Stefan ‘Koci’ Lakatos (Palison) was born in Komárno/Komarom on 9 April 1948 and grew up in Komárno and Bratislava. When the Prague Spring was suppressed following the invasion of the Soviet army in 1968, he fled to Vienna and, together with many other Romani refugees, lived in tents on the floodplains around Vienna and later in the Traiskirchen refugee camp until eventually emigrating to Sweden. He first lived in Malmö and later settled in Lund.

In Sweden, Stefan ‘Koci’ Lakatos took the first name of his father, Pali, as his surname – Palison – according to Swedish custom. As Stefan Palison, he became an internationally well-known Roma activist and a member of the executive board of the International Romani Union (IRU). He engaged himself in the struggle to obtain compensation for victims of the concentration camps. At the Fifth World Congress of the IRU in 2000, he was elected commissioner for the Holocaust. He is still active as a representative of the Roma in Sweden. He speaks fluent Romani, Slovak, Hungarian and Swedish. In the international Romani community of the Lovara, he is a highly esteemed speaker when it comes to reaching consensus and mediating in intra-group negotiations over disputes and conflicts.

One of Stefan Palison’s main concerns is to preserve and document the Romani variant of the Lovara. He collects proverbs and has a large repertory of anecdotes, jokes as well as stories and fairy tales that he heard in his childhood and his youth. This deep interest, combined with his enthusiasm and reflections on language, make him a most talented linguistic artist.

(Translation Petra Cech)