Some 2,500 young people from different parts and communities in Kosovo gathered in Germia Park on the outskirts of Prishtinë/Priština for a rare event on 20 August 2012. The OSCE Mission to Kosovo in co-operation with the Municipality of Prishtinë/Priština and the Norwegian Embassy sponsored an open-air multilingual concert with rock bands from Kosovo and the region.
The main acts were Dubioza Kolektiv from Sarajevo performing in Bosnian and Jericho from Prishtinë/Priština performing in Albanian.
The concert was the first one of this size and nature to take place in Prishtinë/Priština since the 1999 conflict, and was organized to help foster cultural and linguistic tolerance between young people from across Kosovo.
The Mission monitors respect for human rights and quality of inter-community relations. Its recent assessment on community rights notes that no concerted efforts are being made to enhance inter-community communication or provide for sufficient interaction, and that members of different communities do not learn each other’s languages.
“This was one of the main reasons we decided to have this concert organized,” says Nikola Gaon, Spokesperson for the OSCE Mission, who together with Valbona Shujaku from Prishtinë/Priština municipality’s culture department initiated the concert.
“Our aim was to create an opportunity for young people from different communities to interact, have fun and be exposed to music and songs performed in the languages of other communities. We wanted to help break the linguistic divide.”
Non-native speakers can hardly differentiate between Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian languages. For Elvira, a Kosovo Albanian from Prishtinë/Priština, the event exceeded her expectations. “This was the first time I heard live music in a Slavic language,” she says. “I could not understand the lyrics, but the band had a positive energy and the whole evening turned out to be a lot of fun.”
Dubioza Kolektiv is well-known among Slavic-speaking countries in the region. Their songs talk about peace and tolerance, and criticize nationalism, corruption and injustice. Jericho’s songs have similar messages.
According to Shujaku, Dubioza is one of the rare bands performing in the Bosnian language that has gained popularity in Kosovo, and Jericho is one of the few bands performing in the Albanian language that has travelled the region, performing at regional music festivals and theatre plays.
“Some 2,500 people showed up for the concert and loved it. No one cared in which language the bands sang,” she notes.
A young concert guest from Osojane - a Serb-inhabited village in western Kosovo, said that the concert was great. “I’m a Dubioza fan and I was happy to have the opportunity to listen to them live in Prishtinë/Priština.” He added that he also enjoyed the rest of the concert featuring bands and musicians performing in Albanian. “I didn’t understand the lyrics but we still had a good time.”
Leading up to the concert, the Mission and the municipality disseminated free concert tickets and organized transport for more then 300 people from all over Kosovo, making it possible for those interested from other parts, including remote areas, to attend the concert.
“We also promoted the concert through a range of radio shows on stations airing in both Albanian and Serbian. They played Dubioza and Jericho songs, and we gave the audience more information about the bands,” Gaon says.
“We brought young people together from different communities in an event where they could listen to each others languages, enjoy their common taste in music and leave all differences aside.”