“If our language should die, it won’t be because its death is unavoidable, but because there will be a lack of foresight and courage to make it live.”
These words, written in the book “Ali tagliate” to remember Agostina Piccoli, are from the pen of the first president and founder of the European Office for the less widespread languages. These words make us understand too, speakers of the na-našo or na-našu language, which is our mission and, most of all, they can be considered as the manifesto of the work carried on, year by year, by Antonio Sammartino, who has left us 21st November.
Antonio worked, for his entire life, for our language and for our minority, carrying on what his Agostina had started. Thanks to him, today we have an Italian/Na-našo dictionary, we have a Na-našo grammar, we have poets writing in our language and a collection of poems entitled “S našimi riiči” (With our words); he made Montemitro become the “Village of poems” and also wrote several different books on cooking (“Kako biše slako – How it was delicious”, first edition; “Kuhamo na-našo – Cooking in our way”, second edition), on the plants (“Kako se zove – How it is called”), on the rural activities (“Sime do simena – The seed of the seeds”), on our last names (“Korijeni – Roots”) and more other publications. He organised conferences, exhibitions, concerts, plays…
He made lots of people “from the other side of the sea” come to our village and, as it happened lately, also from all Europe, to take part in FUEN meetings.
For all this, he has been the honorary Consul for the Republic of Croatia in Italy from 2004 to 2012. We can say that he had lived to protect, to enhance and to make known and more alive our language na-našo/u.
But this is easy to tell, these are all true facts, things that everybody knows… and no one can say that it hasn’t been like this.
On the other hand, it is difficult for us to say and we don’t know how to exactly explain what Antonio has been for us: on 21st November we have lost a father, an uncle, a brother, and a real friend.
How can we say that, if he hadn’t been here, we wouldn’t have been here? If he hadn’t done anything, we wouldn’t have done anything, either? How can we say that what we are today is, above all, thanks to him?
Do onoga dana, moždane su pol suderaj ter upravo je se mislilo pur što oš kako ma se činit, sada ke on nijega več. Smo mislil From that day, our thoughts went everywhere and we thought of what to do now that we are without him. We thought if it was really necessary to tell all this on “Čujemo Se”, maybe it would have been better if we stopped for a while and then start again.
But then we thought that it couldn’t go this way, this is “our job”, we have to talk about everything, also about bad things, also if, currently, we have no words… But he left us many of them and, for sure, we would have found the right ones to tell you of such a tragedy.
We will always have inside of us what we have done together, what he has taught us, what he has told us, also the reprimands we have received from him: we will keep all of this inside of our hearts, forever.
…and we will surely laugh and how much we will laugh anytime we’ll think of you! We’ll laugh when remembering the first time we went to Vienna by train and you didn’t manage to catch the train only because you were smoking a cigarette, and it left without you. We’ll laugh anytime we’ll eat a sandwich, because we will remember when you ordered a sandwich in Vienna and to make you understand to the guy who worked there you told him to wrap it up “zaburitaj” in na-našo and he did it, without understanding you. And we’ll laugh anytime we’ll think about you in Zadar, screaming at 7 am to make us wake up, after we’ve been out all night long partying…
And we will always remember when we sang “Kako je lipo hoditi” for the last time, in the way that old lady did in that old black and white documentary: that was the last thing we did together.
How it was beautiful this path with you, how it was beautiful strolling with you.
Now, we can only say to you that anything you gave us, we will pass it down to others; we can only say to you that we will protect our language like you did and that our word will always be ALIVE.
And no worries… Francesca is here with us!
Thanks for everything!