Postbellum

Memory of Nation

 

Bożena Paczkowska (Siwak) (1962)

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 Bożena Paczkowska (Siwak) (1962)
‘When I die (…) I want you to play music all the way from home to the cemetery, which is quite a walk. I do not want you to grieve, because all my life was devoted to making music and singing’

On racial prejudice

“Recently, something like that has happened to me in a shop. There was an elderly gentleman there, you know, I thought I would get a heart attack, he made me so much nervous. He infuriated me so much. I went shopping to Kaufland and there was a queue. I was buying in bulk, that is the way we love it. At least when it comes to holidays we do not like the idea of anything missing. The idea of good holiday is excess. So there I was standing in a queue and had the whole check-out cluttered with goods and products. Yeah I was standing there with all the things and all of a sudden he barked at me in a nasty way:”What do you think you are doing here?! Back to Romania!”. And then he started to use bad language you know, I do not want to repeat that. That was really horrible. At first, I said but Sir I am standing in a queue, what do you want from me?” At the same time my husband was standing in the other queue because the lines were really big, so I told him to stay in the other one just in case it was quicker. Is this against the law or what? And then he lashed at me in a nasty way. So I told him I could call the police and added that it was a pity he was so old and did not know how to behave. “What have I done to you” I asked? To which he said:” Get the fuck out of here” and continued using swear words, at which point I thought I would explode! If my husband had not come, I do not know what I would have done to him! The moment he saw my husband he calmed down. But you know what, neither the shop assistant nor a single Pole stood up for me. How can one treat people like that? It is terrible. How is it possible? If I, for example had jumped the queue and was before him then he could have had some reason, but I was standing in my queue with my money to pay! Did I steal anything from him? Did I do anything to him? Did I make him dirty? No! And the lady in the shop saw it but did not react. She did not say a word. There is no racism? There is and a big one...”

  • born on 27 February 1962 in Wrocław, Lowersilesian Province
  • she comes from Siwak family belonging to Bergitka Roma, has 3 brothers and one sister
  • her parents used to live in the region of Jasło (Rzeszowskie Province) before the war, they had farm there being forced to escape, after the war her parents arrive at Gdańsk and then move to settle down in Wrocław, Brochów
  • she spends her childhood in Brochów attending primary school
  • from the age of 8 she belongs to an amateur gypsy musical band
  • she finishes 8-class primary school
  • in 1977 she becomes employed in a professional musical group, with whom she gives concerts all over Poland. She remains under the supervision and care of her elder brother
  • in the 80’s of the 20th century she belongs to a famous TERNO band - Gypsy Musical Theatre founded by Edward Dębicki
  • in the band she meets her future husband Tadeusz Paczkowski, with whom she escapes, following the tradition of Polish Roma the birth of her first son, she lives together with her in-laws, gives further concerts
  • after a year civil ceremony and then church wedding in Włocławek
  • removal to Wrocław to her mother
  • in 1984 she joins a new group Romandia at Impart Artistic Agency incorporation of Romadia to Poznań Estrada and its renaming into the reactivated Gypsy Group of Song and Dance ROMA
  • the birth of her second son and a daughter
  • numerous concerts with ROMA all over Europe
  • concert tour of the USA (New York) and Canada (Montreal) with ROMA
  • in 1988 she appears in Jerzy Skolimowski’s film “Torrents of Spring” together with ROMA (the scene of dancing with gypsies) in Italy
  • participation and performance at Cannes Film Festival in 1989, where “Torrents of Spring” was nominated for Golden Palm Award
  • participation in numerous concerts and entertainment programs realized by TVP
  • concerts in Europe and another tour to New York
  • in 1991 participation in a film (she plays and sings) “Devils, devils” by Dorota Kędzierzawska
  • the birth of grandchildren, the split-up of the group
  • in 2004 establishment of Romani Bacht Association in Wrocław,
  • the building of Romani Centre and a Recording Studio
  • running of children’s musical group “Terni Romani Bacht” within Social Integration Foundation PROM for 5 years
  • in 2012, a role in a film entitled “Without shame” by Filip Marczewski
  • running of a musical group at a primary school in Brochów
  • the function of a treasurer at Romani Bacht Association, running of artistic classes for children in the common room
  • in 2013 participation in the creation of music for “Papusza” film by Joanna and Krzysztof Krauze
  • She still lives with her husband in Brochów, Wrocław, has 9 grandchildren, the oldest is Chanell who is at the age of 12.
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