What is the true story of Batko Gjorgjija?
This text aims to investigate a person who today is especially interesting among the citizens of Kumanovo. Furthermore, several years ago the City Square erected a monument in his honor.
There is certainly a sense of mystery when it comes to Batko Gjorgjija, a persona who somehow emerged from the song, “Умреја Батко Ѓорѓија,” or a man who sang the same song. For years this persona has been cultivated and used in various types of character creations and Batko Gjorgjija is a character who has become a favorite hero, synonymous with and distinctive mark of Kumanovo.
Based on the findings of the journalist Drtkovski, Batko Gjorgjija came from the village Mlado Nagoricane and lived somewhere until the 70’s of the 19th century. He was an unusual man who loved the good things in life, was valued in the village and in Kumanovo, and had a wife, Jane, and children. He was a joker, was welcomed in every house, and as stated in the book of Drtkovski, all Turks and Christians held respectable attitudes towards him. Batko Gjorgjija was described as having virtues, features and characteristics that one can see in many Kumanovski citizens of the past and of our current times.
To learn more about this person that adorns the town square of Kumanovo, we have tried to comprehend and hear thoughts from other sources. In all it was a very important whether the character of Batko Gjorgjija sprung from the people, by transferring the “story” from generation to generation (as Итар Пејо) or a person who was created by an “author” of a particular place and time. From what we can confirm based on a survey and interviews with various actors in the field of music and art in general, undoubtedly it can be concluded that in this region, during the period before the Second World War, there was a well-known poem whose hero was Batko Gjorgjija and which actually came from a person who today speaks in Kumanovo.
In music literature with the song ” Умреја Батко Ѓорѓија,” it is possible to come across its processing by the famous Macedonian composers Vlasov Nikolovski and Trajko Prokopiev.
“’… In my family,’ recalled Trajko Prokopiev, ‘was Uncle Gjorgjija, the middle brother of my father, who was living a human existence, but it was a Bohemian… His talent for music, poetry, and song excelled everywhere. He played the so-called fisharmonika (keyboard instrument, which sets the chair with the right hand raised in the air and bellows, and the left hand serves about getting tones). When he sat down, he would play and also sing. As a child, I was always listening to him singing and playing, even when tied his tie.’”
From this data we take a different story of our Batko, that this legend actually lived in Kumanovo in the famous manufacturing family Prokopiev. The first clues were given to us by Trajko Prokopiev when in his biographical book he describes the characteristics of his Uncle Gjorgjija. Anyone will admit they are very close to the personality of a cheerful shegobien, Bohemian mood person or to the person of Batko Gjorgjija. Kumanovskiot, urban Batko Gjorgjija, unlike that of s. Mlado Nagoricane, who lived in the period from 1875 to 1936. He came from a wealthy trading family was dealing with trade, was trgovec. How least I could see like others sides of life and they maximally benefit their situation thanks to the family and their merry Prokopiev and razdragan sense of life.
After all the “stories” about this man you can hear from the accounts of descendants of Gjorgjija Prokopiev, they are adamant in that Kumanovo Batko Gjorgjija is their grandfather, father or Uncle Gjorgjija, who had all the attributes of one such person. Maybe a little pomodificirana of one character from the folk song, “Умреја Батко Ѓорѓија.” In the cemetery in Kumanovo, there is a monument in the family mausoleum Prokopiev where you can find the image of the said Gjorgjija and his wife Juliana. He is wearing modern city clothes, suit, white shirt and tie, no cap, but as they say the same of his family wore. The character is clear, eyes bright and restless… And the term “batko” was a familiar expression that was used in Kumanovo and individuals, especially the elderly and the people of the city use today.
We came to new insights with the transcription of the text of the play, “Lence Kumanovce,” from the text of “Runaway” in the Macedonian literary language (first edition 1950), and in the Kumanovo speech “Paradigm” in 2013. Since 1926/27 when the text of “Lence Kumanovce” was written, and among other bits of folk songs contained the song ” Умреја Батко Ѓорѓија.” That means this song for our hero was known as early as the second decade of the 20th century, if not earlier.
In Kumanovo, families will again be able to hear other stories that use the name of the Kumanovski mocker. Many will not be surprised if they “encounter” someone with traits in them of Batko Gjorgjija, especially for a family, considering its own characteristics that are fundamental vices of man…
Ultimately the man was described as never having been one to want something that does not belong to him, whether it be a woman, ox, land… So truly, the persona of Batko Gjorgjija has many prototypes in Kumanovo, we are everywhere in this region… We are reminded of a phrase that a hundred times and in various occasions was reiterated by the good, old Marshal Tito that “we don’t want what is not ours, and we do not give what is ours.”
Therefore, do not be angry with Batko Gjorgjija and his features, specifically his human vices because this man came from the people, us, the people of this region, and can easily be recognized in any of us, so in a way we are proud of it, because this spirit survives despite all that one does. The world can alienate him, trample his national pride, change his name, and church history, he does not submit. And you can see him, standing proudly on the Kumanovo City Square and style, saying, “I don’t care,” taunting those who prescribe to this attitude and do everything that they actually do or want to do. Kumanovo carries this spirit, fun and joyous, as a vital sign of a collective environment or people, and here the people find their dignity and a way to cope with life and all that it brings with it, and survive…
Maybe somehow this could be the answer for one of my friends who once, wanting to ridicule this good-natured folk character, and his total tendency to only be possessive about his rakija, and even more the one who has been put on a pedestal, the centrality of the Kumanovo City Square, asked me, “What could the grandfather be telling his grandson in front of the monument to Batko Gjorgjija? About who he was, and why this monument is placed here?” The answer is simple, because Batko Gjorgjija is a fluid spirit, in which each of us can recognize ourselves because the joke, song, mocking laughter, and joy are universal, as are human and natural vices. With this sculpture at the front of Kumanovo, we stand, whether as Christians or Muslims, whether we are Macedonians, Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Roma or Vlachs. We stand together.
If we are honest, my dear friend, the answer is very simple.
Especially if we are sincere and our intentions are honorable…
– Dimitar Masevski