KCRW’s Valida reflects on ‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’ and how the 1995 genocide links all Bosnians

Aida (actress Jasna Djuricic) and Dutch UN peacekeepers stand off with Bosnian Serb forces at the gate to the UN headquarters in Srebrenica in the film “Quo Vadis, Aida?” Photo credit: © DEBLOKADA.

The film “Quo Vadis, Aida?” tells what happened in Srebrenica in 1995 during the Bosnian War, when 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically executed.

KCRW DJ Valida is from Sarajevo and moved to the U.S. in the early 1990s during the Bosnian War.

She says the mass genocide is an event that links all Bosnians together, no matter who they are or where they are from.

“Whether we were in Bosnia at the time — or we were, like I was, in the United States — we all lived through the tragedy. We lived vicariously through news. And those four years, especially July of 1995, is one of those events that just completely shapes you as a person. There's a before and then after.”

Back home in Sarajevo, Valida says issues like religion were never talked about.

“We just felt like we were part of one [community]. I liked that. I didn't care who my friends were, like I had friends who were Christian and Muslim. That's how it should be. I don't like dividing people by religion,” she says. “However, the way the war panned out, it just seems like some people weren't brought up like that, because they were brought up with a lot of hate, which is what explains the massacre. It’s like how do you kill 1000 people unless you were indoctrinated to hate the other side?”

Alongside her sister and mother, Valida left Sarajevo in 1991. She thought the conflict would only last for a few months.

“Nobody had any idea or clue that it would go on for as long [as it did.] And of course, three months turned into four months. And then four months turned into six months. And then here I am 26 years later.”

She moved to the U.S. in January 1994, and had to rely on TV news outlets like BBC and CNN to follow what was happening in Bosnia.

Now, Valida commemorates the massacre every year on her show, by playing “Srebrenica” by Alma Ferovic. She says the song is about the innocence that precedes horrifying acts.