Orhan Ari (Orhan Seyfi Ari) was a Cypriot school teacher dubbed ‘Teacher of Teachers’ by the Minister of Education Cyprus-KKTC, for popularizing education hailed in prose and verse, with streets named after him.
He was born in Lapithiou (Bozalan) in Paphos, Cyprus, 12 December, 1918, of parents Huseyin Avni Ahmet (an elementary school teacher and prayer leader -a wealthy farmer with liberal ideas) and Emete Ahmet; of his siblings (a brother and two sisters) he was the youngest -he was a Turkish Cypriot.
His elementary schooling was partly in Ottoman Cyprus leased to Britain, and then in the latter’s system when Cyprus belonged to Britain. Following his secondary and general-lycee education in Nicosia he attended Morphou Teacher Training College reading also agriculture, continuing professional development by seminars and courses in Cyprus and in Britain.
He taught at Morphou Rural Agricultural School, which he had helped establish, was elementary head-teacher in Arodez helping make best use of the land in Angolem, at the English School (where he was also house-master) while active in establishing education for orphans, secondary-school head-teacher in Paphos defending frowned upon co-education and with hailed communal cultural activities, and secondary-school head-teacher in Lourdicina where he popularized and established then non-compulsory secondary school education ~after the separation of education departments in the Republic of Cyprus teaching in Nicosia at Girls’ Technical Institute, English School again, and Bayraktar Secondary, retiring from 39 years of teaching in 1979 -having had to sue in respect of his pension, in retirement grinding and packaging coffee.
Orhan Seyfi Ari wrote socio-political columns for a number of newspapers, mostly in Halkin Sesi, his articles having received acclaim terms of ‘the useful debates he instigated in his club, passing on to the society the benefits of in his columns’ and in his columns being ‘a fearless and vigorous defender of liberty’. He composed poetry (some philosophical and mystical in nature) in his circles of friends, and his literary help is credited in terms of ‘It was he who had enabled my compilation of the works of…’ and ‘He it was who gave the first love of poetry to the poet…’. For his teaching, educational and cultural deeds he has been hailed in terms that ‘His mark on our history of education is not a little one,’ and in poetry as ‘the waker-up’ of’ the people and a ‘spreader of light,’ ‘illuminating all around him’.
Orhan Seyfi Ari, with his wife Suzan Ari whom he married in 1946, had four sons. Continuing also his works on youth morality with praise from the highest of his people’s religious offices and his people also overseas -having been invited to visit and inspect their schools in Australia and give them talks as well as to be involved in the setting up of cultural organizations in Britain. He also worked as prayer leader for two years following his conscription into the army in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus shortly before retiring at the age of 60, passing away peacefully at 73, reading in bed, 17 December,1992. Pupils, former students, carried flowers at his funeral.
He is remembered in the Cypriot-KKTC Ministry of Education and Culture publication ‘Forever Shining Suns on Our Education’ in Turkish (1987) and in the ‘Biographical Dictionary of Cypriots 1800-1920’ (2010) in Greek, and in many newspaper articles and books in Turkish and in Greek.
The municipalities-T of Nicosia (1993) and Louridjina/Lysi (2006) have named streets after him.