After a battle of four long years against the authorities, local and federal, and do-gooders, the first Romani settlement in Western Europe and the probably first ever Romani settlement by Romani for Romani is finally going ahead. The foundation stone for the buildings was finally laid on May 24, 2007, and could there have been a better day for this. May 24 is the central day of the festival of Kali Sara, the “patron saint” of the Romani People.
Maro Temm is a project of 13 homes built by Sinti for Sinti and this settlement at the end of the Diedrichstrasse in Kiel, Germany, will be one were Sinti children can grow up within the Culture and Traditions, without too much interference with the non-Romani world.
“We do not want to hide and isolate ourselves”, said Matthaeus Weiss, the leader of the local organization of Sinti and Roma in Schleswig-Holstein of which Kiel is the state capital. In other words he said that the Sinti who are establishing Maro Temm are not out to create a Ghetto.
What, however, is wrong with a ghetto that we, the People, make for ourselves. When the Jews in North London created an Eruf, a virtual Ghetto, everyone applauded but when the Rom ask to do the same and have their own settlements that they own and build and run they are being told that they cannot be allowed to do so because they would be creating a ghetto and people like Brother Weiss have to stand up and say that they are not trying to create a ghetto.
At least the precedence has now been set in an EU country of Rom having won the fight and the right to set up their own settlements. Maybe we can get down to being given such rights also in other EU countries, such as the UK, where we are still being told that we cannot have our own sites as and where we like, with all the excuses of the settlement being too far away from the local town or village or local schools, shops, etc., often even if we are talking of just say a mile or so away from local shops and schools.
The going ahead of the Maro Temm project should give us all a little more impetus to, maybe, just maybe, (continue) to battle for our own settlements elsewhere. It would appear that it can be done.
All one can do now is wish the Maro Temm project all the best and maybe everyone could get together and pool ideas so that such settlements can become reality in others countries.
© M V Smith, May 2007