Mrika Markagjoni

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Mrika Markagjoni was born in 1879 in the village of Skuraj, Shkopet.

In 1901 she married Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni and became known as the Princess of Mirdite. 

Mrika was a loyal and constant companion to her husband and was regarded by everyone in the North as the ‘First Lady’ of Mirdita. Over the years and up until the takeover of communism, she welcomed friends and visitors from all walks of life and all corners of the world. 

With the advent of communism in 1944 Mrika found herself, her children and Kapidan’s mother, Dava, in their family home in Shkoder.  Avoiding arrest at all costs she and her family were taken in by loyalists and hidden for three months until March 1945 when an ‘amnesty’ was declared. At this point, trusting in the so called amnesty they came out of hiding but were promptly arrested and taken to Guljelm Luka’s house, which was directly across the street from their own home. After a period of three months, they, along with other well known families around the region, began their calvary. 

In June 1945 they were taken to the labor camp in Berat. In the spring of 1947 they chose a group of workers for Kucove. Mrika and her youngest son Nikoll were sent there. It was here that Mrika became ill due to the extreme labor and working conditions. They remained in Kucove until June 1947 when they were then sent to Shjaku, along with 80 other prisoners, to build the road Durres-Tirana. The work was still intense and extremely difficult but with Nikoll’s help she managed to survive it. Not long afterward, Nikoll managed to have her transferred to the kitchen area where she would prepare food for the workers. They remained in Shjaku until early October 1947 after which they were transferred to the Valijas farm, about two hours from Tirana. Here they would be made to work on a canal until April 1948. 

Finally in late 1948 they were sent back to the camp in Berat and reunited with their family.

In 1949 they were all transferred to the camp in Tepelene. One of the most horrific concentration camps during communism. There were around 2,500 internees. They were given 700gm of cornbread daily, but sometimes had to wait 48 hours to receive even that. Children died daily. The camp is remember as one of the worst, barbed wire concentration camps in Albania’s history due to extremely difficult living conditions, lack of food, clothing, hygiene and forced hard labor for all; men, women and children over the age of 12. The camp closed in 1953 and all surviving prisoners were sent to other various camps. Mrika and her family all went to Saver, Lushnje.

In 1953, living in Lushnje with the remaining children; Marta, Bardha and grandchildren Kristina, Gjon and Celestina and their mother Marta, gave them some relief from the atrocious conditions of Tepelene, but it was still a labor camp under strict security.

In 1968 Mrika, after having been confined for 23 years under atrocious physical and mental conditions, after having suffered the loss of her sons Mark and Sander, passed away peacefully in Lushnje.

She never saw her husband Gjon or sons Ndue and Nikoll again. Her remains now lay with the rest of the family interned in Shkodra. 

One of the most memorable visits to the Saraja in Orosh, came from Lady Hodgson, Anne Bridge and Rosamond Oakley-Hill, whose husband, Colonel Dayrell R. Oakley-Hill, was stationed in Albania and assigned the task of organizing the Albanian police force (Gendarmerie) in the 1930’s. The visit took place sometime in the mid 1930’s as they left Albania in 1938.

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