Born in Tolčemeš (today Šarišské Sokolovce), Slovakia on 1 January 1936, Andrej Giňa was, together with Elena Lacková (1921–2003), one of the first Romani writers in the former Czechoslovakia at a time when being illiterate was the norm among Roma rather than the exception. His father, who had the same name, was a blacksmith and a renowned musician, whose job and good reputation meant that the family were able to live in a well-built house in the non-Romani neighbourhood of their hometown.
After the war, the family resettled in Rokycany, western Bohemia, where Andrej Giňa finished primary school and went on to obtain a vocational school diploma as a certified smelter. He continued his education by training as a teacher through distance learning but had to give up those studies to perform military service. After a stint in the professional army, he returned to Rokycany and worked at the local Žampírka foundry, first as a founder and later as a driver. Between 1969 and 1973, he worked for the Union of Gypsies-Roma (Svaz Cikánů Romů, where he extended his portfolio to include activism and writing.
After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, he set up a family business delivering potatoes, onions and the traditional Romani delicacy goja to Romani neighbourhoods across the country. Besides having many jobs, he was also a renowned guitarist and bass-player and was always a member of some band or other; his own band, ‘Rytmus 84’, reigned on the Romani-pop scene in the 1980s.
In the 1990s and 2000s, while travelling throughout the country in his van, he observed his fellow Roma and wrote stories and columns about the deteriorating state of Romani communities. These appeared mainly in the Romani press and were published in a volume of his collected works entitled Paťiv, ještě víme, co je úcta in 2013. The volume also included his early works from the 1960s, his first-ever published collection of short stories, Bijav (1991), and the many stories he wrote for his own and his family’s pleasure over the years.
Andrej Giňa continued writing even after the publication of his collected works and planned a second volume of short stories. He died in 2015 but his legacy lives on both in his works – the second volume of his collected works is now in progress – and in the memory of the people for whom he served as a role model, not only as a writer but also as an outstanding human being.
Giňa, Andrej. 1991. Bijav, romane priphende / Svatba, romské povídky. Praha, Apeiron.
Giňa, Andrej. 2007. „Pal o Škiparis“. In: Čalo voďi / Sytá duše. Brno, Muzeum romské kultury.
Giňa, Andrej. 2007. „Pro odpustos“. In: Čalo voďi / Sytá duše. Brno, Muzeum romské kultury.
Giňa, Andrej. 2007. „Andre mašina“. In: Čalo voďi / Sytá duše. Brno, Muzeum romské kultury.
Giňa, Andrej. 2007. „Pre lavkica“. In: Čalo voďi / Sytá duše. Brno, Muzeum romské kultury.
Giňa, Andrej. 2013. Paťiv. Ještě víme, co je úcta. Praha, Triáda.
External links online
Giňa, Andrej. “Maruška“. In Moji milí, Praha: Kher, 23–25: https://perma.cc/6JES-P8VW
Giňa, Andrej. “Pal o duj phrala / O dvou bratrech” in Otcův duch, Praha: Kher, 30–39: https://perma.cc/28UB-NSJP
Giňa, Andrej. Biography on Kher: https://perma.cc/TX29-CQNC
Ryvolová, Karolína. 2003. Biography of Andrej Giňa: https://perma.cc/255F-85WY
Ryvolová, Karolína. 2003. Interview with Andrej Giňa. https://perma.cc/SZJ7-GULF
Scheinostová, Alena. 2014. Review of Paťiv: ještě víme, co je úcta. https://perma.cc/U7E7-EPND
Hübschmannová, Milena. 1999. “Současná romská literární tvorba. Andrej Giňa.“. In: Romano džaniben,1999/ issue 3-4, 112–13.
Hübschmannová, Milena. 2006. “Moje setkání s romano šukar laviben”. In: Romano džaniben, ňilaj 2006, 27–59.
Ryvolová, Karolína. 2013. “Samas čore, aľe jekh avres dahas paťiv / Byli jsme chudí, ale jeden druhého jsme si vážili”. In: Paťiv. Ještě víme, co je úcta. Praha, Triáda, 7–19.
Šebková, Hana. 2003. „Počátky romské literatury v České a Slovenské republice“ https://perma.cc/H4PU-U9UN