Oldal kiválasztása

The tale of a village
László Bogdán died on July 14th

The Gypsy mayor who made his Hungarian village famous was 46

ObituaryAug 1st 2020 edition

Aug 1st 2020

Along the walls of his office in Cserdi, a village of around 350 souls in the gentle hills of southern Hungary, László Bogdán strung several clothes lines. Pegged to them were hundreds of messages written to “Laci”, as they called him: “People are good!” “Our parents have work”. “We have a good mayor”.

These were the voices of the villagers, who since his election as mayor in 2006 had seen their world transformed. Cserdi had once been strewn with 1,…… and dilapidated houses, with idle, jobless men brawling outside. 2,….. was rampant: up to 300 cases a year, with neighbouring villages terrorised. Now everything was orderly. The houses were neat, and many had gained bathrooms. Small parks had appeared. Out in the fields women worked with hoes, and men with spades, to plant potatoes or dig wells. Four giant plastic greenhouses sheltered crops of peppers and tomatoes. In a good year the village could produce 160,000kg of quality vegetables, with the 3……… going to the poor of the county. Officials from far and wide came to inspect this “Cserdi miracle”. But Mayor Laci, pacing up and down with his purple scarf knotted fashionably round his neck, was still dissatisfied. Was it really so special, so exotic, to see Gypsies working?

He spoke as one, a proud Cigány (he hated “Roma”), who 4,……. in garish shirts that emphasised his Gypsyness, and delivered his vegetables in a red Zsiguli car with a swinging rosary of the sort only Gypsies drove. He showed off Cserdi, where the population was three-quarters Gypsy, to prove that it could be as ordinary as anywhere else. But he knew it was not. The stereotype that most non-Gypsy Hungarians carried in their heads was all too often true: his people (“us”, not “they”, for his people’s sins were his, he took them on himself) were work-shy, cheated, stole, and lived on 5,……. if they could. The jails were full of dark faces.

Of course, 600 years of history in Hungary had not been kind. Poverty and discrimination, fear of the Other, had 6, …… his people wherever they went. Under Communism everyone, including Gypsies, was meant to work. Yet it took his father some years to find a job as a miner. Until then, they lived in a 7,…..; he had no shoes of his own until he was 13, and was sent down to 8, ….. for chewy, rotten meat in the pits where farmers threw the carcasses of their animals. His strongest childhood memory was hunger.

Yet that was no excuse to play the victim. He had never moaned, taking any job he could get after a few indifferent years of school: sweeping floors, packing monitors, eventually becoming production manager in a mobile-phone company. Here was the lesson for “all of us”: Gypsies had to work! If they took responsibility, gained self-respect, hauled themselves up by their bootlaces, prejudice might begin to 9,…….

This was the task he set himself as mayor of Cserdi. It was heavy, but he set about it logically. Gypsies belonged nowhere, but if they got land, they could farm it. There was unused land in the village, a rubbish tip; once they had cleared away 15-20 lorryloads of rubble, they could plant potatoes. They then rented 1,200 hectares more. As the enterprise grew, he directed everything. A national 10, …………. provided small wages, but enough. Each day the villagers would gather round him to get their tools and his firm, straight instructions: where they should dig a well, exactly how big it should be, when they should move the paprika plants from the greenhouse. He reminded them what share of their harvest they had promised to give to others, to make them proud: they were givers now, not stealers, not 11, ……… Then he would 12,…… his spade beside them, getting his hands dirty and urging them on.

The agriculture project was only part of what he was doing in Cserdi. He took village boys to the local jail in Pécs, to show them that if they broke the law they could expect to be buggered there; it shocked them so deeply that crime in the village fell to almost nothing. Teenage girls were taken to universities; would they rather be there at 18, he asked them, or lying on their backs in the wretched local 13……….? Every household’s budget came under his watchful eye, and he would pick through their rubbish too, finding the cigarette packets and beer bottles that proved they were wasting money. He barely had time for girlfriends, certainly not family. The villagers were all his children.

Outside the village, he had enemies. He wanted to see Gypsies integrated and living like other Hungarians, for he was proud of being Hungarian too; he dreamed of dark faces in advertisements, his food in national stores, 14,……….. political parties and the money that was spent on self-serving, wasteful Roma minority councils spent, instead, on greenhouses. This didn’t suit those who still wanted to be victims. Others felt that his constant reminders of bad Gypsy ways simply fed the stereotype: he was a self-hater, racist to his own skin. One way and another, he had learned to watch his back when he crossed the road.

Some thought he might make a good Roma leader on the national stage. But he did not want that 15,……… He cared about other minorities too, even inviting migrants—who were hated more than Gypsies now—to come to Cserdi in 2017. Besides, he had no interest in being a “celebrity bastard”. He disliked talking about himself. He was just a 16……… “scattered soul” who was trying to 17………. on the world, and was doing it in Cserdi. There, his ambitions were still growing. The “Romburgers” the villagers were making for local restaurants were taking off nicely. He was going to produce a range of Gypsy stews in the new processing plant, built with state and eu funds and almost finished. But it was there, on July 14th, that he hanged himself.

He had given no 18,……. of this before. Or perhaps only one: he had admitted that he cried every day, not because he was afraid, but because he felt 19……….. to do all that had to be done.

In a well-known Hungarian story, two Gypsies were 20,…………. over the price of a horse. As they argued, the horse galloped fast towards a brick wall. “Your horse is blind!” complained the would-be buyer. “Not blind,” said the seller. “Brave.” ■

scavenge, label, hint, rubble, public work scheme, haggling, wield, surplus, colour blind, revelled, petty crime, make his mark, handouts, semi-literate, powerless, stalked, labour ward, fade away. spongers, shack

clothes line: ruhaszárító kötél

peg: csipesz, csipeszel

strew/strewed/strewn: hint, szór, terjeszt

rubble: törmelék

dilapidated: lepukkant

brawl: bunyózik

rampant: burjánzó

hoe: kapa

spade: ásó

garish: rikító, csicsás

revel: tobzódik, dorbézol, villog benne

handout: alamizsna

carcases: dög, tetem

scavenge: guberál

haul up: felhúz

public work scheme: közmunka program

sponger: ingyenélő, vérszívó

wield: forgat, hadonászik

stalk: oson, becserkész, koslat utána

labour ward: szülőszoba


Key: 1, rubble, 2, petty crime, 3, surplus, 4, revelled, 5, handouts, 6, stalked, 7, shack, 8, scavenge, 9, fade away, 10, public work scheme, 11, spongers, 12, wield, 13, labour ward, 14, colour blind, 15, label, 17, semi-literate, 18, hints, 19, powerless, 20, haggling

Editor-in-chief fired at Hungary’s leading independent news site

Szabolcs Dull had recently publicly raised concerns about political interference at Index

The 1,……… of Hungary’s leading independent news website has been fired a month after he publicly raised alarm over political interference in the outlet’s operations.

The 2…………of Szabolcs Dull from his role at Index.hu on Wednesday appears to be yet another blow struck against news sources that do not support the far-right political line of the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has been in power for a decade.

The NGO Reporters Without Borders put Hungary in 89th place in its annual media freedom ratings this year, making it the second worst country in the EU for press freedom.

Index, Hungary’s largest online news portal, is widely 3…………as the last big independent player in local media.

“Index is a mighty 4………… that they want to blow up,” said Dull in a farewell speech to the newsroom, a video of which was published on the 444.hu news site.

A pro-government businessman 5…………significant control over Index’s funding this year. Last month Index put out an emergency alert to followers warning that its independence was at risk owing to external pressure. The website said it was changing its status from “independent” to “in danger”.

On Wednesday afternoon more than 90 Index journalists signed an open letter, published on the portal’s website in Hungarian and English, in support of Dull. “This decision is unacceptable to us,” they wrote. “The reason for Dull’s dismissal was that he made it clear that he will not 6………….

Ágnes Urbán of Mérték, a media monitoring NGO, said it was not clear whether the move was down to a personal conflict or a political order. Either way, she described the firing as “a black day for Hungarian media freedom”.

One estimate suggests that Index accounts for almost half the page views of all independent news outlets in Hungary. “It became an incredibly strong brand for a whole generation. When I ask my university students where they get political news from, most of them say Index in the first place,” said Urbán.

László Bodolai, the chief of the foundation that owns the website’s publisher, denied that Index was being brought under political control, saying Dull was fired because he could not control internal tensions, causing a drop in advertising 7,…………. “The political independence of Index is not at risk,” he said in a letter to staff.

This month Věra Jourová, the European commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, made a statement in support of Index. “Economic pressure should not turn into political pressure,” she said, noting the financial 8,……….. faced by media outlets during the coronavirus pandemic. She said the values for which Index stood were “essential for democracy”.

Orbán has frequently clashed with Brussels over his self-declared “illiberal” tendencies, which has led to an 9……….. procedure over erosion of the rule of law, including media freedom, in the country. This week Orbán managed to 10…………. plans by a number of EU countries to link the future disbursal of EU funds to rule of law conditions.

regarded, revenues, infringement, editor-in chief, yield to blackmail, constraints, water down, fortress, dismissal, constraints, acquired,

editor-in-chief: főszerkesztő

strike a blow: csapást mér

far-right: szélsőjobb

alert: riasztás

dismissal: elbocsájtás

account for: kitesz

revenue: árbevétel

constraint: kényszer

fortress: erőd

blackmail: zsarolás

infringement: jogsértés

water down: higít, felvizez

Key: 1, editor-in-chief, 2, dismissal, 3, regarded, 4, fortress, 5, acquired, 6, yield to blackmail, 7, revenue, 8, constraints, 9, infringement, 10, water down