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Romani author Emil Cina has passed away

Prague, 20.10.2013 19:45, (ROMEA)
Emil Cina (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)
Emil Cina (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)

On Sunday, 20 October 2013, Emil Cina, one of the most significant Romani authors and nation-builders, passed away at the age of 65.

Emil Cina was born on 13 December 1947 in the Libeň quarter of Prague. His forebears came from Slovakia, from Kurim u Bardějova, where they owned agricultural estates and made their living trading horses.

Mr Cina is the nephew of the famous Romani author Ilona Lacková. He trained as a milling-machine operator in the Auto Praga factory in the Vysočany region and after his military service, during which he was a tank operator, he delivered coal around Prague for 20 years with his brother and father.   

In the 1990s Mr Cina began working at the Czech Radio Regina station, based in the Prague quarter of Karlín. He started there as the building manager and in 1992 became an editor and moderator of the "Klub dorozumění" ("Understanding Club") program for minorities.  

"Through my poems I do my best to inspire Romani people not to forget Romanes. This is our language. It's what keeps us together, which is why I do my best to preserve it," Mr Cina said recently in an interview for news server when asked to describe what motivated his creativity.

Mr Cina, like many other Romani authors, was guided towards writing by the founder of Romani Studies in the Czech Republic, Milena Hübschmannová. His first poems were published in the 1990s in the Romani magazine Amaro lav / Naše slovo ("Our Word"), followed by his editorial work for the magazines Gendalos / Zrcadlo ("The Mirror") and Nevo romano gendalos / Nové romské zrcadlo ("The New Romani Mirror"), in which he established and ran a column for children.

In 1997, at the International Competition of Romani Artistic Creativity, "Amico Rom", in Lanciano, Italy he won two prizes, second place in the prose category and third place in the category of poetry for children. 

Mr Cina also translated Duhový most (Rainbow Bridge), a book of children's fairy tales by Ludvík Středa, into Romanes. He also provided the Czech translation for Emir Kusturica's feature film "Black Cat, White Cat" (1998) and translated several passages from the film "Roming" (2007) into Romanes.   

In 2002 Mr Cina's poems were published in a collection entitled Legendy, balady a romance národů (Legends, Ballads, and Romances of Nations). In 2008 he published two myths in the book Devla, devla!

Mr Cina also wrote stories of the lives of Romani people in Slovakia based on his visits to relatives and matched with motifs from paintings by the Benedictine monk Lukas Ruegenberg. That material became the basis for the pieces in his 2010 book Ivan a Dominik (Ivan and Dominic). 

Recently Mr Cina contributed to the Romani biweekly newspaper Romano hangos, the children's magazine Kereka, and to news server, as well as collaborating with the KHER publishing house. He also authored the Czech and Romani texts of Ibra Ibrahimovič's book of photographs O školara / Školáci (Schoolchildren).

Thanks to his active position toward using the Romanes language and to his creations, Emil Cina is one of the most popular and recognized Romani cultural figures. His years of work for young readers, not just in literature but also in cultural outreach, were very beneficial and of high quality.   

Until recently Mr Cina participated in chats and literary workshops with Romani children and young people supporting their relationship to their native language. He wrote poetry for adults and children as well as mythological fairy tales and stories in Romanes, and translated it all into Czech.

His poems call on Romani people not to abandon their identity and their language. In his stories about life, in which he displays not just a talent for observation, but also wisdom and a capacity for self-irony (and a humor based on that), he shows people, through his own example, what it means to live in accordance with Romanipen. 

ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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