Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Croatian Immortal: Meet Joža Manolić, Beating COVID-19 at 101!

May 12, 2021 -  The way things are going, eternal life might be a reality for this Croatian immortal: meet Joža Manolić, second Croatian Prime Minister and the Yugoslavian secret agent that defeated COVID-19 in his 102nd year of life.

With corona spreading through the world like butter on bread, everyone needs to be careful, but especially people who are old and/or have chronic diseases.

So when someone close to 100 survives the infection, it's a news story worthy of international attention.

And, a similar case most recently happened in Croatia. As Index.hr reports, one man, who turned 101 two months ago was fighting with the virus for three weeks. He was never hospitalized but was under the doctor's close surveillance in his home until he finally recovered. And the story spread throughout Croatia as an amazing fight, but realistically, among Croatians, the winner of this epic battle of man vs. virus was known all along. Even when it seems the virus was taking the lead at one point, there was nothing to do but watch with a smug look and think, „He'll bounce back, that virus walked into Pfizer/AstraZeneca/Johnson&Johnson/Moderna cocktail embodied naturally". Despite being the priority for vaccination by all health standards, this corona patient didn't even took the vaccine because, as he said to the press „nobody invited him, and he was waiting for his turn“.

The victorious patient's name is Joža Manolić, and he is in Croatia what Rip Thorn is in the US (only Manolić is much cooler, sorry Rip).  

If you are a paranoid doomsday awaiter, watching the Doomsday clock in panic, which, at the time of writing this article, showed 100 seconds until midnight, Croatians would say you are crazy. As long as Joža Manolić is alive, the world will keep spinning. The ultimate proof corona is bad, but not the end of us. 

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screenshot / NewsBar

Croatian James Bond but without replacement actors every few movies

Born on March 22, 1920, Joža Manolić isn't only the person that has seen it all; he has done it all! 

He served as the second Croatian Prime Minister from August 24, 1990, to July 17, 1991, and is one of the founders of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), but before that, he had an impressive carrier in the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia.

When he turned 18, he joined the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia (SKOJ) and was accepted into the Croatian Communist Party when he was 19. From then, among other things, he was appointed Secretary of the Municipal Committee of SKOJ for Nova Gradiška and was named a member of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party in 1940. When WW2 broke out, he was arrested by Ustasha authorities (of the Independent State of Croatia, an ally of Hitler and Mussolini) for spreading communist propaganda in Nova Gradiška. When released from captivity, he moved to Zagreb, where he started cooperating with Yugoslav Partisans and later moved to the partisan-controlled territory. Moving up in the ranks of communist circles, Manolić broke through the very top of the Yugoslav intelligence service. Firstly in OZNA, notorious for eliminating political opponents, and later to UDBA, which was less drastic but still pretty nasty secret service you didn't want to mess with.

The go-to guy to make history, the Croatian James Bond portrayed by only one man, bright and cool. 

There is an expression for the fans of Hajduk Footbal Club that „Hajduk lives forever“ (Hajduk živi vječno). This may be true, but as their game performance shows, it's hard to be as successful in 110 years as Joža Manolić is in 101 years.  

What is even more interesting, Joža Manolić was born in 1920, three months before the conclusion of the Spanish Flu pandemic, and his 100th birthday he celebrated in Zagreb, believe it or not, happened the same day, Zagreb was hit with a powerful 5.5 Richter scale earthquake. With two wars, eight epidemics, and several financial crises survived, Manolić is really the guy you want to be next to regardless of what horrible, death-guaranteed menace is heading your way.

 Immortality recipe: healthy diet and… being a secret agent?

When famous Croatian satirist and editor of the hilarious Newsbar site, Borna Sor (who is not a stranger to TCN) interviewed Manolić in 2016, he asked „the then young 96-year-old Manolić“ how is it possible that he is still alive?

„Every secret agent either lives a long life or is killed ahead of schedule“, said Manolić in good humor.

As Jutarnji list reported, Manolić's DNA was even sequenced to scientifically research the secret of his long life in 2018. The Korean Biotechnology company doesn't really have a precise explanation of his long life, but Manolić has his entire genome on a memory stick, joining other famous people with such an honor, including Nobel prize winner James Watson, actress Glenn Close, TV host Larry King, rock star Ozzy Osbourn and several more. He is the oldest living owner of a driver's license (although he didn't extend it when he turned 100), an active driver, whose clean traffic record can put to shame much younger people causing havoc on the road, including controversial Croatian entrepreneur Tomo Horvatinčić. He was married twice, last time when he was 97 to a then-60year-old woman with whom he was a decade in a relationship. Today he is sadly a widow, outliving both of his wives.

Whether it's any famous Croatian personality or internationally recognized as Eddie Van Halen, Hugh Heffner, or Prince Phillip, there isn't a celebrity death in the country that isn't acknowledged with „Joža Manolić outlived him/her“. As you can imagine, there is an entire group on Facebook dedicated to jokes such as „We need to care for the environment to leave a nicer world to Joža Manolić“, or „Joža Manolić being in Eden before God“.

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God explaining to Adam and Eve that he found Joža Manolić when he arrived © Joža Manolić je nadživio

Fascinating and publicly active, the author of this text really wanted to use the news of Manolić defeating corona to do an interview with him for TCN.

„Don't contact him for the love of god! He is over a hundred years old and just got over corona“, said my editor Iva Tatić pleading that I continue to bother diplomats and other people instead of one of the biggest living legends Croatia has ever known.

Well, maybe after he gets some rest from corona, there will be a chance for an interview.

Frankly, I don't worry Joža Manolić is going anywhere, but the question is will I live long enough to do the interview with this pristine gentleman that, while Zagreb has tons of fountains, kept the fountain of youth in his backyard.  

Learn more about history and politics in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about legends of Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from May 3-9, 2021

May 7, 2021 - TCN's regular retrospect of Highlights of the week, through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac. 

President Milanović loved by locals in Plaški. Firefighters quickly reacted to the fire in Zagreb recycle yard. Pula celebrated its liberation while Šibenik received new doses of coronavirus vaccines. Dinamo and Hajduk end their match in a tie. Overall another interesting week in Croatia, and here are more details on all highlights.

 Highlights of the week: President Milanović loved in Plaški county

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© Kristina Stedul Fabac/ PIXSELL

Croatian president Zoran Milanović visited Plaški county near Ogulin on Tuesday to visit the newly-build Firefighter's home and Plaški Culture Home. The locals welcomed president Milanović with ovations, and many use the opportunity to handshake and take a photo with the president. As Večernji List reports, Milanović took the visit as an opportunity to comment on the hate speech incident at Borovo Selo. He stated that the President of Serbian National Council Milorad Pupovac and Croatian Prime Minister „should use the police, but they don't, they are causing incidents.

Highlights of the Week: Pula celebrating its liberation in WW2

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© Srecko Niketic/ PIXSELL

Pula celebrated its annual liberation day and the Pula City Day, marked on May 5. In Tito's park, the traditional commemoration to the fallen WW2 soldiers of Tito's partisan army saw Tiziano Sošić (president of Pula City Council), Elena Puh Belci (vice mayor of Pula), Aleksandar Matić (chief of the City of Pula Office) and Fabrizio Radin (vice-county ruler of Istria county) paid their respects. Representatives of associations of anti-fascist fighters and anti-fascist of the city of Pula were present too. 

 Highlights of the Week: Dinamo and Hajduk end with an even score 1:1

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© Milan Sabic/ PIXSELL

Hajduk and Dinamo's eternal opponents played another game at Hajduk's home of Poljud Stadium in Split on Wednesday. The match was the 22nd round in Croatian First League, and fans couldn't wait for it as the game was postponed.

Hajduk opened the match well and had a chance to take the lead in the first 20 seconds. Kačaniklić received an excellent long ball and ran on the right side. He rushed into the penalty area and shot diagonally, but Livaković came out and closed his corner. Dinamo improved and took the lead in the 16th minute with a goal by Majer, and Livaja returned the favor in the 44th minute. Diamantakos hit the crossbar in the final minutes of the match but without success.

After three victories in the previous three clashes with Hajduk this season, Dinamo failed to achieve maximum performance and almost mathematically secured the title but entered the last four rounds with a seven-point advantage over Osijek. The fail happened despite Dinamo facing Hajduk with the strongest possible lineup.  

Highlights of the Week: Vaccination in Šibenik continues successfully

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© Hrvoje Jelavic/ PIXSELL

Larger quantities of vaccines came to Šibenik on Friday, allowing vaccination in Baldeki Sports Hall to go without problems for the second day in the row. The vaccination attracts a number of citizens, so the area got quite crowded.

Highlights of the Week: Recycling yard in Zagreb on fire, reasons unclear

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© Matija Habljak/ PIXSELL

Zagreb's recycling yard, located on Sarajevska Cesta in Novi Zagreb, was victimized by fire but quickly localized and put under control on Tuesday. The fire caught four containers, and 21 firefighters with six fire trucks rushed to the field. Police investigated the cause of the fire, but the reason is, for the moment, unknown. Firefighters managed to operate despite the lack of hydrants, and the thick white smoke was noticed by citizens who live in the buildings close to the yard, reported Večernji List. 

To learn more about Croatia, have a look at our newly launched TC website.

For more about news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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