Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Bridge Over the River Zepa

Fish farm shows how business start-ups can draw in different ethnic groups.

Muhamed Tabakovic quotes the famous author Ivo Andric’s description of a bridge over the river Zepa as “serving life and bridging opposites”. Tabakovic’s own creation on the river has achieved something rather similar.

As a teenager, he fled from Zepa in the face of a Bosnian Serb offensive in 1995.

Later, he had a dream about starting a fish farm, which made such an impression that he did just that.

To acquire the knowledge he needed, he travelled to Serbia to see a professor who had set up a fish farming project in Zepa back in 1988.

Tabakovic went back home and set about clearing the river banks and installing pens for fish.

These days, he has a thriving fish raising and retail business, with offices in the nearby town of Rogatica, part of Republika Srpska, one of Bosnia’s two administrative entities. He plans to expand with an on-site packing plant.

His staff are recruited from across ethnic divides.

“I can say that the cooperation between Muslims and Serbs is really good. I haven’t had any bad experiences,” he says.

This film was produced as part of the Ordinary Heroes project, funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo. IWPR is implementing the project in partnership with the Post-Conflict Research Centre in Sarajevo.  

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