Gjokaj

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Gjokaj is an Albanian surname of the Triesh clan of Malësi e Madhe district of southeastern Montenegro. Gjokajs from Triesh trace their ancestral origins from the town of Muzheçku, Triesh. The name of Muzheçku comes from the ancient ancestor that bond Gjokajs and Nikollajs (also from Muzheçku) in their bloodline, Muzh Marashi. The name Gjokaj is derived from the ancient ancestor of Gjok Lumi, the grandson of Muzh Marashi. Most of the current descendants of the Gjokaj clan derive from Ivan Mali's three sons:

  • Prel Ivani
  • Gjek Ivani
  • Lek Ivani

The Gjokajs of Triesh are direct descendants of the ancient ancestor, Bak Keqi (or Ban Keqi). He is the brother of Lazar Keqi (Hoti tribe). Edith Durham’s book High Albania makes reference to the direct correlation between the Keqi brothers and the significance of the bloodlines. In her book, she describes what was said by a Malësor of the Hot tribe in one of the many villages she explored in the highland regions of northern Albania in 1909:

“And half the tribe of Triepshi, the stem of Bakechi, is of Hoti blood. We cannot marry them. The other half–the Bekaj–we can. They are not our blood; they come from Kopliku. Triepshi belongs to Montenegro now, but is all Catholic.” (Durham, 1909)[1]

The direct descendants of the Gjokaj include:

  • Prel, Gjek & Lek Ivani (Brothers and descendants of the majority of current Gjokajs)
  • Ivan Mali
  • Mal Prëgza
  • Prëgz Gjoka
  • Gjok Lumi (Ancestor of which the Gjokaj name derives)
  • Lum Muzhi
  • Muzh Marashi (The ancestor that the name of the town, "Muzheçku" is derived)
  • Marash Pata
  • Pat Baku
  • Bak Keqi (brother of "Lazar Keqi" of the Hoti tribe of Malësi e Madhe)

Current members of the Gjokaj clan of Triesh predominantly live in parts of Tuzi, Montenegro and surrounding areas of Malësi e Madhe. A large majority of Gjokajs have immigrated to the United States starting in the early 1970s in search of a better living for their families and the strive for the American dream. The majority of Gjokajs residing in the US live in close-knit Albanian American communities throughout the US, predominantly in Metro Detroit and within the New York City metropolitan area.

Notable men of the Gjokaj clan:

  • Tom Leka (First known Gjokaj to have immigrated to the US. He later returned home in the early 1900s where he died during the Albanian uprising against the Ottoman Empire, which was led by Ded Gjo Luli and Sokol Baci in the Battle of Deçiq.)
  • Frano Marku (Known for settling disputes between individuals that avoided family feuds and bloodshed.)
  • Anton Vaseli (Nephew of Frano Marku, died while attempting to save his best-man’s life during a deadly confrontation.)
  • Rrok Gjoka (Known for his bravery and patriotism.)
  • Mark Gjergji (A respected philanthropist known for assisting the less fortunate in Kosovo and Malësi e Madhe.)
  • Mark Toma (A humble man known for his kindness and generosity.)

References[edit]

Durham, E. (1909). High Albania. London: Edward Arnold.