Gypsy group angered by Huddersfield University lecture

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A row has broken out over Huddersfield University’s choice of speaker on Gypsies and Travelers.

Hughie Smith, president of The Gypsy Council, said the university has caused a “great deal of unrest” in the Romany community, including Huddersfield’s large population of settled gypsies, after it invited Jake Bowers to be a guest speaker.

Jake Bowers, who edits Travelers Times Online, contributes to The Guardian and presented a BBC radio program for the traveling community, which has ceased, so we understand, operating.

Mr. Bowers is due to lecture students in the School of Human and Health Sciences on ‘Britishness, Roma, Gypsies and Travellers’ as part of their studies on citizenship on October 22.

But the invitation has angered The Gypsy Council, a group formed in 1973, who say they are the only authentic Gypsy organization in the UK and do not acknowledge Mr. Bowers as one of their own.

Mr. Smith said extensive research among the Gypsy and traveler community nationwide had failed to produce any evidence that Mr Bowers had any Romany heritage and that he was purely a member of the relatively unknown National Romany Rights Association.

A spokeswoman for The University of Huddersfield said they were aware of Mr Smith’s concerns but said the lecture would still go ahead.

The problem, it has to be said, with The Gypsy Council and Hughie Smith is that they think they are the only ones that should be allowed to represent the Gypsy community in Britain and secondly it is bad blood because it was not they, or better Hughie Smith, that were asked to do the lecture.

It might be a good idea if Mr. Smith would get glasses if he cannot find any Romani connections as regards to Jake Bowers. Any tatcho Rom would recognize Mr. Bowers as one of the People; it definitely is not difficult.

What this shows, yet again, is that there is no unity amongst the Romanichals even in this small country of ours; so how does anyone expect unity to be possible amongst the wider Gypsy community. It shows how much clannishness and jealousy there is.

It is strange that The Gypsy Council and Mr. Smith never had a problem with Jake Bowers when Jake had him on the shows at the BBC Rokker Radio but suddenly...

Anyone who cannot see what this issue is all about will need to have their sense and not just their eyes examined.

Where the choice of speaker by the Huddersfield University can have caused “a 'great deal of unrest' in the Romani community, including Huddersfield’s large population of settled Gypsies”, is entirely beyond the comprehension of this writer for the majority of Gypsies in this country, the great majority of the Romani community, could hardly care less who gives the talk, of that we can all be assured.

This is yet another illusion of grandeur by Mr. Smith in the same way that his claim that The Gypsy Council is the only true representative of the Gypsies in the UK is also rather null and void as most of the Romani People here have no interest in that organization and its self-centered attitude, especially of its Fuehrer.

This is as much a void claim as that of some of the Roma groups that they are the only true Rom.

Is it not time that we learned to work together, at least the Sinti-based groups, such as the Romanichals, the Manush, and others?

© 2009