The Albanian historian, folklorist, publicist and member of the Cham community Ibrahim Daut Hoxha has passed away at the age of 97.
He died earlier this week in Tirana. Hoxha is known as a prominent personality of the Albanian population of Chameria as well as his work in identifying massacres against Albanians by Greeks.
He was born in Konispol on 15 April 1923 into a well-known and prominent family of Chameria. His family were known for fighting with both rifles and words for the rights of Albanians living there. His father, Daut Hoxha had been killed by Greeks on 15 June 1940 and the family was forced to leave the area. They settled in Lushnjia where Ibrahimi was called up for military service. He then joined a partisan gang called “Chameria” and took part in several partisan battles at the time Albania was liberated by the fascists. He then moved with his family to Tirana where he continued his education.
He studied at the Qemal Stafa school in central Tirana before completing a two-year officer course. He was a member of the Communist Party but in 1952 he was expelled. By 1955 he had been expelled from the army for his anti-communist views and a few years later was imprisoned for “planning to overthrow the government.” He only spent a few years behind bars.
Due to his supposed misdemeanours, he found it difficult to continue his education but in 1964 he managed to graduate in history and geography from the University of Tirana. This gave him the chance to devote himself to studying Albanian history, in particular, that of Chameria, journalism, and collecting examples of folklore.
He dedicated himself to studying and recording a song, dances, customs, memories and stories, going and documenting wherever Chams were found. From 1960 onwards, he started photographing and archiving manuscripts and other documents, creating a valuable resource of historical items. Between 1965 and 1972 he recorded the first Cham songs at the Institute of Popular Creativity and Radio Tirana.
In 1971 he published a book called Fables and Poems, a collection of verses by Qamil Izet Cami. It took two years from submitting it to it being published and the communist censors left only 97 pages out of the original 435.
He encountered similar issues with his next book Cham Folk Songs. It was approved for publication but at the last moment, the Ministry of Education and Directorate of Propaganda ordered its destruction. In 1981, the book was finally allowed to be distributed but again, only with a few pages remaining.
His third book, Through the Albanian Pen Road, was published after much controversy but before release, was turned into pulp.
After the fall of the regime, Hoxha published several titles including poems, songs, and historical texts.
For all his life, Ibrahim D.Hoxha devoted himself to Albania, the Cham issue and cultural heritage. He left behind a series of works that not only document the struggles of the Cham community, but provide a legacy of history, music, the arts, and culture.
During his lifetime, he was decorated for his contribution to the arts by the President of the Republic, became an honorary citizen of Konispol, received Pride of the Union from the Artistic Union of the Albanian Nation, the Honor of Chameria, and Gratitude from the Patriotic Association of Chameria.
He was writing up until the time of his death and there are still manuscripts that are waiting to be published.
His family spoke of their heartbreak of his passing and due to the current pandemic, many of this family including sibling were able to be with him in his last hours, or attend the funeral.
A list of his works can be found here.