By Dr. Haim Reitan
“Eagle’s Wing” (Krahu i Shqiponjës) is a national Albanian magazine which first appeared in the democratic years, after the collapse of communism. It is published by a group of journalists and writers in Tirana, since 1995. Its aim is to promote the national problem as well as the social, political and literary life of Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and the problems of the Albanian communities in Diaspora. It has a big group of collaborators in America, Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey etc. The spiritual leader was and still remains Bilal Xhaferri.
Bilal Xhaferri was its founder, editor and leader. “Eagle’s wing” magazine was first published by him in 1974, in two languages: Albanian and English, as an organ of the Cham League in Chicago, USA. Bilal Xhaferri was born on November 2, 1935 in Ninat, Konispol. After an intense literary and publicistic activity he was obliged to leave Albania because of a continuous persecution from the communist dictatorship. He died in exile, on October 14, 1986 in Chicago, USA.
Bilal Xhaferri baptized, directed, prepared and published “Eagle’s wing” magazine till the end of his life. He was able to transform it in a powerful arm in the war against communism.
Hereby “Eagle’s Wing” was a free democratic thinking tribune, with anticommunist, anti- dictatorial and anti-enverists inclinations, which had as a purpose the union of all the political Albanian forces in exile, the unification of thoughts, programs and the unification of their goals for a free pro-western Albania.
Albanian national problems, especially the Cham issue and Kosovo problem were widely treated among the magazine’s pages. Even the problems of other territories that had remained outside the maternal body, Albania, and problems of Albanian communities around the world and Diaspora, were considerably discussed in this magazine.
Bilal Xhaferri could establish through “Eagle’s wing” magazine, tightly connections with a lot of patriots in USA, Europe and Canada, Turkey and elsewhere, with newspapers and other magazines of Diaspora. He influenced through his activity in the approach, the union and the collaboration between Albanians of all territories, dispositions, parties and different political organizations. Soon “Eagle’s wing” was converted in a national magazine. It was yet destined to all the Albanians, wherever they were.
“Eagle’s wing” magazine had a great brotherly, moral and material support from the Albanians in Kosovo and Montenegro, from parties and their national organizations. Even Bilal Xhaferri’s close friends and collaborators were from there. In a congratulation note in the magazine he writes: “During this summer (1981) I stayed for some months in Detroit. Among many friends, whom I want to thank very sincerely for their brotherly hospitality, I want to mention in particular Prof. Prenk Gruda, who never negated his help as a great patriot”.
Besides the publications of many foreign and Albanian authors, Bilal Xhaferri published even his works, a lot of publicistic articles, poetries, tales and fragments of the novel “Opposite sidewalks” (1975), fragments of the novel “The moon of the yards” (1977), skits for the Albanian language courses that were situated near mosques, masjids or Albanian churches. He also published his drawings and caricatures, artistic photos and short films made by him. He wrote in USA some movie scenarios. In the magazine number, where it was published for the first time a passage of the novel “The moon of the yards”, it was advertised that Bilal was producing a scenario from this novel for a feature-length film, under the adapted title in English “The moon of the Countryside”. A company from Hollywood was going to film it.
But even in America, the country of the big freedom, Bilal Xhaferri was being victimized by the security of the Albanian dictatorial state. They frequently tried to efface his work and kill him. Hereby in 1978 they wounded him. “Eagle’s wing” wrote these words for this terrible episode: “Bilal Xhaferri, the editor of “Eagle’s wing” magazine was assaulted in darkness from three unknown people while he was going in a meeting for the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Prizreni League. The friends that were waiting for him in the meeting, worried from this delay, went out to look for him and they found him in the street, wounded in the head and face and with a knife cutting in the rib. The police that was informed and came immediately, brought him to the hospital” (“Eagle’s wing” 1985, May).
When the editorial office was burnt in 1981, Bilal Xhaferri and the magazine met with a severe knockout. This fact has been published even in “Eagle’s wing” magazine: “A fire that burnt up in the building where was located “Eagle’s wing” magazine, burnt down all the files and the collections. This was a personal tragedy for Bilal Xhaferri, who lost his books and his manuscripts, thorough literary volumes, studies, scientific researches, translations, political notes, letters, pictures, photos, works and efforts of the ten difficult years in exile” (“Eagle’s wing”, January 1981). So the Albanian state security impeded by all means the activity of Bilal Xhaferri and “Eagle’s wing” magazine. The Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior of the Albanian dictatorial state in those years expressed themselves in this way: “We will bring back Bilal Xhaferri in Albania, dead or alive”. Bilal Xhaferri could publish 39 editions.
Since 1995 and following “Eagle’s Wing” goes on being published in Tirana, as the organ of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” (The cultural community of Chameri), founded and directed by the well-known journalist and writer Shefki Hysa. He initiated the return of Bilal Xhaferri’s bones in Albania and the exaltation of the extraordinary values of this rare personality, prosecuted and thrown into oblivion by the former dictatorship of the communist Albania.
In the magazine’s pages, among editions that defend Albanian national issue, notably the Cham problem, have often been published even articles and selected creations by personalities of the Albanian pens like: Bilal Xhaferri, Dritëro Agolli, Ismail Kadare, Ibrahim D. Hoxha, Jakup Mato, Martin Mato, Namik Mane, Pjeter Arbnori, Arben Çokaj, Sazan Goliku, Sokol Jakova, Shefki Hysa, Vath Koreshi, Visar Zhiti etc. and also by other well-known global authors like: Jack London, Jean-Pol Sartre, Alfred de Musset, Edgar Allan Poe etc…
The foreign authors who have notably treated the Chame issue like Miranda Vickers, Doris Pack, Hillary Clinton, James Pettifer and Dr. Haim Reitan etc., have taken a special place among the magazine’s pages and they will do the same in the future.
Acting as an editor and chief editor of the monthly magazine, Shefki Hysa, with his contributions and that of his friends, managed to publish more than 100 editions and consistently insists in chanting this pedestal of the free-thought in the trench of Bilal Xhaferri’s ideals.