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Plakida Sosa | Ikaria | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Stavlos, Ikaria
• Year of birth

1936
• Short biography

Sosa Plakida plays the violin and she also takes an active interest in the folklore and traditions of Ikaria. Her father was an amateur musician and played the violin: «You could say my interest in tradition began when I was 12 […]. I felt a need to listen to the old ladies on their way to church, to listen to the way they spoke, it interested me. Trying to […], reproduce, to copy the way they spoke. The words they used […]. Music, now that’s an older story. […]. I had a little violin in the beginning, that my father got for me, a size 1/4, from Egypt, when we were refugees, I mean».

During the Second World War, Sosa and her family sought refuge in Turkey, the Middle East and Africa. She returned to Ikaria in 1947, during the civil war: «I had a hard childhood, during the German occupation. I was four when we left Ikaria on this little boat and went to Turkey, as refugees. When everything is out of reach […]. When they - the Italians - wouldn’t let you produce even olive oil,. When couldn’t sow anything, well, they had to leave. Many left Ikaria. I’ve basically spent my life as a refugee, as a migrant […]. [We left] in 1941 […], when people over here were starving, and we came back in 1947».

At the beginning of the 1950s, at the age of [around] 15 years old, she left Ikaria and went to live in Athens: «I left when I was 15 […]. [I finished] the first three grades of high school here, in Evdilos, and then left, at 15. I went to Athens and enrolled in night school […]. At the time, I worked at a lawyer’s, a sort of girl Friday, let’s say, but later I became a secretary».

She then migrated to Germany, where she remained for about nine years: «And then I left, I went to Germany, to Munich […]. I wanted to leave because I was used to leaving, I had no problem with leaving. I could go anywhere. One of my brothers went to Australia, and I went to Germany, and the plan was to meet wherever was better. I stayed in Germany, he got married out there, and that’s how it turned out […]. He stayed for about 15 years, and then he came back with his family […]. To feel closer to home, I began doing impressions – like I told you – of old ladies talking. And I began writing verse in the language of Ikaria, the local dialect[…], writing more, and more. Then I came here […], I’d send them to some local newspapers […], and finally I collected all of it, and published this book».

Her involvement in music continued while she lived in Athens, but intensified upon her return to Ikaria: «Once again, from the beginning, I don’t know […]. And I felt the need to take lessons. I’d look at myself, alright, I had a private tutor at home, for a couple of years, [and I learnt] the scales, all that […]. This was in Athens, I didn’t come straight back here, I was coming and going. My parents were alive, they were OK […]. Later on, however, […], and in the last few years, the last ten years, I’d say, I met a man – who comes from here, originally, from Nikaria – [Dimitris Lignos – guitar, lute and lafta], and he plays both Byzantine and classical music. And we began working together, we’ve done many things. Now we’ve got a Choir together in Aghios Kirykos, there’s another man, also from Ikaria, who plays the dulcimer and the oud, there’s me on the violin, and 20-odd women doing the vocals […]. We’re holding an event in August […], with songs from Asia Minor».

These days, apart from her involvement in music, Sosa Plakida also writes books and articles: «I’d say my greatest interest is sitting down and writing; it’s the truth. The violin, too […], music, too, is a necessary thing in life, especially for me […]. This is one of the books I’ve written, I started writing it in Germany and published it later, it’s sort of autobiographical, but with fictional characters. Stories I’d heard […], in my time as a refugee […]. Now I’m interested in other things […], I’m doing different things these days. Well, I’m working on Aristophanes, putting his work into verse. And you know what? He’s the only one close to me, in a way, because he, he’s interested in the victims of war […]. I’m interested in what people live through during a war. The civil war, most of all».

She’s also involved with the «Friends of the Forest» Association, which, among other things, organises the festival in Stavlos, on the 6th of August. Regarding the festivals held in Ikaria, and the Kariotikos, she said: «The main purpose of the festivals is to support the community. It’s a […], it’s doing something to help their village make something, a school, a road, a […], anything. The money’s spent for the benefit of the whole village […]. Well, of course, of course [people go to a festival] because they see people they never would, if they didn’t go […]. And they work on it for a whole week […]. The locals, you know, they spend a week cleaning up [the venue], someone else is over there fixing something. Then I’ll join in and help, the leaves, tidying things up, preparing for the festival. And then there’s the clearing up, after […]. The Kariotikos we talked about, they play it over and over again in the festivals and they dance it over and over and it’s a beautiful dance […]. When we talk about the Kariotikos, there’s always dancing. I think each person makes it […], makes it their own. One man’s Kariotikos isn’t the same as another’s. There are common themes […]. [The musicians improvise and] as they’re playing in the festival, they may feel like doing this or that […], and it works out, because they have the experience, and they’ve played the festivals a thousand times».

Translator’s Note: Kariotikos – traditional dance of Ikaria