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May 24, 2022



Czech President to decide whether Romani musician to receive state honors as Senate proposes

29.7.2020 8:17
Olga Fečová (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)
Olga Fečová (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)

The Czech Senate approved its nominations for state honors during its July session. The list contains the names of 32 figures who are exceptional for their bravery, their contributions to the fight for democracy, or their extraordinary performance in the arts, medicine, science, sport or other areas beneficial to society.

Among the candidates is the Romani author, foster mother and teaching assistant Olga Fečová, who was nominated in May by Doc. PhDr. Zuzana Jurková, PhD., the head of the Department of General Anthropology at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University. Mrs Fečová has raised as many brilliant musicians in her own family as the Bach family did in the 18th century!

For decades she has dedicated herself to street children, with whom she sings, dances, paints and rehearses theatrical productions. Those are just some of the reasons she was nominated by Dr Jurková for state honors, and the Senate has agreed and proposed that Mrs Fečová be awarded the Medal of Merit.

Czech President Miloš Zeman will now decide whether to award her that honor. "Her entire life, Olga Fečová has embodied an approach that has proven to be essential and life-saving during the time of the COVID epidemic: That selfless care for others can be an integral component of life, including among those who are not materially affluent," Dr Jurková said previously, adding that "Olga Fečová undoubtedly deserves a trip to the Vladislav Hall."

Olga Fečová was born in 1942 as Olga Demeterová in Humenné, Slovakia. Both of her parents were from musical families.

The family moved to Prague when she was five years old. In 1968 she married the renowned Romani musician Josef (Jožka) Fečo (1940 - 2013), who composed music and also played with ensembles performing the broadest possible range of genres with musicians from his extended family and later with his own children and grandchildren.

The couple raised two daughters. Mrs Fečová dedicated herself to children from disadvantaged backgrounds while working.

In 1996 she formalized that care by establishing the Čhavorikaňi luma ensemble ("Children's World", in Romanes) in Neratovice and then later in Beroun, Krupka and Náchod. In recent years she has been involved with the Jileha project (run by the Slovo 21 association), which focuses on Romani women.

Mrs Fečová has been a member of the Czech Helsinki Committee since 1990. Four years ago she won the prestigious Roma Spirit award.

The ROMEA organization has produced a series of video interviews with Romani people in the Czech Republic called "Memory of the Roma" (Paměť Romů), one of which is with Mrs Fečová (below). Please click on the gear icon for English subtitles.


ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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