Memorie.al publishes the unknown story of Lefter Çipë, the well-known poet of iso-polyphony labe originating from the village of Pilur in Vlora, author of 18 books and hundreds of songs performed by the Polyphonic Group of Pilur, which he directed as leader artistic for several decades, considered the ‘Lasgushi of the Coast’, or the ‘Prince of iso-polyphony labe’, who passed away three days ago, who in August 1972, just heard about the event of the ship ‘De Rada’ “, Who fled to Greece with 32 people on board, immediately wrote a song that said:” Albanian Chan ‘De Rada / across the sea and in the storm / with Captain Vasil Malon / advance to Greece “. The verses of this song started to be sung by some members of the Pilur Polyphonic Group, as they were returning from Himara to their village in the cooperative vehicles, in opposition to the festival jury of the amateur groups of the area, which had given them the first place. Himara, because of the song where it was said: “The Albanian ship plows / through the seas and storms / that it has Captain Comrade Enver / who leads with skill”. That event caused a great commotion and Lefteri was summoned to the Party Committee of the Vlora district, where the State Security people were also ready to handcuff and only after the intervention of Hysni Kapos from Tirana, that event was closed and Lefteri escaped from sent to prison for six months as a manufacturing worker!
The separation from the life of Lefter Çipa, the brilliant poet of lab-iso-polyphony, otherwise known as ‘Lasgushi i Bregu’, was news that caused great sadness, not only for his family but also for him. all his friends and those who have known him intimately. But as it happens with all great people, that the moment they physically leave this life, they are reborn, so it will definitely happen with Lefter Çipa, who has no way to make an exception to this rule! His songs will continue to flow like a turbulent river and sea, as was his soul, under the voice of the group he created and nurtured with his poetic muse of more than half a century, leaving the Albanian cultural heritage, a gold necklace.
In short, Lefter Çipa, with his rare work and work, has for years immersed himself in immortality, as the “Wave Girl”, or “White Bejka”, will never be “drowned” in the sea of oblivion, as will stand there on the shores of Himara all along the coast, as immortal monuments, inherited and passed down through the generations, by the voice of Ermion, Christos, Fred and other members of the group.Write about Lefter Çipa, especially now that he s ‘is more physically between us and many of his friends, took the pen of pain to carry it to eternity as it should be, it is not so easy!
Not only has he been talked about and written about so much, filling the endless sea of glory with laurel wreaths where he sailed with his poetic soul and muse for more than half a century, but because we could not find the word that came from his pen and we would be very much indebted to her! I do not remember when I had the good fortune to meet for the first time that man of small stature and great spirit, but I definitely remember many, many meetings, not to mention some TV shows, where we had guests, or various interviews in the print media.
Sometime in the spring of 2009, as the author of the column “Big Families of Albania”, on the show “Albanian Sunday” on TV Klan, I had the good fortune to stay long with Lefter Çipa, for almost a week that lasted the preparation of that show. When we went with the production team to shoot in Himara, Lefteri refused to be interviewed there at his house, where we met some of the boys and his brother, Kriston, but told us that we would definitely go to Pilur, where “the graves were located and the souls of the first of their family, who did not find peace…”!? And so we did, almost all the footage and interviews were done in the village of Pilur, starting from his house (where the two parents who lived at the time were waiting for us by the fireplace), at the village cemetery, its streets, at the old church about 400 year old, magnificent maple in the village square, etc., which we have fixed in some photos that we are publishing for the first time in this article.
Two or three years after that show, where the Çipa family excelled in that show on “Albanian Sunday”, we invited Lefter again on TV Klan, but this time on the show “Story with Noise” that Pandi Laço had conceived, presented and realized, where I had the role of editor-in-chief. As Pand and I had called Lefteri on TV Klan to prepare the interview that would be conducted with him, according to the questions we asked, he told us full episodes and events from his life, but refused to tell us in front of the cameras an event that took place in the year 1971, which he told us in a low voice at the end of the conversation, as we were getting up to follow him. This event which would almost mark a fatal turn in the life and creativity of Lefter Çipa, and normally his family, I am trying to bring back in these few lines, as he told us:
“It must have been August 1972 and the meeting of amateur groups took place in the city of Himara, from where the best ones would be selected, which would represent the district of Vlora in the National Folklore Festival of Gjirokastra. At the end of that meeting or festival as we called it, the jury indirectly gave the first place to the Himara Polyphonic Group, which caused a great deal of anger at the Piluri Group that I led. In order to give the first place to the Polyphonic Group of Himara, a new song was made by them, where it was said: “The Albanian ship plows / through the seas and storms / that it has Captain Comrade Enver / who leads it skillfully”.
I tried to calm down the members of my Pilur group, because, even though Himara had won the first place, we, as the Pilur Polyphonic Group, would also go to Gjirokastra. But they did not want to know, young boys, like my Kristua and others, and as they were going to Pilur with the cooperative cars, they transformed that song, singing it like this: “Albanian ship plows / through stormy seas / with Captain Vasil Malon / advance to Greece”. But these things were very costly at that time and immediately malicious people called the State Security. So, I was called to the Party Committee of the Vlora district, where Himara depended at the time. Where they were present and some of those of the State Security of the Internal Affairs Branch, those of the Party Committee gave me a “cold shower” for hours to remember, where they accused me, as the author of that song, that instead of Comrade Enver, he sang to the traitors and enemies who had hijacked the ship and fled to Greece.
They allowed me to leave after a few hours and told me they would call me again. Meanwhile, it became a big issue and from day to day I waited for the irons to come to me, as that event was heard in the whole district of Vlora, and further to Tirana, where it was reported to comrade Hysni Kapo. Based on this situation where I was, through some of our people we sent words to Hysni Kapos, who explained that Lefter Çipa was not the author of that song and had no hand in that event. After that, Hysni Kapo, told those of the Party Committee: “Resolve this issue as if it were the laws of the state and the norms of the Party, but also think about what we of the district of Vlora will present at the Folklore Festival of Gjirokastra… ‘!
These last words of ‘comrade Hysni’ made me escape from a severe sentence, where the prison was almost open for days for me and I was only expected to ‘cut my suit’, that is, to take me to court to sentence me. But fortunately, comrade Hysni and I intervened and I was sentenced, removed from the post of head of the Pilur Culture Center and sent as a sentence of six months as a production worker, a shovel worker in agriculture. This became the reason that in 1974, I was not sent with the Piluri Group to the party organized on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Përmet Congress, where Enver Hoxha would be present with all the friends of the leadership and there they would sing a song. songs several selected polyphonic bands.
In my place, as the head of the Pilur Group, they appointed the agronomist, Pavllo Guma, but the members of the group refused to go and protested openly in Himara, saying that they would not go unless Lefter came. It became a big fuss that at that time protests were not allowed and so to close that thing, they sent me and there at the celebration of the Congress of Përmet, in front of Enver Hoxha and the friends of the leadership, Grupi i Pilurit, sang a song that he just I had done it for that occasion, where it was said: “In Përmet the assembly was held / And the Congress took place / When the country was shaken by the war / Sovereignty was established / By the brave men of the heart / It came out of the gorge of the double”.
This song was received with applause by Enver Hoxha himself and other comrades of the leadership and after that time, I did not hear that work of the song with the ship De Rada, which was carrying through the seas and storms, with Captain Vasil Malon and Commissar comrade Pandeli ”.
This was more or less the story that Lefteri told us, where even though I prayed and insisted a lot, not only did he refuse to show it on the show in front of Pandi Laço, but he told me not to tell it to anyone. Since then, we have met Lefter not infrequently, which was also due to our friendship with his brother, Kriston or his sons, Sandri, Benin, etc.
While after he fell ill these last two years, we met very rarely with Lefter and after the surgery he did in Tirana, we communicated only on the phone and during our long conversations, although the pain bothered him, he did not give himself easily. And in that state, he found strength and sat down and wrote a study article, which I asked for as an introduction to my voluminous book, dedicated to one of the colossi of Albanian letters, with whom Lefteri had had many friendships.
I could not keep my word to send him the first copy of the book as soon as it came out of the printing house, as I told him when we talked on the phone, as the book has not been released yet due to the Pandemic situation, but also because Lefter left quickly…! (Unfortunately, this happened to me with two other friends, the late Maks Velo and Faslli Haliti, who, like Lefteri already, ‘did not wait’ to see what they had written about their friend, that so much valued and owed to them in their lives and creativity). Feeling very indebted to Lefter Çipa, let these few queues serve as a sign of homage to that great man, who has already joined the ranks of those people who are only physically not among us. Memorie.al