Independence Day – 29th November 2021 – in Gjirokaster

 
Gjirokaster Martyrs' Cemetery - Liberation Day 2021

Gjirokaster Martyrs’ Cemetery – Liberation Day 2021

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Independence Day – 29th November – in Gjirokaster

Albania celebrates two ‘independence’ days. The first, on 28th November, is the anniversary of when Albania ‘gained’ its independence from the Ottomans with the signing of an agreement in Vlora in 1912. But this was sham independence (although it was still celebrated during the Socialist period and Enver Hoxha was very much involved in the design of the huge lapidar to commemorate the event which exists in that city) as nothing significantly changed for the vast majority of the population. The second was much more meaningful and that occurred on the 29th November 1944. That was the date when the last of the Nazi invaders of the country were either dead or had surrendered.

There’s very much a political divide when it comes to celebrating these respective dates.

The ‘right’, the reactionaries, will make a big deal out of the 28th as all countries need something to which they can attach their identity. For them the period between 1944 and 1990 was a disaster as the Party of Labour of Albania led the people in the construction of Socialism and that necessarily meant stamping down on private wealth and selfishness. They will, therefore, ‘ignore’ any commemoration of the 29th.

The ‘left’ will probably celebrate both days but the one on the 29th will be of more significance. Much of what was gained in the country following that date in 1944 has now been lost. Even the ‘left’ governments that have been in power since 1990 have merely presided over the restoration of capitalism and all governments have effectively given up any independence the country had, either the 1912 version or the true independence of 1944 – to not even the highest bidder. Anyone, be it the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), the various brands of mysticism or companies from anywhere in the capitalist world can come in and do whatsoever they like. The only response from the political parties (and, it must be said, the population in general) is ‘please sir, can we have some more?’

But, sadly, neither of these dates seem to be of any importance to the vast majority of the population. Certainly when it comes to attending any formal celebration.

In Gjirokaster, in 2021, the 28th involved a wreath laying ceremony at the lapidar to the Cajupis. These were independence fighters against the Ottomans in the 19th century. Even this innocuous lapidar was submitted to vandal attacks at some time after the victory of the counter-revolution in 1990 but a few years ago it was cleaned up and access to it made much easier so this is why the town now has a rallying point for pre-Socialist celebrations.

On the other hand the commemoration of the 29th takes place in the Martyrs’ Cemetery, which is on the edge of the new town, close to the north-south main road. This was the place where the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the town took place on 18th September 2019.

In 2021 the commemoration was no more than a wreath laying ceremony – so not significantly different from the event the previous day. There were formal wreaths from the local municipality and a number of political parties on the ‘left’ – but nothing from the so-called ‘Democratic Party’, a bunch of fascist inclined individuals who regret that the Nazis lost the battle for Tirana. There were also a couple of individual offerings.

In the past, during the Socialist period, such events would have been crowded and highly organised. The tradition was that members of the Young Pioneers would be standing next to the (empty) tombs and would be charged with laying a single flower on each of them at one point in the ceremony. (Even though these monuments to those who died in the fight against fascism are called ‘cemeteries’ no bodies are interred there, the vast majority of those who died having done so high in the mountains throughout Albania, their remains being lost to nature.)

However, now at such events the individuals who receive a token of respect are only those who still have family members close by and who respect the sacrifice they made. This meant that only a handful of tombs received a floral tribute.

Amongst the ‘tombs’ are two of the young female Partisan fighters, Bule Naipi and Persefoni Kokedhima, who were murdered by the Nazis in a public execution on July 17th 1944, a few short months before the liberation of the town. These young women were 22 and 21 respectively. However, their sacrifice wasn’t remembered in any significant way with only a single flower being laid on Bule’s tomb.

And the ‘commemoration’ was over in less than 15 minutes – about the same time of the event the previous day.

One interesting thing that happened, when most people had left, was that a wreath laid by the local police was removed from the collection of wreaths at the centre of the lapidar and moved so that it stood alone. I assume some sort of political comment but don”t know exactly what.

I assume that such commemorations will take place in other Martyrs’ Cemeteries throughout the country but that could well be dependent upon which political faction controls the local municipality.

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Zimbabwe News and other magazines

The struggle continues

The struggle continues

More on Zimbabwe …

Zimbabwe News and other magazines

Zimbabwe News

Zimbabwe News was a magazine that was first produced by the Zimbabwean African National Union (ZANU) in 1969 when the movement was in its early stages. At that time the organisation (in Britain) was lobbying the then Labour Government of Harold Wilson to reverse its stance on the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) made by the Ian Smith regime in November 1965.

When the struggle within Rhodesia took on the aspects of a fully fledged National Liberation War, starting with guerrilla tactics and then progressing to more ambitious attacks, the magazine kept the world informed of events in the country.

After Independence in 1980 the magazine became the official organ of the ruling party of Zimbabwe.

1970 – Volume 2

01 – January

07 – December

1986 – Volume 17

10 – October

11 – November

12 – December

1987 – Volume 18

01 – January

01 – January (Special Issue)

02 – February

03 – March

04 – April

05/06 – May/June

07 – July

08 – August

11 – November

1988 – Volume 19

01 – January

02 – February

03 – April

05 – May

06 – June

07 – July

09 – September

10 – October

12 – December

1989 – Volume 20

01 – January

02 – February

03 – March

04 – April

05 – May

06 – June

07 – July

08 – August

09 – September

10 – October

11 – November

12 – December

1990 – Volume 21

01 – January

02 – February

03 – March

04 – April

05 – May

07 – August/September

08 – October/November

09 – December

1991 – Volume 22

01 – January/February

02 – March/April

04 – August

1992 – Volume 23

01 – January

03 – April

04 – May

05 – July/August

06 – September/October

07 – November

08 – December

1993 – Volume 24

01 – January

02 – February

03/04 – March/April

Social change and development

An occasional magazine which tended to look at a specific topic in more detail in each issue. Don’t know for how long it was published.

1983

Number 04 – Health

Number 05 – Economy

1984

Number 07 – Housing and Resettlement

Number 08 – The State

Number 09 – International Aid

Number 10 – Five Years of Independence

1985

Number 11 – The ‘Disadvantaged’

Number 12 – The 1985 General Election

1986

Number 13 – Women

Number 14 – Food and farming

Number 15 – The Non-Aligned Movement and the struggle against Imperialism and Colonialism

Number 15 – Supplement – Fidel Castro at 8th Non-Aligned Movement meeting in September 1982

1987

Number 16 – Industry and Technology

Number 16 – Supplement – Samora Machel and Joaquim Chissano

Spotlight on Zimbabwe

Published by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunications.

Volume 5, No 1

Volume 5, No 2

Volume 6, No 1

The Voice

The publication of the South African Development Co-ordinating Conference/Preferential Trade Agreement. It’s reproduced here to give an idea of how commercial thinking was developing in Zimbabwe towards the end of the 1980s.

Volume 1, No 1, February 1987

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Zimbabwe – post-Independence

Rally at Martyrs' Cemetery

Rally at Martyrs’ Cemetery

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Zimbabwe – post-Independence

Zimbabwe in the early days of independence – aims, aspirations and difficulties to be faced.

Education for a National Culture, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Zimbabwe Publishing House, Harare, 1981, 16 pages.

Makers of History – Who’s Who of Nationalist Leaders in Zimbabwe, Diana Mitchell, Harare, 1983, 185 pages.

The Kadoma Declaration, July 31, 1983, Government Printers, Harare, 1983, 4 pages.

Conference on Food Production Co-operatives at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare 5-12th June 1985, 59 pages.

Co-operatives – What about them, Ministry of Education, Harare, 1985, 47 pages.

Women at Work, Report of the Woman’s Action Group Workshop, Harare, January 1985, 14 pages.

Zimbabwe – at 5 years of independence, Rebuilding Zimbabwe – Achievements, problems and prospects, ZANU(PF), Department of the Commissariat and Culture, Harare, 1985, 265 pages.

Zimbabwe – Prevention of Corruption Act, Zimbabwe Parliament, Government Printers, Harare, 1985, 16 pages.

Zimbabwean Women in Industry, Patricia Made and Birgitta Lagerstrom, Zimbabwe Publishing House, Harare, 1985, 60 pages.

African Perspectives on Non-alignment, ed by Jinadu and Mandaza, African Association of Political Science, Harare, 1986, 74 pages.

Education in Zimbabwe – Past, Present and Future, Zimbabwe Foundation for Education with Production, Harare, 1986, 152 pages.

First Five-Year National Development Plan 1986-1990, Volume 1, Government Printers, Harare, April 1986, 54 pages.

The Women of Zimbabwe, Ruth Weiss, Keshu, London, 1986, 151 pages.

Zimbabwe – The Political Economy of Transition, 1980-1986, ed. Ibbo Mandaza, Codesria, London, 1986, 430 pages.

Reorganisation of Parastatals in Zimbabwe, Paper presented at the Public Enterprise Seminar: Focus on Role, Performance and Management of Parastatals, organised by Conference Promtion Services (Pvt) Ltd, Harare, Sipho Shabalala, Harare, 1987, 19 pages.

The philosophy of the Working Class, NCG Mathema, Memorial Co-operative Society, Harare, 1987, 24 pages.

The Future of Socialism, Samir Amin, Southern Africa Political Economy Series (SAPES) Trust, Harare, 1990, 70 pages.

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