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Khamoro Praha 2017:            Program                Performers                Other events

International conference “Quality education for everybody“ - more info

Other events

Khamoro party on Vltava River: Jan Bendig & Guests – Markéta Konvičková, Monika Bagárová a Elis, DJ Gadjo.CZ

 

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The traditional open-air party on the banks of the Vltava River will open seven days full of Romani culture. Jan Bendig‘s unmistakable voice will sing traditional Roma songs in modern arrangements together with guest performers Markéta Konvičková, Monika Bagárová and Elis. They will get the audience in a festive mood, which DJ Gadjo.CZ will support with his “music with soul and genre cheekiness“, drawing on music from all over the world!

- Free entry

JAN BENDIG & GUESTS

Jan Bendig patří mezi nejznámější a nejpopulárnější romské zpěváky v ČR. Na svém kontě má řadu hitů jako je Me Tut Užarav, Roma boy, Bloudím v duetu s Markétou Konvičkovou nebo Stejný cíl mám s Ewou Farnou a další. Hojně koncertuje jak v Česku, tak v zahraničí. Svým koncertem otevře letošní devatenáctý ročník Světového romského festivalu Khamoro. 

Jeho hosty na Khamoru budou populární české zpěvačky Markéta Konvičková, Monika Bagárová a Elis. Doprovázet je bude Josef Fečo Band.

Jan Bendig is one of the most famous and most popular Romani singers in the Czech Republic. He has many hits to his name, such as “Me Tut Užarav”, “Roma Boy”, “Bloudím” (a duet with Markéta Konvičková) and “Stejný cíl mám”, recorded with Ewa Farná and others. He has given many concerts abroad and in the Czech Republic. His performance will open this 19th annual World Roma Festival Khamoro. 

His guest performers at KHAMORO will be the popular Czech singers Markéta Konvičková, Monika Bagárová and Elis. He will be accompanied by the Josef Fečo Band.

GADJO.CZ

Veselé a divoké noci s atmosférou balkánské svatby, střeleného karnevalu v Riu nebo narozeninové oslavy milované Fridy Kahlo. Tančírna plná divokého world n bassu, chytlavého gypsy latino jazzu, old school rock n rollového tetování nebo teď módního electroswingu. Tím vším je večer nedbale elegantního djského projektu Gadjo.cz.

A rocking and wild night with the atmosphere of a Balkan wedding, shot through with hints of Carneval in Rio or a birthday celebration for the much-loved Frida Kahlo. A dancing hall full of wild world-n-bass, catchy Gypsy Latin jazz,old school rock-n-roll tattoos and the currently fashionable electroswing genre. All of this makes for an evening with the casually elegant DJ project Gadjo.cz. 

Opening of the exhibition of Rishabh Kaul: Backstage Diaries/IND-CZ

 

rishabThe music concerts are the heart and soul of the Khamoro Festival. The exhibition ‘Backstage Diaries’ is a collection of backstage photographs from the festival’s 2016 edition. Taken before and after the performances, these pictures reveal a more intimate side to the otherwise larger-than-life characters that Roma musicians present themselves on stage.

Rishabh Kaul is a documentary photographer based in Prague who specialises in candid storytelling of issues and people usually outside the mainstream radar. You can discover his work on www.rishabhkaulphotography.com

- Free entry

 

Presentation of Roma Literature Gavoro

The 19th year of this KHAMORO international festival is living proof that if Romani people actually excel at something in this world, it is the arts of dance, playing musical instruments, and singing. On the other hand, it is not customary to connect Romani people, whose culture is one of an oral tradition, with written literature. This year’s KHAMORO should, through its auxiliary program “Gavoro” (Village), review Romanes-language literature and would be glad to convince its fans to abandon that stereotypical notion.

In the prestigious halls of the National Library, the Prague City Library and the Václav Havel Library, there will be many thematic events over the course of four days that hope to draw the public’s attention to the constantly-growing community of Romani authors whose works have long since ceased to be just occasional products of Romanes-language magazines. Whether you enjoy the readings by the strong generation of contemporary female Romani authors such as Irena Eliášová, Iveta Kokyová, Eva Danišová and Judita Horváthová at the Prague City Library, or the debate between Non-Romani and Romani authors about how Roma are portrayed as literary characters with Jáchym Topol, Kateřina Sidonová, Jana Hejkrlíková and Ilonou Ferková at the Václav Havel Library, or the unique presentation by Romani authors from Slovakia - Maroš Balog, Eva Plešková and Zlatice Rusová - at the Prague City Library, we will be bringing you the most current developments on the Roma literary scene of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Another component of this review is also a course in creative writing for aspiring authors who are Romani with René Nekuda at the Prague City Library, a workshop on working with Romani literature for employees of the Czech Republic’s network of libraries at the National Library, and a lecture on Romani literature connected with the theater production by the ARA ART collective, “Čirikloro” for students of primary schools from Prague 4.

The final presentation of the “Gavoro” series is a lecture about German Romani literature by Jovan Nikolić and Ruždija Sejdić at the German School in Prague. That lecture is not open to the public.

- Free entry

Gavoro – creative writing courses

Literary workshop for beginning authors led by René Nekuda. The best works will be read at the Gavoro closing ceremony.

- Free entry

Gavoro - women in Roma literature

Discussion and readings by Irena Eliášová, Iveta Kokyová, Judita Horváthová, Eva Danišová and Irena Obermannová.

- Free entry

Gavoro - The character of the Roma in (Non)Romani literature

Romani figures in both Romani and Non-Romani literature and how they are written about them will be discussed by Jáchym Topol, Jana Hejkrlíková, Ilona Ferková and Kateřina Sidonová. You can also enjoy a musical performance by vocalist Jana Hejkrlíková, accompanied by Jiří Vidimský.

- Free entry

 

cirikloroGavoro – Lecture and performance: Čirikloro, or What Does the Birdie Say?

This brief introductory lecture for primary and secondary school pupils on Romani literature and performance is entitled “Čirikloro, or, What Does the Birdie Say?“

- Free entry

Gavoro –  Slovak Roma literature

Presentation of the Roma Literary Club from Banska Bystrica, Slovakia and its members Marián Balog, Zlatica Rusová and Eva Plešková.

- Free entry

 

Theatre performance: Kamav aver muršes/SK

 

15578648 347322172289991 3766732047234293067 nAt the Rock Café an amateur Romani theater ensemble from Bánská Bystrica in Slovakia will present its play Kamav aver muršes – I Want Another Man. Author Eva Plešková describes the life of a married couple who are retired. The point of the play is how the wife, Boženka, desires to “spice up” her life in a bit of an unusual way. She would welcome it if her husband would change his image, and she does not hesitate to contact a plastic surgeon, who does his best to extract an exorbitantly high sum in exchange for the promised results from his client. After the surgery the desired change arrives along with consequences the protagonist did not count on.

- Tickets at Ticketstream.cz: presale CZK 100 / on the spot CZK 150

 

 

 

 

Opening of the Kai Dikhas Gallery exhibition/DE: Akate te beshen

 

beshen

During the last ten years a new movement of artists has emerged among the minority of Sinti and Roma throughout Europe. They do not want to live anymore hidden, but they want to expose and live their belonging to the minority and to the contemporary society of their homelands and the European Union at the same time. They want to express their feelings and thoughts through art, they want to share it with a wider audience, they want to take part in our society’s cultural discourse.

Art is always a personal expression of own experiences and biographies. In case of being member of the largest minority of Europe this most likely means that you have experienced discrimination and racism. Under these circumstances the case of being Roma means, that it is particularly difficult to differentiate yourself from your ethnicities point of view. From position of a minority, the true face of our Europe today can be seen clearly.

As artist you do want to be remembered through the art works you create and leave with your audience. And if some argue that the ongoing success of the art of Sinti and Roma is just a fashion as others in the art world, the artists with their production proof that it is a story that just is gaining pace. This art is here to stay.

If people and media discuss about Sinti and Roma, they rarely discuss with the Roma themselves. And mostly the issue is treated as a problem from somewhere else. Sinti and Roma are considered to be the eternal wanderers and often their historical Indian origin is mentioned, but in reality they are part of our society since more than six hundred years. They belong to Europe as any other people. They are here to stay.

The persecution of Sinti and Roma has been as vicious that it has been intended to exterminate the people. And still discrimination and expulsion are the bleak reality of Roma in Europe today. But the exhibition shows a colorful and rich image of their contribution to our Europe today – and it proofs that the Nazis did not succeed – the Roma are here to stay.

AKATHE TE BESHEN . HERE TO STAY . HIER UM ZU BLEIBEN is a wandering exhibition, which will stay in the memory of its audience. It presents a unique variety of contemporary art positions from European artists who are Roma, Sinti, Gitano or Travellers. The artists become the authors of their own identity and participate in the demonstration of a contemporary image of Roma. They show that there is not one people or a Roma problem, but a multiplicity of chances, of talent, of art and colors. It lets its audience gain an insight into a society of change, it gives a sensitive and powerful proposition of a democratic and less violent future.

The exhibition is presented by Gallery Kai Dikhas, the first gallery for the contemporary art of Sinti and Roma in Europe, based in Berlin, in collaboration with art institutions throughout the continent. Starting with Germany, then Paris and Madrid, now the World Roma Festival Khamoro 2017 in Prague, afterwards heading to Granada in Spain, the exhibition tours and changes, grows and adopts on its journey – on a mission to change the image of a people.

- Free entry

 

International conference on inclusive education

 

konference kvalitni vzdelaniIn the past two years the Czech government adopted measures aimed at addressing the concerns of the European Commission and the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports took real actions in terms of pursuing inclusive education. Inclusive education is defined as one of the priorities in the development of the education system in the Czech Republic. It is defined as a priority in certain areas of the strategic documents and action plans focused on the development of education. Guardians can now enroll all children except the most profoundly disabled children to mainstream education and schools have two years to make the transition to the new approach to special education.  However the Education Act amendment doesn’t combat ethnic discrimination in education.

Even nowadays 30% of Roma pupils are still educated according to the curriculum for children with Light Mental Disability and face different forms of segregation even within the mainstream education. There are schools stating that they have been inclusive since years and years prior to the recent adoption of inclusive legislation. Therefore the questions remain; How is it possible that the same percentage of Roma children being educated according to the reduced curriculum stays almost the same over the years and how come that segregated schools exist as well as the opinion that diversity will lead to a “deterioration” in providing quality teaching? How is it possible that bulling particularly in mainstream schools occurs? One possible answer to these questions is that there might be a lack of understanding of inclusive education and its different aspects across the country. Adoption of pro inclusive legislation is only a part of “the whole puzzle” solving the issue of equal access to quality education. Another important aspect is how the legislation is transposed to practice. In order to deepen the knowledge about school inclusion this conference has been organized to provide a wide range of domestic and international expertise and practices in terms of implementing inclusive measures in order to ensure quality education for every child regardless of skin color or their disability.

Furthermore, the objective of the conference is to provide answers to the following questions: What is the real meaning of inclusive education? What does it mean in practice for those of concern? Who are the main actors in implementing inclusive education? How relevant is it for the society as a whole? What are the challenges and how to overcome them? What are some of the strategies and methods used to ensure quality education for everyone? etc.

All of the aforementioned questions and many more will be dealt with during the interactive presentations and discussions held during the conference.

Domestic experts, pedagogical staff as well as international renowned experts from Canada, New York, Spain, Norway, Finland, together with other stakeholders such as the representatives of an Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (CAHROM) and Roma Education Fund (REF) will share their perception and experience with implementing inclusive education in practice.

The conference is held under the auspices of the EU Commissioner Věra Jourová and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

- Free entry

Artist parade in city center

 

defileThis parade, consisting of performers of traditional Roma music, dance ensembles from all over the Czech Republic, and many other artists is one of the festival’s most popular events every year. More than 300 active performers will dance and sing through the Prague city center. We begin at high noon on Wenceslas Square! 

- Free entry

 

 

 

 

 

 

RomArchive presentation

From 2018 on, RomArchive – The Digital Archive of the Roma is to become an internet platform presenting the cultures and histories of the Roma, responding to persistent stereotypes by a counter-history told by Roma themselves. The wealth of Romani artistic and cultural production will become visible – centuries old, lively and varied to this very day, and tightly interwoven with that of Europe as a whole.

Roma will shape the archive in all positions of responsibility – as curators, artists, scholars, and members of the project’s advisory board. For international accessibility, the archive will be set up in several languages. Besides English and German, the Romani language will be used from the beginning. RomArchive is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. https://blog.romarchive.eu/

- Free entry

Children’s day: Khamororo

 

khamororoOne afternoon of the festival is traditionally dedicated to children and their parents – the entire family. This year dance and music workshops await us, as do capoeira and circus performances, a fashion show, and rap. The Portheimka Park will once again be full of stands all afternoon:  A photobooth to make badges, two bouncy castles, beading and jewelry making, musical instruments made from cardboard, a circus workshop, and, because of its big success in previous years, the carved wooden carousel designed by Matěj Holub.

- Free entry

 

 

 

 

Concert of classical music with Roma motifs/CZ-DE and opening of Mark Wiedorn’s exhibition: Gypsy Soul/USA-CZ

 

Jeruzalemsa synagoga 2 kopieEspecially for this 19th annual World Roma Festival KHAMORO, maestro István Dénes has put together a concert comprised of compositions by famous classical composers whose oeuvres were influenced by Romani motifs, both musical and otherwise. Among these we will hear, for example, “Cikánské melodie” (“Gypsy Melody”) by Antonín Dvořák, the famous operetta aria by Johann Strauss II from “Der Zigeunerbaron” (“The Gypsy Baron”), Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor”, and more.

István Dénes, a composer and pianist born in Budapest, studied composition and piano at the Franz Liszt University in Budapest and at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. From 1987 to 1995 he worked as a conductor at a theater in Bremen, Germany and from 1995 to 2008 he was the music director at a theater in Trier, Germany. The violin will be played by Michael Jelden, a Romani musician from Germany who, since his debut in 1985, has performed in ensembles and as a soloist in more than 25 countries worldwide. Another performer will be the Czech Romani opera singer Bohumila Sommerová, who performs with the J. K. Tyl Theater in Plzeň, Czech Republic.

- Free entry

Football tournament: Džas bavinas fotbal

 

18664274 10155145983427420 3222685322964659063 n"Let's Play Football!" That's the name of our historically first ever tournament of junior football at KHAMORO, which involves a total of 14 teams comprised of players from some unbelievable places. What better way is there for us to get to know each other better than by playing one of the best-loved team sports there is?

Six children's teams and six men's teams will compete at the beautiful grounds of the Pražačka Sports and Recreation Area in the Žižkov quarter of Prague, where from time immemorial many Romani people have lived. One team that is definiely worth mentioning is FC Embassy, which is comprised of staffers from embassies, and another is FC Aver Manuša, comprised of foreign nationals living in Prague. The absolute gems are the women's teams, FC Prahakere bokeľa and FC Fučky, who will play an exhibition match prior to the final men's teams match for first place.

The women's teams are comprised of members of the Manushe Romani women's gropus which Slovo 21 has been leading for 15 years. The victors of the tournament will be announced during the closing gala concert at Club SaSaZu. 

- Free entry

 

During the festival there will be programs for the youth to get involved in: The Little Summer School of Roma and Jewish Music and The Khamoro sares experiences. They will also present children from children’s homes from the Khamoro Kher project.

 

Gavoro - about the authors and writers

Jovan Nikolić

jevanJovan Nikolić was born in Belgrade in 1955 and grew up on a Romany settlement near Čačak, Serbia. Since 1981, he has published numerous volumes of poetry as well as plays and satirical texts in Serbo-Croatian. He has won prizes and attained remarkable popularity as a poet, playwright, columnist, comedian and song writer—he even wrote the lyrics for Emir Kusturica’s film Black Cat, White Cat. In 1999, after the NATO bombing, he emigrated from Belgrade and now lives in Germany. He was supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Berlin Academy of the Arts, the German PEN Writers in Exile Program (from April to December 2000), the city of Graz, the Schöppingen Arts Village Foundation, KulturKontakt Austria, Printemps des Poètes, as well as the city of Salzburg. Furthermore, he was a “Writer in Residence” at the Faculty of Humanities 2 at the University of Innsbruck in 2015.

In 2000, his anti-war piece which he authored together with Ruždija-Ruso Sejdović, Kosovo mon amour, premiered at the Ruhr Festival.

Since 2002, he has been Vice President of the International Romany Writers’ Association (IRWA), he is also a member of Serbian PEN.

 Several of Nikolić’s books were published in Klagenfurt: a German translation of his poetry and prose book Zimmer mit Rad (Room with a Wheel, 2004), Weißer Rabe, schwarzes Lamm  (White Raven, Black Lamb, 2006) and Käfig (Cage, 2009). In 2011, White Raven, Black Lamb was voted “Book of the City” in Cologne.

His novel Seelenfänger, lautlos lärmend (Soul Snatcher, Soundlessly Noisy) appeared in 2011. His book Das Orchester der Frauen, die mich verlassen haben (The Orchestra of the women who left me) was published in 2016.

Apart from his literary work, in 2010 he initiated the “Roma Kulturkarawane“ (Romany Cultural Caravan) for the Rom e.V. Cologne through which he offers seminars and lectures on Roma culture and history and he has curated several exhibitions. Jovan Nikolić resides in Cologne. In 2017, several texts by Nikolić will be published in the German PEN anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (S. Fischer). 

 

Eva Danišová (1959)

Eva Daniov kopieCountry of origin: Czech Republic

Languages used: Romani, Czech

Eva Danišová grew up with her grandparents in Česká Třebová, where they moved from Slovakia in 1950s. Her grandmother never learnt Czech fluently, so they only spoke Romani at home and Danišová still draws upon this experience – she is considered as one of leading translators from Czech into Romani.

After elementary school, Eva started to work and she later completed her education graduating from social and legal work at the Evangelical Academy in Prague in 2004. She later worked as a field social worker, these days she focuses on translation to Romani.

She was always interested in literature and as soon as she learnt to read at school, she fell in love with it. Her grandparents did not read her from books at home, but they were skilled and enthusiastic story-tellers. Eva Danišová likes to remember her grandmother’s scary stories told in the dark as well as granddad’s progressivity – as he bought a record player, she could perceive the beauty of the spoken word since she was a child. When she took a media course at the Prague College of Media and Journalism in 1997-98, she was asked to write a Romani fairy tale and she realized how much she enjoyed writing. Nowadays she can boast a rich collection of works, but her modesty and respect for literature stop her from calling herself a writer.

She mostly writes short stories, and many of them are dedicated to her beloved grandparents. For her story, Pal miro papus/ About My Grandfather, the Romea NGO gave her the Milena Hübschmannová Literary Award in 2007. Danišová uses the motives from childhood in many other stories as well. In the central role, there is her grandmother, a traditional Romani woman, who seemed quite extraordinary in a small Czech town both for her appearance and behaviour, which resulted in numerous entertaining situations. There is also a more serious level – the complexity of her grandparents’ relationship, differences in their personalities and opinions which also give evidence of the clash of tradition and modernity that Czech Roma went through in Czech towns in the second half of the 20th century. Her last publication, the novella To Have Someone for Yourself is a courageous step from the traditional narration to a more mainstream de-ethnicized style.

Publication in magazines, proceeding and anthologies:

Pal miro papus/ O mém dědečkovi. In: Romano džaniben, ňilaj 2008, s. 207-210.
Otcův duch a jiné pohádky romských autorů. Praha, KHER, 2012.
Moji milí. Sbírka romské narativní prózy. Praha, KHER, 2014.
Roma-Autoren erzählen – Kurzgeschichten und Gedichte aus Ungarn, Tschechien und der Slowakei. Berlin, Roma Trial e.V., 2013.
Mít někoho svého. In: Slunce zapadá už ráno. Praha, Knihovna Václava Havla, 2014.
www.kher.cz

 

Irena Eliášová (1953)

Irena Eliov kopieCountry of origin: Slovakia

Languages used: Czech, Slovak, Romani

Irena Eliášová was born in a Romani settlement called Nová Dedina in South-West Slovakia and she lived there until she was ten. Then her family relocated to Chrastava in the Liberec region in the Czech Republic because of employment, but for several years they would go back to Slovakia in the autumn. As she attended both Czech and Slovak schools, she can express herself in Czech, Romani and Slovak. As a young girl, she dreamed of higher education, but she had to help her parents to earn for the family, so she was a worker for the rest of her life.

Since her childhood, she loved books – adventures, love stories and fairy tales that her mother would read to her. Soon she had the urge to start writing herself. While living in Slovakia, she had her poems and short stories published in the Svět socialismu magazine. When she turned forty, she founded a Romani performance group that focused on songs, dancing and also her short drama scenes. However, Irena Eliášová has had a creative explosion especially in the past few years after her early retirement. In harmony with her optimist nature, she easily and bravely experiments with new genres: she made her debut with the autobiography Our Settlement, she published a romance e-book November, and inspired by Romani studies scholars, she wrote a novella in Romani called The Sun Sets in the Morning set in the 1950s Slovakia. Currently, she is finishing her latest experiment: the historical novel E jag preačhiľa te labol / The Fire Ceased to Blaze set in the 18th century. In the meantime, she also writes down the amusing, sometimes even grotesque stories from her life, published mostly by the KHER online publishing company.

The autobiography called Our Settlement with the subheading “Sad, Merry and Mysterious Stories of Roma People) was her debut, but it has seen a lot of attention. Easy to read stories of little Gužka Putáčka in a Roma settlement is noteworthy mainly for its perspective – seen from a child’s point of view allows her to playfully tackle serious topics such as racial discrimination or women’s inequality. She also keeps the readers alert with her use of language – working with Czech, Slovak and Romani and changing the code creatively. In 2007, the Czech Writers’ Guild awarded this work in the literary challenge Roma – Gypsies.

Author’s publications:

Naše osada. Smutné, veselé i tajemné příběhy Romů. Liberec, Krajská vědecká knihovna 2008.
Listopad. KHER 2013. http://www.kher.cz/eknihy_nase.php
Chci se vrátit do pohádky. Liberec, Krajská vědecká knihovna 2015.

Publication in magazines, collections and anthologies:

Devla, devla. Básně a povídky o Romech. Praha, Dauphin 2008.
Slunce zapadá už ráno. Praha, Knihovna Václava Havla 2014.
Moji milí. Sbírka romské narativní prózy. KHER 2014.
Duše plné slov. Almanach Obce spisovatelů. Praha, Havlíček Brain team 2017.
Kalmanach – kruh autorů Liberecka
Kereka
Romano džaniben
Romano hangos
Romano voďi

 

Ruždija Russo Sejdović

Portre SW RuzdijaRuždija Russo Sejdović was born in 1966 in Kuče (by Podgorica, Montenegro. He writes poems, short stories, drama plays and translates both from Romany and into Romany language. His works are part of many European anthologies. Together with author Nedjo Osman he wrote drama “Yerma nach dem Tod” (Yerma after death). This drama was in the repertoire of the magdeburg theatre Freie Kammerspiele (production of romany theatre EXIT). The play based on Lorca´s drama was written in serbian and romany language and played in romany and germany language.

The tragicomedy "Kosovo Karussell" was written by Ruždija Russo Sejdović and Jovan Nikolić, in serbian and romany language. It was played in cooperation with the theatre festival Ruhrfestspielen Recklinghausen and Expo 2000 in theatre PRALIPE (Müllheim a.d. Ruhr), called “Kosovo – mon amour” (directed by: Rahim Burhan).

Bibliography:

  • Svjetlost u ponoć - E jak an-e jrat (Light at the midnight), Titograd, 1988.
  • Kali čirikli – The black bird, the collection of poems, Me trajoske draba – The sketches of my being, (v romštině, Kolín, 1998).
  • Kosovo mon amour (Kosovaqo karuseli), Kolín, 1999. Tragicomedy with Jovan Nikolić. French translation: Marcel Courtiade. (L´espace d´un instant, Paris, 2004).
  • Eremit, prose, (CEKUM Podgorica, 2011).
  • Svjetlost u ponoć, Dujto ikaldipe poezijako (v. s. – two editions), (CEKUM Podgorica, 2012)
  • Kosovo Karusel-Kosovaqo karuseli, (CEKUM Podgorica 2015.)

Literary Awards:
2014 The 2nd place – The Regional Lyric Competition in Rožaje, Montenegro.
2015 The 2 nd place – The Regional Lyric Competition in Rožaje, Montenegro.
Ruždija Russo Sejdović nowadays lives and works in Cologne (Germany). 

 

Ilona Ferková (1956)

Ilona Ferkov kopieCountry of origin: Czech Republic

Languages used: Romani, Czech

She was born and raised in Rokycany, a town where many Roma families came looking for jobs soon after the World War II, mostly from the Prešov region. Even in their new home town, Roma liked to gather. Ilona Ferková thus enjoys the memories of regular Sunday meetings of Roma in the Vagónka colony where they would meet to sing and dance.

Her carefree childhood ended prematurely due to her father’s disablement. Her mother’s shift work could not provide for the family of nine, so Ilona had to start work right after completing elementary school. She had various manual jobs and in the 1990s, she worked as a coordinator in a special kindergarten in Rokycany. Besides that, her life was becoming full of events that inspired her literary attempts. Her father, Karol Daňo, was a gifted storyteller, and Ilona dedicated her first story collection Čorde čhave / Stolen Children to him, for he “taught her to love our language and cherish it.” At school, she loved literature and enjoyed listening to stories that their teacher played on records. As it was not usual in Roma families to buy books, Ferková liked to visit the local library.

Her first writing attempts were lyrics intended for old Romani melodies which she made for the Amare neni ensemble that she co-founded and led in the 1980s. One of the performances was attended by the scholar Milena Hübschmannová at a folk music festival. As a supporter of many new Roma authors, Milena showed her Romani literature written by Tera Fabiánová and Margita Reiznerová and thus encouraged Ilona Ferková to do more writing in her mother tongue.

Since 1990s, she has written fiction in Romani, inspired by Roma traditions as well as lives of Roma during the normalization era and published them in numerous Roma media. She also published two collections of short stories. She emphasises on criticizing the politics of assimilation and certain post-revolution structures which brought tragedies to Roma’s lives. Her collection Čorde čhave shows the tough clash of Roma heroes with the 1970s and 1980s reality when many Roma children were taken away from their families and placed in institutionalized children’s homes, Roma women underwent forced sterilizations and Roma communities saw cultural and value transformation. Ferková was inspired by life stories she saw around her. Her favourite story, “Váleček na nudle” (The Rolling Pin) about an unequal fight of a Roma family with authorities for children, is even more powerful when we realize it was based on a true story.

Author’s publications:

Mosarďa peske o dživipen anglo love (Zkazila si život kvůli penězům). Praha, Romaňi čhib 1992.
Čorde čhave/ Ukradené děti. Brno, Společenství Romů na Moravě 1996. 

Publication in magazines, collections and anthologies:

Kalo, či parno/ Černý, nebo bílý. In: Romano džaniben 4/2000, s. 40-58.
Vakeriben pal e Anglija / Povídky z Anglie. In: Romano džaniben, ňilaj 2008, s. 221-229.
Kaštánek. In: PLAV – měsíčník pro světovou literaturu, 11/2011.
E Popelvarka / O Popelce. In: Otcův duch a jiné pohádky romských autorů. Praha, KHER 2012, s. 43-50. (http://www.kher.cz/Eknihy/Nase/duch.pdf)

 

Iveta Kokyová (1972)

Iveta Kokyov kopieCountry of origin: Czech Republic

Languages used: Czech, Romani

Iveta Kokyová was born in Hořice. With her five siblings, they grew up with their mother, a Slovak Roma, and their father coming from a Vlax Romani background. Kokyová proudly speaks both Romani dialects, but recently she has been using Slovak Romani as her main literary language, because she feels it comes “straight from the heart“.

She trained as a mechanic, but she also worked as a cleaner and packer. At the age of 35, she applied to study Social work for ethnic minorities at the Evangelical Academy in Prague and she completed he secondary school-leaving examination. She also became a host and reporter of Romea TV, a Romani online television, and currently she also does consulting for the Tichý svět NGO. Kokyová’s professional CV is that of an emancipated, successful woman of the new millennium. However, she still remembers with respect and gratitude how her grandmother used to tell her stories of living in the past. She also enjoyed the precious moments when her father started to tell stories as well, and she would only “sit back, quiet as a mouse, and hang on his every word.” Despite she was surrounded with the Romani language and spoke two dialects, at first, it did not occur to her to write Romani literature. She discovered this option with the help of Hana Syslová, a Romani studies scholar and teacher at the secondary school she attended. Afterwards, writing in Romani became an integral part of her creative work.

Kokyová belongs to the youngest generation of Romani authors, who only established themselves in literature after the turn of the millennium. She draws upon her childhood, family stories and her own experience. Nevertheless, it is not just nostalgic memories of idyllic old times. Her collection of short stories set on the 1970s called You Only Have One Family / Fameľija hin ča jekh, published in the anthology of contemporary Roma women’s fiction Slunce zapadá už ráno (The Sun Sets in the Morning) is a heart-rending and very open and sharp piece of reading. Kokyová criticizes unequal position of Roma women and men’s physical supremacy that often makes wives tremble in fear. She also deals with topics of rootlessness and the death of beloved ones that results in anxiety as well as loss of innocence.

Publication in magazines, proceeding and anthologies:

Rodina je jen jedna / Fameľija hin ča jekh. In: Slunce zapadá už ráno. Sborník současné ženské romské prózy. Praha, Knihovna Václava Havla 2014.
Čendeš. In: Otcův duch a jiné pohádky romských autorů. Praha, KHER 2013.
Regína a víly. In: Otcův duch a jiné pohádky romských autorů. Praha, KHER 2013.
Imaginární pes. In: Moji milí. Sbírka romské narativní prózy. Praha, KHER, 2014.
Dítě. In: Moji milí. Sbírka romské narativní prózy. Praha, KHER, 2014.
Romano voďi
Kamarádi
A2
KHER

 

Jana Hejkrlíková (1959)

Jana Hejkrlkov kopieCountry of origin: Czech Republic

Languages used: Czech, Romani

The singer, artist, activist and writer Jana Hejkrlíková comes from West Bohemia, where her family had relocated from Orlov, Slovakia. She would spend the summer with her grandmother in Bochov where she learnt about the Roma collectiveness, although her nuclear family was forced to move to Nejdek and stop using their mother tongue Romani under the pressure of social workers. She currently lives in Příbram.

Already as an adult, Hejkrlíková passed her secondary school-leaving examination at the Evangelical Academy and then studied Romani studies at the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts at Charles University. Her activities follow two elementary lines. With her husband Zdeněk Hejkrlík (1955-2010), a musician and journalist, they founded a folk music festival Příbramský huntík that was also connected with organization of scout camps and activities mainly for disadvantaged children. The second area comprises of activities for the Roma communities, mainly in the public sector: among others, as a member of the Government’s Council for the Roma minority in 2014. She currently works as an instructor of leisure activities at DDM  (Centre for Children and Youth) and Senior Point in Příbram. She still carries on with the Příbramský Huntík festival and focuses on writing in a more intensive and systematic way, for example thanks to the creative writing course led by Irena Obermannová.

Her larger set of fiction work, My Ink Years, was first published in parts – as short stories and essays in Romani and mainstream media. The novella written with the use of hyperbole and humour focuses on her memories from Bochov and the local Roma community. At the same time, she sharply criticizes negative sides such as the inferior position of Roma women and reflects a broader social situation, such as the disadvantaged position of Roma pupils in mainstream education and the life of the Roma minority after the Warsaw Pact occupation of 1968. Jana Hejkrlíková belongs to the contemporary strong generation of Roma female writers who gradually emancipate themselves from telling stories about the old idyllic Roma communities where the tradition was the main value and start to concentrate on intimate and often controversial topics.

Selected publications:

Má inkoustová léta. In: Slunce zapadá už ráno. Sborník současné ženské romské prózy. Praha, Knihovna Václava Havla 2014
Dnes bude divadlo. In: Čalo voďi / Sytá duše. Brno, Muzeum romské kultury 2007.
O gadžo o Kohutkos / Pan Kohoutek. In: Čalo voďi / Sytá duše. Brno, Muzeum romské kultury 2007.
Kampel mange ajsi škola? / Potřebuji takovou školu? In: Čalo voďi / Sytá duše. Brno,
Muzeum romské kultury 2007.
Romano džaniben 1998/4
Romano džaniben jevend 2004
Romano voďi
Literární noviny
Pražský deník
Respekt
Plav

 

Kateřina Sidonová

Kateina SidonovKateřina graduated from special pedagogy. She has worked as an elementary school teacher, educator at the asylum department for the youth, editor and translator of the Exchange-Stories project and English teacher. She currently works as a translator and she also focuses on writing and arts. 

Her published books include: Syn stromu a jiné pohádky (The Son of a Tree and Other Fairy Tales”), Jsem Kateřina (I am Kateřina), Jakub (Jacob) – published by the Mladá fronta publishing company. Jeden den ve IV.D (“One Day in Class IV D) – published by the Torst publishing company. 

As an artist, Kateřina organizes exhibitions and she works with the Polish publishing company Dowody na Istnenie as an artist illustrating book covers of fiction translated from Czech.

She is married and has three grown-up children. 

 

Eva Plešková-Gašparová

eva plekovShe was born on 14th May 1951 in the village of Poľana in Očová. She grew up there and completed her elementary school. Then she graduated from the Secondary Business School in Lučenec. She is grateful for her parents’ approach: they always tried to ensure very good education for all their children, because – as her wise mother would say – education is important for us Roma, and we need to have twice as much ambition than anybody else. From her graduation to her retirement, she always worked as an economist. She got married and has three lovely daughters, six grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Eva says: “I only started to write after I got retired. I draw upon my own memories as well as those of my parents and grandparents who used to tell me their stories. Sometimes I also take a look at the present, as I am worried about the current situation of Roma. I write in Romani which is very dear to me as my mother tongue. It is then easy to translate into Slovak, for I can effortlessly find Slovak equivalents to Romani words. I believe I can write a lot more, because there is so much to write about. I am grateful to the ROLIK Literary Club for the honour to be its member and thus become more visible as a writer both in Slovakia and abroad.

 

Maroš Balog

Balog Maros 624x937He has worked for the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic at the Office of the Government Representative for Roma communities since 2004. He was born and grew up in Košice. As early as at the age of 18, he started to enjoy writing and love the moments of holding a pen in his hand, drinking coffee and placing his ideas on a blank piece of paper.

He has also been active in the Roma professional theatre Romathan and in Roma newspapers. He became an editor-in-chief of the Roma monthly SME TU, SAM ADAJ (“We are here”), an editor of the ethnic radio RTVS and the Roma online radio station “Roma”. He is a proud father of a 13-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. In 2009, he founded the Roma Writers’ Club, and later also the ROLIK NGO. He is a tutor of an informal youth group “Magnetky”, the incoming generation of future Roma intellectual leaders. In Banská Bystrica, he founded an amateur theatre group for senior Roma citizens and also works as its director.

My life motto:

My family is my life – Miri famiľija si miro dživipen – and that is literally the foundation for everything: my work, my dreams, my belief, engagement and visions. We know that the word itself can be called the seventh superpower and I am thus convinced that the more Roma use their talent for writing, the greater is the power of the “lost Roma nation” – mingled with all other nations of the world that are also looking for their identity in the 21st century in the times of globalization and integration, striving to maintain their culture, customs, traditions and the language. As long as the language is alive, the ethnicity is alive as well. We, Roma, are only looking for understanding and sympathy – we have no country, no riches and resources, just the love of God in our hearts. We are the children of the wind that can be both a hurricane and a gentle breeze.