I was born an Ethnic Albanian, in Southern Serbia. Albanians, referred to as Illyrians were the oldest race in the Balkan region, in fact – the first. Kastriot Skenderbeg is our national hero, raised in the Ottoman Empire, he then went back to his roots and turned on the Turks. There were countless wars with Sultan Murad and later Sultan Mehmet 2 (the Conquerer of Constantinople – modern day Istanbul) but they had no success with Skenderbeg. 

Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia were once united as Greater Albania, but how times have changed. There is roughly 50% of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and thousands in Serbia, yet only Kosovo and Albania are independent. I am from a city called Presheve in Southern Serbia and still have to live by Serbian authority. Kosovo didn’t have it easy also, as it took horrific massacres for them to gain its independence. We as a race have been through a great deal, no wonder our blood boils when situations arise, and the famous “I’m Albanian” comes out. 

I am proud of my Albanian roots, no challenge is too big, being Albanian that is. We truly are an emotional nation, and I was once told that the most emotional people are the most creative. That’s the primary reason why there are so many Albanian musicians, whether it’s rappers or singers, and of course we have Rita Ora, Dua Lipa, and Bebe Rexha to brag about. We also tend to brag about Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka who famously beat Serbia in the recent 2018 World Cup with Switzerland. 

However there is also a negative image we are given, somehow if you say you are Albanian, people are taken back and immediately associate you with the mafia. It’s a stereotype that has gone as far as Hollywood. But myself, being a masters graduate, have always tried to do good, be it through my projects or which truly shows my belief towards women and racism.

I will leave you with something my grandma said, which every Albanian should take note of, “parja me njers, kurrë s’hup” which means, hard earned money with sweat, never goes away. 

Red & Black – always! Be proud by setting an example!

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