Melihate Ajeti and Her Triumph on the Stage and in the Emancipation of Women

Melihate Ajeti, a 16-year-old actress, was conquering the theater scene in the 1950s. She embarked on her career alongside Katarina Josip, Leze Qena, Naxhije Deva, and other prominent figures of the time. Meli, as she was called by relatives and friends was one of the pioneering women who dared to pursue their dreams of becoming actresses during a challenging era. Despite facing prejudice, she managed to earn respect for her talent in acting and the performing arts.

She was one of the few actresses who received all the awards and honors bestowed during that time in the former Yugoslavia, thereby establishing and validating not only her presence on stage but also her exceptional national artistic prowess.

Meli was hailed as the queen of the Albanian stage, personified beauty, and exceptional acting talent, which she showcased in both theater and film throughout her remarkable 60-year career.

She received the highest award in Kosovo for her portrayal of Margaret Goties. Antigona Qena-Kaçaniku, a journalist and musician who is the daughter of the actress, emphasizes her mother’s extraordinary creativity and highlights that her artistic accomplishments were not only met with enthusiastic applause from the adoring public, but also with numerous accolades both domestically and internationally.

Qena-Kaçaniku expresses confidence that history and time will eventually recognize and honor the nation’s true artistic pioneers. Known as the prima donna of the Albanian stage, Meli is particularly renowned for her portrayal of heroic characters. Over her five-decade artistic career, she has left an indelible mark through her performances in theater, film, television dramas.

Meli completed her secondary education in Prishtina, and then continued her studies at the acting school in the same city. She later pursued specialization in Paris at the Comédie-Française.

She married the late director, singer and actor Muharrem Qena.

“On September 17, 1953, the sound of music filled our village as Meli became a bride, although her father, Shaban Ajeti, was absent to accompany his daughter,” writes Sanije Gashi in a book that also features the prima donna of Kosovo theater.

The couple’s only child is their daughter, Antigona Qena Kaçaniku. She describes her mother as a woman of dignity, sensitivity, and immense pride, who found solace in her solitude, often immersed in books and notebooks. She diligently filled her pages with writings, leaving behind over 160 pages with the belief that they would one day be published. Following her passing, her daughter published a monograph about Melihate Ajeti on the occasion of her 85th birth anniversary.

“The book unravels the story of a melancholic girl who, before her 16th birthday, entered the Kosovo Theater and played more than 180 roles, predominantly leading ones. Meli’s life was as beautiful as it was painful, and my childhood mirrored the same,” reflects Antigona Qena.

She shares personal recollections, reflecting on her life following her parents’ separation. In the memories of her colleagues, Meli remains irreplaceable even to this day. In the 1973’s newspaper “Rilindja,” the art critic Vehap Shita noted that “Ajeti was destined for tragic roles, which she portrayed with a combination of lyrical emotions, pride, and dignity. Her attitude and speech exuded clarity and a sharp vision, embracing both harsh expression and subtle, sensitive, and lyrical nuances.”

In her final interview with “Teuta” magazine in 2004, Meli imparted a valuable message, expressing hope for a brighter and more prosperous future for humanity in all fields. She yearned to witness the prosperity and joy of her people alongside her grandchildren.

On June 12, 2012, on the occasion of Freedom Day in the Republic of Kosovo, the President at the time, Atifete Jahjaga, decided to honor several national and international figures. Melihate Ajeti was awarded the prestigious “Presidential Medal of Merit” for her significant contributions to the field of art.

Melihate Ajeti, born in Pristina in 1935, left a profound legacy until her passing in 2005.