Rozafa – the immured woman (video)


— by Arben Çokaj

The first beginning of an ancient city. Everything begins as a legend, everything continues like in a legend. Rozafa was there, before Christ was born, she is there right now.

For those who know the legend of Rozafa, the fortress of Shkodra, it’s probably clear that on its walls there is the “live-body” of a mother.

– essay –

The woman ‘Rozafa’ begs for letting her breast out, to feed with milk her little son. With her body, Rozafa gave birth to a child, and with her sincerity and her self-sacrifice, she gave birth to a town. Upon her body were build a fortress, and the three brothers of the legend found afterwards the good will over immuring this woman. As always happen, something must be sacrificed to give life to something much bigger.

Gjekë Marinaj


Under the illusion
that a woman’s value is less than a man’,
They immured me.

Under the idea
that it was feeded by my blood,
Castle found strength to remain standing.

Under the embarrassment
that it can be called as a witness,
River Drin continues its way.

Under the emblem
of human self-sacrifice,
They turned me in legend.

Under the pretext
that all of them were right,
I immured in myself the word “murder”

And this way, Shkodra could live over this legendary sacrifice. The human history in its self, in its in-conscious turbulence, has proven the paradoxical unreason: Something sacred must be given – something sacred will be gained. Life is sacred. And the coming generations are able to use what was gained over the loss. Rozafa, this naive woman, could have died like any other woman – forgotten, but she died, without knowing it, to live as a legend.

This paradox of the human reason brings us to a beginning: The old man as an ‘oracle’, tells to the brothers that they must immure one of the women, to make possible the wall standing. Is it possible that this philosophic lesson of the oracle, this unique symbolic action, is made to tell us, that when you loose something valuable, you begin to give value to what you have built over the loss?… And this has happened very naturally in the time of Rozafa, the woman who was immured, because of giving life. She was immured because the oracle said it. She sacrificed her life for common traditions. This constitutes the philosophic power of the legend: Sacrifice as necessity, without discussion.

But, a question comes naturally to our mind: are the most of people ready to sacrifice something? No, but in another way, yes! Everyone loose something, someone more, and someone less, without desiring it, without knowing the reason. This happens as usually and naturally, as it happened with Rozafa. But our loss are small, individual losses, meanwhile the loss of Rozafa was for the global interest’s sake: building a protecting wall for Shkodra.