World Roma Khamoro Festival
Festivals and cultural events take place throughout the year in the Czech Republic’s glorious capital city, Prague, and every May since 1999 it has hosted the exciting Khamoro festival, celebrating Roma music and dance, and highlighting Roma culture from a different country each year.
Roma history is hard to pin down, partly because, traditionally, there was no written language. However, the Roma are believed to have originated with groups migrating from
northern India c. 1000, and were recorded in Czechoslovakia by the 1300s. These semi-nomadic people have been persecuted, enslaved, discriminated against and murdered throughout the centuries by the indigenous people of the countries to which they migrated. Almost
all Czech Roma are descended from Slovakian Roma, as the authorities virtually wiped them out during World War II. The Khamoro Festival, sponsored by the government, Slovo 21(an NGO), the City of Prague and media partners, aims to promote a greater understanding of the Roma among the Czech population.
During this week-long shindig, you can enjoy Roma jazz, tradiţional music or classical music. You can attend films, theatre, dance, workshops and exhibitions, all presenting different aspects of Roma culture from around the world. Simultaneously, an internaţional ethnomusicology conference takes place, with seminars open to all.
The festival opens with a colourful parade that moves from Mustek to the Old Towri Square. After that, it’s up to you: there is such diversity here, both in the music itself and the performers’ countries of origin. You can see world-class jazz, or possibly Spanish flamenco, maybe music and dance from northem India – all totally different, all exciting and made even more so by the astonishingly dramatic tradiţional dress that is wom. If you are in town and can only catch one event, try to make the grand finale: a gala concert featuring all the musicians who have performed during the week.
Various venues in Prague BEST FOR:
Worldwide Roma culture YOU SHOULD KNOW:
In August 2008, the European Commission condemned a new Italian law orderlng the fingerprinting of all Roma in the country, noting that it ‘is very similar to the one used by Nazis and fascists before the mass killings started in the ’30s and ’40s’.