There have been Roma in Europe since the Middle Ages and today they make up one of the continent's largest minorities, in countries as far apart as Ireland and Russia. Roma have a rich and ancient oral culture, that has survived in many forms, despite centuries of discrimination and attempts at forced assimilation. Today, across Europe, traditional Romany ways of life are disappearing fast under the pressures of modern life. But in this programme we look at the example of Roma in the Czech Republic and Romany Gypsies in Britain, and find out
Ilona Ferkova writes in the Romany language, closely related to the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. It has survived and adapted itself through the centuries ever since the ancestors of today's Roma left India a millennium ago. Ilona has written a fascinating collection of short stories that capture both the tribulations and the poetry that shines even through the material hardship of life for many Roma in the Czech Republic today.