Friday, December 3, 2021


Sasho Macanovski – Trendo has for almost two decades been one of the most popular and the most active media personalities and public figures in Macedonia. From the entertaining and ultra-popular shows “Balkan Express” or “Who wants to be a millionaire?”, through the editorial positions and the managing positions in the most watched televisions in Macedonia A1, Kanal 5 and Sitel, his pioneering job on the Internet (at a time when there were only around several thousand users in Macedonia), and the creation of the popular website, to his newest e-creation, his specific humor and his informality in communication have won the affinity and the hearts of the people who read and watch him.

It is exactly that informality that defines his approach towards interethnic relations, present since the beginning of our conversation, which we had after his participation in the debates and the round tables with principals, teachers, parents and students and representatives of the municipal educational bodies, which were organized in the frames of the USAID Interethnic Integration in Education Project.

What is your impression; how does the interethnic integration function in the education? Do people work on integrating youth, or the invisible boundaries are deepened and drawn on a daily basis there as well?

Trendo: I can judge education only in a limited way, on the one hand as a parent, as someone who sends their child to the system and has enough trust to surrender their child onto their hands, and on the other hand, as a media personality, since one part of my audience are youth, and youth are part of education. I don’t know what they do, so I don’t have a systematic answer, but I know that the whole function of education is terribly important, because they start ‘buttoning up the shirt’, and if a mistake is made when starting to button a shirt, it is difficult to fix the job until the last button. I think that education can do a lot in terms of preparing youth to think critically, to improve their ‘immune system’, so that they would not be so susceptible to manipulations of all kinds.

From your personal experience, both as a parent, and from what you hear from your friends and the people you are in contact with, do you think that efforts are made in this direction?

After these debates and round tables, do you think that problems are openly discussed about, that solutions are behind the corner, or that things are hidden under the rug, that blame is sought in the other – the teachers in the parents, the parents in the teachers, and all together seeking the blame in the media?

Trendo: Every one of us tends to see problems from a certain professionally determined angle, and in order to see something well, one must see it from different sides and from as further away as possible, so that one could see the whole. What I have been trying to do as a media personality, what professors should also do, is not to allow all those young people, who differ along every possible line, primarily along ethnic or religious lines, to be brought together solely by lack of taste.

Let us talk a little about the Internet, an area where you have a solid expertise and experience. Obviously, it is becoming the new classroom, which is unfortunately overburdened with many speculations, unconfirmed or untrue information, hate speech, stereotypes and prejudices… Is this happening because of the resistance of educators to become an active part of that classroom, or is it because of the fact that simply the public, the public discourse in Macedonia is profiled in that way? Do you see educators there? Do the media give this topic a chance or is that left almost without any control?

Do you see awareness in the people from the education that they should enter that Internet classroom, or is there still resistance?

Trendo: Probably there is resistance – that is understood in the generation context, but that is it. The Internet is not something that is trendy now, but will pass tomorrow. It is the aquarium in which those young fish swim.

Let us direct the topic towards how much we actually know one another. How do we overcome the superficial – “we go to their house for Ramadan, they come to our house for Easter” and that is where the understanding of good interethnic relations ends. How do we move this towards more meaningful contexts and contacts?

You do not like seeing people through the ethnic prism: “I have an Albanian or a Turkish friend”. You have many friends from all ethnic communities, but you often refuse to discuss on this topic through the ethnic and the collective prism, but you insist to discuss through the individual and the human prism. Through that prism, in the end, what would your message be to every individual, not to a Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Roma, Vlach, Serbian or Bosniak person, but to every person in Macedonia? How do we move closer to one another?

Trendo: I find that topic a bit strange, and I don’t like talking about it, as you have noticed, because I think that it has monopolized the discourse about the diversities. The Macedonians and the Albanians are not the only trench dug up here. Today, it is sad that the minority are the ones who do not watch Turkish soap operas; it is a minority worth fighting for and defending its rights against the majority. That said, I don’t have a message; the way in which I measure my personal engagement is that it gives me integrity, it provides me with entertainment and that everyone around me is alive and well. I don’t believe in a “serious message”, because such messages don’t leave a mark.

Isn’t there a universal recipe for bringing people closer?