[This video has subtitles in English]
Unión Romaní’s president, Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia, has wanted to record a message of support for rromà women to commemorate the upcoming International Women’s Day on 8th March. In the video, Ramírez-Heredia shares some deeply emotional words about his mother, in his words, “the woman who taught me to love and respect other women”.
THIS IS WHAT I AM
Starting with the coincidental and ending with transcendental.
Second, I’m Spanish.
Third, I’m from Andalusia.
Fourth, I’m from Puerto Real (Cádiz).
Fifth, I’m Christian.
Sixth, I’m a socialist.
Seventh, I’m a rromà.
The first six qualities of my existence are coincidental.
First, I’m European, but I could be African or Asian if I’d been born in one of these continents.
Second, I’m Spanish, but I could be French, Russian or Argentinean if my mother had given birth to me in France, Russia or Argentina.
Third, I’m from Andalusia, but why not Catalonia, Galicia or Extremadura? It just depends on the birth certificate that the Civil Registry gives you.
Fourth, I’m from Cádiz – how lucky I am to have taken my first breath in the land where the first democratic and liberal Spanish Constitution was born! But, I could also be from Alcalá de Henares, the author of Don Quijote’s birthplace.
Fifth, I am Christian by tradition and because I believe that the Gospel is the key for building respect and love among people. But I could also be a Buddhist or simply an atheist.
Sixth, I’m a socialist because I believe that socialism is the best way to realise the ideals of justice, freedom, solidarity and respect that all human beings deserve. But I could be a conservative or a communist instead.
Everything I have said so far is temporary and circumstantial. Everything is apparently good and everything can justifiably be changed. However, what remains unchanged, what even I myself couldn’t change because it forms part of my personal and untransferable entity is being a rromà. For this reason:
First: although I could be European, American or Asian, I will always be a rromà.
Second: no matter what my nationality, I will always be a rromà.
Third: regardless of the region of the world I was born in, I will always be a rromà.
Fourth: my homeland is what it is, but is could be any other. However, I will always be a rromà.
Fifth: while I could be Christian, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or atheist, I will always be a rromà.
Sixth: being socialist, liberal, conservative, left-wing or right-wing does not preclude me always being a rromà.
Everything I have said so far is temporary and ever-changing
- What will never change are my rromà roots, which are thousands of years old.
- What will never change is the sense of family (family is the most important thing) which is what comes first for any self-respecting rromà.
- What will never change is the respect, veneration and obedience that we owe our parents and ancestors. They are the bedrock of our lives in society.
- But above all, above the good and the bad, above all the laws that the gadyè can enforce – or rromà, if we one day come to govern the country -, what nobody nor nothing can ever change is that I was carried for 9 months in the belly of a rromà, and there, in the sacred cloister of maternity, I learnt to love and respect her.
That’s why I rip my shirt before her, and place the rromà women in the highest position of my life and our lineage.
Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia
This English translation has been possible thanks to the PerMondo project: Free translation of website and documents for non-profit organisations. A project managed by Mondo Agit. Translator: Emily Wallace. Proofreader: Phoebe Thomas