Sunday, November 7, 2010

The historical values of the building called “Pyramid”

Lately, in another attempt to produce heated political debates, Albanian government had announced that it intends to destroy the Pyramid, a building erected in 1985-1988 in Tirana in honor of the communist dictator Enver Hoxha as a museum for his life. This is the second time in four years that government says it want to do something with that building. In the first time, burned some millions of euro under the intention to transform the building in national theatre. But it was said that behind that decision, the government attempted to threaten the biggest private television in the country, Top Channel, which uses part of that building as its head offices.
In the second attempt, the government promised that it wants to destroy that building in order to erect there a new parliament house. The decision is not backed by funds.
I have good reason to think that in the end, the pyramid will stay where it is and that the main aim of the government is just to open debates with opposition just for political consumption. Personally, I would care less if the building will be destroyed or not.
As usual in such moves, its goal was achieved. The opposition and several organizations protested the government decision. Now I expect that all those who oppose that, will be accused as communists who have nostalgia for the building as a mausoleum for the communist leader. And thus the government will be happy. Once again the government gained some enjoyable months of life when people sit to discuss about a building instead of discussing real problems.
Anyway, despite what will happen, the discussion is open: Is there any reason to keep that building or it is better to it clear out?
When that building was erected, it was the highest in the zone. By its pyramid shape, it ended in the sky. It was designed as an impressive building, covered with fine marble and black glass. Its quality seems that reflected the general situation of communist ruling. It was mediocre. Within few years, marble stairs were heavily damaged, the rain penetrated in the interior of the building and a fast process of natural decay showed the mediocre quality of builders in the ‘80s. The interior, a four storey circle hole, designed to have in the center the statue of the dictator, which would be admired by different angles and by different altitudes, is now completely useless.

Historical events
Yep, despite this, one can note that several events of importance for the democratic development of the country happened in and around the Pyramid. First, during the ‘90s, the small garden surrounding the building was an ideal place to have a pee after drinking beers. It was wonderful to have a lasting pee there under the fine summer nights of Tirana. I found it really relaxing following the lines of the building that ended in the clear sky while having a pee.
Second, the garden was used by teens for snogging in peace. There are few places in densely developed Tirana for snogging so I don’t think that someone should downplay the role of Pyramid in the feelings of the generation 2000. Third and perhaps the most important value of that garden, was the use of it as a place to smoke.
I would never forget that sunny afternoon of 14 September 1998. I was there with a friend of mine, a painter that loved Kandinsky and another friend that loved William Blake. I was busy in preparing the pot. But in the boulevard a crowd was approaching to the government house bearing a coffin. Abruptly, what was usually a deserted garden was turned in war field. The crowd attacked the government house that is situated at the edge of Pyramid. Both, the defenders of the building and the attackers were armed. Although normally someone could think to escape as fast as he can from such event, we were used with such life-threatening situations, so we just stood there observing how several cars were burned, how two people were killed and how the police forces went into hiding along with their Kalashnikovs. Two T-54 Soviet era tanks paraded in the boulevard and they were captured by the mob. After half hour, the mob turned out from the government house with computer monitors (that they thought were TV sets) and someone from the crowd declared that the power was theirs and all the central buildings, including the public television was under their control. The state had collapsed for the third time in eight years.
I was more concerned that some of my acquaintance from the crowd would see me smoking marihuana, a much non-tolerated habit in Tirana of that time, then from the risk of being killed. One of my friends, the painter who loved Kandinsky, observed: “This country had much bigger problems that the pot that we are smoking. Perhaps if that crowd would have smoked, the government house would never been attacked again and again and again”.
Those who attacked the government house in that day, tried again in 2004. They took the government through elections in 2005. Those who escaped from the government house that day had attacked almost every institution of the state one year earlier, in 1997.
During this time, a new generation of Albanians grew around Pyramid, smoked, snogged or had a pee, all phenomena with strong democratic values that add to the value of the Pyramid as a broken dictatorship.
I do not know if I would like that building eliminated or not. Surely, I would never like to have it substituted by a parliament building that will act in the same way that Pyramid acted for Communist Albania, a symbol of a country ruled by the spoiling system, created and protected by today’s politics.

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