Luigj Gurakuqi was an Albanian writer and politician. He was an important figure of the Albanian National Awakening.
Gurakuqi was born in Shkodër on February 19, 1879. He studied at the Jesuit-run St. Xavier College. As a student, he wrote poetry in Italian, Latin, and Albanian. In 1897, he left for Italy to study at the Italo–Albanian college of San Demetrio Corone. Gurakuqi also studied medicine in Naples for three years, but his interests were focused more on science and the humanities. In Naples, he came into contact with Arbëresh literary and political figures and published Albanian school texts and a book on prosody. He was also a poet and published under the pen name Jakin Shkodra and Lekë Gruda. He published articles in Albania, Drita, Kalendari-kombëtar, Liria e Shqipërisë, and La Nazione Albanese.
Together with Gjergj Fishta, he represented the “Unity” literary society of Shkodër at the Congress of Monastir in 1908, and, in September 1909, he attended the Congress of Elbasan, which was held to organize Albanian-language teaching and education. When Albania’s first teacher-training college, Shkolla Normale was set up in Elbasan in 1909, Luigj Gurakuqi was appointed its Director. Gurakuqi took part in the uprising in the Malësori uprising in 1911, the uprising in southern Albania in 1912, and in March of that year traveled to Skopje and Gjakova to stir up support for open resistance to Turkish rule and the inclusion of Kosovo in a new Albanian state. By September 1912, Gurakuqi and Ismail Qemal bey Vlora traveled to Bucharest to consult with the large Albanian Diaspora regarding Albanian geopolitical issues. Gurakuqi took part in the declaration of Albanian independence in Vlora on 28 November 1912 and served as minister of education in the first Albanian government, headed by Ismail Qemali.
In 1916, he played a role in the Albanian Literary Commission on Albanian orthography, which also served to encourage the publication of Albanian language school texts. During the Austro–Hungarian occupation of Shkodër, he served as director general of education and assisted in establishing about 200 elementary schools.
In 1918, Gurakuqi was again appointed minister of education in the newly formed Durrës government. The following year he attended the Paris Peace Conference. In 1921, he was appointed minister of the interior in the government of Hasan bey Prishtina. In 1924 Gurakuqi was one of the leaders of the revolution that overthrew the regime of Ahmet Zogu and established a democratic government. Fan S. Noli became the new Prime Minister, while Luigj Gurakuqi was part of the new cabinet as Minister of Economy and Finance in the short-lived government. In August 1924, Gurakuqi traveled to Geneva to defend Albanian interests at the League of Nations, but with the overthrow of Fan Noli’s democratic administration by the more authoritarian Zogu forces, he was forced to flee to Italy.
After the restoration of the Zogist regime, Gurakuqi lived in Bari, Italy, where he was murdered in a café by Baltjon Stambolla.
Luigj Gurakuqi served the national cause not only by playing an active role in public life, but also by contributing informative articles to a good number of Albanian periodicals.
Luigj Gurakuqi was awarded the titles “Hero of the People” and “Teacher of the People”.