Au revoir et adieu, Čika Mišo

Sarajevo pleure Čika Mišo, Rom du Kosovo et le dernier cireur de chaussures de la ville, mort le 6 janvier à l’âge de 83 ans.

Čika Mišo avec une touriste devant le premier McDonald de Sarajevo, le 14 août 2011 Crédit photo : Laura Maffizzoli

Čika Mišo avec une touriste devant le premier McDonald de Sarajevo, le 14 août 2011
Crédit photo : Laura Maffizzoli

Une chaise en bois, une paire de chaussure, des bougies, des fleurs et un portrait en noir et blanc. La place que Čika Mišo a occupée pendant des décennies rue Tito est devenue un lieu de recueillement. Les habitants de Sarajevo viennent y rendre un dernier hommage au symbole « indélébile » de la ville, selon les mots du maire Ivo Komsic.

Husein Hasani, plus tard surnommé Mišo par son entraîneur de boxe hongrois, a émigré du Kosovo pour la Bosnie à l’âge de 15 ans. Il a repris le travail de son père à 21 ans et est devenu le dernier cireur de chaussures de Sarajevo, connu de tous sous le nom de Čika (Oncle) Mišo. Même le siège de la ville dans les années 1990 n’a pu l’arracher à son travail. Chaque matin, il traversait la ville sous les bombes et les tirs des snipers, habillé d’un costume bien taillé et coiffé d’un chapeau. Il s’asseyait sur sa chaise, entouré de chiens errants et attendait les clients. « Pourquoi suis-je le dernier ? Parce que je suis courageux et que mes blagues font rire tout le monde » avait-il l’habitude de dire.

Symbole inamovible d’une capitale en mutation

En 60 ans, il a été témoin de tous les changements survenus dans la ville. Le premier McDonald ouvre en juillet 2011 sous ses yeux. Ce jour-là le gérant de la chaîne pour la région, Haris Ihtijarević, a promis qu’il pourrait conserver sa place car « il est une institution de notre ville ». En 2009, la municipalité décide de lui décerner la médaille de la ville, une pension de retraite et un appartement, tous frais payés. Pourtant, Čika Mišo refuse de quitter son travail. « Ce métier est entré dans mon âme. Je vais mourir sur cette chaise » dit-il un jour.

Des centaines de personnes sont venues assister à ses funérailles à Vlakovo, dans le district de Sarajevo. Parmi eux : le Général Jovan Divjak, une autre légende de Sarajevo.

Internet en émoi

L’émotion était grande sur Internet aussi. Des milliers de citoyens, ainsi que des politiciens, lui ont rendu hommage sur les réseaux sociaux.

Wish I could be in #Sarajevo to light a candle for Cika Miso. Sarajevans Mourn Their Much-Loved Shoeshiner

— Valerie Hopkins (@VALERIEin140) 9 Janvier 2014

« J’aurais aimé être là pour allumer une bougie pour Cika Miso. Les habitants de Sarajevo font le deuil de leur cireur de chaussure bien-aimé »

« Čika Mišo, » a popular shoe cleaner from #Sarajevo, has passed away & its headline news in #Bosnia.

— Jasmin Mujanović (@JasminMuj) 6 Janvier 2014

« Cika Miso, le populaire cireur de chaussures de Sarajevo, s’est éteint et fait la une des médias en Bosnie »

Une pétition a été lancée sur Facebook pour demander l’érection d’un monument à sa mémoire et a reçu plus de 5 000 signatures en un seul jour.

Marion Dautry


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

Bosnia & Croatia: a negative-sum game

bosniaWhen Croatia joins the EU on the first of July, Bosnia-Herzegovina will lose its heretofore closest trading partner as its exports are excluded from the single market. This offers further challenges to an administration already mired in difficulty.

Croatia is Bosnia’s largest trading partner, taking both 17.22% of its exports and supplying 17.06% of its imports. This slight trade surplus is spearheaded by trade in foodstuffs – eggs, meat, dairy products – which is an area where a number of regulations will come into effect in Croatia once it joins the single market. The EU does not mind how the conformity of Bosnian exports to EU standards is enforced, only that they do conform if they are to be sold in member-states. Thus the debate between representatives of the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats simply limits the propensity of the nation as a whole to preserve this crucial trading relationship after July 1st.

Since 2009, Bosnia has been under pressure from the international community – by the European Court of Human Rights, whose convention was there ratified in 2002 – to reform the system in which governmental positions can only be held on racial prerequisites, to balance the influence of the nation’s three large ethnic groups: the Muslim Bosniaks, Croatians and Bosnian Serbs. Stalled development in this area has stymied the EU accession process, which is supposedly a key electoral pledge, and is the backdrop for the present dispute which will block market access to their neighbour.

Disagreement and its Consequences

The Serbs want two separate bodies, one in each of the main administrative regions (pictured) whilst the Bosniaks want a central one. Either way the remit would be the same, and perhaps a central body would streamline the process, but would conflict with the perennial concern of the Croatian minority, which is the smaller of the three, that their concerns would be marginalised by any ‘free-for-all’. Yet what one has here is a negative-sum game, whereby inaction is costing all Bosnians – no matter their ethnic group. Inability to reach a compromise further undermines the process of EU Accession and, in the short-term, will slash GDP as Bosnian exports are excluded from Croatia.

The European Commission is not concerned with the form of the regulator, which would be focused on food-safety, so long as they have a central representative to communicate with – which perhaps favours the Bosniak proposal. Yet either way, concern with solely the Croatian market is myopic. Though the current government is concentrating on goals achievable by the next election in 2014, an EU certified regulator would not simply advance Stabilisation and Association (an agreement on which should come into force later this year) but would give Bosnian food exports access to each of the EU’s national markets simultaneously – vastly expanding its ability to export. Any such boon to the economy would be welcome given that Bosnia experienced an estimated 0% growth in 2012 and may have real unemployment of up to 44.6%, despite official government statistics of 25.2%. Given that Germany, Slovenia and Austria, all EU member-states, form the rest of Bosnia’s principal five export partners – save for Serbia – it already has a sizeable foothold for expanding its trade with Europe and thus ameliorating its economic circumstances back home.


One downplayed consequence is that Croatians will themselves lose out in the mid-term. Whilst relatively prosperous in the Balkans, Croatians have a purchasing power parity at just 60% of the EU average (Croatia: 18,192$ GDP PPP per capita, EU: 31,609$) and thus adjusting to prices within the single market may prove painful to households, particularly if many basic foodstuffs experience price inflation as cheaper Bosnian imports are excluded; German eggs tend to be more expensive. The Bosnian agricultural sector is also proportionally larger, and it does not seem likely that Croatia will quickly switch to self-producing these products on any grand scale.

Inefficiency in the Bosnian administration is damaging the country’s prospects for the future, both in immediately escaping its economic rut and in long-term normalisation with the further developed regions of Europe. The spillovers of such indecisiveness affect Croatia and impede relations with international institutions, damaging Bosnia’s standing in the international community. Yet perhaps worst of all they rob the Bosnian people of any great improvements in their prospects ; indecision amongst the three ethnic groups undermines efficacy in the management of public services. The inability to agree on a regulator is indicative of far deeper flaws in Bosnia’s system of governance which need be redressed if the nation does not wish to be left behind.

Matthew James