Chap with dagger; protagonist in war and peace

Kikruk, 2020 – abdul-Azeez Muhamamd Kaka’i (63) – photo: Karwan Salehi

Karwan salehi

The dagger ‘uncle’ Azeez tucks in his waistband has been in his possession for nearly half a century and has been in his family for “seven generations.”

Azeez is a tall man, and has a thick, pitch-black moustache. Most of the time, he wears traditional Kurdish clothing with a thick waistband.

The handle of his daggers sticks out with a tasbeeh (a string of beads) curled around it.

The age of his dagger is about 200 years.

I have had this dagger for 45 years in my possession and kept it safe

“I have had this dagger for 45 years in my possession and kept it safe. I don’t know to whom it will go after me, as I don’t have any children.”

Azeez says that the owning the dagger comes with conditions, the most important is to carry it at all times and wherever one goes.

Azeez himself adheres to that condition and wherever he goes, he carries it with him. He is therefore dubbed “abu-Khanjar,” roughly meaning “the one with a dagger.”

Abu-Khanjar’s full name is abdul-Azeez Muhammad Kaka’i. He is 63 years old, and belongs to the indigenous Kaka’is of Topzawa village in Kirkuk’s Daquq district. Azeez is the village’s commissioner, and is a notable and beloved figure among his community.

abu xanjar (6)
Kirkuk, 2020 – Azeez says his dagger is 200 years old – photo: Karwan Salehi

Currently, he uses his social status to encourage people to follow health instruction against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Like others, Azeez was affected by the pandemic and was not able to sell his farm products this year.

“Most of our products couldn’t be sold and we distributed them among the people in the village.”

Most of our products couldn’t be sold and we distributed them among the people in the village

“Nobody would buy yoghurt, that’s why we churned most of our products into butter.”

Unlike normal times, before the pandemic, Azeez does not move around much.

“We have been protecting ourselves, but the rural environment is very clean, unlike the cities, and doesn’t pose much danger.”

Azeez takes part in almost every social, political, security and administration event in Daquq.

abu xanjar (4)
Kirkuk, 2020 – abdul-Azeez Muhammad Kaka’i (63) – photo: Karwan Salehi

“For tribal reconciliation, or for any misfortune in any tribe, they call me. With dialogue, we resolve their issues.”

Azeez has a robust relationship with the security forces in the area. “They respect us, and we respect them.”

“Nowadays it is such that when traveling between Topzawa, Zanqr and other villages, they immediately say ‘go on abu-Khanjar, pass’ at the checkpoints.”

they immediately say ‘go on abu-Khanjar, pass’ at the checkpoints

Azeez’s dagger has a name, “Qazween.” It was made in Iran and was given to one of his ancestors as a gift.

“I regularly clean the dagger. I take good care of it so that it doesn’t get rusted and remain pristine as it is.”

Azeez is married and fathered two sons. “God gave us two sons and took them both back. But due to the “immense respect” from people, he has never felt like being without progeny.

There are no candidates to inherit his dagger, that’s why his wife will be deciding whom the dagger goes to.

Among the worries of uncle Azeez now is the fate of his dagger; whether it will end up in the hands of someone who will take care of it as has and will get the “abu-Khanjar” title.

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