I had a great deal of affection for my grandfather, whom I knew as Baba Gjon. From the marriage of my parents in 1957 until his death in 1966, he lived with us in Rome, Italy. He was a kind and gentle man. I grew up hearing tales of his great courage and accomplishments, and although I was very proud, I loved him most as a grandfather. He was my Baba. I would sit on his lap while he told me tales of the “old country.” He would accompany me on strolls through the streets of our beloved Rome. He would attempt to teach me Albanian, a language I deeply regret not having mastered but on which I am currently working.
I hope to tell you about my father, aunts, and uncles, some of whom died young and others of whom suffered a lot because of communism, which choked the country for almost 50 years.
It wasn’t until 2010 that I finally visited Albania, the birthplace of my father, his father, and their ancestors before them. I was elated to meet my uncle Deda, aunt Bardha (my namesake), my cousins Kristina and Celestina, and many others, all of whom welcomed me with open arms and loved me as if I had known them all my life. I was astounded by their resiliency when I looked into their eyes and saw only happiness, optimism, strength, and endurance. Some of them suffered in internment camps and prisons from 1945 to 1991, when they were released. They witnessed their loved ones perish before their eyes and suffered alongside them. They witnessed the complete destruction of their home in Mirdita. They endured unfathomable suffering and torture. These were my people, and I was so proud to have finally met them and be able to call myself Gjomarkaj. I finally comprehended everything my father attempted to convey to me as a child regarding the tribulations of the “old world” that I, as a self-absorbed adolescent, could not comprehend nor care to hear about. I finally comprehended all the suffering this family endured, not only for their beloved country but also for their name and for all of us who followed, so that we could inherit the name and be proud to belong to such a great family.
I moved to Shkoder to be closer to my family and now live in my grandfather’s house. My husband and I have been here since November 2012, and in this short period of time, we have had great days and made some wonderful new memories. I was very blessed to have been able to make the transfer at that point and time in our lives because it gave us the opportunity to live near my dear aunt Bardha for the last four months of her life. It was with great sadness that we lost her on March 19, 2013, only a couple of weeks after her 86th birthday. I know that our being here made her very happy, and that comforts me every day. We miss her terribly. Two years later, we suffered the loss of my uncle Dede at the age of 92. Another great loss. Since then, I have relocated to Shkoder to be closer to my relatives in the home of my grandfather. Since November 2012, my husband and I have resided in this city, and in that short time, we’ve had wonderful days and created wonderful new memories. I was extremely fortunate to have been able to make the transfer at that time in our lives because it allowed us to live near my beloved aunt Bardha during the last four months of her life. We were deeply saddened by her passing on March 19, 2013, just a few weeks after her 86th birthday. I am comforted daily by the knowledge that our presence here brought her great joy; we miss her terribly. Two years later, at the age of 92, we lost my uncle Dede. Another terrible loss.
Today we are still living in my home, and through these last 11 years we have managed to assimilate into the culture and Albanian way of life. My grandfather and father would be proud.
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Before and throughout the communist regime’s destruction of Albania from 1944 to 1991, the Marka Gjoni family was the most powerful branch of the House of Gjomarku. The author narrates stories of survival and death through historical facts, personal recollections, photos, and documents demonstrating their capture, imprisonment, and escapes as the communists strive to discourage and destroy the family’s soul.
Their losses included their lands, homes, valuables, freedom, and in some cases, their lives. They were erased from Albanian history books by the regime, and little has been done to correct or teach a more truthful history of the communist killing wave in Albania.
Bianca Maria Gjomarkaj, the granddaughter of Gjon Marka Gjoni, Kapidan of Mirdita, shares insight into the emotions and traits of family members. Those that survived did so with dignity and honor, remembering who and what they represented. The Albanian Communists subjected them to humiliation, abuse, and deprivation, yet they endured. This is their journey.
The Order of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was bestowed on the House of Gjomarku on March 29, 2017 by then President Nishani by Decree no. 10105 for the following reason: “For the extraordinary contribution in the service of the protection of the national identity and in particular of the Mirdita region, for the centuries long struggle against the invaders of the homeland and for their resistance to them. For their noble sacrifices against the establishment of the communist dictatorship in the Albanian territories “.
The Order of Skanderbeg (Albanian: Urdhri “Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu”) or the George Kastrioti Skanderbeg Order is a high honorary state decoration given in Albania to Albanian and foreign citizens that have made an important contribution to the defence, reinforcement and development of Albania, and is awarded by the Albanian President. The Order of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg is issued by the President of the Republic of Albania.
This particular honor was not bestowed on the legal descendants of the House Gjomarku or the legal heirs of Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni who were residing in Albania at the time. This award should have been personally given to Kristina Markagjoni, the daughter of the leader of the anti-communist resistance in Mirdita, Kapidan Mark Gjon Marku, or to Bianca Maria Gjomarkaj, the daughter of the leader of the anti-communist resistance in the West, Kapidan Ndue Gjon Marku, instead it was given to a distant relative of the Gjomarkaj clan who is neither a descendant of the House Gjomarku nor authorized to accept anything in its name.
Therefore, as far as the true descendants of the House Gjomarku and direct heirs to the leaders of the anti-communist resistance are concerned, this award is meaningless.
This video was created by noted Albanian folklore singer Paulin Gega in honor of the House of Gjomarku. It was shot on location at the historical Kulla Markagjoni in Shkoder. This Kulla or Tower is part of the private residence which once belonged to Prince Preng Bib Dode and subsequently to Kapidan Gjon Markagjoni. The house is currently owned by the legal heirs of Gjon Markagjoni. Enjoy!
After a long year of working on the translation of my father’s book from Albanian into English I am proud to say it is finished! The book was published today and is available on Amazon. This has been a true labor of love and a great tribute to my family. I hope those of you who are curious enough to buy it will enjoy it.
Sot unë kam botuar librin e babait tim për herë të dytë. Ai së pari botoi këtë libër në vitin 2002 dhe pas 14 vitesh unë ndjeva se ishte e rëndësishme që të publikojë atë përsëri. Ky liber ka ne fokus te tij, gjenezen e Kapidaneve te Mirdites, si dhe disa saktesime mbi kanunin e Mirdites sipas Ndue Gjomarkut, pa harruar dhe ngjarje kulmore historike te cilat jane domethenese per fatin e Mirdites dhe te shqiptareve. Duke perfshire nje periudhe kohore disa shekullore.Për të blerë librin, ju lutem ndiqni këtë link.
Today I re-published my father’s book. It was first published in 2002 and after 14 years I felt it was very important to publish it again with a wider distribution. The book focuses on the Kapidanis of Mirdita and the impact of the Kanun on the region over a period of several centuries. The book emphasizes a number of historical milestones of the Gjomarkaj household mainly concentrating on the Markagjoni branch (my grandfather, father and uncles). I hope to have it published in English within the year.
For a preview of the book please follow this link Book Preview
The book is in Albanian and may be purchased through Amazon at the link below.
Mirdita Dera e Gjomarkut Kanuni
This is the only official site endorsed by the direct descendants of
Kap. Gjon Marka Gjoni (Gjomarkaj)
Site designed by Bianca Gjomarkaj Nakovics
In memory and with the greatest respekt and love for our eternal pure King GJONMARKU and all the royal family Gjomarku!I’ll alwaysallways be praing for your happyness! God bless all of you royals
I have a picture of many of the powerful patriots of Northern Albania during the time they were forced to flee their home. One of the men look like your father; if not must be a relative. I believe he had Kapidan Mirditz. Where can I email you the pic?