Today, Bosnia celebrates its birthday. On March 1, 1992, Bosnians voted for independence from Yugoslavia.

This is neither place nor time for a history lesson. This isn’t the place or time to mourne or cheer the demise of the country that once was Yugoslavia.

By the time Bosnia declared its independence, the death of Yugoslavia was a fait accompli. So, speculating about whether it would have been better for Bosnia not to become independent is futile at best.

It is not the place to talk or write about Bosnia’s many dysfunctionalities, largely owed to the Dayton Accords, and the fact that too many nationalists of all ethnicities hold far too many important positions, either.

Celebrating A Survivor

This being the anniversary of Bosnian independence, it seems appropriate to celebrate a survivor that had almost been strangled in its cradle.

Make no mistake: I will not join the country’s political elite in celebrating. Given their track record this wouldn’t seem appropriate.

Corruption and nationalism threaten to strangle this place in its cradle a second time around.

What is appropriate is to give three cheers to all those Bosnians of all colors, creeds and what not, who in spite of the country’s problems still try to make the place work and given the overwhelming odds against them have done a tremendous job.

Vijećnica, Sarajevo
Vijećnica, Sarajevo

They have managed to preserve the unique tolerance that makes this place so special. It is a constant struggle for them, what with nationalists, religious extremists and outside powers trying to change that. Yet, they have prevailed – so far.

They have also managed to revive the country’s cultural life after the devastating war that not only left 100.000 people dead but also almost destroyed Bosnia’s heritage to the world.

Their persistence prevailed in making much of that heritage accessible again.

(c) Christoph Baumgarten
Zemaljski Muzej, Sarajevo

And they have managed to be one of the most hospitable groups of people I have ever met.

Idealizing Bosnia is far beyond me. I know her too well, I suppose. I won’t tell you this is a place people are desperate to settle down in. I won’t tell you it’s paradise.

But this I tell you: It is a beautiful place full of spectacular mountains, valleys, rivers and forests.

Konjic
Konjic

Full of rich historical heritage from many different ages and cultures.

Baščaršija
Baščaršija

It is a place where great, resourceful and kind people live. People that can make you discover new things about yourself.

Amir and Dijana in front of Zenica's National Theater
Amir and Dijana in front of Zenica’s National Theater

People that can teach you that no matter what there’s always a way to at least enjoy the moment. And how to make great coffee (and rakija).

If that’s not reason enough to wish their country a happy birthday and to love this place I don’t know what is.