A Different Kind of Freedom: A Romani Story

Publisher: Scholastic

Lijah is a Romani boy, a Traveller. He, his dad and his older brother collect old clothes and general scrap – what non-Traveller people call ‘rag-and-bone’. Their faithful horse pulls the cart back to their camp, where they sort it out. Later, after a delicious stew, Lijah’s dad will tell stories by the fire. It’s a good life.

But when the Sheffield census people come round, Lijah has to go to school. He’s already behind in reading and writing, and some kids shout insults at the ‘gypsy’. Lijah sees some boys kicking a ball in the playground. The game is called ‘football’ and Lijah is desperate to join in. But his father doesn’t want him playing that dinlo (fool) game. Yet as Lijah becomes better and better, playing at school and practising any chance he gets, he grows to love it. Then he discovers there was a famous Romani player – Rab Howell. How can Lijah follow in his idol’s footsteps if he has to hide it from his dad?

Written by a Romani author, this story sheds light on a little-known community who’ve been in Britain since Henry VIII’s time. It expertly depicts the struggle between tradition and following your own passions, meaning readers will have a lot of empathy for Lijah, and respect for Romani customs.

Bachgen Romani, sef Teithiwr, ydy Lijah. Mae ef, ei dad a’i frawd hŷn yn casglu sgrap cyffredinol – yr hyn y mae pobl heblaw am Deithwyr yn ei alw yn ‘ddynion hel rhacs’.

Ond pan ddaw pobl y cyfrifiad heibio, mae’n rhaid i Lijah fynd i’r ysgol, lle y mae’n darganfod pêl-droed, ac yn ei garu, er nad yw hyn yn cael sêl bendith ei dad. Yna mae’n dysgu am chwaraewr Romani enwog. Sut all Lijah ddilyn ôl troed ei arwr os oes yn rhaid iddo guddio hyn oddi wrth ei dad?

Mae’r stori hon wedi’i hysgrifennu gan awdur Romani ac mae’n dangos yn fedrus iawn y frwydr rhwng traddodiad a mynd ar drywydd eich awchau, sy’n golygu y bydd gan ddarllenwyr lawer o empathi â Lijah a pharch at arferion Romani.

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