, and it is well that in practice, if not in
theory, their application is at the discretion of the man on the spot.
The use of extra-legal pressure on the villages is illustrated by an incident
|which occurred just before we left the village, though not in this case|
involving the nahiye muduru. Owing to late frost, the 1950 harvest was
seriously below expectations in the upland villages. A party of officials was
sent out to inspect and confirm the village claim, so that a moratorium might
be allowed to the affected villages on their debts to the Agricultural Bank.
The party happened to meet in the village the local tax collector, who had been
experiencing difficulty in getting money out of Sl village. The official in
charge immediately announced that he would not recommend a moratorium
on bank debts for a village unless the villagers immediately paid the tax
collector what they owed him, and waxed indignant on the iniquity of not
paying taxes. Such action was entirely outside his sphere of operations, but
every one seems to accept the announcement, and its accompanying homily, as
normal and reasonable conduct from him under the circumstances.
The nahiye authorities are the last link in the chain from the central
government to the villagers. The mudhur is an educated townsman, directly
appointed; the muhtar, who is his representative in the village, is a villager
and, as I have said, often a villager of no great personal influence or
importance in the village. He has no interest in the governments plans or
wishes, and in so far as is consistent with his own safety and comfort is
entirely on the side of his kinsmen and neighbours against the authorities.
Where the mudur can easily check up, his orders are carried out, for example
in the matter of the number plates on the houses. But where no check is
likely, orders and regulations are ignored. For example, it was ordered that
the electoral roll be prepared with especial care, and posted on the Mosque
door for several days, for all the village to check up on. The roll was
prepared with reasonable care, because people entitled to vote would blame
the muhtar on election day if they found they had been left off, but not exactly
in the way prescribed, and it was not posted on the Mosque door at all. When
the time came to send it in a report was written out, copying word for word
the order, with appropriate grammatical changes, but bearing no precise
relation to what had, in fact, been done.
It is often reported of relations between governed and governor where, as for
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