A growing number of grassroots Sinti in Germany, and from Germany, though resident in other countries, it would appear, are finally standing up against the new description for the Romani People being used by the authorities, namely the all-encompassing term of “Sinti and Roma”, and also the term “Roma”, which is being aimed to include the Sinti.
The statement used, and it is rightfully used in this way, is that they are Sinti and not Roma and while they may wish no Roma ill they do not wish to be called Roma when they are not.
This was, I must say, a long time coming but it has finally arrived. Better late than never, as they say.
Now let us see, however, what the powers that be make out of that and the likes of the “Central Council of German Sinti and Roma”, the latter who have been so much behind this terminology and who are also the ones who accepted, on behalf of all Sinti (they must have forgotten to ask the majority), that they, the Sinti, are but a tribe of the Roma. Duh?
Most Roma too know much better than to see the Sinti as a tribe of the Roma and know that they Roma and the Sinti, while Romani, are not one and the same and the Sinti are Sinti and the Roma Roma and not the Sinti being a tribe of the Roma. The truth be told there are actually a great many of the Roma who do not accept the Sinti, or the Romanichals, or other groups of Romani, as Romani, and will refer to them, in their presence even, as Gadje. This is something that I very much object to, but that is a different story.
Shame that the so-called “leaders” do not seem to understand this, and one must ask is it a case of not being able to understand it or more a case, for political expediency, or money, or both, not wanting to understand it. My bet is on the latter case here, namely that they very well understand is but do not with to have it true because it suits them and keeps them in power. The fact is, of that I am sure, that the “leaders” only went the route of accepting, on behalf of all Sinti groups, the idea of being a “tribe of the Roma” to be able to get funding from and via the likes of the International Romani Union (under Dr. Jan Cibula and others), the same organization who had the Irish Travellers sign us a “Roma”, from the United Nations and such like. I doubt that it has worked, much, however. The idea of being represented in UNESCO seemed to be a carrot though.
What representation is that. We are a People, a Nation, the Romani Nation, the Gypsy Nation, and we should have, in the United Nations, a standing of a nation, though without land, and not as a cultural organization in the body of cultural organizations. This is an insult too and those “leaders” who accepted that are as guilty as those that accept the “Roma” title for those that are not.
The issue has even come to being a joke, e.g. the terminology of “Sinti and Roma” to such an extent even that, in the documentary that has been made about the German Sinti boxer and world champion Johann Trollmann, who was denied his title, and was subsequently murdered, by the Nazis, he was referred to as a “Sinti and Roma”. Well, he can only be one or the other now; he cannot be Sinti and Roma both at the same time. Rukelli Trollmann may have been very fast on his feet in the boxing ring but being two things ate the same time even he would not have managed.
But this is how stupid this terminology is becoming. “Sinti and Roma” is being used in the same, discriminatory, way as is and was “Zigeuner”, “Landfahrer”, “Fahrendes Volk”, etc. We might as well call ourselves “Zigeuner” again, in German, as the Gadje will not ever use anything appertaining to our People with any degree of respect. It makes not one iota of a difference what the word and terminology might be; in their eyes it will always be “dirty Gyppos”.
© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008