He deserves our admiration, gratitude and reverence

Jan HorvathAugust 2000Studenka
This modest and caring man is especially known to those of us who are involved in things Romany. A poet, humanist and writer, Vlado Olah was born to a musical Romany family in a Romany village near Presov in eastern Slovakia.
From early childhood he experienced rejection and poverty in the Gypsy community. But he was fortunate to have parents who made sure that young Vlado would get some education: they wanted him to study. They taught him to love all living creatures, nature and people.
He first worked as a miner in the Ostrava coal-bearing region, then pursued a military career: he graduated from a military secondary school as a car mechanic. Later on, he received a degree from Safarík University in Presov in adult education.
He visits Romany villages to help people of his blood to be educated. Together with Elena Lacková, the Romany activist and writer, he spreads education, his native language and Romany spirit among the people.
In 1987 he and his family moved to Prague, where he has lived since then. He worked in different industries, as a worker at the Coal Supply Concern, and as a transportation section manager at the engineering company CKD Karlín. Now he lives on a disability pension.
After 1989 Vlado Oláh became involved in the Romany movement: he was a founding father of the Romany Civic Initiative, the first Romany political party, and established the Romany Foundation to preserve all Romany heritage, both language and culture. He published the very first books in Romany language, especially with religious subjects. He also wrote some of the first renderings of the Bible in Romany – O Del vakerel ke peskere chave (God Speaks to His Children) – and his poems and short stories can be found in the first Romany books and magazines (Kale ruzi, magazine Lacho lav and newspaper Romano kurko). He has also published a collection of poems called Khamori luludi (Sunflower). Mr. Oláh is now translating John’s Gospel into his language.
He is also a member of numerous international organizations fighting for human rights of all oppressed people, and makes appearances against discrimination and racism against the Roma. At the same time, he is critical of those Romanies who don’t observe laws, either secular or divine. He helps organize summer camps for Romany children, arranges trips further afield, steamship cruises, and clothing fairs for the poor. This is just a brief account of Mr. Oláh’s activities: the story of a Romany man who has spent his life fighting for humanity, integrity, and tolerance between nations. From a boy born to a Gypsy village he has worked himself up to get a university degree – and he helps his children be educated. Several years ago he decided to enroll at the Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague; unfortunately, his health condition didn’t allow him to complete his studies as he had two heart attacks.
Today, although he is at home on a disability pension, he continues writing and working on the national revival of the Romany nation. Recently he joined the Romany pilgrimage to the Vatican along with other Romany believers and asked God for a light to his nation, which is still looking for its path and place in society.
Mr. Vlado Oláh has already found his place. The purpose of his life is to help people in need, and for that he deserves our admiration, gratitude and reverence.

No Responses to “He deserves our admiration, gratitude and reverence”

  1. With regard to Vlado Olah it may indeed be true that he has done great things for the Romaní people but unless he was writing translations of the Bible before 1912 he cannot claim to be the pioneer in this field. It may be that there were earlier examples than this date and indeed if the Calo or Gitano language of Spain can be called Romany then 1872 is the date post-quam-non! I am not aware of translations before 1912 but in that year it appeared in Bulgarian Romany and I give here a line from Luke 15;10: Coká phenáv tuménge: Kamloshánen o ángelja e Devlèskere, jek bilatshó manúsh kána pishmáni ovél = in Vlax Romaní: Ke phenav tumenge: Veselin le anzhelja le Devleske, jekh nasul manush kana keil pes. Also in that year South German Romany was published some of the Bible. Here is an example from St Mark 3;35: Kava ta kerelo ho kamela o Devel, kava hi miro phral, miri phen ta miri dai. This would appear in the language of my own extinct dialect of the Welsh Kálé as: Akàva ka kèla só kamèla ó Devel, akàva si miró phal, mirí phen thá mirí dai.
    In 1937 there was a Moravian Romany translation of at least the Acts of the Apostles an extract of which I give here Acts 17;24: O Devel havo kerd’as i phuv, he savore so odoj hi, odoleske, kaj ehi o Raj andro uprúno devel, he andri phuv téle, na beshel andre kangera, kerde e manushengre vastentsa = Welsh Kálèngí Tshib version: Ó Devel ka kedas i phuv, thá sár so odòi si, odolèskí, varekon ka si ó Rai andré ó ravnos oprál, thá andré í phuv talé, na beshèl andré kangera, kedé í manushèngé vastènsa. [though I think that a Welsh Romaní translation would have ‘jivèl’ instead of ‘beshèl’ in it.
    I do not send this to belittle the very good work of this man but only in the interest of truth. As St John says 8;32 κaι γνωsesθe tην aληθeιaν, κaι η aληθeιa eλeυθeρωseι υµaς = in Kalderash Tume zhianena o tshatsimos ai o tshatshimos skipila tumen.
    Also it belittles the literary endavours of the Roma in the early twentieth century to deny the existence of Romany texts. It may be of course that he has written the first published texts and the first Biblical translations in his own dialect of Western Romaní and if so that is what should be stated.

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