Grassed Off

The Wimbledon mens final last Sunday, which was won by Serb tennis player Djokovic was remarkable for me not because of the tennis, but because Djokovic ate grass from the court he had just played on. A Wimbledon first for sure. It was curious for me because in 1997 I had to go to Stuttgart to meet a Bosnian pop star named Dino Merlin to record some tracks for an album I was producing called I Have No Cannons That Roar for Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam which included music recorded during the Bosnian war, which had just finished two years before. In the studio was a collection of Bosnian musicians who were working with Dino at the time. One I remember told me that during the war he lived on grass for three months while having to walk three kilometres every day to the front lines where he dug trenches. I sensed the Serb winner of Wimbledon was not as popular as previous winners and whether it was his strange behaviour of beating the ground with his racket in rage having lost a point or his grass munching antics I’m not sure. Or was it the fact that the world has not quite got over that appalling war. I had to remind myself that Milosovic and his evil cronies erected totally false identities in order to prosecute their war in what was once one country. Namely a Serb national identity (not Orthodox Christian) versus a Muslim religious identity. It was only a small step from the tennis court to the war crimes court where at the same time another Serb, ex-general Mladic, was on pugnacious form and was removed from the court for his bad behaviour but not presumably for grass munching. I met a lot of Bosnians in my two visits to Sarajevo in 1997 who to a man and woman said that the religious identity was put on them from the outside and that true Bosniaks included Muslims, Christians, secularists, Serbs and Croatians under one banner. It was this pluralist culture which had survived intact for 600 years which the Serb fanatics wanted to destroy – and failed. In the enormous graveyard in Sarajevo which was its main park up to the war you will see the occasional Serb and Croatian grave. All who fought and died for their country: Bosnia.

About Ian Whiteman

see www.ianwhiteman.com
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