BY EDUARD BUCAJ/A couple of years ago in NYC, a young Albanian teenager posed the question, “What does it mean to be Shqiptar?” At first, the reaction for some might be, “this is silly, and he couldn’t be serious!” The teen went on to say that he meets different Albanians all the time (in NYC that certainly isn’t unusual) and everyone has a different idea of what it means to be a Shqiptar, but what’s the truth? The fact is that many Albanians today do NOT know what it really means to be Shqiptar and/or many have forgotten! The first question one should ask is: what have your parents taught you? What do you know about our history? We can blame communism, capitalism, or better yet, today’s internationalism, or even more accurately, parental-ism or lack thereof. It doesn’t matter where you’re from; Albania, Kosova, or any of the diaspora; USA, Europe, East or West, the epidemic is the same result!
How has this happened? Who or what is responsible for this tragic identity crisis phenomenon? So many different views plagued us, even during the recent elections in Albania! After the last couple of decades of freedom from an oppressive dictatorial government, Albania suffered so much corruption as in many other emerging democracies, but also accomplished many noteworthy milestones. Nonetheless, the Albanian people, from all regions, have spoken just as this young teenager: “What does it mean to be a Shqiptar?” Hence, the last TWO overwhelming wins of Socialists in Albania! As a Cham (ethnic southern Albanian from Çameria) or a Dardan (ethnic northern Albanian from Kosova) it is clear we have a common cross to bear involving suffering of the worst kind; invasion, genocide, rape, mass murder, displacement, and today’s political oppression/corruption. For Albania, the suffering has been subtle, but systematic by our own poisoned hand!
With that, we are a very complex people; that’s an understatement but a fact. We come from different regions, speak different dialects, fight and survive different enemies and circumstances. Yet with all these differences we remain the same at our core; with our culture, our language, and most importantly our values! Like eagles, each one is a ‘potential’ leader soaring high and powerfully with unmatched sharpness and strength. But what does it mean to be a Shqiptar? This teenager went on to say, these Albanians say this and those say that, etc….Therefore, if so many have forgotten what it means to be a Shqiptar, it’s time to set the record straight!
We cannot know or do everything, but only with a simple common desire that there is good probably in everyone, which should give us all hope for the future. People are not born bad, but how and where they are raised has a definite effect on how they end up. Where there is an absence of good in some people or an instruction of the opposite, there lies the corrosion.
What does this have to do with our question; what does it mean to be a Shqiptar? Well, when one studies history carefully, you will find there has always been a set of common beliefs or values of the Albanians in some way, shape or form regarding a Creator-God and the universal laws of nature. The ‘Greek’ gods we know were actually Pelasgian Gods, nonetheless, every Shqiptar gave gifts, tribute, and homage to some superior being that appealed to the individual, but did everyone believe? The foreign communistic ideology and its atheist faith have done harm to society in general, but more specifically to the Shqiptar identity! Why? In Albania, during one of the most heinous communist dictatorships, the regime exterminated religious clerics, intellectuals, and patriots and transformed the Albanian mentality. This does not mean if you are an atheist, you are a bad person, but the moral code of the communist was set out to destroy the very core values that made up the fabric of these ancient stubborn people who refused to be defeated by any means over the ages. In six month’s Kosova will
celebrate its 10th Independence Anniversary which could not have been made possible without the many patriots, intellectuals, and her religious clerics. They had to unite with a common purpose. Many Kosovar Albanian families were in blood feuds for decades, but for the sake of the nation they had to come together to fight off the evil foreign (Slavic) communists. In an unprecedented event, these Albanians, despite their own pride, came together in the tens of thousands in a mass forgiveness ceremony for the good of the nation, which eventually led to Kosova’s independence. Is the mission over? What have we done to move toward Cameria’s independence or the other forsaken lands? Have we arrived? NO! Instead we are comatose with an independence and imaginary freedom, while many still remain chained as slaves to this ideology by fighting one another for position and status despite the fact that our adversaries continue to attack us on all fronts (North, East, West, South) and more tragically from within! This foreign communist ideology has affected many Albanian people (regardless of their party lines affiliation) and is threatening even our greatest ally, USA!
We must look at our heroes and heroines and not necessarily our leaders of today to analyze what it means to be a Shqiptar or a Shqiptare, respectively. Albanians tend to be warm and at times very hot people who are emotionally charged, full of vigor, energy, and passion, hence their successful accomplishments, large and small throughout the ages, everywhere. Typically, an authentic Shqiptar, regardless of region, religion, political views, immigrant or non-immigrant background, is “traditional.” Tradition is sacred, it’s passed down from generation to generation. After all, Albanian is one of the oldest Indo-European languages making it and its native speakers primordial. Our civilization is constantly moving and changing, or as the internationalists call it, ‘evolving’, throughout the eons, Shqiptari or Shqiptarja have been passionately fighting zealously to keep their identity alive. Despite the many barbaric ravages from the Roman conquest by the West into Illyrian lands, to the Slavic invaders from the North, and the relentless Orient Ottomans from the East and the very successful cunning Greeks from the South, it is amazing the Albanian language and its people still exist today. The most indispensable part of this ancient tradition is the family and their BESA. The basic fundamentals of the family structure are the most sacred tradition of all, and one’s Besa. It is the respect of one’s own family code of honor, loyalty, and love that transcends the advancement of a culture and its civilization throughout the ages. Eventually, as the family grows larger into clansmen, then into various tribes, it becomes a nation rich in slightly different traditional dresses, idioms, etc., but the core values remain the same. Because people are human beings you will have exceptions to these values, however for the most part, the pure common denominator for all Shqiptars is the inclination to one’s family, unity! Aren’t we then one big family? Yes!
Throughout our history it’s been proven that many of our adversaries have been trying to destroy us, be it through war, assimilation, or undoubtedly the most effective: evil ideology that pins brother against brother. Today’s selfie ideology of me, myself, and I have plagued our people to the point where our kids have to ask, “What does it mean to be a Shqiptar?” Shame on us all for allowing this to happen!
Twenty-five years ago, Albania could only dream of the opportunities we have currently. Rather, the toxic brainwashing persists today!
Being Shqiptar means being a good person, a good spouse, a good parent, a good child, a good neighbor, a good student, a good Christian, a good Muslim, a good soldier…banu besnik!
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” – Saint Mother Teresa