„Howdy, neighbor“ series – The lives of Serbs in Babin Most

If you are traveling to Babin Most for the first time, and you don’t know the area well, you’ll have a hard time locating the village, situated in the Obilic municipality, as the village signpost has been destroyed. The Serbs who live here introduce any passing travelers to its history and legends. It is a multiethnic village, whose locals share the same problems faced by residents of many other parts of Kosovo – the departure of young people and lack of work. The remaining residents are often engaged in agriculture, and emphasize the need for coexistence and mutual cooperation with all neighbors. If there is no good communication, there is no good life – they say.

This is the third video story in the „Howdy, neighbor“ series.

The first episode in the series centered on the lives of Serbs in Cernica, a multiethnic village near Gnjilane. Currently, about 3,000 Albanians and 120 Serbs live there. Read more.

The second episode dealt with the lives of Serbs in the villages of Suvo Grlo, Banje, and Crkolez in the Metohija foothills. Read more.

The Serbs who live here introduce any passing travelers to its history and legends about the Battle of Kosovo.

“Prince Lazar, according to the legend, held the last war council here, where his army received communion, in addition to Samodreza. In 1989, a memorial of Prince Lazar, made by Milic from Macva, was installed here, and every year on Vidovdan, in addition to Gracanica, ‘Pesničko pričešće’, the ‘Kosovska devojka’ pageant, and other ceremonies are held here,” one of the locals, Goran Dancetovic, says.

However, whenever the name of Babin Most is mentioned, peppers are the first things that come to the minds of all of those who come here. There is a local legend about pepper production, and the locals claim that they produce peppers in a special kind of way, but that they keep the method of production a secret.

“In the summer months, you can see a lot of our locals selling their products next to the road. In addition to the improvised market, they also sell their products in Gracanica, Mitrovica, thus earning money on the side for the schooling of their children here in primary school, or secondary in Plemetina, Priluzje, and Kosovska Mitrovica,” Dancetovic explains.

Locally produced peppers are of excellent quality, he adds, expressing hope that they will soon start making the final products, packaging, and maybe start exporting them outside of Kosovo.

As is the case with all things agriculture-related, weather conditions are crucial for good and quality crops, but now farmers are facing another problem – inflation, which has also affected them. Neither the secret of pepper production nor good crops guarantee a healthy profit anymore.

“Until this year, we earned a decent income, but we’ll see what it’ll be this year due to the rise in the price of fertilizers and chemicals. I don’t know how far it’ll go,” a farmer from Babin Most, Milutin Vuckovic, stressed.

Whether there’s inflation or not, due to the lack of work in public institutions and companies, an increasing number of residents of Babin Most are becoming engaged in agriculture. Practically every Serbian family in this area is engaged in farming.

“Until the war, the village was directly connected to the Serbian power industry, two thermal power plants, and coal mines. All our people worked there, but since 1999 most of them are at home, engaged in agriculture, and receiving monetary reimbursements from the electric power industry. A small number of workers travel for work wherever it is necessary – to Obrenovac, Lazarevac, Kostolac and earn money on the side there,” Dancetovic reveals.

According to him, plenty of young people are engaged in agriculture.

“It presents an additional source of revenue for them, for their studies, thus encouraging and giving hope that this village will stay alive for a long time.”

Babin Most residents reveal that customers choose good products, often without even checking the price, and they especially don’t care about the farmer’s ethnicity.

“Several Albanians from Pristina come to my home to buy peppers every year. They saw for themselves the quality of peppers. They don’t care about the price, only that the quality is good,” Milutin Vuckovic says.

Currently, there are about 160 Serb and 35 Albanian families in Babin Most, who have been here since olden times, so they are used to not just trade, but also joint life.

Vuckovic emphasizes that they have no problems with their Albanian neighbors – Babin Most natives because they have “known each other since they were little,” however:

“A problem arises when someone new moves here, who aren’t used to us. Otherwise, we have no problems.”

We have to “live together” and cooperate, he adds.

“We have to trade among ourselves. Serbs cannot be the only ones purchasing from other Serbs, Albanians and other peoples must also participate. There must be some kind of cooperation.”

On the other hand, Dancetovic reveals that there are some “squabbles,” although infrequent, among the youth of Babin Most.

“I can’t say that the relations are idyllic, at the moment that life is maybe life ‘one next to the other.’ Things cannot return to normal so quickly after a war. I think that both sides should be aware that we are forced to live together and that it will be easier if we have that coexistence here. However, that requires two sides.”

Despite the relatively good interethnic relations and the attempts of young people to survive on fertile land, the desire for a better and easier life is motivating Serbs and Albanians to leave Babin Most.

“All those people who leave in some way, people my age, people with one or two children, all leave because of the lack of jobs because they don’t have a job here, so they have to leave to look for something better for them and their family,” says Slobodan Milic, principal of “Milos Rakic” elementary in Babin Most.

Dancetovic cited as a burning problem the fact that young people graduating from high school and university struggle with finding employment. He, however, hopes this will change.

Eighty-four students attending the “Milan Rakić” elementary school, located in the center of the village, give hope that Serbs will survive in Babin Most. A new preschool facility will open soon, and it is expected that about 40 preschool children will be attending it in the coming months.

Hope for a better tomorrow has never abandoned the hard-working residents of Babin Most. The most important thing, they say, is peace and good neighborly relations, based on trust.

“Our parents worked together with them in the electric power industry, we worked together in agriculture, helped each other, we do the same now, but not to the extent we did before the war,” Dancetovic underscored.

Slobodan Milic adds that coexistence is very important, but: “without good communication, there is no good life.”

There used to be no language barrier in Babin Most. It went without saying that Albanians spoke Serbian and that Serbs spoke Albanian. Today, that is not the case. Young people, although from the same village, practically they do not know each other unfortunately, and they communicate in English.

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