Thursday, March 26, 2009

Grateful for the hard work

Grateful for the hard work
(Impressions from Bedri Myftari,

former director of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”)

The well-known intellectual and writer Shefki Hysa, with his initiative, since the origins of democracy, founded the publishing house with the name of the international and Cham literature symbol, Bilal Xhaferri, to heighten the cultural values of an omitted region as it is Chameria. This publishing house, besides the promotion of Chameria cultural and artistic values, helped and published all the creations of the dissident writers, detested by the communist dictatorship, like the works of the Albanian Mandela, Pjetër Arbnori and the manuscripts of Bilal Xhaferri, Namik Mane and of many other persecuted writers.

Besides, a lot of world literature works that were prohibited in the dictatorship period were published in the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri”. This publishing house expanded and became known even in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and in all the Albanian lands of Diaspora, up to America. That’s why the creators and the artists are grateful to the indefatigable writer and intellectual Shefki Hysa. Besides, Shefki Hysa created even the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” with a group of Cham writers, artists and journalists, as well as many friends of the writer Bilal Xhaferri.

Shefki Hysa has a special merit for the exaltation of Bilal Xhaferri’s figure. And we, the friends of Bilal, should know at first this merit, we should be grateful to him for life, not only for his indefatigable work in the issue of the Cham culture promotion, but because he did what we didn’t do. He did the impossible, going in the highest instances of the Albanian state, and brought the bones of our big writer Bilal Xhaferri, which repose now in the Jonian sea-line, in the lands of the martyr Chameria that Bilal loved so much.

Shefki Hysa’s work doesn’t finish here. He took “Eagle’s wing” magazine that Bilal founded and set up in Chicago, America, where he published 39 numbers and made it flew like an eagle in Tirana. And now “Eagle’s wing” has reached over 80 numbers. This magazine will live as our Albanian mountains will live.

Bedri Myftari
Writer, publicist

March, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

By Shefki Hysa

"Krastakraus"- Love and resistance

Note about the novel "Krastakraus"
of the writer Bilal Xhaferri.

Bilal Xhaferri (November 2nd, 1935- October 14th, 1986) was a poet, narrator and a distinguished dissident publicist. Author of many unpublished works: "Krastakraus"- his masterpiece. This would be the exact definition for Bilal Xhaferri, the writer of the Albanian ethnicity, as some scholars have defined him.

He was born in Ninat of Konispoli's region, in the district of Saranda, in a patriotic family that belongs to the tribe of the distinguished encyclopedic polymath Hasan Tahsini, the first rector of Istanbul University.

In 1945, the communists shot his father, Xhaferr Ferik Hoxha, because of his nationalist anti-communist convictions. Bilal remained fatherless, the only boy, brother of three sisters. Later his life would be a fatality. Like a Sisyphus, the heavy stone of the "the bad" biography would weigh over his shoulder. He hardly finished a school for a geometer technician and his life began to run along the difficult yards of the "bridge- road" enterprise, building and asphalting new streets and in pursuit of the alleys of the literary creativity.

In 1966 he published the volume with narrations "New people, ancient land", that fulminated in the reader's minds as the bolt from the blue. The extraordinary talent, Bilal Xhaferri was bringing a new romantic-realistic spirit in the Albanian literature, which aimed the rising of the faded feelings of the people, indoctrinated from communism. Against the "new man", the bastard that the communist dictatorship was trying to create, Bilal, with his composition appealed to the Albanians to turn the eyes to the antiquity, to their predecessors, the gentle, freedom-loving and combative forefathers, holders of these home lands. His poetic volume "The red clearing" was published in 1967, but it couldn't move along. With an order of the communist censure, it was converted in cardboard dough. In those few copies that were preserved, stolen from Bilali's well-wishers, caught the eye the silent dissidence of this inexorable author, proud of his Pelasgus- Illyricum blood.

In August 24th, 1969 Bilal Xhaferri was constrained to escape in Greece and from there he emigrated in U.S.A, in Chicago where he published, for more than ten years, the anti-communist magazine "The Eagle's Wing", a bilingual Albanian-English magazine.
He died in unknown circumstances, languishing from the nostalgia for his own country and the hatred for the communism that had isolated Albania within the barbed wires.

His novel "Krastakraus" (The Crest of Kruja, the birthplace of the legendary, lion-hearted Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu) written in 1968, passed for a long time through the newsrooms of the unique publishing-house of the communist state, until it ended up imprisoned in its archives for the ideas it treated. It was published only in 1993 from The Publishing House
"Bilal Xhaferri",
created to remember the name of this remarkable dissident writer.

The novel "Krastakraus" is a monumental and classic as well as modern creation. It takes the theme from the historical past of Albania, precisely from the period of the heroic wars of Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, the king of the Albanians (1417- 1467), who for a quarter- century afforded with his sword the ottoman invasions, in defense of the Albanian state and the Christianity. It is a creation written very neatly. The strong imagination of this author permeates the mist of medievalism and through the tableaus and the details that he describes, he succeed in taking away the heroes from the land of the legends and bringing them alive in the eyes of the readers. The whole history of the Albanian-Turkish wars, of the losses and victories, betrayals and resistance is outspread through the life and the jobs of the simple warriors of Gjergj Kastrioti.

Strezi, one of the courageous officers of Skënderbeu's commission is the central personage of this novel. The destinies of the other personages in peaceful and war times are evolved through the line of his love for the princess Ajkuna in one part, and his activity as a courageous warrior in the other part.

The world of the personages and their psychology is entwisted with the nature and sometimes it isn't understood whether the man is a creature of the nature or the nature is his creature. The trinity: God, nature, man and conversely, is entwined as a fatal node in the world of every personage, as well as in the lyric-dramatic situations and events, disposed toward "the tragic" that threats the destinies of the populations and personages.

The end of this novel is a masterly description, almost Homeric, of a bloody battle, without winners and losers; of a battle that means other battles and resistances, even more bloody, ensuring in this way the survival of a proud population that knows to live the life in peaceful times as well as in war times.

"Krastakraus" is a symbol of love and human resistance at the same time. It is a symbol of the victory of civilization toward the barbaric invasions of all the times.

The actual Albanian man finds in the pages of this novel his image and he nearly falls in love with himself like the Narcissist of Mythology in front of Bilal Xhaferri's creation. We hope that this book will be a kind surprise for the readers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

By Dr. Haim Reitan

How was founded the publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri”

The publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri” is one of the first Albanian publishing organs of the post-communist period with the purpose to select and to publish the most prominent values of the world literature, the Albanian dissident literature and the creativity of the young talents that are at risk to lose in the difficult conditions of the trade market.

The publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri was created as a result of the idea that the culture, the art, the literature and the personalities that represent them, with their values, are the ambassadors and the most convincing and effectual diplomats for the dignified presentation of a nation before the other civilized nations. In January 27, 1992 the Ministry of Culture released the permission for the foundation of this publishing organ. The minister at that time was the writer Vath Koreshi, one of the promoters and supporters of the literary beginnings of the talent Bilal Xhaferri. Vathi signed with enthusiasm the permission for publishing activity and promised that he would constantly give his support and that of many friends of Bilali.

At that time the work of Bilal Xhaferri was forgotten. His values were denied from the former communist dictatorship. It was the duty of the Cham intellectuals like Shefki Hysa to glorify the work of Bilal and the treasures of the Cham culture and folklore, great values that were infringed and the Albanian public didn’t know. The marvelous pearls of the popular Cham epos could be expressed in front of the Albanians and the civilized world through the figure of Bilal Xhaferri, an exceptional talent that had shined like a star in the horizon of the Albanian literature in 1960s and was suddenly extinguished from the fatal stroke that it took from the former communist dictatorship. The Albanians and all the foreign well-wishers, being familiar with these wonderful values of Chameria, would raise the interest and fell in love with the Cham issue like a singular and sacred religion institution that belonged even to them.

Thus the publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri” due to the capacities, the great zeal and the numerous contacts with the Albanian and international politics of the writer Shefki Hysa, increased and it was experiencing day by day a bum of selected publications from the world literature, books of former outraged personalities like Pjetër Arbnori and especially works of young talents. Its staff made all the attempts that the young boys and girls, full of talent, not only of the Cham Community, could find themselves in the publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri”, be affirmed and not meet with the whilom destiny of Bilal, in the difficult period of the cruel capitalist transition that Albania was experiencing.

It was difficult to find monetary instruments for books publications in the first years of the post communist period and the young talents saw a dreams shelter in this publishing organ, part of the institution: The cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”…

The novel “Krastakraus” of Bilal Xhaferri was published in 1993. It was one of the most artistically realized works with the topic and the problems of the Albanian ethnicity, so preferred from this author. The publication was enabled with the assistance of the Cham intellectual Ballkiz Halili, who has kept for years a typescript copy of this novel. This publication was a great and unexpected success. Finally the Albanian public had in his hands one of the most dignified works and not only the figure of Bilal, the dissident writer that had scuffled with the former Albanian communist dictatorship. The number of the publications increased every year and the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferr” played an important role to introduce the Cham problem that was near the solution, in the national and international area.

Some of the most known publications of this institution with national values are:

“Fatal love”, romance (1992), Alfred de Musset
“Bloddy Love ( Beyond the distances)”, romance (1992), Bilal Xhaferri
“The respectful prostitute”, novels (1992), Jean Paul Sartre
“When the vikings invade”, novel (1992), Pjetër Arbnori
“The flaw of the heart”, poetry (1992), Gjin Progni
“The turtledove and the devil”, tales (1992), Shefki Hysa
“Krastakraus (Berati crumpled), novel (1993), Bilal Xhaferri
“Don’t remind me the death”, poetry (1993), Rudina Hasa
“Rebel”, poetry (1993), Shpëtim Roqi
“The night of the foreign cypresses”, essay (1994), Artur Spanjolli
“The beauty and the shadow”, romance (1994), Pjetër Arbnori
“Hostages of peace”, novel (1994), Shefki Hysa
“Peccant angel”, poetry (1994), Mirela Rapi
“The living dossiers”, journalism (1995), Agim Musta
“The pergola of the tears”, poetry (1995), Namik Mane
“The homesick horse”, poetry (1996), Arshin Rexha
“The dream stars”, poetry (1996), Etleva Shahini
“The vortex”, novel (1997), Pjetër Arbnori
“The cursed paradise”, novel (1997), Shefki Hysa
“The sold paradise”, poetry (2002), Dylbere Dika
“And the day dies”, tales (2003), Dylbere Dika
“Soul scream”, poetry (2004), Liri Hidërshaj
“Aroma of Chameria” , tales (2004), Shefki Hysa
“The false miracles”, tales (2005), Shefki Hysa
“Spiritual lactacion”, novel (2005), Liri Hidërshaj
“For a little bit happiness”, poetry (2006), Venka Capa
“The narration”, novel(2006), Liri Hidërshaj
“Dialogue for the impossible peace”, journalism (2006), Hysen Haxhiaj
“Family sorrow”, poetry (2006), Mina Çaushi
“With our feet we traveled the world”, novel 2007), Xhulia Xhekaj
“Dodona, the ancient temple of Albania”, research articles (2007), Rasim Bebo
“The regret”, novel (2007), Liri Hidërshaj
“The tears of the rose”, poetries (2008), Kostaq Myrtaj etc, etc.

It was extracted from the book “The diplomacy of self-denial”
of the writer Shefki Hysa,
Tirana, 2008

By Dr. Haim Reitan

What is the cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri”?!

The cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri” (The Cultural Community of Chameria) is an Albanian NGO, centered in Tirana, founded by a group of journalists, writers, artists and intellectuals, friends and well-wishers of the noted dissident poet, narrator and publicist Bilal Xhaferri, which aims to point out the brilliance of this outraged figure, thrown into forgetfulness by the former communist dictatorship and the sublimation of our national culture values versus the advanced civilizations' values especially those of the martyr Chameria.

The cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri” was founded in 1993 and it was legally approved in 1994 as a specialized cultural multifunctional institution in order to expand the activity of “Bilal Xhaferri” publishing house, created since 1991 by writer Shefki Hysa, as one of the first publishing organs of the post communist period. Its purpose was the selection and the publication of the most prominent values of world literature, Albanian dissident literature and young talents' works that risk losing in the difficult conditions of trade market.

The boom of the publications of this publishing-house and the big echo of its activity in those years, initiated the idea that an institution, with bigger spaces and legal purview than those of a simple publishing organ, was indispensable. Thus, it was necessary to found a cultural multifunctional organism, more dignified, an unprofitable organization that should include even the publications field and at the same time it should have possibilities to collaborate with governmental and non-governmental institutions in all the life views, inside and outside the country.

A group of Cham activists, in concert with their friends in different regions of Albania and in Diaspora, discussed a long time with the best intellectuals of the Cultural Community of Chameria and in collaboration with many writers, artists and other Albanian intellectuals, friends and well-wishers of Bilal Xhaferri and the Cham issue, decided to create a cultural association, that would have besides the publishing-house, even its press. So, they would found a non-governmental organization like the Cham League, which was founded by Bilal Xhaferri, in Chicago, USA or something similar with the association “Chameria”, but disposed toward the Cham culture rather than politics.

As a result of the collaboration, the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” was founded and consolidated during 1993 and 1994 as a specialized institution that would expand his cultural activity beyond the Albanian borders, in Kosovo, Macedonia and USA to coordinate the work with the Cham League, the Kosovo’s League, the Democratic League of Montenegro, The League of the Albanians of Macedonia and with many other organizations that operated in the American continent. The association would be a potential voice for the support of the Cham problem and for its solution in a diplomatic way …Thus, these initiators had to become a little diplomats, like all the writers and artists that take the role of the ambassadors of their country’s culture… In this way they would become missionaries of the Albanian culture, her diplomats…

But who were some of the friends that joined the table of this association and helped with the Albanian heart the Cham ideal?! Even well-known intellectuals were distinguished among them. We can mention: Namik Mane, Pandeli Koçi, Pjetër Arbnori, Dritëro Agolli, Ismail Kadare, Ballkiz Halili, Dhori Karaj, Faik Teodori, Fatos M. Rrapaj, Hektor Sejko, Hekuran Halili, Namik Selmani, Martin Mato, Minella Kureta, Sokol Jakova, Vath Koreshi, Axhem Çapo, Balil Proda, Bujar Shurdhi, Qani Biraçi, Xhemil Lato and many others, not only Chams…

Very soon, the cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri” was expanded not only in the areas of the Cham community but even in the main districts of Albania, wherever the friends of Bilal Xhaferri’s work and ideal lived… It created very good relations with the structures of the Albanian state, with politicians of every political spectrum, with those of the position and opposition, with the old politicians and the young ones such as: Pjetër Arbnori, Sali Berisha, Ibrahim Rugova and Fatos Nano, Aleksandër Meksi, Servet Pëllumbi and Skënder Gjinushi, Sabri Godo, Fatmir Mediu, Namik Dokle and Arian Madhi, Edi Rama, Hashim Thaçi, Gramoz Ruçi, Bamir Topi, Besnik Mustafaj and Neritan Ceka, Petro Koçi and Preç Zogaj, Ilir Meta, Pëllumb Xhufi and Sabri Hamiti, Makbule Çeço, Jozefina Topalli, Diana Çuli, Lajla Pernaska, Valentina Leskaj, Mimi Kodheli, Majlinda Bregu and many others.

The contacts of this association were extended and consolidated even with the American, Italian, German and Turkish embassies etc, or with personalities of the world diplomacy and culture like Hillary Clinton and Doris Pack, Miranda Vickers and James Pettifer, Marko Panela and Callenback, Dr. Haim Reitan, Amir Gilad etc.

A generation of poets, journalists, intellectuals and young talented politicians such as Agim Mero, Alma Ahmeti, Bianka Bilali, Dylbere Dika, Florian Bulica, Fllanxa Veshi, Kadri Aliu, Kostaq Myrtaj, Ismail Murtaj, Leonora Bilali, Mina Çaushi, Rudina Hasa, Yllka Sulku, Xhulia Xhekaj and many others afterwards would become in years the big armature of the warriors of the Cham ideal that this association had as a purpose…

The magazine “Eagle’s wing”, founded by Bilal Xhaferri in USA became the organ that reflected and continues to reflect all the activity of this patriotic organization.

The main purpose of this organization is to point out the grandiosity of the figure of Bilal Xhaferri and the values of the Cham and Albanian culture near the best world values… The most imminent objective that was assigned to realize this purpose was: The restitution of the bones of Bilal Xhaferri in Albania that was realized in May 6, 1995 with the contribution of the Albanian state and the writer Shefki Hysa, director of this association…

An in this way began a long collaboration with all the governmental and non-governmental organisms, until it was made possible that the bones of Bilal Xhaferrit could come and repose in Saranda. A lot of other purposes in benefit of the Albanian culture and the final solution of the Cham problem were the other objectives to achieve…

It was extracted from the book “The diplomacy of self-denial”
of the writer Shefki Hysa,
Tirana, 2008