Few people know who Xenophon Jingzifi is, and even fewer know that this person has earned a prominent place in Bulgarian cultural and historical memory, our Renaissance history and literature. In Deleted Paths of Bulgarka Magazine, we will tell you about this forgotten revivalist, because he is one of the greatest proponents of Bulgarianness, Bulgarian spirit and national consciousness in enslaved Macedonia.
Born in 1839 in Veles, Xenophon was born in the family of a wretched Wallachian teacher, John Jingzifi. The son followed in his father's footsteps and studied at the Greek school in Prilep where his father taught. In 1853 - 1854, Xenophon became an assistant teacher at his father's same school. Nothing predicts that the young man will soon grow up to be one of the greatest Bulgarian enlighteners and will become the first poet of the Bulgarian National Revival. It may seem strange to some that a man named Xenophon, who is of Wallachian descent and raised in a family with Greek self-consciousness, will become a hot Bulgarian patriot and proud son of his mother Bulgaria. It is good to know that belonging to the Bulgarian people during the Middle Ages passed along the line of the Bulgarian Church. Even if the Bulgarian royal families (Asenevtsi or Terterovtsi) have a foreign ethnic origin, but accept the Bulgarian one by their participation in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, where the worship is performed in their native language.
During the Revival, when Xenophon Jindzifi lived, Bulgarian was perceived through the mother tongue and historical memory. When a writer realizes that his mother tongue is Bulgarian and not Greek or some other, and when he learns and accepts as his glorious history of the Bulgarian race - then this writer is no longer "ashamed to call himself a Bulgarian", but reads and writes in your own language. The same happens with Rayko Jinzifov. Xenophon Jindzifi, who has already adopted the Bulgarian name Rayko Jinzifov, will eventually write the verses:
“When will you come to my land
in Bugarska Macedonia
You see Bugari Gunaci
Speak the words: "Macedonia you Bugari Gunaci
how long are you in prison? Are you sitting black faces?
You agree you will,
Open Bulgarian schools
in the church of Bugarski you read,
you're not scared of anyone! "
Xenophon recognizes his Bulgarian national identity with the help of two other great Bulgarian nationals - Dimitar Miladinov and Georgi Rakovski. It is their authority, knowledge and guidance that make him embrace the cause of patriotism and Bulgarianness for a lifetime. This happened in particular after 1856, the year in which the young man became an assistant teacher to Dimitar Miladinov (the older of the Miladinovi brothers), and then was an independent teacher at the Bulgarian school in the town of Kukush. He continued to move in the close circle of D. Miladinov, who noticed his great potential and persuaded him to go to continue his education in Russia.
Ginsifov went to Odessa and studied for a while at the Kherson Theological Seminary, but then headed for Moscow, summoned by the other of the Miladinov brothers, the younger Konstantin. He has been awarded a scholarship by the Slavic Charity Committee, which allows him to cover his current material needs and study. In 1859, Jinzifov made his literary debut with his short story Proshhetba in the Bulgarian Brotherhood Labor magazine. Between 1860 - 1864 studied at the Faculty of History of Moscow University, where he graduated with a Ph.D. He remains to live and work in Russia. It is associated with the Slavophile circles there, which most actively contribute, morally and materially, to the enlightenment and spiritual awakening among the Slavic peoples. After graduating, Jinzifov made the trip and spent a short stay in his native land, but the political situation was not conducive to Russian graduates living uneasily in Macedonia. Turkish authorities are highly suspicious of him. Awakened for political reasons, Jinzifov returns to his new home country Russia, but for the rest of his life his thoughts and feelings are directed to his native Bulgarian region.
As a typical revivalist, Jinzifov wrote numerous journalistic articles, and did not limit himself to poetry. Collaborates in "Bulgarian Dawn", "Freedom", "Bulgarian Books" and others. Creativity should be considered inseparably and closely connected with his life, as in the case of Botev or Karavelov. Jinzifov's entire literary activity is imbued with patriotism. Two years after graduating, in 1866 he was appointed teacher of Greek at the Lazarev Institute in Moscow. Until the end of his life he taught in Moscow high schools, and after 1871 he rose to become a teacher in the lyceum of the future Tsar Nicholas II. In the 60s, when Jinzifov's stay in Russia began, the only way to help the Slavic peoples under Ottoman rule was through education. Russia lost the Crimean War of 1853-1856 and had no choice but to enlighten the fate of Christians in the Ottoman Empire except through enlightenment.
Jinzifov suffers for his beloved Macedonia and mourns its fate in his works. The difficult fate of the Bulgarians in Macedonia is one of the central themes in the work of Rayko Jinzifov. Experts point out the main motives in his poems: these are the people's sufferings, the grief for the homeland, the life and sorrows of the poet abroad and the national enlightenment ideals that he professes. Some of these motives later became central in the much more talented Bulgarian poets Dobri Chintulov and Hristo Botev. With great zeal Jinzifov wrote against the Greek demands in Macedonia. He himself experienced the dirty influence of Greekism on himself in his youth and knows that its influence can eradicate the Bulgarian national consciousness of the Macedonians.
"Macedonia, a strange country,
She should not be Greek.
Forest and forest and mountain,
The very stone on this side,
Bird and fish from the Vardar River,
Alive, dead on its feet
They will become and answer
On the body of Europe, on the goal of the world:
I'm a sad Bulgarian, I'm sad Bulgarian,
Bulgarians live in this country. "
Ginsifov describes how both living and inanimate nature ("forest and mountain", "bird and fish") rise to protect the Bulgarian character of his native Macedonia.
In "Guslar in the Cathedral" we see the beautiful Bulgarian Milkana, who sings in the choir:
"I'm sad young Bugark,
My name is Milkana,
I am sad pure Slavyanka,
Born in Bulgaria. "
While leaving behind a considerable poetic heritage, experts have identified Raiko Jinzifov as a rather insignificant poet. He lacks the poetic talent, his poems do not have a strong artistic impact. At the same time, as he notes Boyan Penev, Jinzifov has an exceptional place in the history of Bulgarian literature, because he was the first poet to describe the sufferings of his native Macedonia. "For the first time in our poetry, Macedonia is mentioned in Jinzifov's verses." (Boyan Penev). Rayko Jinzifov died of tuberculosis in 1877 - too young, shortly before the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation, and could not wait to see his beloved Macedonia free and Bulgarian.