TAHEBO TEA // 08. 1993.

August 1993

Mubera Ramic
Owner of Herbal Pharmacy, ‘Tahebo’

‘People would come for example with pack of cigarettes; they would come with one or with the stamp. They would come, I do not know, with half a kilogram of sugar, a can and so on. All that was needed. Of course, for the survival of the household. And that is how have combined an in certain way in that situation and conducted exchanges, you know. It was like a can for a pack. As the cigarettes were like god’s fortune at the time, and of course there were none, thank god, than many have thought off smoking the tea. First my household members, my mother, my daughters, and if I may say that tea, even though it was full of iron and was very healing, it was very sharp when smoked, so it did not appeal to too many, but they have managed.’



• The Association of Pensioners sends a letter to embassies in 30 countries asking them for help in surviving this most tragic, difficult of periods.

• Geneva: Bosnian Serbs are willing to give up 22% of the territory of BiH, while they currently control 72%; of what remains, 29% would go to the Muslims, and 21% to the Croats.
• Bill Clinton, U.S. president: “We can undertake nothing without the consent of our allies.”

• The BH delegation establishes this condition for the continuation of negotiations in Geneva: the Bosnian Serbs must withdraw from Bjelasnica, a mountain above Sarajevo, by 5pm.
• The market has its own logic. Prices invariably correspond to the arrival of humanitarian aid, the disappearance of electricity and gas; the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers; and political events.

• City library of Sarajevo: “We have more readers than ever, but 130,000 books were destroyed, as well as part of the archives and our technical equipment.”
• The Bosnian Serb Army introduces air-bomb attacks on the city.

• NATO is ready for airstrikes. Warren Christopher and Manfred Woerner reach an agreement. Colin Powell: “Bosnia needs a political solution to end the killing.”

• Premier of the play “Alkestis”.

• NATO unanimously adopts a plan for air strikes on Serb positions around Sarajevo. Now it is up to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary General. UNPROFOR needs to set up at the Serb positions on Mt. Igman.
• Thieves from Sarajevo steal 100,000 liters of oil from a transformer station, which it needed to operate. Mayor Kresevljakovic proposes the death penalty for such crimes.
• The sounds of a piano echo in the city’s deserted streets. Alma, a student at the Music Academy, walks there and in the afternoon practices at her own home.

• No sign of a Bosnian Serb withdrawal from Mt. Igman. Boutros Boutros-Ghali: “The decision on airstrikes can only be made by the UN Security Council.”

• The Bosnian Serbs are given a deadline for their withdrawal from Igman and Bjelasnica, so that peace negotiations can continue in Geneva. If they do not withdraw, NATO will launch airstrikes.
• Prices on the market: peppers go from 35 to 40 DM.
• Warren Christopher: “Breaking the siege of Sarajevo is in the U.S. national interest.”
• Geneva, Radovan Karadzic: “If they strike, the Serbs will start a nuclear war.”
• Part of the “Mir” convoy arrives in Sarajevo. On the Split-Sarajevo road, everything is taken from them. A concert for the pacifists under the name “Dry your tears, Sarajevo sings”.

• Pacifists leave the city.

• Five cisterns of oil arrive in the city.

• The Bosnian Serb Army leaves its positions on Igman and Bjelasnica, burning and looting hotels, bungalows, houses and woods.
• Watermelons from Serbia appear at the market.
• A young girl, Irma Hadzimuratovic, is hit by sniper fire. Under great international pressure she is transported to England for treatment.
• Geneva: Alija Izetbegovic announces: “We accept the division imposed by the West. The world is not ready for military intervention. We must no longer base our actions on those presumptions.”
• Actor Admir Glamocak, who acts in the play “Waiting for Godot”, loses 2 kg between every performance. The play is put on by candlelight.
• Sales begin of “Tahebo” tea in the city.

• Geneva, August 17, 1993. Peace negotiations in Geneva: Alija Izetbegovic demands access to the sea and at least 40% of the territory.
• Departure of the Bosnian Serb Army from Igman, which the world media interprets as the lifting of the siege of Sarajevo.
Brigadier UNPROFOR, Haze: “Humanitarian aid has been blockaded from Sarajevo because of the Muslim offensive in Gornji Vakuf.”
Bosnian Serbs: “Sarajevo has never been under siege.”
Fruer: “Sarajevo is no longer besieged, but surrounded by an army.”
Ejup Ganic, member of the Presidency of BiH: “After this statement Fruer has been deemed a persona non grata.”
• Football match played between SARAJEVO- UNPROFOR. Final score: 9 - 5.

• Geneva, August 18, 1993. Peace negotiations in Geneva: Three delegations make recommendations on the status of Sarajevo.
• The Ministry of Education in Sarajevo tells the city’s inhabitants: “The textbooks have been prepared, but we lack the materials for printing them.”

• The Bosnian Serb Assembly weighs over a plan on the division of BiH. Karadzic warns the BiH government to unconditionally accept the proposed division of the country or face military defeat.
• Ivo Komsic, president of the HSS: “Bosnia has no allies, only verbal support, no one has actually helped. Advisors came to the Serbs and Croats, primary individuals from countries on the Security Council.”
• Herzeg-Bosnia proclaimed in Livno.

• Russia shuts off its gas supply to Bosnia over unpaid bills. Hungary is prepared to deliver 10,000 cubic meters of natural gas an hour from its own supplies.
• At a meeting of the Presidency of BiH a decision is made on the movement of convoys. Already for eight months, people have been waiting with their suitcases packed for a signal for departure. Eighty-seven of them die while waiting..

• New York, August 26, 1993.
The UN Security Council adopts resolution 859, reaffirming the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of BiH
The Security Council confirms that the solution to the conflict in the Republic of BiH must conform to the UN charter and principles of international law. It further affirms the continuing relevance in this context of:
a) the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
b) the fact that neither a change in the name of the State nor changes regarding the internal organization of the State such as those contained in the constitutional agreement annexed to the Co-Chairmen's report would affect the continued membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the United Nations;
c) the principles adopted by the London International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, including the need for a cessation of hostilities, the principle of a negotiated solution freely arrived at, and the unacceptability of the acquisition of territory by force or by 'ethnic cleansing' and the right of refugees and others who have suffered losses to compensation in accordance with the statement on Bosnia adopted by the London Conference;
d) recognition and respect for the right of all displaced persons to return in their homes in safety and honour;
e) the maintenance of Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a united city and a mulicultural, multi-ethnic and pluri-religious centre.

• Alain Little, BBC reporter: “In Geneva their signature marks surrender, but there’s no other way out for the Bosnian people. Their surrender has been dictated by the international community.”

Price list

200 DM for 1 cubic mater of wood, but you have to pay 50 DM more for the delivery.
170 DM for a bottle of whiskey, or of French cognac.
120 DM for a kilo of garlic.
100 DM for a hare (white, weighing about 3 kilos), or 1 kilo of dried meat.
40 DM - for this you can get 10 packs of cigarettes, or 1 liter of oil, or 1 kilo of beans, or
children’s bicycle, or 1 can of fish and 1 can of pate, or 1 lunch package, or half a kilo of tobacco.
30 DM for a wool sweater (hand made) or 1 jar of fat.
20 DM for 1 kilo of onions, or 2 kilos of cabbage, or a big pumpkin.
10 DM is the price of four batteries of 1,5 V, or of 5 liters of water - at all times except the summer.
Then the price of 5 liters of water raises to 30 DM.
3 DM for a chocolate bar, or a bunch of parsley. A circular saw is worth as much as seven kilos onions. One liter of milk is between 2,5 and 5 DM, but can be gotten for a pack of cigarettes. This is the best exchange between babies and smokers known in history.
What functions best is bartering. For two kilos of raw coffee, you can get a propane gas bottle of 12 kilos. A package of antibiotics is worth two local phone-calls. For a liter of cooking oil you can get a carton of cigarettes and a liter of cheap liquor, or three liters of cherry-syrup. For two liters of oil you can wear almost new Reeboks. A used male winter jacket costs 3 kilos of onions. A once-standard package of 18 kilos of paint is being exchanged for any kind and amount of food. 10 liters of oil, the amount which supplies energy for the two-hour shooting of a TV broadcast about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is exchanged for 12 cans which supply energy for your private survival.
In handwritten ads on Tito’s street, one finds supply and demand ranging from gas stoves, jackets, shoes to messages such is this: “I am looking for a woman to help me survive the winter.”


All through the siege the city markets were operating. There one could buy all sorts of edible and less edible plants and homegrown teas. Also the humanitarian aid was sold and traded there, like “Truman eggs” (the powdered eggs which had been stored since WW II), cigarettes, etc. The markets were the aggressors’ favorite target and a great number of Sarajevo citizens got killed or maimed there. There has not been a single market in Sarajevo which was not the sight of a massacre. The markets were the only places where Sarajevans could buy some food. Late in the summer of 1995 some protected street-corners were promoted into markets.