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Rona Nishliu
Rona Nishliu

I was born in Mitrovica and lived there for the first 13 years of my life. We lived in the northern part of town. Mitrovica was totally different then. Now, it is like an apartment except that you can't go into one of the rooms. It was a nice town. When I went to school, we Albanians went in the afternoon and Serbs went in the morning. We did not have any contacts with them and we could not use the gym or the laboratories. They were locked, so we did sport outside.

We did have Serbian neighbours. People we said "hello" or "good afternoon" to, but I did not have any Serbian friends. Both my parents used to work for the Trepca mining complex but both were kicked out in 1989. After that my father ran a shop and my mother was at home.

When the bombing started in 1999, on April 4, men with military uniform came into our home and threatened us and told us we had to leave. They beat my father in front of us; me, my mother, my brother, my aunt and grandmother. They said: "You can't stay. You've got to go!" My grandmother said: "Where should we go?" They said: "Go to your country, go to Albania." My grandmother said: "Kosova is our country. I was born here and have lived 65 years here."

My grandfather had a holiday house near Ulcinj in Montenegro. We stayed there until the end of August. Then my father and aunt tried to go back. But our home was burned and the north was under Serbian control.

Then we had many problems. We found a flat in Pristina but after two years we had to move but now we have one of our own.

As for our home in north Mitrovica, that house is very special. It is the house of my grandfather. My mother and aunt plan to rebuild it. They are not planning to sell it.

When we first came to Pristina I was not happy. I was very lonely. I did not know anyone. I was 13 years old and the city was very big. Other kids treated me like a refugee or someone from a small town. But, this only lasted for a month. Then I created a great friendship with them. Since then things have been great. I went to music school, I was involved with the youth centre of Pristina, exhibitions and concerts. In 2004 I started to become a singer.

Flakareshat came after I was in a contest like American Idol in Tirana.  I came fifth out of 7,000. Now I am studying entrepreneurship at the American University here.
My life is very dynamic. I wake up at 7.00 am. I go to school, have lectures and then we have meetings for projects at the university. Then I go to Radio Blue Sky where I have a daily programme about showbiz news. People are eager to know the gossip! Listeners send in SMS messages. I do backing vocals for other singers and I am working on my first album. I sing at the Jazz 212 club and I often used to sing at the Oda theatre.

Because I am so busy I keep in touch with my friends by SMS and MSN messenger. The best thing here is that Pristina has many young people transmitting a very positive energy. Those people give me a lot. I realise I should give something back. I owe them something.

The worst thing? Everyone says it is electricity shortages. But we are used to them. They are part of our life. The worst thing are the young people who don't have places to go or jobs. They just come to come to cafes and drink coffee, so all the cafes are full.

People think that independence will come and everything will be solved. But, I don't think it will be like that.

In the future I would like to have a music studio in Pristina which would open its doors to talented young musicians to whom I could give my support.

My latest song and video is called "A ka Arsy?" In English that means, "Is there a reason?" I made it with Bimmi, who is a famous rapper. It is part of a campaign called "Generation of Change", and more specifically it is part of a domestic violence awareness campaign, produced by the UN here:

January 2007
Tim Judah

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