But contrary to the nationalist segregation that has defined the community since the war, The Mostar Rock School has been uniting its youth since 2012.
The school has trained 500 people, producing some of the nation’s greatest talents and is bringing back more social cohesion than ever since the war. Deserted roads and lethargic buildings, the quiet town discretely conceals the events that have taken place a few hundred metres from the centre.
The only suggestion of a celebration are the sounds of a door intermittently opening and closing behind the walls of a large, well-insulated building.
At the back of the room, amidst swirls of cigarette smoke and flashing spotlights, a group of musicians play for a small crowd.
With endless enthusiasm, four teenage musicians play indie rock songs, bow to the crowd, and hand the stage over to the next act.
This is the Mostar Rock School, the school that wants to eradicate nationalism.
History of Violence To truly understand why young people are so infatuated with this unusual Bosnian venue, its important to take a step back in time.
Twenty-five years ago, in what was previously Yugoslavia, Mostar lay between the Eastern and Western parts of the country and is still considered one of the most multicultural towns in Europe.
The 1992 Bosnian war explains this phenomenon: while nearly all Orthodox people escaped the region to join the Serbian zones, Bosnian Muslims and Croatian Catholics clashed violently on either side of the frontline that divided the town.With the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreements in 1995, the Catholic and Muslim populations migrated from one area of the town to another and the famous point connecting the East with the West was nothing more than a debris of bricks brought in by the current.Twenty years later, the bridge in Mostar still spans the Neretva River, re-built after the war by UNESCO.The former battlefront, which has now become the city’s main road, boasts ancient walls pitted with holes that allow wind and ghosts to pass through.Since the end of the war, Croatian Catholics and Bosnian Muslims have lived separate lives, sending their children to separate schools, attending separate hospitals, bars and sports centres.The youth of today was born after the war, but with the combination of what is aired on television and nationalist posters pasted on every street corner, it is difficult to forget the divide.To this day, the town has been severed in two, limiting the relations of its inhabitants with their neighbours.Home sweet home Orhan Maslo, founder of the Mostar Rock School, was only 17 when the Bosnian war ended.Joining the Bosnian defence army at the age of 14, he was one of the youngest soldiers in the country.The arrival of several international cultural organisations in post-conflict Mostar allowed him to discover his passion for music, with a particular fondness for percussion instruments.At the age of 28 he joined Dubioza, a Yugoslav rock band, which marked the beginning of his international music career.