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,