Juliana Vodrážková: Josef Bánom has passed away
Josef Bánom, born 23. 1. 1941 in Slovakia, passed away on 23. 12. 2019. He was my uncle and a great figure, and I believe he is one of those whose activity and work in the Romani community must not be forgotten.
My uncle was not indifferent about his own life, he began to study with the great support of his parents and the rest of the family. He was one of the great figures of the 1970s.
He was part of the group of the Romani intelligentsia who established the first-ever official Romani organization here in 1969, the Union of Gypsies-Roma (Svaz Cikánů – Romů). At the time he was working with PhDr. Milena Hübschmannová, Ing. Miroslav Holomek and Zikmund Vagai.
My uncle frequently recalled PhDr. Eva Davidová, who would always greet him before giving speeches at conferences or various other meetings by saying: "Before I begin I would like to say hello to my phralora Jožka." He was one of those who planted the seeds for lifting up his nation and developing work in the Romani community.
He actively contributed to the creation of the International Romani Union (IRU) during the 1970s in London. He focused on education, which to this day he considered one of the most important formats for creating a better life for all, mainly for his children.
In 1980 he attended a congress of Sinti-Roma in Nuremberg, and ever since then he worked closely with the chair of the German organization for Roma-Sinti. During those years he frequently visited the Consul of India at their Embassy, exchanging information and consulting with him about the contemporary lives of Romani people here - they became close friends and my uncle visited the Consul in his own home.
Today we Roma have figures among us with college degrees who continue to draw on the early ideas he was involved with - they are just adding their own structure and new names to them. I would also like to write something here about his love for his family and for people in general as part of his activities.
To ensure a better future for his children, he emigrated with his entire family to Canada, where they live to this day. He was a person with a big heart.
He loved his wife Růžena to his last moment, all 53 years of their marriage. He taught his three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren to show love and respect.
Even when he was very ill, he showed his joy of life and his love to everybody, and it was returned to him by everybody. That is why I greatly appreciate him and I will remember him with great love... for me, he was a person with a wonderful soul and beautiful charisma.
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