Sweet and sour

Sabina Niksic in Sarajevo

A friend once took me for dinner in what he insisted was the best restaurant in his town. We ordered the specialty and once our meal arrived, on the plate in front of me was a well-done stake served with various colorful fruit chunks, sweet cream and some kind of a bright red sauce.

Just one bite was enough for me to discover that I would skip diner that night and go to bed hungry. But I also discovered a sweet and sour emotion.

Sweetness for a satisfied friend gorging on his food, the visual appeal of the artistic creation on my plate, the warmth of the place. Sourness for my inability to enjoy a new taste and the rumblings of my hungry stomach.  

I experienced a similar sweet and sour emotion this week during fellowship book launch in Sarajevo on 9 December.

On the sweet side, up to 100 people attended the round table discussion organised for the occasion. Two topics were being discussed: the relationship between Bosniak national identity and Islam, and the relationship between Bosnian Muslims, the West and the Muslim World.

Our partners from the Center for Advanced Studies (www.cns.ba) with whom we co-organised the event made sure to engage very prominent speakers, including (my personal favorite) Fikret Karcic professor at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Islamic Theology in Sarajevo.

The discussion was less fiery than I expected. Only a few questions were asked and some important ones went without an answer.

But, as one of the participants told me afterwards “Even the absence of questions shows how confused we are about our identity and how it is really important to start talking about these issues."

Everyone in the room wanted the fellowship book and about 70 copies were gone in a matter of seconds.

A journalist who did not know that I was the author of one of the texts in the book told me: “I am not sure I can stay until the end, but the reason why I am here is to get that book. I heard that it is really great.”  

That same evening I was invited to appear as a guest in the news program of TV Sarajevo. I spoke about the fellowship program, this year’s book and my text.

I used the opportunity to invite Bosnian journalists to apply next year for this “truly excellent” program.

A few days prior to the book launch I was also invited to be a guest in the afternoon program of a local television (TV Vogosca) where I was given about 10 minutes to speak about the program, how and by whom it is managed and funded, about the book and my text.

On the sour side, the book launch marked the end of my wonderful experience with the fellowship program.

But I hope we will all stay in touch, and hope to be your host in Sarajevo one day soon.

When you come to visit my town, I promise to take you to some good restaurant where the main course and desert are served separately.

I never developed a taste for sweet and sour food, but I have learned to appreciate sweet and sour emotions.

Fellow Bio

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Sabina Niksic

Sabina Niksic is a journalist from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, who has worked for the France Press Agency since 2001

Topic

Topic 2009: Identity

The collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989 triggered a frenzied phase of nation-building in Eastern Europe, while some Balkan nations embarked on armed conflicts aimed at strengthening national, religious and cultural identities.

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