Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Druže Tito, mi ti se kunemo!

I dedicate this blog post to a man who has long been a legend to so many people across the Former Yugoslavia. A figure of stability, an icon for millions, the life-long leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Socijalistička Federativna Republika Jugoslavija).

This man was a hero to my parents' generation for two main reasons: one, he was a war hero who liberated the entire territory of the earlier Kingdom of Yugoslavia by ridding it of evil Fascist forces and neutralising other collaborating groups, and he even extended that territory ever so slightly to form the borders of his Yugoslavia and form the internal boundaries of its constituent republics; and two, as one of five founding fathers of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War, he opened doors to the whole world for his people, and was welcomed by so many leaders to their countries all over the world.

During his leadership, modernity was brought to every corner of his former great Balkan state. Villages in mountainous backwater regions that were still living in the nineteenth or eighteenth century finally saw and welcomed in the twentieth century. And unlike other communist countries that were under the "Iron Curtain", Soviet "satellite states" like Poland and Hungary, Communist Yugoslavia was a much freer society that eased restrictions on religious expression and freedom of speech, and even allowed private enterprise to function from the sixties onwards.

He inspired generations of Yugoslavs from the end of the Second World War till his death. And yet, even though that Yugoslavia is now gone thanks to idiots who didn't appreciate his achievements but vainly tried to achieve greater things (!), much of his legacy still lives on and his personality and iconic status continue to remind people of comparatively better times.

This blog post is dedicated to a man who, despite the many disputed methods he used to achieve his goals, and regardless of how meaningful or even valid his equally disputed legacy is today, achieved more success during his lifetime in both war and peace than any of his "successors" have achieved with their petty spoils of his great work and achievements!

And even after so many wars that have destroyed his Yugoslavia, causing so much pain to its people and ruining relations between the various ethnic groups that lived within its borders, his name and persona are still remembered by all these people. And thus, his memory is an unofficial source of inter-ethnic unity!

In terms of his achievements and legacy, this was a man who in one person, in my opinion at least, was the greatest Croat who ever lived; the greatest Slovene who ever drew breath; all in all, the greatest Yugoslav who ever walked the face of this earth!

Of course, this could be none other than Josip Broz Tito, a.k.a. Marshall Tito!

7 May 1892 – 4 May 1980


This is a collection of pictures I found on the internet to add to this page in honour of Tito, a great figure in the history of the Balkan peninsula.

Tito on the front cover of Times Magazine, 1944 Tito on the front cover of Times Magazine, 1955
Not everyone can get a picture of their face on the front cover of TIME Magazine! Franjo Tuđman never had his face on it. Slobodan Milošević was on it, but not in a positive light! So what does that tell you? Hmm…

From left to right, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt; Sukarno of Indonesia, and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia

Marshall Tito standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow founders of the Non-Aligned Movement, founded as an alliance of states that sought neutrality from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact on the one hand, and the West and NATO on the other.

These days, following enormous changes in world politics, this same Non-Aligned Movement no longer holds the same global significance it did for over forty years. But the fact that Marshall Tito was part of the establishment of such a grand alliance of worldwide proportions speaks volumes about this revolutionary man, and casts a massive shadow over his "successors", however successful or unsuccessful they really were!

Tito's tomb in Kuća Cveća, or House of Flowers

This is his tomb in the Kuća Cveća, or "House of Flowers" in the Belgrade suburb of Dedinje, which has been visited by an estimated 18,000,000 people over the years since his death nearly 30 years ago!

His funeral was attended by well over a million people lining the streets of Belgrade to bid farewell to their decades-long leader, and by over a hundred heads of states from all over the world, communist and capitalist, kings and princes, premiers and presidents.

Now let's see if the graves of his successors will receive even half as many visitors within 15 years of their deaths!

Ulica Maršal Tito, Marshall Tito Street in SkopjeUlica Maršala Tita, Marshall Tito Street in Sarajevo