Goodbye and Farewell, Čika Mišo

Sarajevo mourns Čika Mišo, a Roma from Kosovo and the last shoe shiner of the city, who died on January 6th, aged 83.

Čika Mišo with a tourist in front of the first McDonald of Sarajevo

Čika Mišo with a tourist in front of the first McDonald of Sarajevo, 08/14/2011
Credits: Laura Maffizzoli

A wooden chair, a pair of shoes, candles, flowers and a black-and-white picture. The spot Čika Mišo, occupied for decades on Tito Street has become a place to pay tribute to the man who incarnated the “indelible” symbol of Sarajevo, said the mayor Ivo Komsic in a release.

Husein Hasani, later nicknamed Mišo by his Hungarian boxing coach, arrived from Kosovo in Bosnia by the age of 15. He took over his father’s job when he was 21 and became the last shoe shiner of Sarajevo, known by all as Čika (Uncle) Mišo. Even the siege could not take him out of his spot. Each morning he came under the bombings, all dressed up in a neat suit with a hat, he sat on his chair, surrounded by stray dogs and waited for clients. “Why am I the last one? Because I am brave and my jokes make everybody laugh”, he used to tell.

Immutable symbol of a changing city

In 60 years he had witnessed all of the changes in the city. The first McDonald opened in July 2011, right in front of him. The local concessionaire of the chain, Haris Ihtijarević, promised to keep his spot safe because “he is an institution of our city”, he said. In 2009, the city administration decided to give him the medal of the city, a pension and an apartment, all covered by the city. However, he could not quit his job: “it came into my soul, I am going to die on this chair”, he said one day.

Hundreds of people attempted Čika Mišo‘s funerals in Vlakovo, Sarajevo’s district. Among them was the General Jovan Divjak, another Sarajevo’s legend.

The Internet crying

The emotion was huge on the Internet as well. Thousands of citizens, as well as politicians, paid their respects on social networks.

A petition has been opened on Facebook to ask for the erection of a monument to his memory and received more than 5,000 signatures in just one day.

Marion Dautry