Where I come from: A Georgian tells us about Georgia

World Today

The Mother of Georgia statue, also known as Kartlis Deda looks over the country’s capital Tbilisi . Photo by Roberto Strauss

Every time I decide to write about Georgia — my homeland of fluctuating size, fathered by the wary, snowy mountains of Caucuses, and wedged between the two great civilizations of Europe and Asia — I feel torn between the two worlds.

Mother Georgia statue in Tbilisi. Photo by Tony Bowden.

Mother Georgia statue in Tbilisi. Photo by Tony Bowden.

On one hand, I want to be as accurate and as insightful as possible. How else can I explain its essence? It’s a unique entity that’s both ancient and youthful.

On the other hand, what if these well-thought phrases in my third language will actually portray the true spirit of Georgia? Will I give away the best kept secret? I am not sure, but I am ready to share.

Georgia is a country where winemaking is as sacred as religion, where having guests are considered blessings, and where mothers are the origins of all the country’s stories and histories.

Nanuka Daniela shares three important details about Georgia

The importance of women in the Georgian culture is apparent from the first moment you arrive in Tbilisi, the capital. The word capital itself or deda-kalaki in Georgian, literally means ‘the mother city’.

If anyone misses that fact, there’s a 20-meter-tall statue named “Mother of Georgia” overlooking the capital to remind visitors. She holds a sword in one hand and a bowl in the other. The statue signifies how a Georgian woman could either be a great host or a great Commander-in-Chief. Georgians revere women so much, that the country’s first female to lead the nation in the 12th century was actually given the title of “King” and not “Queen”. Her reign is known as Georgia’s Golden Age.

Photo of Tbilisi by Goggins World.

Photo of Tbilisi by Goggins World.

For a country with just under 4 million people, the Georgian language and the land it stands on are vital parts of its identity and history. Indeed the country has its very own alphabet — one among nearly 20 unique writing systems in the world, and it dates back to the 1st Century BC. Experts are still baffled as to how the language survived. Georgians are proud to be the only population to speak it, and will remind you the mother tongue survived thanks to their great warrior ancestors.

Another integral part of the Georgian identity is pride. I can’t really pinpoint what’s behind the confidence that seems to be coded into our DNA. But as a people, we are proud of our individualism and grateful for the country that provides it. Perhaps my country’s sheer will to exist explains how we survived some of the most powerful empires — whether they be Mongols, Ottoman Turks, Persians, Romans, and Russians.

Nanuka Daniela teaches Rachelle Akuffo how to say hello in Georgian

But besides our proud history, Georgians also celebrate one of the greatest creations, our country’s wine.

We’re so proud of our vintage that I consider it impossible to find an actual Georgian who dislikes wine. The drink also embodies what it means to be from there. It’s full-bodied and unique, unlike any other wine in the world.

Nanuka Daniela is a associate producer or the Global Business America show on CCTV America. Her commentary represents her views alone.