Traditionalism will save the Romani Community


Many Native American communities, and others, have begun returning to traditionalism in order to save themselves as a community and it is beginning to have positive effects.

The problem among Amare Chel, however, is that today many think themselves to be modern, just like the Gadje, and want to get away from anything and everything that smacks of our Traditions because they believe the claptrap by the “experts” that this is all but stereotyping.

However, what are we without our Culture, our Customs, our Traditions? Basically nothing. We may be Rom by blood but we are no longer Rom in our lives. It took the Native Americans, some of who call themselves, yes quite a few do, Injuns to spite the invaders, not all that long really, though still long enough, to discover that without their traditions they no longer truly were. But that is why the invaders tried everything they could to carry out ethnocide by taking the children away into boarding school where they were not permitted to speak the languages, and follow any of the traditional ways and such.

For us the Gadje have a two-pronged approach, namely that of claiming that our traditional ways, our Customs and the rest, are nothing bur stereotyping and that that makes us unfit for modern society and partaking in it. The second approach is that of, under many different pretenses, to remove Romani children from their families, placing them first in institutions and wherever possible forcibly adopt them out (sell them to the highest bidder) to Gadje. This is nothing but ethnocide without firing a single shot.

As far as partaking in society, the general Gadje society, the truth is that the Gadje do not want us to partake in society, except to perform menial tasks, hence also the low-grade school facilities for Romani children in many countries, including EU member states. The aim is to educate the Rom just enough to become part of the Gadje wage slave market in menial jobs but do everything possible to prevent our Chave attaining a higher level. Even if they do then the general discrimination sets in that even if the Rom applicant is better qualified than a Gadjo or Gadji the Gadjo or Gadji will get the job above the Rom. In some countries, such as Bulgaria and also Romania, the family name often already indicates to a prospective employer that the applicant is Rom and hence may not even be called to an interview.

We must return to our Ways, to our Culture, Customs and Traditions in order to save ourselves, as a community. Those ways have served us well through the ages, instead of trying to become just like the Gadje and emulating them in (almost) everything.

When we speak here about Traditions, it is a return to the true Traditions of Amare Chel and that is not suppression of girls and women, etc. However, it would mean many things that are very different to today’s perception and that of the Gadje ways.

The women used to rule, and our child rearing practices were very different and some aspects of them, and of other Traditions, would fall foul of Gadje laws for sure today as they did in the old days. The role of the tradition woman in in Romani society was that of looking after the children and household but also hawking, the family finances, and the true running of the family and the oldest woman the running and ruling of the clan.

But traditionalism will only work if we, as a People, want to survive and wish not to become, as would appear many do, just part of general society. In other words rootless people who have the genes but nothing more. Many of the “activists” have already arrived there, especially those that advocate and promote the notion of “self-declaration” in which anyone can now declare themselves to be Rom but the tatcho Rom, especially the one who lives the Culture, Customs and Traditions, has to prove to them, those “activists”, that he or she truly has Romani Roots.

As I have said already when we speak here about Amare Culture, Traditions and Customs, it is the true ones that are meant and not those that, over the centuries, have crept in to make us appear much the same as the Gadje, such as presenting a man as the head of the family, clan, or tribe and of women being having no voice; of anyone not having a father who is tacho Rom but just the mother of not being considered as part of Amare Chel; and the list could go on for quite some time.

Considering that we used to adopt Rakle, that is to say Gadje children, abandoned and orphaned ones, into our ranks and made them Rom that alone should point also to the fact that – one – there can almost be no pure Rom in way of bloodline and – two – that that patrilineal thing is just tosh. In fact, there was a time when many of our groups, if not indeed all, were matrilineal. However, the fact that, in order to deal with the Gadje in the old days a man would have to be the spokesperson – they refused to speak with a woman leader, as they did not accept such a thing – caused us to turn the other way and it suited some of the men that wanted to wield power. This problem, alas, continues to this day also and especially with regards to the so-called “leaders” who, invariably, turn out to be men who have a power complex, also know, and please excuse my brashness, the small willy syndrome.

Unless we return to our Ways, to our Culture, Traditions and Customs proper, and live our Ways, somewhere like our Calon Brethren do in Brazil, for instance, but maybe even stronger though, we will, in due course, cease to exist as a People proper. The Native Americans have come to understand that but, alas, the modern Rom just wants to be just like the Gadje (and that is exactly what they want) only they, the Gadje, still will not give us the access that those modern ones think that they will get if they but become more and more like the Gadje. All that which is going to happen as that we, le Rom, will cease to exist as an ethnicity proper for we will have committed self-ethnocide and have done the dirty work for the Gadje ourselves.

Already so many of Amare Chave today have no idea of the rich Culture, the Traditions and Customs, of the People to which they actually belong. The fact that some do not speak Amari Chib is not their fault either and often not even that of their parents and grandparents, who have lost Amari Chib for reasons beyond their control and that already often centuries ago. But the Chib is secondary, the Culture and all that goes with it, is primary and that is what makes us a People.

We once were a proud People, with a proud and rich Culture, Traditions and Customs, that made us so very different from the Gadje. Our Culture and all made us compassionate towards one another and also to those worse off than ourselves, especially abandoned and orphaned children, of which there were legion in the old days. Many of those found new homes and loving families among the People and became wholly part of us. One of the reasons that there are also lighter skinned Rom and those with blue or green eyes and even those with blond hair. But this compassion towards those children also led to the myth of Gypsies, of Rom, stealing Gadje children. Why would we want to steal them; we had always enough of them ourselves? We took the waif and the strays in because we would never allow a child to suffer. Oh, how much we have already lost of our Ways, how much many have already become like the Gadje. We are hastening our own demise and do not even realize it. Well, some do and try to warn but the “activists” try to silence their voices trying to question their ethnicity and accusing them of promoting stereotypes.

Michael Smith

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