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October 28, 2021



Czech Republic: Ignác Zima, co-founder of the Union of Gypsies-Roma, has passed away

18.4.2017 7:55
Ignác Zima (PHOTO: © Muzeum romské kultury/ Museum of Romani Culture, Czech Republic)
Ignác Zima (PHOTO: © Muzeum romské kultury/ Museum of Romani Culture, Czech Republic)

On Wednesday, 6 April 2017, Ignác Zima, a co-founder of the Union of Gypsies-Roma in Czechoslovakia (Svaz Cikánů-Romů) and an educator, passed away. The Museum of Romani Culture confirmed the information to news server on 7 April 2017.

Mr Ignác Zima, also known as Ganác or Hynek Zima, grew up with his brothers and their parents in a Romani settlement in Kopčany, Slovakia, where in 1938 he was born as the youngest of six siblings. His father owned a blacksmith shop, and after the Second World War ended he exercised the horses on a local farm.

Today Kopčany is in the district of Skalica, and the border between Moravia and Slovakia remained Mr Zima's home even after he returned from his two-year compulsory military service in 1959 and began working for the Czechoslovak Railways in Hodonín.  At that time he had been married for two years to his wife Angela, also a native of Kopčany, with whom he began a family in Hodonín, bringing one son and two daughters into the world.

Mr Zima completed secondary school while working for the railway. The family lived in Hodonín unti 1971, by which time Mr Zima was an active member of the Union of Gypsies-Roma.

Beginning in 1970 he worked for the Regional Committee of the Union. At first he performed his duties as a volunteer in his free time.

The chair of the Union, Ing. Miroslav Holomek, then offered Mr Zima a job with the Central Committee of the Union in Brno. He accepted the offer and moved to Brno with his family in 1971.

Brno remained his home until his recent passing. When the Union was closed by the authorities in 1973, Mr Zima resumed his job with Czechoslovak Railways and worked there until 1990 as an operator.

He then worked as the head of reporting for the Labor Office in Brno, and during that work, as had been the case during his work for the Union, he applied his valuable skills in the language of his mother tongue, Romanes. He spent his entire life maintaining many interests and skills.

One was his sustained interest in the history of his own birthplace and family, in the Romani settlement in Kopčany and its inhabitants, about whom he created his own, hand-written book, illustrated in detail. Mr Zima also collected Romani folktales for many years.

He was also interested in the language of Romanes and maintained the characteristic dialect connected with his birthplace. In 2015 Mr Zima was awarded the Museum of Romani Culture prize for his many years of collaboration with the museum, especially his care in developing and preserving Romanes and other areas of traditional culture and for transmitting historical awareness to the generations to come.

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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