Macedonia and Kosovo After the Military Operations by Antonina Zhelyazkova Translated from Bulgarian by Violeta Angelova
I. Approaches to the research and methodology
II. Social specifications of the respondents
1. Albanian refugees in the camps and in the private houses in Tetovo
2. Albanians in Macedonia and Albanians in Albania. Their social relations with the Kosovars
3. The Macedonians
III. Psychological portraits of different ethnic and social levels
1. Albanian refugees in the camps and in the houses of Tetovo
2. Macedonians and Macedonian society as a whole
II. Social specifications of the respondents
1. Albanian refugees in the camps and in the private houses in Tetovo.
The social picture in the camps is mixed, i.e. from illiterate people to students in the University of Prishtina and people with higher education. People with primary and secondary education are prevailing. One can hardly meet among the married women any with higher than primary education. Among the more elderly generation of women (from 50 to 60) one can often meet illiterate ones.
It is a quite clear tendency for people from ordinary families to remain in the camps, people who do not belong to the formal or informal elite of the Kosovar Albanians. People who are apolitical or who feel strongly about the events and the future of Kosovo are prevailing, but they have never been at policy nor has their opinion ever been considered.
The material status of the deported Kosovars does not play a significant role in the social hierarchy. One can meet in the camps people who identify themselves as very poor, i.e. without any income or with monthly income not over 50 DM, owing some land, as well as people who had their own business, hired workers, and monthly incomes of 2000 or 3000 DM at times. Almost all the families in the camps possess more or less land and they have (with the exceptions of some families) from 1 to 5 relatives “gastarbeiters”* working in Western Europe, relying on them to a certain extent.
As soon as the camps were built, a system for supporting the refugees started working with funds sent by the relatives from Western Europe. Private agencies have been established which receive the money from Europe (very often ready cash), they trace down the relative-refugee or the refugee himself finds them and receives the consignment. There are some cases when the relative from Europe arrived in the camp to visit the representatives of their clan giving them net cash.
One cannot see misery or low level of hygiene in the camps. People are neatly and tidily dressed, young people even look elegant. This is due rather to the internal organization of the Kosovars, the tradition to be clean and smart which is part of the family dignity than to the efforts of the humanitarian organizations. There are places, of course, where this order and hygiene are on a much higher level (e.g. the Radusha camp) because of the available running water.
The detachment of representatives of the “fises"** in order to get educated or to work abroad is part of the internal order, the age family organization and the rules in the fis as well as in the nuclear families that make up the fis. It is also by keeping to the traditional potestal*** model that the families detached a soldier or soldiers for UCK and paid the corresponding tax for support of the army.
The family authority is determined by several markers that can be arranged in the following way according to their value: a) size of the family (number of the clan members), i.e. the clan authority depends to the greatest extent on the number of children and their upbringing. This basic marker for authority makes the nuclear families bring up more children. Women from the older generation (50-60 years of age) are proud to say that they have 10, 12 and even more children. One can feel, however, among the younger generation of women (18-30 years old), who already have 2 or 3 children, strong resistance to give birth to more. Obviously, during the past 10-15 years, regardless of the pressure of the older men and women in the families, the birth rate has dropped down to 2-5 children; b) affiliation to the several old historical North Albanian clans (e.g. Kelmendi, Hotti, Tachi, Krasnichi, Berisha, etc.);c) the moral and ethical authority of the family; and d) the quantity of land owned and its quality, number of houses and their outer appearance, furniture, livestock, etc.
It should be mentioned here that the representatives of the old families as well as the intellectual elite of Kosovo, i.e. doctors, scholars, journalists, economists, sportsmen, etc., were carefully searched out by the Party of the Macedonian Albanians led by Arben Dzhafferi and transferred to Tetovo to be looked after in the homes of local Albanians. The widely spread version that the Macedonian Albanians received kinship families in their homes is untrue. A strict organizational system decided who and where to accommodate, how many and which refugees a family was to receive, done with one goal only – to preserve the elite of Kosovo. The respondents in Tetovo who had no refugees at their homes were a rarity and this obviously upset them and put them at a disadvantage. This can be probably explained with the lack of appropriate conditions but they assume it as shameful and humiliating. It is a question of prestige and hierarchical dignity to accommodate a definite number of elite refugees from Kosovo in the houses of the Albanians in Tetovo. According to the living conditions and opportunities as well as according to the internal hierarchy and confidence, scientists, journalists, etc. found lodgings sometimes in the houses of illiterate people or workers. To our question, “How do you feed 30 persons?”, we got strict and alike answers, “Once there is for us, there is also for them”.
According to their religious affiliation all respondents in and out of the camps are Muslims, which did not give an answer to our question: By what internal organization and where were the Albanian Catholics or Orthodox directed to go, and how many of them were deported and prosecuted by the Serbian authorities?
Religion is not among the first values in the moral system of the Kosovars. They admit the fact that they are Muslims without this being of particular significance for them. Adherence, known as early as the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period, has been preserved towards 1. the fis, the family, 2. the territory, 3. the common ethnonym – shhkiptari (Albanians), and only ranking last – to some confessional group.
The questions related to religion obviously aroused boredom in the respondents; they were considered obvious and unimportant, but they also did not feel very competent to speak in detail on this topic. Even the complex situation in the camps did not make them more religious – only a few men visited the mosques in the neighboring village only for the sake of change from the oppressive and monotonous life in the camp and to chat with the local people. An amazing religious indifference!
One can perceive the same indifference when answering the question whether they expected help from the Muslim countries. They do not quite understand the question, they shrug their shoulders and most often say, “Yes, all will help us, Arabia too”, which is a sort of collective for the Muslim countries having no significant importance for them.
It is important to mention the existence of a hierarchy in the potestal model in the fis itself, which is strictly dependent on sex and age. Men are at the top of the family hierarchy, with the oldest leading. The victims of the war in Kosovo have led to a breakdown in the families due to the loss of the head of the family, or the loss of the oldest son, brother, uncle, etc. Automatically, the family leadership is transferred to the oldest man that had survived. In some cases this could be even the father-in-law. Similarly the family has determined which one of the sons or the uncles would accompany the women, the children and the old people during their flight or deportation in order to take care of their survival.
This “male” and “age” hierarchy is clearly outlined when building up the internal camp administration. Usually the public persons, i.e. the head of the refugee camp administration and his assistants are young men, even youths because they are educated and they know English and other Western languages. Likewise, because of their skills to communicate with the international humanitarian organizations and the guards from the Macedonian police, the young people from the camp administration are responsible for the order and the hygiene and try to find solution for the daily needs. In fact, however, young people do not make decisions because this right belongs to the older men, i.e. 50 – 70 years old. This is a sort of a Council of the elders who use the young people from the administration to be mediators and informers before they make their decisions.
Regardless of these findings about the functioning of the Kosovar clan structure, some of the anthropologists, who spoke with the younger and the educated men and women, were persuaded that the fis organization was exhausted even in the 70s. The young people resist the strict hierarchy but, in fact, the modernization in this respect is hardly making the first steps: a) the clan is not living in a territorial community any more, families are spread all over the world, but still this does not decrease their internal commitments, relations and emotional ties; b) the small nuclear family is trying to impose its own model as regards education, choice of occupation, choice of matrimonial partner and number of children, but still it is obliged to keep to the tradition. The exhausting of the potestal clan model is rather a desire and aspiration of the young people than a real fact.
* Gastarbeiter – emigrant laborers, (Ger.)
**Fis, nature, (Gr), i.e. the big clan, relatives in the male line of descent. They all originate from one great-grandfather, observing the exogamy. Two lines of kinship are distinguished according to the traditions of the North Albanian mountaineers, i.e. on the father’s side “tree of the blood” and on the mother’s side – “tree of the milk”
*** Potestal – power, authority (L. potestas)5th July, 1999Sofia
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