The Nura family is a typical example of a large patriarchal family in rural Kosovo.
The household of seventy-year old Nure Nura, with its 32 family members, is today the largest in Lubishte. Six adult sons, their six wives, one unmarried daughter, and 17 grand-children all live together in two shared houses. With only 3 hectares of land to feed 32 people, migration has been the family’s only survival strategy. Two of the Nure’s sons, Nefali and Faruk, left Lubishte in 1986, when they were in their twenties. They found work in Austria.
Nefali and Faruk are the only source of the family’s income. The four brothers who stayed behind are unemployed and work the land to produce food for the family. Nefali and Faruk’s wives have stayed in Lubishte with their children. During their husbands’ absence, the two wives have to abide by the decisions of their eldest brother-in-law.
Naile Nura, 82, belongs to a different household within the extended Nura clan. She is a widow and has five sons. She lives under the same roof with one of them, Adem (56 years old), his wife, their three grown-up boys, and their two young unmarried daughters.
Naile's other son, Muharem, lives with his wife and three children in Switzerland. He emigrated in 1976; his wife followed later. Naile's third son, Tefik, also went to Switzerland in 1980. He married in 1987 and – like Muharem – brought his wife to Switzerland. Her two youngest sons, Rrahim and Muhamet, have stayed at home.
The five brothers divided the land among themselves after their father's death. The brothers built four additional houses for each of their families – alongside their father’s old home. By building separate houses, the household split up, reducing the brothers’ obligation to share the money coming from abroad.
Adem Nura explains how his father’s death affected him; how the family fell apart; and how they are now dependent on the goodwill of their brothers in Switzerland.
"Yes, things are changing. We do receive support from our brothers sometimes, as we are only working for our food here, but not even enough to survive on.
When we were still together with them abroad, all the money was pooled to buy land. All of us worked. Now we are divided. The other two have their children and their families abroad, and they send us money only when they want to. If they do not want to, they don`t. We don't have anything else.
Now everyone decides for himself. Every brother takes his own decisions. When we were still together with our father, he took the decisions. After he became ill, I took the decisions. Now everyone decides for himself. Everyone does whatever he wants, goes whereever he wants, builds whatever he wants. He can even sell his land, go abroad. All this is normal now.
Well, yes, it is better to live separately, as 30 or 40 people are just too many, and nobody listens to anyone. This way it is easier with 4, 5 or 8 people to decide. Easier, since the head is just more calm. As the older ones are telling us, when the beehive fills up you have to divide the bees, as they cannot live together anymore."