How 28 was followed by 29?
One of the latest touristic promotion campaign undertaken by the Albanian Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism consisted on the slogan: “Albania…….the last secret”. And indeed is very coherent to the fact this country has been revealed quite late. An isolation that started with a communism uneasily to be explored by foreigners and ended with a stereotypically judged country along transition time. Albanians have always had a long history behind which they had to carry on and on toward what fate would decide on them. From one empire to another, special dates remarked its identity. Sometimes the present is controversial to the past and history is played like a flute. With few holes you make different plays.
painted by Spiro Xega
From the 28th to the 28-29th
Albania’s greatest and unique national hero is Scanderbeg, a Turkish version of the name Lord Alexander as a continuance of Alexander the Great. He fought against the turks for 25 years, which kept Albania free and unified. His success and victories left a big remark following with the date 28 November of 1444. The day when Albanian princes where unified and stated the freedom from the turks. Then after a long time of invasion, 450 years later, his heritage and “last will” were still alive on people’s mind. It was 1912, for the second time the 28th of November which would remark a final destination apart from the Ottoman Empire. The independence of Albania was also called the second November. Done on his respect people definitely didn’t forget him. He was their Albania. Coincidentally on the 500th anniversary of this sacred day something changed. It was the end of the Nazi Occupation. The 28th was followed by the 29th. Why? Why not? Why? Why not? And polemics would start without giving a solution. Since the day the 28th of November was appended by the 29th, for 45 years they were accepted and welcomed by the people under the communist regime. Being under a dictatorship would suppress the truth and would create confusion.
Who denies the truth?
During the communist regime the 29th, was the remembrance of the liberation of Albania by the partisans. The story was that the last German soldier left on the morning of 29th of November. So they could not declare the Liberation day on the 28th, they were waiting for him to leave. Why did he have to stay few more hours? Couldn’t he go earlier that the communists and partisans could declare the liberation of Albania? Was this the case? Now after the communist regime fell a real question emerged. Should the 29th be celebrated? People were skeptical about its role. The democratic government decided to put it off from the holiday list. And somehow it was settled. The coincidence was fulfilled for the second time. Scanderbeg’s remark was emphasized even more. But not everyone was happy with this decision. The veterans and communists disagreed and they felt disrespected that their day was taken off. The pupils and students were also disappointed as they had one day more to go to school now. But the politics was emancipating and maturing enough. And somehow the 29th was forgotten.
painted by Sali Shijaku
The routine continues
The 1997 was the most sorrowful year of the 20th century for the Albanians, after the 1913. The state fell and the country was under a civil war between the citizens and the state. Rebellious gangs were taking advantage of the situation and pushing the people toward confusion. After painful tragedies and unforgettable sad memories everything was finished. The government resigned and the opposition, directed by the left wing parties started a new life for the Albanians. In the same year the question of the second coincidence was made again. So, being under the left wing parties a renewal of the 29th could happen again even in democracy. And it actually happened. The 29th was an official holiday again after 7 years of right wing governance and it was celebrated as 28-29th of November as many years ago. The veterans and former communists were happy and satisfied with it. Even the pupils and students welcomed this decision. One more holiday. It seemed that everything had settled after many decades of confusion.
painted by Sali Shijaku
The 29th of 2005
The right wing wins the election in 3 July. The 29th of November comes again. A spirit of polemics will take place again. The 29th! What do we do with it? But this time there is no space for changing it. It would be funny and ridiculous. And most of all it was a political act. So the holiday remains officially, but the government and the right wing parties do not celebrate it. For them the 28th is the second coincidence that fulfills the Albanian history.
Personally time by time, I have been on the both attitudes. I thought that the fact that the last German left on 29 was a proved fact. And I think that the decision of the 1944 should be respected and left like it is. Maybe it was nice two have still a coincidence somehow, I mean that the Liberation Day was just next to the Freedom and Independence Day. But lately, I deeply thought about this, without any political concerning, but maybe with a moral feeling of the Albanian pride. Why did we really have to wait for the last foot of the German to step out from the border? Doesn’t it look funny? On the other hand, Tirana as capital was freed on 17th of November; couldn’t that be also the Liberation Day? Or maybe the Liberation Day needed some touch of the glory of Scanderbegs’ era and of the second November on the year 1912. Because if it was on 29th it would have more influence.
One of the suggestion in order to maintain the respect toward our heroes is to leave this issue out of the politics. We don’t need the political parties to tell us what to celebrate or not on our National Days. And let’s hope that in November 2006 people will celebrate without any influence pride of their heroes.
Photos by Michał Owsiński