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Srbija 2020

Quite simply Ceca

As promised Ceca fulfilled her long stated desire to hold a concert at Usce close by the rivers Danube and Sava. A reported 100,000 people attended - standing room was 500 dinars and seats priced at 3,500.The only other event I can think of that took place there was an early Milosevic gathering in November 1988 where the crowd was also clearly hypnotised by the conductor.

But laying that to one side what interests me is not the potential right wing sympathies of the audience or the tendency of the mass to celebrate bad taste - not simply a Serbian problem needless to say.

What I find more interesting is perhaps a universal problem - what makes a woman (or a man for that matter) want to relax in the arms of somebody who has murdered again and again? Is it possible to be completely sane, to have very little wrong with you, to be happy to bear children with a criminal who is responsible for so much suffering?Before I try to answer that question I'd like to push a couple of topics aside.

First of all this isn’t something about Arkans war conduct – I’m not interested in accusing him of war crimes, not here at any rate. Secondly its not just battlefield conduct because his second life was that of Belgrade Underworld Boss when he finished with the killing fields.

The first story I heard about the ‘big A’ was imparted to me on good authority by the man involved. A central Belgrade jeweler relayed the story of how he was visited by the aforementioned in person who took a ring ostensibly for his wife and promised payment later. When none was forthcoming the jeweler bravely took matters into his own hands and called up seeking payment. It was stated in no uncertain terms that the jeweler should never call again.

Another story that came my way some years back was from a former resident of the Krajina in Croatia. The source in question came from a good and well connected local family. Apparently Ceca's change of image during the 90's when she 'emerged' with short hair was punishment imposed by her husband to be. There is more to this story but the abuse was allegedly worse than a hair cut and involved another person.

 Most of us also know the story of Ceca's live appearance on daytime TV where a woman with a Bosnian accent claimed that Ceca was wearing jewelry stolen from her during the war. And its no secret that Ceca's former (alleged mafia) boyfriend was murdered just after she met her future husband.

It is with these eyes that I watch Ceca Raznatovic - a true gangster’s moll. What kind of person can she be? Is she a master in the art of self deception - lets face it self deception is a trait that seems common in this society. Can she really not know that if even less than half the stories about the man she loves are true that this makes him (at the very least) a dishonorable human being? Did she not feel his wrath on occasion?

But there is no trace of it. Watching her in interviews she appears completely natural - far more natural and down to earth than one might imagine. I found myself thinking as the lights shone upon her at the concert 'how young her face looks, how untainted it seems'.

And the truth, or my attempt at finding it? What is love but self deception? Might some of those women at the concert, many of whom were not teenagers, recognise that in Ceca? Yes the badge of victimhood is part of the attraction but perhaps Ceca and the 'common people' understand that truth better than you or I do.

As a final comment Vesna Pesic said an interesting (if controversial) thing on the popular ‘impression of the week’ program on Sunday evening. She claimed that the Radicals and similar 'patriots' killed Serbia ‘with love but not by hate’. I’m not sure I concur but I am sure that one should think more deeply about the consequences of love.

Another potential discussion point – nepotism in Serbia, love of family?