Contagious Colors

Contagious Colors

Contagious Colors

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***The following article— “Contagious Colors” by Bora Shehu, is not an official Albanian Voices article. The views expressed in this article are entirely those of their author and do not necessarily represent the views of Albanian Voices or any of its partner organizations.***

54b03ce36a605.imageEver since I started working with Albanian Voices, my American friends have had a piqued interest in Albania in the news. I always love it when they send me articles or tid-bits that they uncover. In this particular case, my artistic friend saw a photo of the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama’s, unique fashion choices at the anti-terrorist rally in Paris and became instantly intrigued about him as a person. Rama made a symbolic statement when he chose to fill his lapel pocket with three pencils, instead of a pocket square. The colors he chose were blue, white and red, the colors of the French flag. His choice to use pencils is doubly symbolic. The pencil has become a world-wide symbol of unity and free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France. Over three million people attended the rallies, including 40 world leaders who linked arms in front of the supporters.

Rama’s thoughtful symbolic tribute was a simple idea, but it moved my friend immensely.  He proceeded to research about the Prime Minister and came to the conclusion that he is a very interesting man. The fashion choice makes sense and pays a nice tribute to art. It’s not a surprise, considering that Edi Rama is an accomplished artist who had his work exhibited all over all Albania in the early 1990s. Clearly he still has that artistic eye.

The idea that simple details such as this can spark a connection with someone in a different culture and a faraway land is a nice accidental side effect. Edi Rama not only shows solidarity to France in the wake of the disastrous occurrences that happened recently, but he also creates awareness for his country through his unique sartorial choice. Although the act of Rama putting colored pencils in his jacket pocket isn’t going to make international headlines anytime soon, the ripple effect that a small gesture can have on a curious member of a different culture is what is special to note here.

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