[i] Hello [name].

[r] Hello.

[i] We are here to talk to [name] Strong as italo_eritrea. Can you tell us a little about your Italian-Eritrean connection? Who is [name] Forte and why should I consider you as italo_eritrea?

[r] You have to consider me italo_eritrea because I am italo_eritrea in the sense that I am the daughter of a woman of Eritrean mother my grandmother fantastic grandmother Selbetu. And then because I have the Italian father. So I have an Italo-Eritrean mother and an Italian father. Let’s say I have a 25% Eritrean. Even if I feel much more Eritrean than I feel Italian. I was born in Turin almost 42 years ago, and I grew up with my mother’s family so with this extraordinary Eritrean woman who has been gone for almost 3 years. For me traditions are, family traditions are the values that have been transferred to me, they are those of the Eritrean community, I grew up among the women of the community. My mother’s family arrived in Italy in 1968, then another conflict broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia. And the Italians who were there had a family, they had started a family with local women, they took their wives and children and returned to Italy and from there, as in the case of my mother they knew who Italian men who… and we have arrived we can call ourselves second generations or given their age are already a third? I don’t know…

[i] Apart from the third/second generation jokes you were born here in Turin, but this strong bond with Eritrea, so your mother was born down in Eritrea?

[r] My mother was born in 1956 in Asmara. She grew up and was there until 68. However, the traditions, although she spent the first 12 years in Eritrea, arriving so you have not lost those traditions that were brought from home, so on Sundays when the family met, you had to use the typical clothes. Even just at home the dishes, while in the traditional Italian family maybe there is lasagna, roast agnolotti, for us instead the tradition provided for the Zighini, shiro, ingera all those who are the typical dishes of Eritrean cuisine precisely.

[i] Instead I ask you a question, since your mother was born down in Eritrea and is the daughter of a mixed couple because your grandfather was of Italian origin if I have not misunderstood.

[r]Absolutely yes

[i] How was this couple born in Asmara, given also the times and the link between Italy and Asmara at the time. Did your grandparents tell you about it?

[r] My grandparents met when my grandfather, for the story we all know, arrived, we all know but we don’t all remember, arrived in the horn with the Italian army for it, let’s call it “conquest”. He was one of those who never returned to Italy, my grandfather fell in love with those places and decided to leave the army and to stand by the people of Eritrea for the construction of a future of that territory. He met his grandmother, they immediately fell in love with a romantic love that remained romantic until the end of their days. His grandfather has been gone since September 11, 2001, but as long as he was healthy, he was a wonderful man who loved this woman, filling her with the attention of that love, even a little bit, all of us women dream of, and which in fact is not very easy, especially in the age in which I am living. And even the grandmother felt like a queen next to him because she saw what alas happened to the women in that time there. And she considered herself a very lucky woman and said of her husband: “I’m not with a man I’m with a gentleman”.

[i]And as it was, your grandmother’s life here, if she ever told you about it. Especially for you to grow up with an Eritrean grandmother in Turin as a child, because at the time I didn’t think it was normal to have an Eritrean grandmother…

[r] No, it was quite singular in effect. It was very complicated for her. When she arrived, therefore, she experienced all the limitations that at the time weighed on the lives of people in southern Italy. So… we are talking about a period in which there were signs saying: “houses are not rented to the south”. So you were more southern than the southerners. In the ’70s until the early ’80s, or rather almost all the ’80s. you lived, if you still felt a bit of prejudice, of racism, although the Eritrean community was one of the first communities, it is not very numerous but it was still one of the first communities to take root in the territory. Moreover, always doing work in the service of the Italians. We have women who have been governesses in houses on the Turin hill, rather than butlers, in short… there is much more clearly. In those years it wasn’t very simple, it wasn’t very simple even for me who…

[i]In what sense wasn’t it very simple, not even for you?

[r] It wasn’t very simple for me either, because I lived in a district of the city, Cit Turin, where there weren’t any African people, there weren’t any, my mother and I were the darkest in the area. And I didn’t perceive prejudice, except when my grandmother appeared near me. Then I felt it. Then I’ve always been with a bit of a temperament, let’s say, warm and probably that’s the part of Tigrin DNNA. And already the name says it all. So I’ve always lived it with a great desire to rebel against this condition. Because jokes, teasing, mocking my grandmother, while the same people when I was near my Italian family this thing about me a little for obvious reasons, did not perceive it. She was suffering, she was suffering a lot for all the times that there were events with a racist background. I must say that she had such values and intelligence that she didn’t take it out on herself, or didn’t feel she was at fault, she felt so much compassion for those who, on her, were raging, on her, and on other women, were raging with gestures even enough… in short… that it’s not even too nice to tell.

[i]But this grandmother made yu, in some way, feel erythroic. . .

[r] Yes. In the meantime I spent the first years of my life at home with her and with my aunts who… so the Eritrean women, who are very close to each other, met every day, had a snack together, dined together, went out together with all the grandchildren. And so necessarily, growing up there, this belonging came out, this sense of belonging that today sees me also at a social level committed to supporting the few, now, but migrants from Eritrea. It was a consequence, for me they are brothers, that is my land from which I originate.

Have you ever been to Eritrea?

[r] Not yet because, in short, until 1992 the conflict with Ethiopia did not end. In 1992 Eritrea “won”, in quotes, because precisely what is still the prime minister today apparently managed to end the conflict with Ethiopia. We were planning to go there unfortunately in 1993 my mother, at 37, passed away. And from there, for reasons more related to my family, it was not possible for me. And then a very difficult life began again inside the country that saw difficulties even for those like me, is mixed, to go there and be able to turn, in short, to visit the country in freedom. Today finally Eritrea and Ethiopia have signed the peace, so I don’t deny that that’s where I’m starting to plan my next trip and my next vacation will probably be there.

[i] What do you expect to see? What do you expect… so, if you were to express a desire to find in this land.

[r] If I have to make a wish, I hope to be able, even without any member of my family, to find the last piece of family I have there, my grandmother’s brother, who will now be 81/82 years old and of whom I have photographs. He lives in the tucul.

[i]What are they?

[r] They are huts, it is in Adi Quala, which is on the border with Ethiopia. Meanwhile I hope to find them, because by finding them, I certainly find a piece of me. And then I’d like to start from there. The first objective is to look for them… maybe her children if in the last three years… I haven’t heard from her since unfortunately her grandmother passed away, about this uncle and my cousins. So I am confident that, knowing less where she lives and not being Eritrea very rich in inhabitants, and then thinking that from up there my grandmother will guide me. First of all I want to meet my family.

And while here in Turin, you were raised by the Eritrean community, you told me with your grandmother. With this community, even now that your grandmother is gone. Do you continue to maintain a bond?

[r] Absolutely, yes, I am their granddaughter. Then they were very close to me when 25 years ago my mother died so young, and then it’s a culture, that of that part of the world, so you always have to be close to your neighbor. And even 3 years ago her grandmother unfortunately fell ill in 2010 and in the 5 years the community was very close to her, she was close to me too, to my uncle. They went to visit her, having a party in the structure where, because of the disease, she was hosted. But it’s really… there’s unity, there’s union, you don’t have to leave yourself alone. I still go to eat at my grandmother’s friends’ house, they prepare my favorite dishes for me, because then they know me from when I was born. Every now and then they call me and tell me: “Come on, your aunt has prepared your meatballs for you”. Rather than “Come on, your aunt has prepared your zighini”, I always run. And then I am still part of the community, not only integrated, but also, especially for older people who were the people who raised me, who of course today are elderly. I am also a little bit of a point of reference, it happens that if there is an aunt who needs any help, even practical, in carrying out practices, call me and I am there, as they are there for me I am there for them. They are not friends, belonging to a community means being brothers and sisters to help each other.

[i] Your words are very beautiful. Is there anything else you want to add? What [name] does today with all this cultural baggage, of traditions… but also [name] strong today is a woman in Turin in 2018, and all these traditions. How can you channel them into everyday life beyond your Eritrean community?

[r] Bah, first of all I try to, with great difficulty then, because I am a woman in 2018 with a son of 20 years in 2018. First of all I try to channel in my son, as much as possible because he unfortunately could not live my mother then his grandmother but he lived a lot with his great-grandmother and from her began to take a whole series of characteristics of the Eritreans it is said that we are very serious people, very composed, and my son has the rigidity, and maybe the undersigned starts, because it is the Italian part that has polluted that Eritrean. My son has the firmness, the rigidity, he looks a lot like when I observe him now that a little man reminds me very much of my maternal family. On the other hand, my grandmother helped me a lot to grow up Stefano because, not having my mother, she became my mother a little bit. So the first environment, the place where I try to bring this tradition and bring this culture is my home. So even the dishes in addition to lasagna, I alternate Italian cuisine to Eritrean cuisine just not to make my son lose what unfortunately if I can not move me, of course he can not take. And then it became in the end, also a job for me to bring the culture of my family, in this territory. I was born in a neighborhood, as I told you, where Africa did not exist, and there was a prejudice. Although then in the 90s and 2000 it seemed that the phenomino of racism had finally been eradicated. But now we are back to live again events, among other things that I find really terrible. I felt the responsibility, and I feel it, to bring knowledge along the way about the culture of this world that is the African world, which is not just Eritrean because Africa is huge. So 5 years ago, not 6 years ago, I founded an association with a friend and since then it has become a path, and today I am part of the organization of the Pan-African Festival in Turin, which is an event where you tell the different types of cultures, the differences between African cultures, through music, art, food but this is another story. I work in the social field, I work with asylum seekers. So let’s say that all this background I’m trying to transfer it into the activities I do every day. And then one of the things that with great effort especially in this historical moment that as I said unfortunately we are witnessing a repetitive phenomenon. It’s cyclical this thing we are back to the prejudices to the trafficking of human beings to the slave trade makes me think again. and then I’m reading a book that talks about the subject of slaves set in 1800 in America and I must say that if there was not written 1800 it should be safely 2018. And then just on the streets I stop Italians Africans I start talking about those who have prejudices I try to with good tools in short different to make them understand in fact we are all the same because then if you remove the color of the container inside the heart the same for all the blood we have the same color. Sometimes instead I run into walls and then there come back again to do that part tigrinia and I have to do the half hyena and I get very angry when I meet people who to their prejudice can not go beyond if they stop them and beyond that not beyond that wall can not go

[i]I’ll ask you one last question if you have the pleasure of answering. In this your clash no in the daily life in also for the historical period that we are living In some way something that comes back to you or reports you with the memory when you were a child with your grandmother?

[r] Yes absolutely yes I’ll never forget an afternoon I was in the second grade I’ll never forget the emotion I felt leaving school seeing all the parents, grandparents, babysitters who had come to pick up the grandchildren and I had my grandmother waiting for me and the children who … bad as only children know how to be, at some point they began to say “of what is the monkey”? And that was the first time I’d hit children. and today we’re back to the same point. He had done a good job and then in reality maybe that job is never done. Because if history repeats itself in this way and because apparently you have given the companies the government… I don’t know who gave to those who had prejudices something to think about that would distract them from the theme of very dense well-being, in short we experienced a bubble in this financial country, social seemed to have become a wonderland, and then collapsed again, and in the moment in which the country has economically collapsed so the economic condition of the population has seen again to create a gap here is that again returned this prejudice and here we are again witnessing acts of racism really I could stay here and keep you all day to tell you of the horrendous episodes that I have witnessed and that I have lived on my skin ie no that he lived me grandmother on his skin and which I assistive energy because then I was a child, the children at school beat her up the next day and I vengeance myself because then I was a child, the children at school I waited for them. And I am not proud of this thing but if there is one thing that I from that part of my family of my origins that I have learned and that people must be respected and the love that Eritrean women are able to transfer, and then in my situation talking only and exclusively about me of the love that my grandmother was understood to give to all of us, made it so that no one could touch me and then where someone came to touch her to make her suffer I felt obliged with all the means at my disposal to defend it. arriving at me too, I am sorry.

[i]As a child… to say the least

[r]To avenge myself by showing what it means to be the granddaughter of an ape, let’s put it this way.

[i]Thank you for adding something to share with us?

[r] Yes. The fact that Ethiopia and Eritrea finally selected this peace agreement on Monday in Saudi Arabia and in my opinion is a very sensational thing for all of Africa. I think that what we are witnessing is what we have been witnessing for centuries I respect the conditions of the African continent. If it has given a very great responsibility to the West. If Africa is in this condition first of all it is because of the West. Because Africa is always placed as an inferior continent from which to take away resources of any human nature, for the workforce, minerals, diamonds, gold, oil, all sun, wind, water, anything. I think that if it should start to look at Africa not as the third world because Africa is the first world. And I think that we should look at Africa as the future of this planet, because the place where we are living today as it is of the future has none. I hope that finally this agreement this sharing between the Ethiopian Prime Minister who proved to be an intelligent person, very human, and the fact that it was he who first managed to convince Afewerki the Eritrean Prime Minister to say enough, after another 25 years of conflict definitely but rather to unite in the construction of an Eritrea and a stronger Ethiopia with the desire to develop all that in these years of wars wanted by us west that we produce weapons that force them to kill each other that we go to clear their forests to kill the people who live along the rivers, to be able to create dams. They have decided together to build two more frogal and free states. I hope that all of Africa will take this as an example and above all that at some point I do not know if I will still be here that day, but that they will be able to go on free, without this submission. That we know very well that we are still here today from France, Holland, Spain, England, America, Russia, China, Arabia… All of them. Who sells weapons and who steals them while they kill each other… That’s enough. And I would like us who are here to begin as if it were a relay to pass this witness with each other, in the hope that those who will come after then our children when they are, to have the power and management of this world in hand do so with more conscience and with more humanity.

Beautiful words, let’s hope, let’s hope for good…

[r] Let us hope.

[i] Thank you very much.

[r] Thank you.