I, like so many others, have Zoom fatigue. But every Tuesday evening since September, I’ve been genuinely excited to log on to a beginners’ class in Romanes. Te aven bachtale conveys a profoundly respectful ‘good day’.
I’ve also just learned the colours of the rainbow. The lesson offered an extraordinary glimpse into how Romanes has interacted with the tongues around it. Take rupano, the word for silver. It has the same root as rupee, the currency (and originally, silver coin) of India, from where the ancestors of Europe’s Roma departed in the 10th century. Or loli pabai, meaning ‘red apple’, which is where the word ‘lollipop’ comes from.
Despite our centuries of shared history, Europe continues to marginalize and oppress its Romani citizens with very little pushback. This edition explores why, taking as its starting point the death of a Romani man in police custody in the Czech Republic earlier this year.
But you will also read compelling stories of resilience – and resistance. In Glasgow, where I live, for example, the organization Roma Lav is building cross-community solidarity. My Romanes class is just one small part of that. So, be incensed, be enraged – but be inspired too.
Elsewhere in this edition, Kasturi Chakraborty shines a spotlight on the brutal treatment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, while author Isabel Allende speaks of the power of fiction to teach us about our history.
Jea Deulesa (good bye, or literally, go with God).
Conrad Landin for the New Internationalist co-operative.