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475 RUMBO, Urani (1895–1936) Albanian campaigner for women’s emancipation , especially through education. Founder and supporter of various women ’s associations, including the Lidhja e gruas (Woman’s Union) (1920). Urani Rumbo was born in December 1895 in Stegopuli, a southern Albanian village in Gjirokastër. She had two brothers , Kornili and Thanasi, and a sister, Emilia. Her father, Spiro Rumbo, was a teacher and her mother, Athinaja, a housewife. Urani completed six grades of elementary education at the school where her father was a teacher, in the village of Filat (in the region of Çamëri, now in Greece). One of the school’s best students , talented in literature and poetry, Urani soon familiarized herself with the works of Albanian folklorists (such as Spiro Dine and Thimi Mitko) and writers (Naum Veqilharxhi and Konstandin Kristoforidhi). She learned written Albanian and Greek fluently and, from the age of fifteen, began teaching Albanian to people around her. Language became one of the most important political issues in a country struggling for independence (from the Ottoman Empire) and resisting the conquering strategies of its neighbors. From 1910, Urani Rumbo attended a high school in Janine/Ioannina (a city in northwestern Greece), where she studied works by Homer and Sophocles. Albania gained its independence in 1912. The Balkan War (1913) followed by World War I interrupted Rumbo’s education, but she continued to teach herself Italian and French, as well as keeping up her study of Greek and Latin. In this period, she worked with female friends from Stegopuli to combat strong patriarchal traditions, arguing for the rights of girls to an education, to personal independence, to choose a husband or meet friends. Rumbo, who had had to fight in her own family to be allowed to attend the high school in Janine, strongly believed that education was the most effective way of improving women’s lives and social status. In 1916/17, she began working as a teacher of Albanian in Dhoksat, a small town in southern Albania , where she promoted the use of the Albanian language and generated great enthusiasm among her students. In 1917–1918, Rumbo taught in Nokovë and Mingul (villages in the Lunxheri re- 476 gion) and in 1918 and 1919, in Gjirokastër, at the De Rada School (named after the famous Albanian writer, Jeronim De Rada). It was at this time that she initiated a campaign against veiling on behalf of Gjirokastër women, and began working to combat female illiteracy and the bourgeois practice of restricting women to specific areas of the household. In 1920, she opened the Koto Hoxhi School [named after the Albanian patriot and teacher, Koto Hoxhi (1824–1895)], a five year primary school for girls established with the help of supporters from both the lower and middle classes. Rumbo was a charismatic woman and she succeeded in getting girls from different parts of Gjirokastër (including the villages) to attend the Koto Hoxhi School. For the first time, people from different religions were being educated together. Rumbo’s school was an effort that reflected contemporary historical and social events in Albania , such as the democratic movement of the years 1921–1924. In this period, Rumbo published in the local Gjirokastër newspapers Demokratia and Drita (Light) on problems faced by Albanian women, particularly their lack of education: “Schooling,” she wrote, “is the education of the soul” [Drita (Light) (20 May 1921)]. She also developed vocational training in the crafts of embroidery and custom tailoring, as well as in gardening and agriculture. Another dimension of Urani Rumbo’s work was the organization of school theater performances, through which girls might be encouraged to participate in public events and thereby increase their self-confidence. In a patriarchal climate where girls were forbidden from taking part in theater courses and being an actress was considered shameful, Rumbo introduced theater courses in schools and wrote theater plays. She directed performances of Agamemnon, Kuleta e neqezit (The wallet of the stingy man), Fiqtë dhe dituria (Figs and knowledge) and Nipi i këpucarit (The nephew of the shoemaker )—plays which dealt with Albanian history and the desire of women for education . She also wrote poems and song lyrics dedicated to the nation, knowledge and labor, and set up music courses for girls, teaching them to play the mandolin. In time, she became the Director of the Koto Hoxhi School. Not abandoning her passion for foreign languages, she also translated many foreign plays. On 23 November...


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