Tuesday, 18 December 2007

DIBRI, DIBRA, DEBAR…DISTRESSED ‘NAME’ IN TROUBLED BALKAN



By Fatmir Terziu
Roehampton University
Media, Cultural Studies & Politics






Diber e Madhe: Albanian National Hero, Skenderbeu
Legend says that Dibra e Madhe (Debar) was named after the mythical Dy Brirw (two horns), who the Albanian National Hero George Kastrioti (Skenderbeu), used as a symbol in his cap, after he escaped from ottoman Turks hidden under a goat, from what was a small town at the foot of the Radika Mountain many centuries ago. But perhaps this fable alone won't persuade you to leave the Skopje to Ohrid highway and visit this city in the Albanian border, close to the border with Kosovo. Indeed, Dibra e Madhe has hardly been a magnet for travellers.
Ever since ancient times, many important roads passed through this region including a section of the famous Roman route Via Egnatia, basically a Via Sacra that the holy apostle Paul walked along in the first century AD.
Many basilicas from the Early Christian period are located here. This is a remarkable area - you can see unspoilt nature combined with remains of an ancient human civilisation here. But for a long time the only tourists near here were those en route to Macedonia's most famous Radika resort, and Banjat e Dibres.
The Radika and Drini i Zi rivers flow near the town, which is surrounded by the Desat, Stugara, and Jabllanica mountains. There are nearby springs at Banjat e Dibres (Debarska Banja) and gypsum crystal deposits.

Unfortunately, to most outsiders, Dibra e Madhe is not renowned for its touristic facilities. Rather, it has a more forbidding reputation. It is the scene of the forgotten world in this new FYROM territory... But the fact is fact. Even some historians or critics, who sow the history and the facts from a small personal window, say, “Albanian became the official language as ‘Illirida’ became a part of Albania. The Albanian national flag, the double-headed black eagle on a red background, was raised in Debar and other cities and towns in Western Macedonia. The Albanian Lek was introduced as the official currency” (Savich, 0/4/2005). But how can we understand what Savich is trying to manipulate when he says:
“in 1449, Debar fell under the Ottoman Turkish Empire and was referred to as Dibri or Debra by the Turks. In 1502, Felix Petancic recorded the town as Dibri in his itinerary notes. In the 15th century, Gjergj Kastrioti, known as Skenderbeu, fought Ottoman Turkish forces in several major battles near Debar, which was an important frontline”


He mention clearly that Dibra e Madhe (Debar) is called Dibri… Dibri is …



For further interest in reading this essay please contact:
terziuf@roehampton.ac.uk

...or register at Free Speech online.

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