John Roberts Heritage Fund/ Cronfa Dreftadaeth John Roberts/Welshengerie Noyelus Kova

Heritage fund keeps alive the Welsh Romany language for future generations.

Kitchener, Ontario Canada and Orewa, New Zealand June 18, 2019 – A collaboration between two Romanis of Welsh Romany ancestry, living in Canada and New Zealand has led to the funding of a heritage project to preserve the Welsh Romany language for future generations. As well as breaking free from the legacy of Victorian linguists whose impact has dominated interpretations of Welsh Romani language for too long. 

Funded by the John Roberts Heritage Fund/Cronfa Dreftadaeth Telynor Cymru/Welshengerie Noyelus Kova, Shikawa Romanus – Learning Romany consists of 22 modules of Welsh Romani as spoken in everyday life. The program includes history and cultural aspects of Romani life with music, stories, music and poetry created by contemporary Romani artists.

Frances Roberts Reilly, President of the John Roberts Heritage Fund and Robert (Bob) Lovell Kamulo – award winning singer/songwriter have created live recordings of a language that was thought dead. They plan an e-book as a companion to the recordings, edited by Joel Therrien PhD. The fund has engaged Kutchibok Design in Cardiff, a Rom owned and operated business for logo and website design for a website where listeners can register, download and study the material.

“This project is a perfect fit for the first John Roberts Heritage Fund investment,” says Frances. Adding, “He was the first to write down what had been an oral tradition in our culture for centuries. “However,” says Bob, “While it is true he wrote it down for these Victorians who recorded our chib – language – in doing so they misused the language and in ways it was never meant to be spoken in everyday life. 

 “I highly appreciate your work and I consider it of utmost importance for the preservation of our language”, says Mihaela Zatreanu, Romani educational expert for the Council of Europe and member of ERIAC, the European Roma Institute of Arts and Culture, Barvalipe Academy. “Romani language is an identity marker of the Roma people, it is the key to the Roma people’s history and represents an important cultural artefact.

Bob Lovell learned his fluency in Romanus from his father, Adolphus who was born into the traditional Romany life of travelling with horse and vardo. He was born at an Atchintan – stopping place at the Rom camp in the Upper Race, Pontypool, South Wales. Adolphus went to New Zealand in 1947, stayed and raised a family. 

“Shikawa Romanus gives you a very rare and precious insight into the Welsh Romany community, their language and history, and I for one am so grateful it has been made.” Says, Damian le Bas, broadcaster and award winning author of Stopping Places: A Journey Through Gypsy Britain

Shikawa Romanus also honours Romany arts. Featured are singer/songwriter Gary Small, Roma poet, Chris Penfold Brown, award winning Welsh TRIPLE HARPIST, Gareth Swindail-Parry, poet and filmmaker, Frances Roberts Reilly and singer/songwriter Bob Lovell Kamulo. 

Shikawa Romanus is a heritage commitment made possible by the John Roberts Heritage Fund/Cronfa Dreftadaeth Telynor Cymru/Welshengerie Noyelus Kova.

Contact: Frances Roberts Reilly 


Twitter: @WelshKale