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Kosovo and Rita Ora–Serbia Got Punked

by Laura on January 21st, 2013

Ummm, Serbia? I have some bad news for you.

Remember how you lost the media war in the late 1990s? How Serbia became the scapegoat for everything that was wrong in the Balkans? How even educated Americans seemed to believe that all Serbs were war criminals? Riiiight.

Well, you’ve lost the media war again. You got punk’d. By Kosovo. Sorry.

Flag of the Republic of Kosovo (announced in 2008). The Serbian government objects to its use, but the U.S. does not.

I may “just” be an expat, but it turns out: I’m radicalized and I’m riled up

Singer Rita Ora is a beautiful woman, a great singer, a rising star. She’s had a few pop-ish hits such as “How We Do (Party),” “Hot Right Now,” and “R.I.P.” They are about fashion, parties, dancing and romantic break-ups. Nothing political there. No worries.

I liked her so much, I looked up her bio and proudly related to my kids, “Rita Ora is like you, from Serbia.” She was born in Pristina, Kosovo in 1990 and moved to England with her parents shortly after. Living in Serbia, I might technically claim her as “our own.”

How’s that? Kosovo is recognized as a sovereign state by the U.S. The United Nations remains divided on the subject. Serbia and Russia do not recognize Kosovo as in independent state. (Serbia is on the losing side of history, so their claims to Kosovo are largely ignored. Pretend, instead, it’s the people of Florida deciding they were not Americans after all. … Would we blame the President of the United States for trying to keep them in the Union?)

I digress, as usual. Anyway, I was so surprised to see a singer of Balkan ethnicity “make it” on the Western music scene, I wanted my kids to feel she was like them. You see, there are a lot of very talented singers here in Serbia. But few none have made the transition to the top of the charts in, let’s say the U.S. or the U.K.

Why is that?

The Rise of Rita Ora’s Career

Well, first of all, it helps that Jay-Z is Rita Ora’s mentor. But here are my questions: How did Rita Ora get on Jay-Z’s radar? Who supplied the funding to kick-start her career? Well, the world works in mysterious ways. 

Musically, “Shine Ya Light” is an anthem, reminiscent of “Waka Waka” and “Wave Your Flag.” Catchy, upbeat, inspiring, with relatively benign lyrics:

And we don’t give up till we run out of desire
We see the finish and we never get tired
We are the winners cause we hold the world title
We started slow, but we beat you in the final

Pretty generic, right?

Aaaaand then I saw the video. I was like, “Look kids! There’s Serbia!” Because it’s so rare to see a snapshot of the Balkans in all its post-communist glory: high rises, run down fields, graffiti covered neighborhoods, grandpas playing chess, dogs. All very recognizable, similar to where we live.

Then I watched further, and I was shocked. Simply. Shocked.

That bandana covering her face in a classic thug pose? That’s the new flag of Kosovo.

The shots of various flags waving atop buildings, in gymnasiums, and elsewhere? Again, legitimizing the new flag of Kosovo, the new country.

The police motorcade, with Rita Ora riding backwards, “ruff rider”-style? Well, I’m just gonna say it, they’re probably former KLA. The Kosovo Liberation Army was classified by the U.S. as a terrorist organization up until 1998. After that, they were  “freedom fighters,” the U.S. began collaborating with them to engineer the overthrow of Milosevic.

The video climax that shows Rita Ora making her way through a crowd of adoring fans? Yep, that’s her standing on a huge graffiti sculpture spelling: N-E-W-B-O-R-N. Anyone see the subtext–don’t miss it, they spelled it out for us! Just in case we don’t get it, it’s a new nation, symbolized by a young (read: naive, easily manipulated) pop singer, a relative newborn! … And it’s Kosovo, a newborn nation.

Serbia: Where’s your beautiful pop singer exported to the West to lend legitimacy to your ethnicity and nation-state? Exactly: No where to be found. Like I said, Serbia’s losing the media war. Again.

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From → Expat Mommy

  1. KosovoNijeSerbija permalink

    This literally made me nauseous to read. Kosovo IS independent of Serbia. Less than 1% of their population is Serbian and they have gone through horrors that no country should have to live through.

    Why should this young woman not be proud of where she comes from? And it is absolutely ridiculous for you to assume that the motorcyclists were KLA, most of those guys looked like they were in their 20s. Kosovo IS a newborn country, free from the tyrant that was Milosović, why should they not be proud of who they are?

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      They can be proud, but I know they are not stupid. Which is confusing, like Kosovo is effectively an occupied territory of the United States … you've replaced one outside leader with another. Granted, Milosevic may not have been such a great guy … but what about Tito? How did Muslims fare under Tito? Free health care? Schools with Albanian language education? Thriving economy? Serbia and Yugoslavia weren't all bad …

      • Scythe permalink

        "How did Muslims fare under Tito?"
        We don't know, what we know is how Albanians fared under Tito. And it was anything but good. If we were good, we wouldn't want to separate. Why don't you talk a little about the around 10.000 Albanians that Serbia killed in Kosovo. Mind you, those weren't freedom fighter. Those were their wives and kids. But hey, why would you care…

      • Pete permalink

        You really don't know your own culture if you think Albanians were discriminated by the government during the Tito era. They may have been discriminated slightly on a personal level, but the government provided Albanians with more than enough. Now why did everything fall apart afterwoods? Look at all our countries, we are all getting PRIVATIZED one way or another, we are being turned into money making machines for private capital, every single country in the Balkans! Our true enemy is the capitalists not each other.

      • Laura Dennis permalink

        Thanks, Pete — I agree with the point about capitalism. Thanks for writing!

      • Spread Love! permalink

        What about 10000 and more killed Serbs in Kosovo, their homes have been force taken and nobody speak about that?! My friend had whole family there and they have been disappear without a trace. You just can't spread that kind of hate and talk in general. It's true that many people have died, but that include both sides. You people just need to realise that we all are the same, we live on and share planet earth, and we need to look deeper to see what are real problems, and trust me when I say that all those wars never been between real people. People all around the world were send to wars with thought that they defend their homes, family, but they were and always will be used for (behind curtains)rulers and their interests and you people sit here on internet and spit on each other and don't even know why you hate each other, and that is sad…very sad only…

    • George permalink

      Why do you think that only 1% of the population of Kosovo is Serbian? Where do you think the other percentages went, do you think they just decided to get up out of their own free will and leave? Think before you speak.

      The whole of kosovo is filled with Old Serbian-Orthodox churches, where did they all come from, and where are the serbs that built them?

      • George permalink

        P.S Novak Djokovic was born in Kosovo his family had to escape to belgrade from the prosecution of serbs by the Kosovo Albanians backed by the USA and the west, just like many thousand other serbs.

  2. Hesh permalink

    Ya but Rita Ora's album flopped in America. That shit might be popular in England but in order to be an international pop-star you have to break out on this side of the Atlantic. So far, she has failed to do that. So far, by many she is seen as a Rihanna wannabe. Her debut album tanked and this despite heavy marketing/promotion to make her 'cool'.

    I would much rather have Djokovic than Rita Ora any day of the week.

    • Ermir permalink

      Hahahahahahahhah so funy

    • Yeah,we have #1 world tennis player who is such a beautiful human being,he helps everyone and is so humble.Rita Ora…She has nice sense of fashion and isn’t bad of a singer,but she doesn’t stand out and she isn’t special.

  3. serbia is fake permalink

    serbia is fake this country belongs to Albanians Long Live Illyrians serbs need to go back to russia stupid carpatians

    • Laura Dennis permalink


      That doesn't even make any sense! Serbs have lived on the Serbian land for centuries … the fact that Serbia doesn't have an internationally recognized pop star to help turn the tide on public opinion was the primary point of the post.

      Thanks for commenting tho …

      • History permalink

        Serbs came in our land during the 7th century, when the Slavic migrations in Balkans started. We fought Romans and Greeks, and Celts and Goths, before you even existed.

      • shehukaltrina permalink

        Exactly!! Serbs have lived here for centuries, better said they invaded our lands; Illyrians on the other hand (our ancestors) go wayyy back in the history of Ballkans. Anyways, it's clear you have no knowledge whatsoever on the topic. And it's not the educated Amerians who got it wrong, its the uneducated serbs who believe whatever they are told, without even knowing what happened in Kosovo; sorry to say but you were brainwashed by your own leaders. Don;t get me wrong here; I am not implying that all serbs are war criminals, its just that you were unfortunate to have all the wrong leaders and all the wrong people representing you in front of the world when it comes to political matters. Now you're trying to make a really bad point here trying to compare Florida and the US to Kosovo and Serbia. It's unclear to me, are you trying to say that actually us Kosovar- Albanians took your lands from Serbia that didn't really belong to us, or are you implying that we acctually are serbs but it;s just the media that made us believe otherwise? Because last time I checked Rita Ora is pure Albanian and proud of it, and not a serb as you are implying.

        Have you ever even been to Kosovo? Do you even know what happened here? The 90's was was just the end of MIloshevic's dictatorship in Kosovo, it was not the beginning of the war; that war started many many decades before you and I both were even born.

  4. Siana permalink

    We (Albanians who ended up here by looking up the amazing Rita Ora) should stop giving this ignorant, degenerate creature more views on her pathetic blog. None of this post has any legitimate info on it, just speculation, accusations, and jealousy (it is sooo PLAIN to see). Hope you don't pass the hatred onto your children. Maybe one of them can become that westernized Serbian pop star you've been dreaming of.

    • Laura Dennis permalink


      Thanks so much for writing. I'm the "ignorant, degenerate create" to whom you refer. Yes, I admit, there was some conjecture on my part, for example: "they’re probably former KLA." But note, please, the word "probably."

      Everything else is THERE. The flag on Rita Ora's face? Kosovo. The NEWBORN — that's symbolism. It's real, and it's there, no conjecture necessar.

      And yes, if you thought that I was noting that Serbia missed out and that Serbia should have a westernized pop star, well, you're right! That's exactly the point of my post!

      Also, I don't hate Albanians, or any group for that matter. If you'll note, I was saying to my kids that Pristina looked JUST LIKE where we live (post-war communist grey concrete). So, I was passing on a kinship, pointing out a similiarity.

      It's just that Serbia missed out, and yes, I'm "jealous" that Serbia missed out. It is plain to see, because … that was my point.

      I hope you'll continue to read, but try to take the post in the spirit in which it was written.
      Laura Dennis

    • anonimus permalink

      We don't dream about that cuz we are not that shallow. You have wrong image about Serbia, we don't even hate Albanian people(Like i guess they hate us), why do you have to hate Serbian people and call it fake and stupid nation? It is just political thing about Kosovo. We are all people just with different religion. But even thou Albanian were Christians in the past and they have gone into islam while we were defending Kosovo from Turkey(you can read about Kosovo battle), we still respect your religion and culture.And the Kosovo is for us and some other countries still and always will be a part of Serbia, because we were fighting hard for it, and i know that there are almost all Albanians but you have to understand us and put yourselfs in our position, like we understand and respect you guys. :)

  5. Eminem's FAN permalink

    I'm so sorrry for all of you cos' rita ora belongs to kosovo and she knows that she agreed that.So im so sorry for you laura cos' we (albanians) have risked all what we had for our country, kosovo has existed cenuries and centuries , from the illyrians till now.I love rita but everybody must know that she's from kosovo and they must agree this not from serbia or whatever, i hate serbia and i will continue hating serbia till i die cos' they have killed so many albanian people and they arent scared or sad about it.Whatever i wish rita ora's success and fame not for me but for heslf and why not for kosovo?kosovo has and had so many famous and successful people , like singers, actress etc etc…KOSOVA is a new country to you but kosova was known earlier than u think and for serbia , kosovo doesnt belong to serbia understand this?good luck ora and go ahead.And i want to say 2 words about my fav.singer EMINEM i love you , ur the best rapper in all over the world , u'r a rap god and u know it and i will support you till i die love you till the end of the world…UR biggest FAn eva albina <3

    • 123 permalink

      In the war we were killing each others, Albanians were also killing Serbians. This is past, there's no reason to hate us! It is not our falt for wars(just remember bombing Belgrade 1999) .You don't even know any Serbian (i guess) and if you would spend some time in Serbia you would figure out that we are not bad at all. We respest Albania, greetings from Serbia !:)

    • And Albanians haven’t killed Serbians?Lol,okay.Hate is a very strong word and I don’t understand how you hate a whole nation if you don’t know them.We didn’t do anything to you,all we ever wanted is to have the part of our country back.But we didn’t do anything since the day Kosovo became a country.Eminem is my king,my everything.
      srbijaa recently posted..Ghost of Sangju – Interviewing Soojung Jo, Pt. 1My Profile
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  6. VELIKA SERBIA permalink


  7. Anonymous permalink

    More than 50% haven't got a job in kosovo.
    so u have nothing else to do and write stupid things in ur blog
    YOU already lost and you don't see it

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Thanks for commenting — yes! It feels so great to blast my writing and then to post anonymously. Wow–that takes a lot of bravery! (sarcasm)
      Anyway, wow, I didn't know about the 50% unemployment rate. Here in Serbia it's "only" about 25% by comparison. I could ask who's doing better now that they have independence from the "gruesome dictatorship that was Serbia and the former Yugoslavia," but then I might just be accused of writing "stupid things" again.

      • Piotr permalink

        Well, it's as always a difficult thing. The main problem is that… people still care so much about the LAND. Why is it so important? I don't get it. That's why I'd like to open all of the borders and liquidate all of the countries ;) But well, then there would be a group of people saying about the denationalisation of the nations. But well, I really feel the citizen of the world (of Europe for 100%), listening to the music from the whole wide world, learning several languages… And as you can see I don't fight with anyone and I feel good :)
        Besides – let's say, that somehow Kosovo comes back to Serbia… and what? Protests every day? To have land just "to have"? I don't understand that in so many conflicts like these this LAND is always sooooooo important and nothing else… As a Pole I wouldn't mind if, for example, Silesia would like to be a seperate country.
        P.S. Rita Ora wasn't born in Kosovo. Neither in Serbia. She was born in Yugoslavia ;)

        Greetings from Poland

      • Piotr permalink

        P.S. 2: Albanians indeed has started living on the land where earlier the majority were Serbs but… also Serbs have started living on more western lands of Balkans. That's why Shtokavian dialect dominated Kajkavian and Chakavian.
        Migrations are quite natural. Unfortunately, the following wars about it seems too :(

      • Serbia permalink

        As you can see Serbia is fighting for Kosovo because it always was our territory and throwgh the history we were fighting and dying to protect it. And Albanians are fighting for it because almost all people of Kosovo are Albanians. I am from Serbia, but i understand Albanians too. Just to be clear Serbia doesn't hate Albanians.

  8. Jelena permalink

    I have nothing against Albanians, but isn't it bad that someone is happy for people suffering in floods? I mean, ''PRAY FOR BOSNIA, DEATH FOR SERBIA'' is not nice at all. Where is your humanity? And, Serbians are not as bad as you mention. They didn't torture Albanians more than Albanians were torturing them. Kosovo is heart of Serbia, since they came to Balkan in 9th century. And don't start fights when you don't have a clue about history. Rita Ora once said that Kosovian history is beautiful, well I have a question. what history, Rita? Kosovo was always serbian, so it's serbian history. :)

  9. albo permalink

    let me make something clear : england rules hong -kong for 99 years however hond kong after they got their independence its part of china no one says hond kong is england therefore kosovo got their independence they are part of albanians not serbia as you all know they do speak albanian as well LOL

    • George permalink

      Hong-kong was part of china before it was ruled by england, which was part of a written agrement for a 99 year rule, kosovo was part of serbia for about a 1000 years and it was the last Serbian stronghold against the Invading Turks 500 years ago, so slightly diferent, kosovo should have been divided in 2 like it was proposed before thebwar, the west side where mostly albanians lived shouldve been given independance and the east where mostly serbs live should have been kept part of serbia, and the two people would have been hapy neibours like chezchs and slovaks are now.

  10. Burim permalink

    Laura,you serbs started WWI,war of Slovenia,Croatia,Bosnia,Kosovo… You did genocide on almost all of them (facts like video amd pictures are all over the world so stop pretending thats propaganda) …aaaand you still pretending like you are “INOCENT” , GET OVER IT ,just f*cken apologize,is it soo hard?? ….or you are just sooo primitive people and you never feel there is enough genocides made from you ?!

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      You and I both know that the shots that killed Ferdinand were simply an excuse; that the forces at work throughout Europe were leading to war … to say that Serbs started WWI is a 4th or at best 6th-grade reasoning.

      Also … I'm not Serb! I'm American!

      • And you Laura, saying that NewBorn means New Nation is an imbecil reason because it means ‘ a new state ‘ .. read more and you’ll get to know that we are not young europeans, but the eldest ones..our language is a living proof. Have u ever thought why serbians are so damn conected with Russians?

  11. Dragan permalink

    A lot of the singers in Serbia, (especially young pop/turbofolk singers) could actually make it to western media IF they were to just sing in English. Serbia is known for great ballads and music composers and melodies however, all of that is secluded to only former Yugoslavia countries as well as small Serbian populations spread out in the world to enjoy. Hopefully though, that will change soon.

    • Dragan permalink

      Take Rada Manojlovic, Ceca, Milica Todorovic, and Sandra Afrika as example!

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  16. I am albanian from Bujanovac, and have many serbian friends but let me just tell you, ‘ you guys are pathetic’ .. seriously? Do they really wash ur brain at schools so you cant have the ability to live the present.You are stucked in the past, dealing with albanians ever fucking day of your life. We albanians from the independent Kosovo feel sorry for you,and your children ( trying to impose and toxic them with the hate). Its time for u to move on,if not get yourself the hell off our lands. Russia has enough spare place for your. Good luck haters

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