April 8th is approaching. The same day in 1971, the First International Congress of the Gypsy People took place in London. the date on which the celebration of the International Congress of the Gypsy People is commemorated in London in April 1971. As many of you know, Devel (God) wanted to reward my youth efforts by making me the only Spanish gypsy who attended that conclave. The Congress was important, as we wanted to let society know about our existence, our problems, and above all, our illusions. Next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that important event.
We would have liked this year to be the prologue to the great world gypsy festival that we will celebrate next year. However, the Covid19 crises won’t allow it t. We will all be locked in our houses, complying with the instructions given by the country’s authorities. That is what we have to do now: we have to be empathic and show solidarity for those who are working in the front line to stop the pandemic.
However, we ask ourselves:, what can we do this year, since all the events that we have traditionally been celebrating on April 8th have been cancelled?
Many ideas have occurred to us and some will come together without leaving the house, but I dare to suggest the following.
We are going to dress Spain in blue and green
Yes, we are going to ask all Spaniards, gypsies and non-gypsies, to decorate their balconies on April 8th with the gypsy flag that is made up of two stripes of fabric of the same width. The one above is blue and the one below is green.
Let me tell you, since I was in the London Congress the day it was unanimously approved that this should be the flag of our people. Ourflag should not compete or displace any other. Colors blue and green have a meaning: Blue above to indicate that the sky is our roof and green below to show that the green of the fields is our floor.
Don’t you think that this flag contains a wonderful message of life? A time when misunderstood modernity puts ancient traditions of family values in a corner we are here to remind you that coexistence is possible.
Don’t you think it would be great if borders disappeared and that the only barriers that existed to separate one country from another were only the height of the mountains or the waters of the rivers?
Gypsies, before Europeans and long before Americans, discovered the supreme, intangible value that universal citizenship represents. On December 10th, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For the first time in history, the basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of those were supposed to be guaranteed.
April 8th, when history changed
On April 8th 1971 the miracle occurred and since then we managed to get the United Nations to grant us a statute of universal recognition as a Non-Governmental Cultural Minority. Jarko Jovanovic, a Yugoslav gypsy, composed that day, accompanied by his balalaika, the Gelem, Gelem, our international anthem. We also requested and were able to obtain compensation from the German government for those gypsies who died in concetration camps during the Nazi period. The economical compensation was used for educational programs for the descendents of those European Roma victims. The London Congress also allowed the recovery of our ancient language, Rromano, a language of Sanskrit origin that we still speak today, with more or less fluency. More than 14 million gypsies still use Romanó, a language that has its own department in the René Descartes University in Paris. Its director is Marcel Courthiade, a French gypsy who was born in Albania in 1953. He works as a professor at the university’s Institute of Oriental Languages and Cultures.
Let’s make gypsy flags
It is very easy. Get one meter of blue cloth and another meter of green cloth and sew them. That’s it, easy. We have distributed thousands of Gypsy Flags since the Romani Union arranged with a Catalan textile factory, more than thirty years ago, to manufacture thousands of flags. Today, it is relatively easy to get a flag or several in different establishments in Spain. I myself have bought many of them and they are cheap If, due to circumstances, you cannot find them, you can always make your own. Oh!, And if you don’t have the red wheel of the car in the middle, nothing happens! The flag without the wheel has the same meaning. When this horrible pandemic passes, come to our offices and ask us for one and we will make our best efforts to provide you one or as many as you need.
On April 8th, as it has happened for several years, most of the town councils throughout Spain will have the the blue and green on its facade. In the buildings of the autonomous parliaments it will also be present in a place of honor. At this time, and one more time in history, some racist people say the gypsies have brought the coronavirus. What a nonsense! We ask, once more time, for solidarity and affection. Since we are not able to hug or friends and family this time on this special date, let’s dress Spain in blue and green.