Wednesday, 23 August 2017

2 May, 1996: It was a bright and sunny day (2010)

Text by Nidzara Ahmetasevic for Balkan Insight   
A newly reissued book seeks to keep the memories of the start of the siege of the Sarajevo alive as a cautionary tale for future generations.

The day the war officially started in Sarajevo, May 2, 1992, it was a beautiful and sunny day. At least, that is how some of the survivors of the siege remember it after 18 years.

That was a day that changed the lives of many. The siege had started earlier, in April, and it lasted until February 1996, but May 2, 1992 is the day that everybody remembers since it was the first real encounter with war, the first major shelling of the city.

Nihad Kresevljakovic, executive producer for the International Theatre Festival MES and one of the founders of Video Archive association, has gathered the memories of 78 people about that day. Some survived not only that day in Sarajevo but the whole siege, the longest in a modern history. Others were far away but what was going on in the city still affected their lives.

Kresevljakovic has explained the book as an attempt to keep the memories of the siege alive for future generations. “Our hope is that nobody else will have to go through the experience that we had,” he wrote.

The book, first issued in 2007 and reissued in a second edition this May, paints a portrait of one day of the siege, a picture of ordinary people who were prevented by force from doing simple things.

Some went for a walk in the morning on 2 May and only came back a day or two days later, having hidden in basements with people they had never even seen before. Some were madly in love; some were suffering after the love of their life decided to leave them, so they got drunk that day; others opened an exhibition in an art gallery that nobody even visited but they did not want to close it; some played a football game in the front of the building that soon became a front line.

The stories were written by those who were kids that day, as well as by musicians, film directors and singers. Together they represent a human map of the city in 1992.

“Soon after that day, the first convoys left the city, taking away some people we loved, and those of us who stayed in the city were forced to live life imposed on us by others, to fight in a war imposed on us by others, and to struggle to survive,” Nebojsa Seric Shoba wrote in his story.

“On that day, I was madly in love, as I was all for the days of the war that came after that day… and we married after 477 days in love,” Vesna Andre Zaimovic remembers.

This is a book for all those who were, and still are, in love with Sarajevo. In the same time, it is important as a written testimony about the war written by ordinary people, those who were part of the war but who never really understood what their role was and why they had to play it, when there were many better things to do.

It is a book about Sarajevo. But the same lines could be written by anybody in the world who has survived a war, or a similar extreme experience. These stories should be kept and cherished not only for the sake of memory, but, as Kresevljakovic wrote, so that nobody should have to live through such times again.

2. maj – Bio je lijep i suncan dan
is published by Video Arhiv and Mess, Sarajevo, 2010

This article is courtesy of Balkan Insight, the online publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, which contains analytical reports, in-depth analyses and investigations and news items from throughout the region covering major challenges of the political, social and economic transition in the Balkans.




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