So Italy had a recent case of memory boost, remembering a Black man who gave his life for Italy in World War II. In Rome last month, the city council voted to name a future metro station in honor of an Italian-Somali man who was a member of the Italian resistance, Giorgio Marincola. Marincola was killed by Nazi troops at the age of 21, when they opened fire at a checkpoint on May 4th 1945, 2 days after Germany had officially surrendered in Italy. He was awarded posthumously the Italian medal of honor in 1953, Italy’s highest military honor. Not sure that it means anything [after all, the battles are deeper than that], but we are glad to see Italy recognize some of its forgotten African heroes.
Excerpts below are from the BBC:
The station, which is currently under construction [let’s hope they actually come through with this], 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. … The name change came after a campaign was launched in June, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the world … 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.
[Marincola] is known as the “partigiano nero” 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.
… At the time few Italian colonists acknowledged children born of their unions with Somali women [true of most Europeans in Africa in those days]. But Giuseppe Marincola bucked the trend and later brought his son and daughter, Isabella, to Italy to be raised by his family.
… Giorgio Marincola too was gifted, excelling at school in Rome and went on to enroll 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.
… 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. …