By Namik Selmani
Thoughts about the book “The diplomacy of self-denial” of Shefki Hysa
It is already known to all that the Cham problem is too much complex on its way to find a solution. Maybe one of the reasons of its non solution at the proper time and in its basic requests is exactly this too much present complexity of problems which is slotted in this typical Albanian land even with geography, history, culture, ethnography and toponomy. Despite those political, historical, cultural, juridical and ethnographic problems, there are the diplomacy problems too, not only between the two countries, Albania and Greece, for which this is a prior problem, but with international opinion too.
A cover that has a light at the end of a tunnel, with a piece of map of the Albanian trunk with the name “Chameria” and with a shady and unclear portrait in its contours (a symbol of actuality for the solution of the Cham problem) makes more intriguing the last book of Shefki Hysa, of Cham origin, entitled “The diplomacy of self-denial”.
At least only for this fact it is beautifully welcomed by many readers who still have “hunger” for such books, although the publication map for Chameria has been appreciably increased in the last years.
Coming from a rich experience of publications in literary choices, in themes and in his work structure Shefki Hysa is shown intriguing and original as widely known researcher and publicist.
The too rich experience that he has created with the direction of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” otherwise called Cultural Community of Chameria (in Albanian Shoqata Kulturore Bilal Xhaferri) and with the publication of the prestigious magazine “Eagle’s wing” (“Krahu i shqiponjës”) it seems that he hasn’t passed without leaving strong traces in this problem treatment not only in a close circle of people, intellectuals or even politicians of the left or right wing, (It seems that even the Cham problem hasn’t escaped in this rebellion of so faint alternatives that Albanian politics gives). Thus, the Cham issue appears as a national acute problem or project that anyway is still not clearly treated by political-diplomatic factors. With no intention to influence the concrete thinking of a qualified and highly-interested reader about this theme, we can cite even estimations of Albanian culture personalities about the Cham problem which is widely treated in Shefki Hysa’s book.
So the well-known writer Ismail Kadare has written about Shefki Hysa’s book: “This book is necessary, imperative and moral, like every publication of this kind. There are many reasons why Chams do not forget Chameria and this is not only their right, but also Albanians’ right.
Like a successful “vanguard” of this book remains poet, writer and researcher Dritëro Agolli’s estimation who has said about Shefki Hysa’s creativity: “Shefki Hysa’s creations, especially his tales are distinguished for the contradictory movement and for the anxious inclinations of this existentialist movement end…”
Visar Zhiti, an Albanian poet, writes: “In Shefki Hysa’s book blows the worried Cham wind and people’s destination is bound with their land, like roots that go deeply inside the stones, but even like life fingers, which blooded, grip the reality.”
Even foreign personalities such as Dr. Haim Reitan etc., have given estimations of Shefki Hysa’a big work.
So, coming from this literary experience, but not less vital (he is a healthy stem of this vital culture history and one of the first initiators of the creation of Chameria Association and its newspaper “Chameria- the home hearth”), it seemed as if his next work success was guaranteed.
This writer’s experiences, already known in the Albanian letters, were followed by other organization achievements, as director of the Cultural Community of Chameria and by political ones. So, to the chapter of this voluminous 500 page book we had to add that of the relations that Chameria has had at least these 19 years with Albanian politics. Such writings like “Chameria and the American Senate”, “Politics- a unique voice for Chameria”, “Albania-Greece relations in years” and “The resolution approval by Parliament makes official the Cham problem” and many others that comprise the chapter entitled “The diplomacy of politicians”, the most important of the book, shed light on the present and the future of Chameria.
We have to be objective when we say that still in the managing forums of the Cham community, even in that of the Albanian state there is not a unified strategy for this problem solution. Some simply call it a technical problem for the restitution of some properties, for which the land-patents are not full and regular. Some call it a political problem, on whose base the Greek government should accept the genocide over the innocent Cham population, etc, etc.
We think that reading and more exactly studying this chapter would open many new windows to today’s politicians and to those who tomorrow will sit in the parliamentary seats for this problem. The rationality of the problems presentation and the way of treating with a very cultured and understandable language makes readable all his writings. From the other part the author has utilized in this important chapter all the publicistic genres such as the problematic article, the reportage, the interview, etc.
This clear tableau would be a bit faded if we didn’t speak for a big part of the book that the author dedicates to the dissident Cham writer Bilal Xhaferri. Some writings about Bilal have been published till now in a time when Albanian book market and Albanian libraries of all lands have too much “hunger” to know this authentic artistic and tragic personality of Chameria and of the whole Albanian nation.
Unlike those few literary and publicistic information that has been published in our periodic press pages, Bilal Xhaferri’s life and his literary, lifetime and patriotic activity is given with more colors. In it are given even memories of the poet’s friends such as Namik Mane, Riza Milla, Skënder Xhelo, Selfo Hoxha, Elez Bardhi, Antika Xhaferri, Aqif Dino, Ballkëz Halili, Bedri Myftari, Agim Mehqmesë etj.
Even the creative work of author Shefki Hysa is related to a great extent with the recognition, the propaganda and the publication of Bilal Xhaferri’s work. Even in the 1995 delegation of the Ministry of Culture, for the return of this personality’s bones from America to his homeland, Shefki Hysa has his role as an initiator.
In 1974 for the first time in Chikago Bilal Xhaferri founded the national magazine “Eagle’s wing” (“Krahu i shqiponjës”). After fleeing from Albania in 1969 and establishing himself in Diaspora, in America, he wasn’t appeased but he devoted himself to patriotism. They were 14 difficult years but very beautiful too, when Bilal directed “Eagle’s wing” magazine (“Krahu i shqiponjës”), a publication of Cham League, with a prominent patriotic content, which made him more known in the patriotic environments of the Albanian Diaspora around the world. At the same time this magazine, so loved by the Albanians of Chicago, Boston and of many cities where Cham Albanians and Kosovars were located, became another reason for the enemies to find a way to punish him even with his life loss, when he was still too young and he had a lot of to do for the national problem in general and that Cham in particular.
Precisely the excellent tradition of this magazine until 1986, when the poet died, would continue its survival in 1995. This time it went ahead in Albania and precisely under the direction of Shefki Hysa. This was made in parallel with the creation of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” (Shoqata Kulturore “Bilal Xhaferri”), which goes on echoing this known personality’s work of our ethnicity.
Such organization and publishing experience in search of those values recognition is made even by Shefki Hysa in a considerable number of pages. With a good tendency to be even varicolored in the book construction, he publishes even a part of Bilal Xhaferri’s selected poetries taken out from the former security files of the Albanian communist state, where they were imprisoned as dissident creations, as a matter to punish their author.
The selected artistic-publicistic language of the book is another contribution that the author brings with this work, in a time when not every today’s edition offers this contribution thoroughly necessary. This interesting language begins in the preface written by the author himself. Among other things, he emphasizes: “Isn’t it madness that for a momentary foolhardiness, aberration or anger you can leave unrealized you work program, you can’t live passionately your life thinking that your child will experience it, even if you don’t know when you are going to have him, if he will be felicitous or naughty or with dreams and desires different from yours?… My friends and I, with intelligence, wisdom and diplomacy are achieving our aims and objectives: We have left clashes, threats and ravages to the others, our adversaries… And in this way with intelligence and sacrifices on the verge of self-denial, we are going to make the big Chams’ dream a wonderful reality …”
This message is completed at the end of this book by Namik Mane too, dissident writer and Bilal Xhaferri’s close friend, in the writing entitled: “Don’t forget Chameria!”
This calling is more than a Cham patriot’s request. It is a request, a prayer, ancestors’ last will, is a charge of generations, is a universal right that doesn’t permit forgetfulness, moreover non-solution, is a Cham scream that world, European and Albanian diplomacy should hear for the solution of the Cham problem. That national diplomacy should hear it and not measure its work with some newspaper writings or with any diplomatic speech in halls and tribunes decorated with flowers and microphones.
Look how he appeals:
“… Make a journey to north-west Greece. You will se how a lucid Cham language is spoken in there… They will tell you dolorous stories, the foundations and the walls of our homes, our grandfathers’ and forefathers’ tombs will talk to you, their tombs that look for our tombs…
Some few fathers who want to talk to you are still alive. We, their sons who know very well the extension of Chameria, are alive. We don’t need land-patents. We know exactly our borders. But we call for your human support, friends, we call for your prudence, call for you to take a look at the Cham problem and you will see that it is full of truths”…