National Roma Centrum: The road of Roma success throughout history to the present
According to data from conducted surveys more than 12 million Roma live in Europe. Determining the real number of the Roma presents a real problem because in many countries they were not included in censuses. On the other hand, many Roma are hiding their true ethnicity because of political, economic, social and other reasons. The Roma ethnic community is based on the same principles as other ethnic communities in the world. The Roma have their language, their flag and culture just like ethnic majority communities, but unfortunately they do not have their own country. The origin of the Roma has been traced in ancient India for thousands of years. It is assumed that the reasons that made the Roma migrate from India to Europe and the world are constant discrimination, refusal to take part in wars and constant oppression and purges that have been a part of their lives for centuries.
The migration of the Roma had started from Central and Western India through Persia, Armenia, Turkey, and today the Roma are settled throughout the world.
On April 8 1971, the First World Roma Congress took place in London where the Roma flag, anthem and motto were established as recognizable symbols of the Roma. The Roma flag has got three colors, with the blue and the green dominant and divided in two equal halves, whereas in the center of the flag there is a brown cartwheel that symbolizes century-long migration of the Roma. The word Roma is also established at this congress as the term for addressing, and in Romany this word means man.
It is common for every ethnic community to be named after the name of its own country, but given that the Roma do not have their own country, they are identified by the word Roma. All other terms that had been used for addressing the Roma community are not accepted by the Roma. Five committees were assembled during the congress and were assigned to work on the following issues: welfare, education, war crimes, language and culture.
From that day forward the Roma movement has made significant progress that is not presented to the majority population for various reasons, but that does not mean that it meets the needs of this ethnicity.
In the worlds of literature, art, film, music, law and other fields of everyday life, there have been and there are Roma who are dedicated to their profession. In this world of multiculturality, expansion of life values and tendencies toward material and spiritual goods we speak to you all:
Do you know that the actor Yul Brynner has had Roma genes? The origin of this prominent person was not known for a long time. There is information that his mother's mother was Roma and his mother's father a Jew from Russia. But fact is that he was raised among Roma and there he has learned to play the guitar. The Pharaoh of Egypt (one of his successful roles) was also the president of the Roma movement in the USA, an office that functioned until the time of his death.
Renowned Academy Award winner Michael Caine was born as Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in Rotherheed, London. It was a tradition in the Roma group that he belonged to, to name the first-born son Maurice.
Jean Baptiste Reinhard - Jango Reinhard is the most famous jazz musician in Europe who played the guitar, the violin and the banjo. One of the most common themes in his music was defined Roma jazz.
Ian Hancock is a famous Roma activist and professor. He graduated from the University of London. He represented the Roma in the United Nations as member of the Holocaust Memorial Council in the USA. He is a linguist, a founder and director of the Roma Archive as well as the Austin Texas Documentation Center, where he has taught as a professor of English, linguistics and Asian studies.
Jose Antonio Reyes Calderon - a football player of Athletico Madrid with an international career is also born in a Roma family in Utrera, near Sevilla. During the course of his career he has played for Arsenal and Real Madrid in matches of the Champions' League, the FA Cup and the Premier League.
Joaquin Cortez is a famous flamenco dancer born in a Roma family in Cordoba, Spain. He had begun his profession as dancer during his formal education and was admitted at the most renowned dancing academy in Madrid. He has succeeded in entering the movie world and a documentary dedicated to him was filmed and shown on European satellite channels. His most famous dance performance is called "My loneliness" and is produced in cooperation with many world famous stars. In 2007 he was named a Roma ambassador in the EU.
In the world of European politics there are two Roma women - members of the European Parliament.
Victoria Mohaczy is a journalist who has graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy. She was born in a Roma family in Budapest, Hungary and is a member of the European Parliament from the political option European Liberal and Democratic Alliance.
Livia Yaroca is a Roma woman from Hungary who has got her Ph. D. in Anthropology and Sociology from London College. She is a member of the European Parliament as a supporter of the Civil Union Party. Her doctoral thesis was "Politics and ethnic identity of the Roma in Hungary"
We will end the list of Roma intellectuals and celebrities with the names of Rudolph-Rudko Kavczinsky - President of the European Roma and Travelers' Forum seated in Strasbourg, and Nicolay George who was the first Roma councilor in the OSCE ODIHR office in Warsaw. They are known as long-time activists, leaders and initiators of the formation of the ERTF and are responsible for the development of the Roma movement in Europe and beyond.
At the moment there are in Macedonia more than 300 Roma students in state and private universities. There are Roma people who have graduated law, philology, pedagogy, philosophy, medicine and economy. There are Roma people with MA and Ph.D. degrees who are still waiting for their first job, but this number does not cover the true needs of the Roma. The Roma do not have enough teachers, doctors, sociologists, politicians, linguists etc. They are professionals who by working in their fields will contribute to the development of the Roma movement in Macedonia and to democratic active participation and inclusion of the Roma in the political and social process.
The first Roma grammar and spelling book is written by the Roma teacher Saip Jusuf from Macedonia. By the creation of grammar, it was acknowledged that the Roma have their language, history and culture.
According to the 2002 census the number of Roma in Macedonia is 53.879, while data from Roma NGO's speak of a number of over 100.000.
If history says that Roma movements from India started in the tenth century A.D. and that the Roma have been European citizens for eleven centuries, then it is a fact that their participation in the social processes is a crucial issue that should not be ignored by all Europeans regardless of their national and religious background. Tolerance and peace have always been traits of the Roma people and as citizens of Europe they deserve equal treatment. There are Roma who can be set as an example for their intellectual capacity, professionalism and contribution to the creation of democracy, tolerance and peace.
There are Roma names that have de facto deserved a place in books on history, language, politics, film, literature etc. Those are of Roma intellectuals whose success in life will be a positive example for motivating new generations to strengthen their identity and culture, but also to initiate a path towards their spiritual, educational and professional uplifting.
Let April 8 be marked in your calendars as The World Roma Day, and let this text initiate in you a vision of your future aims and accomplishments...
We wish you a happy April 8 celebration
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