As British singer Rita Ora is made an honorary ambassador for Kosovo 23 years after leaving the country, Krishnan Guru-Murthy talks to her about identity, refuge and the politics of home.
Rita Ora’s parents brought her to Britain when she was just one, seeking a better way of life and a new country to call home.
“We weren’t trying to smuggle into the country, it wasn’t that at all. But yes, we did not have British citizenship at the time, we do now,” the 24-year-old told Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
“It was a very hard time. we left because my father didn’t want to attend the army, he chose to bring up his children instead.
“It was something that my mother and father chose for us. As parents – I am not one – but I can imagine you would do anything for your children so they did just that, and I’m very very grateful.”
So how did it feel to be made an honorary ambassador for the country of her birth, 23 years after leaving?
“It was a very emotional day for me because we’ve been waiting as a nation for this for such a long time,” she said. “So I think to hear it in real life it just really hit a nerve.”
What does it mean to be Kosovan?
“It’s me, it’s what my blood is. It’s what you feel under my skin,” she said.
“It’s who I am as a woman, it’s what I represent as a 24-year-old musician.
“Everything I’ve learnt from my parents, my morals, my upbringing, the food I cook, how I say thank you – it’s all from where I’m from and I am never going to turn my back on Britain, which is where I grew up.
“And it’s given me the biggest opportunities – I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Britain. But if I can [make] acknowledgement to my nation and to Kosovo I will do that.”
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