miercuri, 13 mai 2009

Nationality Geographically Channel?

Csíkszereda is populated mostly by székely’s. Who are they? They are the people who speak Hungarian in this region of Romania . Is that so simple? Can you describe these people just by the geographical region where they live? Of course not. This is a topic way over my head, and I really do not want to discuss it into its full depths. My goal is to mention some of the things that influence the people of the town.
The first thing: is it possible to be székely and Hungarian in the same time? Yes it is. For those unfamiliar with the situation, here’s a little history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Trianon .
Before Treaty of Trianon (ToT) it was easy to identify your nationality: you were a Hungarian citizen, and you belonged to the székely ethnical group, and you were proud of both (or maybe not:P, but for as much as I have heard, nationality was not a topic too often discussed, because it was obvious). Not to mention that Transylvania had its own history, with its own lords, own wars and own intrigues. Often Transylvania walked its separate ways from Hungary , like a little brother, who may do whatever he wants, but he’s always part of the family. After ToT you became a Romanian citizen, so you were Romanian, but still, you were still a Hungarian, who lived across the borders, and of course you were still székely. Which one is more important? It depends on the situation. As time went by, the communist regime came, and left. Then people did not cry for their rights as a minority, because they had other things to think about, like food or electricity. The Hungarian minority had some rights, like Hungarian schools and a few others, but when one was taken away, then there was nothing to do, so everyone just tried to live to the next day. Step by step, communism took away so many things, that people just fled, most of them to Hungary or to even farther, but always to the west. It’s easy to understand them: the paranoid dictatorship thought, that the Hungarians had one more reason not to be loyal, so they were threated with extra „care”. I don’t want to go deeper into this, you get the idea. The result was, that those who stayed had to endure terrible things, the worst thing being, that you could not trust anyone, you never knew who’s reporting on you.
Then democracy came, and with it, other kinds of problems. Suddenly you woke up, and you could not say anything right. If you said you are Hungarian, then the radical groups called you a traitor, for not sharing their fate, or for not being true székely, because a true székely, from their point of view wears traditional clothes when it celebrates something, even if his or her ancestors did not wear traditional clothes for that occasion (for example graduation from high school) and so on. Moreover, as a Hungarian, you were associated with Hungary, the country populated by people who speak your mother tongue, the country that has influence on you, but who you can not influence. From here, Romania you can not vote, but the ones that win elections there will feel free to decide about you, to stand for your matters when negotiating with the Romanian politicians. But what if they do something stupid? They did it for you...but you had nothing to do with it. What if you say „I’m székely!”? This is also a tricky situation. For example on the last census made in Romania, Hungarian and székely were two different options. This was a technique of the Romanian politicians to count less hungarians, so they can cut on some founds destinated for the major minority. The other problem with this is, that if you are asked by someone not from Romania or Hungary about your nationality, and you respond that you are székely, than you are going to spend your next half an hour explaining yourself.

I could go on with this all day long. The main idea is that if you live in Csíkszereda, and you’r not Romanian, then you’ll probably have trouble defining your nationality in a few words. But this is not our problem. We all know and feel what we are. It’s just the outsiders who can’t understand it, sometimes no matter how long you try to explain.
But in my opinion it’s a great thing to be székely. It’s nice to have cultural diversity (the words so often said when the topic is the EU) in a single person, or all around you. It makes you more tolerant and more understanding in the topics of ethnicity. For people with a more radical thinking, this is a soil to breed on, a way do define themselves. Wrong or right? Who cares! It is a good thing…

3 comentarii:

  1. Hey,
    I felt the example:). In any case, this is really a good post, will also recommend if someone asks about Csíkszereda and being a székely. By the way, what kind of feeling?

  2. Yeah, the well known great problem of szekely's. Explaining who they are. Nobody can see that how can we say: 'No, we aren't Romanians by nationality'. No chance in my opinion explaining it to a complete stranger. Not even to some of the "real" Romanians, who know enough about history (especially to those, having no contact at all with szekely's). At the same time those from Hungary always ask: 'It is really hard living there, isn't it?'. Another spend-half-of-your-lifetime-explaining-it-question.

    Anyway, if someone asks me next time THE tricky question (I always gave it up after 20 minutes of explanation), I'll just give him/her the link, and say: 'It's too long for now, but if you wish, read it. These are exactly MY feelings. OUR feelings.';)

  3. Defining my identity/nationality is a problem I often come over, as I work in several international teams. In my experience it makes a big difference who you want to explain minority/etnicity problems to: a Catalan or even a Luxemburgish immediately can see what you mean. At least in big lines. It is much more difficult to make a French or a (South)Italian understand it. Otherwise less and less Europeans are convinced of the "one nation one country" principle.
    My personal survival techniques are as follows: "I come from Transylvania". "My mother tongue is Hungarian." "The local language of the town I come from is Hungarian." Well, I rarely complicate it with the term "Szekely".
    However once somebody looks very interested of the topic, I would also recommend your posting.