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Samba in Plav

silvia | 05.08.2006 11:38 | Art and Activism Caravan 2006 | Culture | Education

impressions of Plav. montenegro and my workshop week

In Plav we met a small NGO, which main aim was to activate people, especially youth in this little town. It was not like usually some small NGO to fight for big things against the government, more it was, at least in my impression, that the whole town was a very close family, what not includes that everybody is frined with everybody and also a lot of talking, especially about us. Me with my coloured hair and a nose ring, "like a cow" and Belit was supposed to be a member of a roma community who begs on the street. Not everybody in Plav is like this, and also the very strong people from PLAGUS M Ngo try to do actions to open the mind of people and to work against prejudices also when they want to keep bigger politics out, like for example the recently happened separation montenegros from Serbia. all in the town the word "Da" was very present and most people agreed with the independence. Outside Plav in smaller villages we could often read "Ne", mostly written in cyrillic letters to show the affinity to serbian culture. montenegrians use nowadays mostly latin alphabet.
For me, being a german, very often in this days occured the problem of Hitlerobsessed people. More than one time people openly told me, sitting in cafes, that they really like hitler and the best thing was that he killed all jews. Even if I tried to keep myself out of the very difficult Balkan politics itself during the whole tour, I had to intervene in points like this and I discussed for hours, one guy also was in the first day in my sambaworkshop and after our "discussion" he never showed up again.
I have still no idea where people get this crazy naziideas from, some people mentioned that they are told every week in the mosque that jews are bad people, but I cannot confirm this. In general I had no religiousmotivated problem there, exept from being woken up every morning at 5 from the various crazy imans yelling all over the valley. Pretty good sound system anyhow!
Because many refugees from kosovo live now in Montenegro and for economilcally reasons generally many people have lived for a certain time in Germany or had a cousin,uncle or brother there. I was told that women generaly tend more to stay in the villages, either they make it to study or the get early married and give birth to children.
Many refugees and other people live now in Montenegro because they were deported from Germany most times in strange night actions without any help of german neighbours or even eyewitnesses. Many families got torn apart and this makes me even more worrying and also angry about their passion about Hitler. But in general it was the young people who never left this town, not even to the capital of montenegro, Podgurica, who believed strongly in ideals like this, even if I told them, that german neonazis would really hate them, because they are muslim and from ex-jugoslawia.
I think it has to been done a lot of education for rascism topic and religious motivated hatress and I hope after all these wars things calm down now and the next generation raises up in a more tolerant way. I also was often confronted with me being a western woman who lives alone just with friends and without my family since many years, not married. But people were just wondering and thought that german parents are not really caring about their kids if they live them alone with 18 years or jsut have them for the sake of childrens money. For the people in Plav family bounderies were really important, also in this NGO, 4 people were siblings and were very close to each other. I don´t want to judge which way of living is "better", i suppose their is no answer to it. Also through all the balkan, nearly all participants lived still with their parents, also over 20 years old, most of them jsut for economically reasons and often complaining about a lack of freedom, espacially when they studies before abroad. And many guys were keen on going out with us, the "western" girls, because they told me, if they would go out with a local girl, it would implifiy a soon marriage. Maybe they also exgegerated to impress us...
Its important to know all this background to understand the samba workshop better, because my main "work" was actually not really telling my participants (only boys between 13 and 18 years) about rhythms of resistance or learning difficilt rhythms but more that it is a great benefit to listen to each other and archieve something toghether instead of being all the time in competition. Also that they respected me, a strange women, much smaller than them, giving a workshop and they came back to every rehearsal, practising passionated, means a lot.
We had a great time together, i learnt a bit serbian from them and they german and english from me. After 2 and half day just playing group building games and rhythm games I handed out the drums and one of our most challenging " games " after this moment was not to play or touch the drums for 5 minutes, what nearly never worked. coen supported me during the workshop days and he was more the playful guy who always came up with nice games after i bothered the poor guys for hours with snare stick holding techniques or clapping the surdo line of "kalashnikov". All of the guys really suceed in the end playing "their" instrument and they still write me e-mails, that they want to carry on playing drums. Also I was often on the edge of my patience and my translator gave more or less up after day three with heavy headache, I had one of the best moments on this tour with the sambagroup in Plav. Before the final outcome we practised marching on a sheeps field with familys picknicking in the middle and I fell all the time backwards over stones and football playing kids. On the day of the final outcome, everybody dressed up in white and was pretty concentrated. We put some foam around the drums, nobody complained the days before about hurting body parts because of the heavy drums, amazing! in the morning the boys had just come aup with a new rhythm, their own creation and we made it sound it bit better and so we had 2 different tunes to play and we were in the beginning of the parade. In front of us my silkscreen crew was walking, but unfortunately they got a bit in the background for me, because I spent all my energy for samba. So on of our host and her friend looked after them and printed later on t-shirts for the whole community.
the first time in this week everybody was pretty concentrated and everybody was really impressed. After this final outcome, people nearly bent on their knees when I entered the shop, internet cafe....Actually it was too much for me, I could not go anywhere without hearing my name and shaking 10 hands. But it was also charming that after we finished the parade all my participants stood in a row to give me kiss on the cheek.
I think it was really important, that i was maestrating through this little village as a gesture about womans power and many women very so happy to see thing like this, which have probably never happened before in Plav. All in all it was a great week and I think Plav, the NGO and our group have really benefitet from it.
thank all of them very much!!!