From the Roma settlement to Olympia

Veronika Šikulová, authoress | 22.07.2015 13:00


Grenoble, France. Awful heat. I switch the television on. Suddenly I hear Slovak language.

The Franco – German TV station ARTE  broadcasts short documentary about Roma group 

Kesaj Tchave from Kežmarok, which had performance at the end of last year in Olympia

in Paris.

A man, who knows something about the world of music, knows what this means, and also 

knows, that many artists failed to fulfill this dream. But Paris clapped to the rhytm

of Ivan Akimov´s group Kesaj Tchave. They performed their art before the group Les 

Ogres de Barback and the French people accepted them with enthusiasm.

Arte has prepared a short reportage and interviews with performers and with their artistic

 director. Dancing kids from Slovak Roma settlements on the stage of Olympia. 

"Are you afraid? " Asks the boss. "No, we are not afraid." "You need to fear. 

Show how you shake your knees!" One of the boys shake his legs. "Everyone need to shake 

a little," says head of group, "we are in Olympia!"

Edith Piaf also came to Olympia “from the street". And now there were our Roma. We can 

be proud of them and we can be happy, that we have people like Ivan Akimov. Incidentally, 

the French appreciated Ivan Akimov´s work and they gave him a Order of the Knights. 

But, in his own country, no one is a prophet.

I was moved when I saw how he talks with the kids, walks through villages and looking 

for members of the group. I envied them such a sympathetic friend, who, instead of 

talking about so-called Roma issue, is doing something concrete. And unlike most, who 

say more than do more, he really do his job well! And you can hear about it!

I don´t want to say, that there are no problems, but I am bowing deeply in front of 

people who are in the field, teachers, social workers, who do beautiful work, have not 

even a word of recognition for it, but they still do their work. We can work with Troma, 

but at home majority always talk about negative examples .

We can find a successful Roma living in Slovakia, with diploma from university. But it 

seems that they are invisible. But we need to talk about successes! You should notice 

them more than setbacks and misunderstandings .

I searched on the Slovak internet for report about Kesaj Tchave in Paris, but I found 

only kind of ridiculous report in which was the “information”, that a group will perform 

in Greece (!) Olympia. I smiled.

I saw only a short part from the performance of Kesaj Tchave in Olympia on TV Arte, but 

I was amazed, because there was everything: beauty, passion, color, sadness, nostalgia, 

mischief, playfulness, pride and misery. Even the Roma culture, even Slovak and, thanks 

to Ivan Akimov, who has strong ties to the French cultural environment, also a little Frenc. 

They made a great performance in Olympia.

For group from Kežmarok and also for us, Slovaks, this meant the great leap forward. And 

thanks to the reportage, which I saw, will people from abroad know that in Slovakia we have 

people who don´t want to build walls and fence around the Roma settlements, but they, on 

the contrary , "demolish" these walls and fences.  They know that the hand is not only 

for hitting and threatening, but also for shaking of hands. Touches of cultures and their 

intersections are the most interesting.

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