Nelson musician Nikko Forsberg got an alarming Facebook message from a friend in early August: “Your brother is charged with terrorism and was fired from his teaching job.”
That brother (one of Nikko’s 13 siblings) is Clyde Forsberg (pictured below), an American citizen who was teaching in the Department of Western Languages at Karabuk University in Turkey.
Then Nikko got a Facebook message directly from Clyde.
“The police are going through my house and I am worried about my family’s welfare.”
Clyde was fired from his job, dragged off a bus, jailed for four days, interrogated, and then released by the Turkish government. The government’s reaction to an attempted military coup on July 15 was to fire and sometimes jail thousands of teachers, academics, and journalists, including Forsberg.
“He was held for four days and his family did not know what was happening to him,” says Nikko. “He said he felt he was going to die, he felt it was a Guantanamo Bay situation. There was no night time, no day time, they called him ‘America,’ and said welcome to Turkey buddy, like they were enjoying this.”
But Clyde was released. He left Turkey immediately and went to Kyrgystan, a country he had worked in before. Since then he has brought his family there also and landed a job at a university.
“When he first got out,” Nikko says, “when I FaceTimed him and saw his face, he was like a little child, he looked scared.”
Since his arrival in Kyrgystan, Clyde has been posting articles, comments and poetry critical of the Turkish government, knowing that many of the Turkish academics who were jailed with him are still there, convicted of trumped-up terrorism charges.
The upheaval and the family move was expensive for Clyde, so his brother is putting on a benefit concert in Nelson to raise money to ease the transition.
Nikko says he owes Clyde a lot.
“I would not be here without that guy. When I was 19, I was living in a basement with cigarette butts for a blanket. He said, ‘Hey, you are going less than zero miles an hour. You are pretty good at music, so come live with me and my family and I will get you into music school.’
“Now I am here, playing seven nights a week in Nelson. He saved my life several times when I was a kid.”
Nikko also admires his brother as a musician.
“Musically the guy is my favourite trumpet player including Miles Davis. The guy is a monster.”
The benefit show, at Spiritbar on September 29, features two duos, the first being a stripped down version of Savage Blade, with Nikko and Eric Hoodikoff.
“It’s an unplugged session although I might play electric kazoo,” Nikko said. “The second band is Immune to Cobras, a comparatively lively duo.”