József Ravasz was born on 23rd November 1949 in Apácaszakállas, Dunaszerdahely district in Slovakia. His ancestors were of Roma nationality; his predecessors were representatives of famous music dynasties, whose descendants are still considered famous musicians today. He has seven brothers. His father was a simple manual worker who lost his life tragically at the age of 43. His mother’s days were then spent raising and providing for the children.
He attended primary school in Apácaszakállas and Ekecs. He graduated from the Hungarian Language Secondary Grammar School in Dunaszerdahely. In 1968, he spent 24 months as a soldier in the Czechoslovak Army, where he graduated as a non-commissioned officer and was promoted to section leader. Before that, he pondered leaving his homeland during the “Prague Revolution.” The main reason for this was his Roma nationality, which was not an officially accepted at that time.
He did not find his place in the communist society until the late 1980s. He had many temporary jobs —factory worker, car attendant, miner, construction assistant, jockey, folk cultivator.
November 17, 1989, completely changed his life. The Velvet Revolution also offered new opportunities for the Roma. He also took his share of the pioneering work. In the gypsy settlements of the country, he took part in the establishment of specific political and cultural organizations. He wrote several books and collections of poems. Among these is Szívházikó written in 1992, published by Romani Kultúra in Bratislava, which contains Hungarian-Roma-Slovak language fairy tales.
He is an associate professor, romologist, and social worker. He graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra and then took a rigorous exam. He continued his doctoral studies at St. Elizabeth’s College in Bratislava. In 2012, he habilitated and won the title of associate professor. Nowadays, he lives and works in Dunaszerdahely and Szepsi, and at the same time runs the Romological Research and Methodological Institute in Dunaszerdahely.
You can read one of the stories of Szívházikó in three languages below.
József Ravasz, 1992 Illustrations by Katarína Fodorová