My Ethiopia

I have an Impossible Dream

A good Friends' Grandmother, Emmeline Pankhurst, fought last centuries' most amazing battle for women's rights. She won! Women got right of vote, starting from New Zealand in 1917, then around the world. Even our neighbours Canton Schweiz women have the right to vote since a few years.

       Typically, while being arrested, Emma Pankhurst would shout 'Votes for Women'

I know it is unconcievable yet, I am not nearly so strong as my friends' grandmother, on top of it I'm twice as heavy to say the least. So, in pity of the policeman and in fear the 'cruels on TV' that rule us might instead forbid women votes again, I did not dare ask even my son to publish this on his musical webiste. I did not publish it under the Humoristic section in Italian, it is a grave matter, urresolvable.



                                   Versione Italiana di seguito all'Inglese. PAGINA PIU' VISTA DEL SITO, CIRCA 2000 VOLTE IN POCHI MESI 


No, Italians can’t



The common as well as media and learned Italian word to indicate new Italians is invariably ”extracomunitari”, equivalent to “non community members”, originally from a bureaucratic term to do with the former European Community. Almost ten years after the raise of the European Union the typical language use “extracomunitari and east Europeans” bares out the deep racist tone of the word, in a Country that has four million recent migrants who see no hope to become recognised citizens within at least one generation, no sign in sight for a right to vote even for their sons and daughters, living in a political and social limbo. Italy is diminished by this. We badly need new Italians, not only to fuel the economy of the world’s developed Country with the lowest maternity rate, to fill jobs no one wants thus stunning equilibrated development, but as ours is becoming a ‘rogue State’. We signed the Kyoto protocols, but do nothing to reduce our ecological footprint. We take a car, bigger and bigger with the years, to run 300 metres, industries in now surpassed sectors still holding a grasp on the national economy lobby successfully local and central government to keep one of the worst air pollution, energy wastage, low recycling and ‘no trash’ record in Europe. The media, totally dependent on adverts, cannot bring change. Foreigners are a window on a changing world Italy is no part of yet. The only change we foster as it is, climate change, is the single major drive to cross desert and sea to our long shores, as drought is clearly the worst of all, the tragic effect of global warming on many African lands.

Our refusal to recognise right of vote to long time residents, let alone nationality to new Italians is the obvious cause of so much trouble and of the regrettable rebirth of racism, we thought as a distant past tied to the fascist regime. Migration is caused by a poverty we knew a generation ago, but now too rapidly remove from our minds and consciences.

No one noted the October crack down on Camorra, that brought many mayors in areas around Naples to justice was the result of a Ghanaian revolt that upturned cars in front of the municipality of Castel Volturno. A fight locals were too scared to attempt. Racism is strife in my semi-perfect northern small town, where the ‘not here while I’m in office’ mayor just dubbed as “probably a matter of heart” the premeditated gang beating of an Arab girl who had refused her seat on a bus a day earlier to a local boy. Really, the only way to live in a new Italy is giving citizenship to new Italians, or at least to their offsprings, vote to all.  


                                                                                      Marco Viganò, 5 Nov. 2008


A further commnet is under the Italian version. 





In Italia anche i giornalisti più titolati continuano a chiamare i  nuovi Italiani “extracomunitari”, circa dieci anni dopo la fine del termine burocratico ‘Comunità Europea’, tanto che spesso si accaniscono a distinguere “extracomunitari e europei dell’est”. La parola è davvero offensiva, e limitativa del nostro paese. Perché non solo intrinsecamente razzista, ma testimone di una realtà politica inquietante. Quattro

milioni di nuovi Italiani vivono nel limbo, non avranno per una generazione cittadinanza, non possono votare né essere votati. Peccato. Perché ne abbiamo bisogno.

Gli stranieri sono una finestra che dovrebbe aprirci su un mondo che cambia. Noi invece, non possiamo, non sappiamo cambiare. L’Italia presto sarà uno Stato Canaglia, che dal 2012 dovrà pagare multe assurde e pesanti (protocolli di Kyoto), perché non fa nulla per ridurre la propria impronta ecologica. Prendiamo l’auto per fare trecento metri, le industrie non vogliono ridurre lo spreco, i media dipendono dalla pubblicità e non propongono un vero cambiamento. L’unico che alimentiamo è il cambiamento climatico, che causa tempo violento da noi e siccità, cioè fame, nel Sud del mondo. Rifiutiamo ogni riconoscimento a chi questa situazione e la povertà -che noi conoscevamo una generazione fa e che rinneghiamo- ci manda. Chi ha notato il fatto difficilmente negabile che la pulizia che lo Stato ha fatto nei confronti del clan Casalesi e di sindaci corrotti dalla Camorra, parte di un sistema che i locali non potevano battagliare, è la conseguenza di una rivolta di Ghanesi che hanno rovesciato auto presso il municipio di Castel Volturno? Potremo, anche noi, vivere in questo nuovo mondo globale, lottando la dabbenaggine e il razzismo? Purtroppo macchia la mia piccola, semiperfetta Varese, per quanto chi la governa, colpevole solo della miopia diffusa, sostenga che il problema non esiste (da noi, finché lui è al potere)…  

La sinistra che governava non Varese, ma il Paese prima non ha visto né capito che la microcriminalità venuta spesso dall’Est scatena il rifiuto, paura diffusa e la situazione di disagio reale che troppi ora cavalcano, a danno di tutti.

Invece, la sola via per star bene insieme, tutti, è dividere diritti e doveri di cittadini.

                                                                            Marco Viganò, 5 Nov. 2008



I wrote this page nearly two years ago. It has been on the net since I started, about 18 months ago.

It is a clearcut solicitation to give foreign residents in Italy access to vote. Why this has not happened yet, and how many difficulties lie before this is partly spelled in the original paper, I would like to comment further now.

The page has been visited about 2000 times. This is why if you google my site, or me as ‘Vigano My Ethiopia’ it comes out absolute first.

In the meanwhile, a political debate has risen around the issue. Yet, it seems to lead nowhere so far.

Other priorities and, after all, a fear from those in power foreigners would not elect them has slowed, if not totally stalled the process. Imagine then the populist Northern League, that systematically abuses of Xenophobia at any local or general election to elicit votes! A serious debate would open the eyes of quite a few of their voters: hard, in fact, unsustainable line taking advantage of the fear of the changing world, of newcomers, fostering grassroots racism as a result, while that very part, the League is in power and needs to take part with at least some moderation in what is now an inevitable discussion.

The Italian Status Quo has somewhat protected, at least delayed the worst effects of the world economic downturn. No banks where overexposed, a social network and safety nets in place, enough to make any Obama envious. A real and global health coverage system America would dream of has helped. Imagine, you are poor, you loose your job, you still have full health coverage, no question about it!

This Status Quo is no privilege to defend, though: litigious yet genial Italians have been embroiled for centuries in a political and social system whereby a few families really count, say 250 or less, to find a job here you need to know someone, mostly, protection means a system is rigid and allows no serious change, lets too many open uncharted spaces where organised crime looms.

Graham Greene, in his most famous book, criticises indirectly those who despise loud and inconclusive Italians, quoting how during the growth of modern Europe, in the Renaissance Italy was made up of at least two dozen tiny States, in war, later even under practically total foreign control. Yet, no art or Science was better, anywhere on the planet, and Italian major towns were dictating style,  music, architecture to all around.

So, I have, commenting what is a… successful page of the site, to note I hope Italy can change instead, and consider foreigners as a vital opportunity

Our Culture has nothing to share with the Northern Leagues’ racism. Rome welcomed the best of the world thinkers, and recognised being incomparably better after assimilating Greek culture.

What some called ‘dark medieval ages after Rome’ were buzzing with smart international trade and culture. While today footballers alone appear supported by our mecenates, in those dark ages you needed to be a fantastic artist to have a rich sponsor and become someone. Difference: less sophisticated entertainment, much better art, and a slightly better image in the world, say, tenfold!

Italians preparing for a change after a period where comments by our ‘Prince’ of a PM are often put by the BBC on the ‘Entertainment’ page instead of the Europe or Political main page, can profit so much from New Italians, and the de facto multicultural system facing us.

Italian is obviously a limited, though rich and formerly influential language, our kids can learn in this new environment. No one of our better sons and daughters is surprised to find a multicultural Europe, travelling around. So how can we bear racism at home?

Foreigners are a vital window on the world, a decisive push to break our provincialism, our restricted understanding of what is inevitably a global world.

In a final word, I believe New Italians, not ’extracomunitari’ or the inconsistent word too many use to indicate darker complexioned foreigners alone will help us be better Italians, again.

Who says, then, foreigners would necessarily take one or another side of… messy Italian politics?

I believe offering New Italians an Undeniable right of vote would help speed a modernisation of our system, much needed now, facing the bite of a crisis that is hitting, though a bit later, employment and revenues.