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Why a Somali-born fighter is being honoured in Rome

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AFP

In our series of letters from African journalists, Ismail Einashe looks at how some Italians are revaluating their colonial past in Africa.

Rome’s city council voted earlier this month to name a future metro station in the Italian capital in honour of Giorgio Marincola, an Italian-Somali who was a member of the Italian resistance.

He was killed at the age of 21 by withdrawing Nazi troops who opened fire at a checkpoint on 4 May 1945, two days after Germany had officially surrendered in Italy at the end of World War Two.

The station, which is currently under construction, was going to be called Amba Aradam-Ipponio – a reference to an Italian campaign in Ethiopia in 1936 when fascist forces brutally unleashed chemical weapons and committed war crimes at the infamous Battle of Amba Aradam.

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Getty Images

Image caption

This illustration of the Battle of Amba Aradam, where mustard gas was used, appeared in La Domenica del Corriere paper on 1 March 1936

The name change came after a campaign was launched in June, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the world following the killing of African American George Floyd by US police.

Started by journalist Massimiliano Coccia, he was supported by Black Lives Matter activists, other journalists and Italian-Somali writer Igiabo Scego and Marincola’s nephew, the author Antar Marincola.

The ‘black partisan’

Activists first placed a banner at the metro site stating that no station should be named after “oppression” and pushed for Marincola’s short, but remarkable life to be remembered.

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Razza Partigiana/Family archive

Image caption

Giorgio Marincola left his mother when young to be raised by his Italian family

He is known as the “partigiano neroor” or “black partisan” and was an active member of the resistance.

In 1953 he was posthumously awarded Italy’s highest military honour, the Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare, in recognition of his efforts and the ultimate sacrifice he made.

Marincola was born in 1923 in Mahaday, a town on the Shebelle River, north of Mogadishu, in what was then known as Italian Somaliland.

His mother, Ashkiro Hassan, was Somali and his father an Italian military officer called Giuseppe Marincola.

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Razza Partigiana/Family archive

Image caption

Giuseppe Marincola (L) acknowledge his Somali offspring

At the time few Italian colonists acknowledged children born of their unions with Somali women.

But Giuseppe Marincola bucked the trend and later brought his son and daughter, Isabella, to Italy to be raised by his family.

Isabella went on to become a an actress, notably starring in Riso Amore (Bitter Rice), released in 1949.

Giorgio Marincola too was gifted, excelling at school in Rome and went on to enrol as a medical student.

During his studies he came to be inspired by anti-fascist ideology. He decided to enlist in the resistance in 1943 – at a time his country of birth was still under Italian rule.

Giorgio Marincola

Razza Partigiana

Homeland means freedom and justice for the peoples of the world. This is why I fight the oppressors”

He proved a brave fighter, was parachuted into enemy territory and was wounded. At one time he was captured by the SS, who wanted him to speak against the partisans on their radio station. On air he reportedly defied them, saying: “Homeland means freedom and justice for the peoples of the world. This is why I fight the oppressors.”

The broadcast was interrupted – and sounds of a beating could be heard.

‘Collective amnesia’

But anti-racism activists want far more than just the renaming of a metro stop after Marincola – they want to shine the spotlight on Italy’s colonial history.

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Reuters

Image caption

A statue of journalist Indro Montanelli, who defended colonialism and married an Eritrean girl aged 12, was defaced in June

They want the authorities in Rome to go further and begin a process of decolonising the city.

This happened unilaterally in Milan when, amid the Black Lives Matter protests, the statue of controversial journalist Indro Montanelli, who defended colonialism and admitted to marrying a 12-year-old Eritrean girl during his army service in the 1930s, was defaced.

Yet to bring about true change there needs to be an awareness about the past.

Italy’s colonial timeline in East Africa:

  • 1890: Kingdom of Italy takes over Eritrea and proclaims it a colony
  • 1895: Italy invades Ethiopia, then called Abyssinia
  • 1896: Italian forces defeated by the Ethiopians at Adwa – and sign a treaty recognising the country’s independence
  • 1889: Italy sets up a protectorate in central Somalia
  • 1935: Fascist Italy invades Ethiopia, accused of war crimes and using chemical weapons during its campaign
  • 1936: Italians capture Addis Ababa. Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland become Italian East Africa
  • 1937: Italian forces in Addis Ababa kill an estimated 19,000 people over three days in February in reprisal for the attempted assassination of the man appointed by Mussolini to govern the colony
  • 1941: British and Commonwealth troops aided by the local resistance defeat the Italians in the region

Listen: Italy’s shame – the massacre in Ethiopia

The trouble at the moment is what seems to be a collective amnesia in Italy over its colonial history.

In the years I have spent reporting from the country I am always struck at how little most Italians seem to know about their colonial history, whether I’m in Rome, Palermo or Venice.

The extent of Italy’s involvement in Eritrea, Somalia, Libya, and Albania to Benito Mussolini’s fascist occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s is not acknowledged.

Somali bolognese

Last month, Somalia celebrated its 60th anniversary of independence.

Giorgio and Isabella Marincola pictured in 1929

Razza Partigiana

Somalis too have also left their own imprint in Italy – not just through the Marincola siblings – but in the literature, film and sports”

Reshaped by 30 years of conflict, memories of colonial times have all been lost – except in the kitchen where a staple of Somali cuisine is “suugo suqaar”- a sauce eaten with “baasto” or pasta.

But for this Somali bolognese, we use cubed beef, goat or lamb with our version of the classic Italian soffritto – sautéed carrots, onion and peppers – to which we add heady spices.

I love to cook theses dish and last summer while I was in Palermo did so for Italian friends, serving it with shigni, a spicy hot sauce, and bananas.

It was a strange pairing for Italians, though my friends tucked in with gusto – with only the odd raised eyebrow.

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Media captionTeranga, a nightclub in Naples helping migrants overcome trauma

And Somalis have also left their own imprint in Italy – not just through the Marincola siblings – but in the literature, film and sports.

Cristina Ali Farah is a well-known novelist, Amin Nour is an actor and director, Zahra Bani represented Italy as a javelin thrower and Omar Degan is a respected architect.

Image copyright
Ismail Einashe

Image caption

The “suugo suqaar”and “baasto” Ismail Einashe served up in Palermo proved popular

And today Somalis constitute both some of Italy’s oldest and newest migrants.

In spring 2015 I spent a warm afternoon meandering throughout the backstreets near Rome’s Termini station meeting Somalis who had been in Italy for decades and Somalis who had arrived on dinghies from Libya to Italy.

Those new to Italy called the older community “mezze-lira” – meaning “half lira” to denote their dual Somali-Italian identities.

In turn they are called “Titanics” by established Somalis, a reference to the hard times most migrants have faced in making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to reach Europe, and the lives they will face in Italy with the political rise of anti-migration parties.

The naming of a station after Marincola is an important move for all of them – and a timely reminder for all Italians of the long ties between Italy and Somalia.

More Letters from Africa:

Follow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica





Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Year of the Overcomer-Prophet Elvis Mbonye

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The eagerly awaited first fellowship of controversial Prophet Elvis Mbonye left viewers shocked as he declined to issue his now famous prophecies citing a refusal to settle for the new normal. In an on online service watched by thousands, the Prophet said him prophesying would “ be a concession to gathering online, rather than physically” further stating that it is not the will of God that church should meet online!

The Covid-19 SOPs given by the government and Ministry of Health have heavily impacted gatherings and as a result, ministries with large congregations have resorted to online services. The prophet however insists that this is a ploy to diminish the influence of the Kingdom of God.

He however proceeded to give the Prophetic Word of the year , saying “This is the year of the Overcomers” amidst cheers from those present. He also stated that this would not be a “gloomy” year, probably meaning that this would be a good year. Given that many of his prophecies have actually come to pass, should we pay more attention to him? We eagerly await the prophecies this year.

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Kabuleta blasts Media over “COFIT” reporting in new rant.

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Presidential hopeful Joseph Kiiza Kabuleta has expressed dissatisfaction with the media over what he says was”alarmist reporting” over the Covid-19 pandemic which he calls “COFIT” a term we believe is a wordplay between covid and profit, a view held by many that claims that the disease was exaggerated to maximize funding and corruption. Kabuleta has come to be known for his straight shooting style and admirable command of facts and policy, even being touted as the “smartest candidate” in the race.here is the full statement:

MEDIA AND THE COFIT ENTERPRISE

By Joseph Kabuleta

“Don’t look at where you fell, but where you slipped”
AFRICAN PROVERB

We know where the media fell. They fell when they were caught in the crossfire between opposition politicians and trigger-happy security hitmen; when they were unfairly targeted as they went about their noble duty of covering this explosive elective season. Sadly, some journalists are nursing wounds; others weren’t so lucky.
But it’s important for us to understand where they slipped.

If someone is sitting by the roadside sipping on his brew and he sees a gang of people sprinting past him, as if for their lives, it’s understandable if he impulsively joins without asking questions. But if after nine months he is still sprinting, and has still not asked any questions, then there’s something terribly wrong with him.

When we first went into lockdown in March, it was probably the best course of action because we didn’t know the full extent of the Cofit threat. But in the first 90 days, it was clear to all and sundry that it was never going to rank among Uganda’s top health challenges. And that’s not my opinion.

The Daily Monitor on July 15th quoted Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago Hospital Executive Director, describing the Cofit strain in the country as a mild form of flu which does not require hospital admission since it can be treated at home or in lower health facilities.
“l told Ugandans right from the beginning that the type of coronavirus we expect in Uganda is the mild one. It can be treated at health centre II, III, IV or the district hospital,” the top Medic said.

I read the story with glorious delight supposing that finally common sense, (or should I say science sense) would inform our decisions as a nation. But it’s difficult to know where science stops and politics starts. It’s become clear over the months that Cofit is not just a virus that causes respiratory problems, it’s a lot more than that; it’s a weapon in the hands of politicians that gives them power beyond their wildest dreams. In America, for instance, Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn said Cofit is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our (leftist) vision” while actress and activist Jane Fonda said that Cofit was “God’s gift to the left.”

Our media could have taken the side of poor Ugandans by showing the immense suffering and death from preventable sicknesses that resulted from the harsh Cofit measures; they could have highlighted the plight of businesses permanently closed and workers rendered redundant and sent back to villages. They could have wondered why truck drivers were testing negative in Kenya and positive in Uganda, or wondered why Cofit deaths only started after Prophet Museveni showed us a macabre lineup of coffins in his address, or why every celebrity who dies since then is ruled as Cofit (no autopsy required)

They could have told us that according to Worldometer, Cofit has a 0.28% mortality rate (or a 99.72 survival rate) and that it doesn’t rank anywhere in the Top 10 of Uganda’s health challenges; they could have told us that a child dies of malaria every two minutes (and Uganda accounts for 3% of the world’s malaria fatalities), which means that more Ugandans die from mosquitoes in ten days than Cofit has (allegedly) killed in the nine months it’s been on our lips.

Ugandans (especially of my age) have lived through real pandemics. As a young man growing up in the early 90s, nobody had to remind me that AIDS was real. Goodness me, I knew it was! And I didn’t need police to force me to wear protection, I knew the consequences. The fact that we are constantly being reminded that ‘Cofit is real’ tells a story of its own.

The media could have asked why Uganda, with one of the lowest Cofit cases or deaths, still holds on to a 9:00pm curfew when Kenya moved to 11:00pm in September, as did South Africa and several countries. The media could have told us that Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania and, recently, Ghana all held successful elections with full blown campaigns in 2020, and we aren’t hearing people dropping dead from Cofit in any of those countries. May be they should have tried to find out if people are dropping dead in Tanzania which altogether ignored all Cofit measures and went on to acquire middle-income status while Ugandans were still in lockdown.

They could have told us about the asymptomatic Cofit patients who were filmed dancing the night away in hospital wards, or of people suffering from other diseases who dare not go to hospital because they fear to be given a fake Cofit label and held for two weeks against their will.

The media could have told us that Cofit deaths across the world have been grossly inflated. Minnesota lawmakers say Cofit deaths could have been inflated by 40% after examining death certificates (according to The Washington Examiner) while Fox News reported that in Colorado 45% of Cofit corpses “were also found to have bullet wounds”.

They could have told us that 22 European countries, all of which had tens of thousands of Cofit deaths, opened their schools in the fall, and there has not been any reported spikes in cases as a result. They could have told us that more people have been killed by security men enforcing Cofit measures than by the virus itself.

Well, they could have…but they didn’t. And that’s where they slipped.

Instead they chose to go down the path of alarmist reporting and in so doing became, inadvertently or otherwise, enablers of Uganda’s trillion-shilling Cofit enterprise. Like Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the media used flowery language to drum up fear by keeping people’s eyes transfixed on swelling numbers while the thieves carried their loot and stashed it away, and loan money was distributed among family members or used in regime prolongation.

The recent joint television news bulletin, and the adverts that followed, were the peak of hysterical reporting. “Zuukuka Tusaanawo” (wake up, we are perishing) screamed an advert featuring top media personalities. What a load of……(fill in appropriate word).

Remember, all the tyranny we have witnessed in this season has been done in the name of Cofit, and such sensationalist reporting justifies it; it gives dictators like Museveni the perfect pseudo-moralistic cover to unleash their most despotic fantasies while actually pretending that it’s for the good of the people. Unfortunately, the terror has now spread to the very media people whose hyperbole enabled it in the first place. There is such a thing as the law of cause and consequence, after all.

Instead of the media walking out of pressers and threatening to boycott government functions, let them threaten to stop all Cofit reporting. Museveni himself would come running with chocolate in hand.

If the president extended curfew by just two hours, for instance, he will have put as many as 200,000 Ugandans back to work especially in the hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries; but he doesn’t care, and sadly neither do many middleclass Ugandans who suppose that it’s their moral obligation as responsible citizens of the Global Village to fret over Cofit just because their ‘fellow citizens’ in Europe and America are doing so. Of course they can afford to do that because their corporate jobs have, for the most part, insulated them from the devastation of the government-instituted Cofit measures. They can enjoy working at home, beer in hand, as they listen to CNN and BBC and still expect the full complement of their salaries at the month end, and that makes them feel every bit like ‘their brothers’ overseas.

Such aspirational conformists are more likely to be offended by my stance on Cofit because they haven’t traversed crook and creek of this country and seen the damage reigned on this fragile society; not by the virus, but by the measures supposedly instituted to mitigate it.

You see, perhaps the most enduring damage this regime has done to our society is creating a three-part hierarchy of class and needs. At the zenith are a handful of connected ‘1986 generation’ and their families who feel entitled to all power and wealth. Beneath is a small (and shrinking) middleclass, and at the bottom of the pyramid is a mass of peasants. Every society, to various degrees, is ordered in the same fashion, but what makes Uganda unique is that the megalomaniacs at the top don’t give a nickel about the plight of the middleclass and the middleclass in turn don’t care a bit about the quandary of the peasant. The charlatans at the top will impose punitive taxes on the middleclass, then dip into NSSF coffers at a whim to share out their savings, and no one can stop them.

And the middleclass Ugandan, armed with his medical insurance, and safe in the knowledge that his wife is unlikely to die in child birth (20 Ugandans do EVERY DAY), and his children are very unlikely to die of malaria (20 do EVERY DAY), or from malnutrition (thousands do every year), will go around trumpeting Cofit because it’s more relevant to his status than malnutrition or malaria.

I could just as easily go down that path. I could also close my eyes to mothers failing to get breast milk because they can only afford half a meal a day (black tea with a piece of cassava), and the malnourished babies that emerge as a result; I could close my eyes to the teenage girls that were given out in marriage because schools closed, or those given out to meet family needs; I could ignore the fact that our president is opening 5-star markets in cities which have 1-star referral hospitals; I could also choose to look the other way and enjoy my middleclass lifestyle, but as an aspiring leader, I cannot.

As a leader, my aspiration is to remove the privileged/entitled class, to expand the middleclass (and their income), and to shrink the peasantry; but mostly to blur the lines that separate each category.
It doesn’t bode well for our country if the average Corporate Ugandan knows more about racism in America than about extreme poverty in Teso or Busoga because that disqualifies him/her from the solution to those local problems.

And finally, I have come to the realization that the biggest pandemic afflicting our country is poverty and the virus that causes it is called M7-1986. Vaccination against it is January 14

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge

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Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

STATEMENT
Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.

ChangeYouCanTrust

CountryBeforeSelf

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