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Old 07-23-2020, 09:24 PM   #1
Soldier of Macedon
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Default Macedonians in Australia

I would encourage you all to watch this from start to finish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFB60uQQm0k&t=378s

Set in the 1970's, this is a documentary of Macedonian pečalbari and settlers. Filmed mostly in Sydney, Australia, it details the trials, tribulations and culture shock of Macedonians (mostly from the republic, but some from Egej also) as immigrants in a foreign country. Many of them worked in difficult and dangerous manual labour jobs, but despite some complaints they survived because of their work ethic. That characteristic still features prominently in much of the older Macedonian population in Australia. There are also some passing references to the discrimination they faced as non-Anglo people. It gives one a renewed appreciation of the challenges that were faced by our family elders who first came here, it certainly did for me. That is one of the key takeaways of the documentary, that the early Macedonian immigrants were an industrious people.

There were some interesting perspectives with the periodical reference to Yugoslavia and Yugoslavs, sometimes by the Macedonians (product of their times, I guess) but also by the Australians that are interviewed, which is understandable given the period in which this documentary was filmed. However, Macedonia and Macedonians are overwhelmingly mentioned by the people and at one point an Australian makes an important distinction by crediting the Macedonians among the Yugoslavs as hard-working people that significantly contributed to the development of the country.

On the cultural front, there was the desire to have schools in the Macedonian language, the establishment of the first Macedonian Orthodox Church in Sydney (St. Elijah) and there is even a Muslim from Ohrid (probably a Turk) speaking and singing in Macedonian. In addition, there are a variety of Macedonian dialects on display. I can definitely hear Bitola, Prilep and Ohrid. The guy at the beginning of the clip sounds like he is speaking in a Prespa dialect, I had an uncle from Resen and he sounded like that, it is also somewhat similar to a few dialects in Lerin. On this, a particular note to RTG - early in the clip at about 4.55, listen to the old guy from Bapčor. Even though he is from the Kostur region, I am sure you will find his dialect very familiar.

In addition to the struggles they faced in their new country as they went about establishing themselves and their community, there was also the sadness of separation from their Macedonian homeland and families. Some of the stories are painful to watch. Basically, this is a culturally valuable documentary on the early life of Macedonians in Australia and the only disappointment is that more of these initiatives weren't undertaken in other Australian cities.

When you're done watching the documentary, I would also encourage you to listen to this song. Many times my father and uncles would listen to this song and reminisce about their first years in Australia and the longing for their lives and families back home in Macedonia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnst9ZnlHyE

А бре маки македонски!
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Old 07-23-2020, 10:26 PM   #2
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5oo years of slavery, then come to another country to cop it from the Anglo Australians .... and what do you get? Grateful first generation and well adjusted second and third generation Macedonians. In contrast, the immigrants of nowadays may as well live back in there respective old countries. (Note: Zero victim mentality)

Surprisingly sentimental vision for me. Thanks SoM, good stuff.
The dialect you mention above was familiar. Just listening to all the people talking, it was a natural compulsion to gravitate to the most familiar dialects. I imagine it was NECESSARY to develop dialects in order to determine where you might be safe back in the old country.
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Old 07-24-2020, 05:26 AM   #3
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Awesome find SoM. My cicko (dad's first cousin) is in there for a few seconds.
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Old 07-24-2020, 06:30 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Soldier of Macedon View Post
There were some interesting perspectives with the periodical reference to Yugoslavia and Yugoslavs, sometimes by the Macedonians (product of their times, I guess) but also by the Australians that are interviewed, which is understandable given the period in which this documentary was filmed. However, Macedonia and Macedonians are overwhelmingly mentioned by the people and at one point an Australian makes an important distinction by crediting the Macedonians among the Yugoslavs as hard-working people that significantly contributed to the development of the country.
I might share an anecdote from my childhood with regard to this point I think. Although I wasn’t born in Australia, my dad brought us to this country when I was a toddler back in the mid-70’s before he got home sick and decided to return back to Macedonia. He built himself a modest home back in the village (with his 2-year Aussie savings) before realising there was no future for him in his homeland (which he loved dearly) and dragged us back to Australia in the early 80’s. We settled in the predominantly Macedonian suburb of Rockdale and I attended Rockdale Public school during the early 80’s. Rockdale Primary school was literally 90% Macedonian back in the early 80’s (in contrast to today which is predominantly Indian). One day our teacher took a survey, asking each of us what our ethnic background was. As she went around the room, recording the results on her clipboard, the answer kept repeating: Yugoslav, Yugoslav, Yugoslav…And, so it went on. I remember thinking at the time, why are these kids saying they are Yugoslavs. As far as I was concerned, every one of them was Macedonian so I couldn’t understand why they were saying they were Yugoslavs. Looking back now, and connecting the point you noted above SoM with my anecdote, it all begins with how the kids are taught at home. My dad, God rest his soul, instilled in me a sense of Macedonian identity from a very early age. Yugoslavia was a foreign entity for me even though I came from there. We were Macedonians and my dad made sure my sister and I knew it. The converse is true of my mum’s family unfortunately. My mum’s brother had a military rank in the Yugoslav army (can’t remember what it was exactly) and he was a hard-core Yugoslav who resented my dad for his political views. Whenever family gatherings would happen, there was always a noticeable tension in the air because of my dad’s political views which didn’t align with the Yugoslav idea of what Macedonians should be all about. Anyway, back to the classroom, when my turn came to answer what my ethnic background was, I proudly replied, Macedonian. You could have heard a pin drop and I remember everyone just turning around to look at me in astonishment. The teacher paused at this point, looked around at everyone from underneath her glasses, and, after a long silence, said “Okay, let’s try this again…This time, I don’t want to know what country your parents are from but what ethnicity they are.” To this day, it is one of my proudest moments from my childhood. It was my very own “I am Spartacus” moment as the new response rang around the room: “Macedonian, Macedonian, Macedonian…”
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:11 AM   #5
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LoL Karposh. Well done. And in any case, it's why you're here on this forum
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:28 AM   #6
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The teacher paused at this point, looked around at everyone from underneath her glasses, and, after a long silence, said “Okay, let’s try this again…This time, I don’t want to know what country your parents are from but what ethnicity they are.” To this day, it is one of my proudest moments from my childhood. It was my very own “I am Spartacus” moment as the new response rang around the room: “Macedonian, Macedonian, Macedonian…”
And there it is. Scratch beneath the artificial surface and you get the truth. As you point out, it definitely does start from the home. Those who had a vested interest or benefited somehow from the Yugoslav system are likely to have been less resistant to that ideology and pass some of that on to their children. My anecdotal story is that my cousins (from my generation) and I grew up knowing only Macedonia, Macedonian picnics, villages functions, Preston Makedonia, etc. I had never even heard of the word Yugoslavia until we were packing our suitcases for an overseas trip in the late 80's and I saw a tag (the one with a family member's address you attach to your suitcase in case it is misplaced) with the word. I asked my father about it and he kind of just brushed it off, saying Macedonia is there now, in a begrudging manner.

Some of my older cousins were different, but this is also a telling point. The older generation were often around the younger cousins during family gatherings and we never heard them talk about anything related to Yugoslavia. From my discussions with them many years later, some of them told me that in the past, when in the company of outsiders, they sometimes referred to themselves as "Yugo" for simplicity. I suppose it was because few outside the Balkans knew or cared that Yugoslavia was made up of multiple ethnicities and republics. Anyway, that being the case, they never referred to their language as "Yugoslav" or anything like that and they certainly weren't calling each other "Yugo" when in the company of family, friends or other Macedonians. For example, it's not like they were saying "да јадиме југословенско јадење" or "да слушаме југословенска песна" when referring to Macedonian food and music. I mention the last part to put the above into perspective. The identification with the state in which Macedonia found itself in didn't mean the elimination or replacement of the native Macedonian identity. And finally, I will mention the other "Yugo" people for comparison. If there were Macedonians who had a "Yugo" affinity for a certain period, when it came to Serbs, Bosnians and Croats it was off the charts. The Croats were the first to start distancing themselves from it, but I remember during the wars and even for a short period afterwards, there were still some Serbs, Bosnians and to a lesser extent Croats calling themselves "Yugo". So, make of that what you will.
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