The Aromanians are a nation native to the Balkans, steeped in its history, which never had its own nation state. A nation that speaks an endangered Romance language, closely related to Romanian. Inhabiting lands since time immemorial, Aromanians still live in great numbers in countries such as Greece, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Bulgaria, and to an extent, Serbia.
Descendants of an ancient Aromanian family, Paul and Emilia Beza set out in August 2012 on a trip to the land of their ancestors, with the focal point centred on Avdhela (Avdela) for the feast of Saint Mary’s. That is when Aromanians get together, preferably in their home villages, to join in traditional dances and songs, and make merry, thus giving thanks to the Virgin for preserving them, their families, and their nation.
The result of that month-long trip is the book “Destination Avdela 2012, or back to the future” now in its second, revised, edition, taking us through the Balkan countries mentioned earlier, with stops at some of the most important locations, not least those linked to the Beza clan. Paul realised, when writing, that the outside world and even some locals know very little about the region as a whole, the people, their past, and aspirations, so the resulting work is as much a travelogue as a potted history.
“Destination Avdela 2012, or back to the future” is now available in English and, for obvious reasons in the Romanian and Aromanian versions.
Author, PAUL BEZA is descended from an ancient Aromanian family from Avdhela, a village high up in the Pindus Mountains in Greek Macedonia. His grandfather emigrated to Romania in 1903, when the entire region was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Paul’s father, George, militated on behalf of his Aromanian brethren in Romania, both in the 1930’s, and the 1950’s. He was a member of the SOE during the Second World War, when he and his companions did all they could to bring about Romania’s break with the Axis Powers, target finally reached on August 23rd, 1944. For this, the communist regime rewarded him and his entire family with imprisonment and persecution at every level.
Having started his education in Britain, after the family’s return to Romania, Paul graduated in engineering. Back in the UK in the 1970’s, he eventually ran his own company, specialised in trading with Eastern Europe. He was a member of various British trade organisations with emphasis on Eastern Europe. In 1998, he and some friends founded the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.
Paul retired in 2007 from all positions held and now lives in Cyprus, but he and his wife spend the summer months in Romania, at their property in Transylvania. He maintains an active membership in the Royal British Legion, Larnaca Branch, his London Club, the SFC, and the Aromanian Cultural Society in Bucharest.