The history of Janjevë/o locality is connected to the mining tradition of Novo Brdo and Kopaonik which had deposits of lead and silver that fostered economic development and growth. The history of Croat community in Kosovo dates back to the 14th century. Though the mines have been closed since the 16th century, the community continued to find meaning in Janjevë/o and reasonable cause to remain. By recording oral history interviews with the members of different communities, we seek to increase understanding of the cultural and economic identity of the locality of Janjevë/o. 

The research on Janjevë/o is part of the “Inter-community Dialogue through Inclusive Cultural Heritage Preservation” project funded by the European Union’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and implemented by United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in Kosovo.

 

Don Matej Palić

Vicar

Janjevo, as I recall it in my childhood, it was really blooming, it was experiencing a renaissance. So, we had everything in Janjevo. That was a small town, which had everything that people, citizens needed to live. You know, all sorts of stores. Not only what we produced, but also had in the center the so-called bazaar, where that mercantile life took place.

From the morning, early in the morning, when the morning church bells rang, people woke up, prepared themselves for work, those that went to their stores, those that went to the markets or to their workshops, some farmers. Mainly, people worked the entire day. In the evening, the bell rang again, and that was a sign that they should stop working. Then the men, the head of the house would go out to the bazaar, in the center they would do their business, trade, goods exchange agreements.

Franjo Golome

Agrarian

The Bazaar was full of people. You had funny people here, who knew how to have fun and prank and talk. Today, I fear this, in the past two years, it has entered my mind that our children will forget how to speak. Always on their phones. If you leave them for 24 hours, you know they will forget how to speak.

People knew how to speak and invent stories. As a child, I remember when I went to buy cigarettes and later, when I grew older, we started going out. Then around ‘86, ‘87 when the cafés opened, I was a young man. Then in ‘88, ‘89, that was, what do I know, no one can describe it. It was beautiful, we had friends. We were friends with Albanians, we played football. Even today we socialize. 

Only men went to cafés? What about women?

Yeah, yeah, women too started going out. So in ‘88, ‘89, women started going out. It is there where we met, where we married, in the cafés.

Nikola Brkić

Farmer

Our elderly had around 300 hectares of grape vines. We say, we had to dig it with our hands, rummaging, we used to call it then, you know rummaging. You had to dig at least half a meter deep to plant the vine. And, in the third year, the vine would sprout. In the meantime, there we planted onions. We call it karamide, onions were planted there so that the vine would sprout later. 

Then we also had rakia and wine cellars. Well-known cellars. Rahovec was built later. Romans were in these hills of ours, they had vineyards then that turned into a desert when they left. Our people came here and started rummaging again. I think they planted vines. We had black, white, Hamburg grapes. We had all kinds of grapes. We had all kinds of grapes that existed in Yugoslavia, and all kinds of cherries and apricot, apple and pear. 

Our people were then what we call ‘merchant wanderers.’ That’s how we called them skitači. No matter if they went to Macedonia or Slovenia or Croatia, Bosnia, whenever they learned about a fruit, they would take it and place it in a potato so it doesn’t dry out. When they came back, they grafted it. There was no fruit that Janjevo did not have.

Ljubica Berišić

Finance officer

We had that day we called Rifana. On the evening of that holiday, St. George’s, people gathered with friends at home. But also at Glama. They set up a tent, and there they start a fire, cook lamb, sheep whatever they want. There are drinks, singing. But you could also go and steal something, though that never became a habit to take something from someone. But food that people prepared, whoever could steal and eat it, and the deed was done. That was a tradition, a trick, you know to have a story to tell. But it was really… 

You did that every year?

Every year. The whole night we sang until morning, some would stay at home. Then we tied the swings to the roof, now we have gutters, so you cannot. But then you could tie it on roof beams, you placed a pillow and swung the entire night.

Emin Bikliqi

Sociologist

Everything was in order, to be fair, the Croats, they had it as an obligation on Friday evenings, everyone cleaned up the cobblestone in front of their doors, and left no bits of it dirty… as for the dirt, God forbid, but there was no dust even. They cleaned it up with water and on Saturdays the streets were… those narrow streets of Janjevo were clean. This is what I remember, in other words, that is of material value, it is culture, right?

Why exactly on Fridays?

On Friday so it is ready for Saturday and Sunday… on Saturday they worked, but on Sunday the Croats, Catholics don’t work. And they, if you ever went to do business with them, they said, ‘I am sorry, but this is my day off, it is a holiday for me.’ They considered it a holiday. And I asked them, as you are asking me now, ‘Why on Friday?’ Because the priest goes for a walk in the streets of Janjevo on Saturday at a certain time. When the priest passes by… now I don’t know. But when the priest passed by, everyone went out in front of their doors to salute him.

Dragutin Ivanović

Sales Manager

I remember the end of the ‘60s when the Cultural Center was built. We got a screening room and then that was, the idea was that now we can go and watch Dean Martin and some cowboy movies and the like. Then it got easier and it was sweeter. Every Sunday, we would gather at the Center. There was folk dance, dance, live music. Of course, we created and financed that music, and so on.

I remember the time when we did not have enough money to buy more guitars, drums, more instruments that would help and improve the quality of those dances. Then, so to say, we nagged these people in the neighborhood, demanding them to invest a bit in the youth. ‘Invest, we need more money for this and that.’ So whenever there were those moments, we would collect the money and I recall that is how we founded the brass orchestra.”

We played local slow romance songs, beautiful city songs. But also, Tom Jones’s music was present, also the Beatles. So, we played both. Unfortunately, very little… we didn’t know, or I don’t know why, but folk music was played less, we were more interested in the music that was modern at the time. Songs of, for example, Miša Kovač, Jevremović, also our old Prizren songs, and so on.

Olga Gucić

Educator

We socialized quite a lot, it was really, we had weddings and baptisms and all that brought a special joy. You prepare yourself for one celebration to another. The streets were always clean, each and everyone cleaned it in front of their house every Saturday. We sang, I don’t know. Every Sunday, we had korzo, which was a hill above Janjevo – Glama. In the afternoon, only youth hung out there. We also had St. Georges, for that, we had some very special celebratory preparations. On the night of St. Georges, rifana, usually the girl who got engaged invited all her friends and family.

Omer Škrijelj

Doctor

I’ll tell you this story from that time. Truck after truck went by, there, somewhere there near a strong community of Croatians who decided to stay. About two hundred meters from here all the way to the post office, they had been lined up and loaded into those trucks. It was a mass migration, it’s hard to forget for those from Janjevo. So now, an old lady comes for a check-up but has no real problems.

And I say to her, ‘Grandma, what are you complaining about, what hurts?’ She says, ‘The trucks hurt.’ I say, ‘They hurt all of us.’ So there was this diagnosis also, ‘The trucks hurt.’ What really hurt was that you’d be just sitting with them in the evening, having a drink and hanging out, and the next day they’d be gone because decisions were almost made overnight. First, they’d say, ‘We’re not going, we don’t need to.’ And then something happens overnight, probably a neighbor goes, then another. Then they say, ‘Why would I stay, I’ll go too.’ And so…