What does Dua Lipa mean for young people in Kosovo
If you could spot Earth from the classic voyage of the Milky Way pictured on Dua Lipa’s Future nostalgia album cover and zoomed through space toward Europe, then south to Croatia, and beyond to the heart of the Balkans, there, in Pristina, Kosovo, on a sweet summer night in August , you’ll see Dua Lipa take the stage — at Home.
Also, you’ll collect the shouts of the crowd, energy beyond the lush oak canopy of Germia Park as Lipa’s performance kicks off the return of the Sunny Hill Festival, which is celebrated created by her father, Dukagjin Lipa, in 2018 and postponed two years later due to COVID. However, the crowd’s joy stems from deeper emotions than any typical post-pandemic release: Dua Lipa and the festival serve as a reminder to young Kosovars that the future is their own, and that Lipa — and the world — could hear them.
Kosovo is the youngest country in Europe. It also has one of these largest population under 25 years old. Part of the former Yugoslavia, the country experienced a bloody war from 1998 to 1999, gaining independence only from Serbia in 2008. While Generation Z and the thousand-year-old Kosovars grew up in In the years after the war, they felt its weight and its echoes.
Dionë Ahmetaj, 24, who lives in Pristina, told me in the days before the festival: “I have strong feelings about war because of my parents and family. “We’ve seen books about massacres that never get out of your head. Whenever [the television] played war videos, I saw my parents always changing or emotional because they went through it”.
Like many others, Lipa’s family fled Kosovo before the height of the war, moving to London, where Lipa was born in 1995. However, she and her family returned to Pristina when Lipa was 13 years old, and there she lived. two years before moving back to London to pursue his career. “It is very important for children to learn from their heritage,” Mr. Lipa told me, and my wife and I have achieved this. “
The focus on family and intergenerational stories has not been lost for the youth of Kosovo. As I talked to over twenty things, I noticed that the bond they felt with Lipa was tied to the fact that, like them, she was close to her family and knew about the war. through that lens of love. Many consider this to be one of the reasons for her kindness, her positivity and why when she talks about Kosovo, it feels so natural – there’s never a script. “She understands,” Verona Hasangjekaj, 24. “We all have our parents and grandparents talking about the past. They are open about it. I hope we too, keep telling the stories, or else that’s how we forget.”
Of course, the attachment among young Kosovars to Lipa is also due to her musical talent, her electric style, and because a country the size of Delaware, they have always supported her. . Every fan remembers their first introduction to Lipa: Some refer to her early 2000s blog, YouTube covers, or when she starred in a movie. X Factor UK commercial. People also recall Lipa’s first big concert in Pristina in 2016. Some people know her.
Vjosa Zhubi, 27 years older than Lipa, befriended her through her cousin while Lipa lived in Kosovo. “She was always a grown-up child,” Zhubi said. “She can give you an adult opinion, and she has this artistic style. And even when she’s gone, she’ll always keep in touch. Even now, she asks about everyone.”
This mutual respect was fully felt at Sunny Hill. When Lipa stepped onto the stage in a dazzling pink sequined bra and mini skirt—Which was specially designed for the event and attracted media attention — she told fans in Albanian, the most widely spoken language in Kosovo, “It’s a big dream for me to be here and to do this kind of festival with my family, with my friends, and with all the people who have supported me so much. Thank you very much. Thank you for this special night.”
Sunny Hill is truly a special occasion. It is the largest music festival in the region and sets records for lineups and ticket sales this year. “I’ve been waiting for Sunny Hill for two years,” said 18-year-old Vesa Mehmeti, a smile as bright as her eyes. “We don’t have anything else like it.”
The opportunity to attend a festival at home is further respected because of external geopolitical issues surrounding the status of a Kosovo state; Kosovars can only visit six countries without a visa. This lack of visa liberalization limits travel and educational opportunities. Many people have stories of failed visa applications. They describe feeling isolated as if living on an island.
Lipas recognizes this problem, as does the fact that Dua Lipa benefits from her UK passport, and is fighting for change. This year, they launched #SetMeFree campaign along with the festival, called for EU support in granting Kosovans freedom of movement. The bracelets and wallpapers around the festival grounds have hashtags, adding to the dynamic atmosphere.
Dua Lipa’s efforts in general were acknowledged by the president of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, when she awarded Lipa the title of Honorary Ambassador earlier this month. Osmani thanked Lipa for “using her incredible voice and talent, not only to offer world songs that leave her mark, but also to present the best image of Kosovo around the world.”
During a press conference a few hours before performing at Sunny Hill, Lipa spoke about her wishes for young Kosovars. “I want to send love to all the youth of Kosovo, and I want to say that no matter how big your dream, you can achieve anything you want, if you put your heart into it. I truly believe… I am here to support you in every way. “
More meaningful than her words, however, was the fact that the young Kosovas on the ground felt a connection to her, a strength and hope radiating from her. “She has that warm heart,” says Edi Demiri, 23, the light and music swirling around her, her own warmth shining through, “I think she represents them all. me.”
Lina Patton is a writer and illustrator currently living in Pristina, Kosovo. She is working on a novel.