Seeing Sutka from a different perspective
By Una Čilić
August 10, 2012
When you head for the first time towards the municipality of Suto Orizari, you expect a welcome from the main characters of the documentary “Sutka book of records”. This particularly popular movie from 2005 has catalyzed the creation of various stereotypes about Suto Orizari and, in its unique way, has shaped the identity of the greatest Roma municipality in the world. During our stay in Skopje, we, journalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, have taken this opportunity to visit Sutka. We did not expect to meet champions from a completely new category: the champions in the fight against stereotypes. This is our story about Sutka, about Sutka from a different perspective.
The municipality of Suto Orizari, widely known as Sutka, is the first Romani municipality in the world. This municipality, which exists for 16 years now, is ruled entirely by Romani mayors. The first one of them was Nezdet Mustafa, nowadays a minister without a department, and the national coordinator for the implementation of the Roma Decade project.
According to the latest population census, there are 21,000 Roma citizens in Sutka. However, due to the various difficulties with their papers, the estimates about their number in this municipality go way beyond the official figures.
Bezet Sejdi, who is a consultant for the municipality, points out that there are about 35000 citizens in Sutka. Most of them have Romani origins but there are also Albanians, Bosniaks, Turks and Macedonians.
We have noticed something unique about Sutka: more than 70 pecent of its population lives on social assistance amounting to 30 euros per month. Most people earn extra money at the local bazaar that stretches throughout the municipality. The bazaar in Sutka is the main shopping spot for city dwellers during weekends.
In the evening, when all the counters are removed, the bazaar becomes the hot spot for Sutka’s youth. “Here, where we stand, is the centre of Sutka. By day, this is a bazaar, while by night it becomes a place where Roma people socialize. This is where Romani youths come to hang out”, says Amed, a worker at the bazaar.
Read more on http://www.romatransitions.org/seeing-sutka-from-a-different-perspective/