A group of migrants visited Naples’ Archelogical Museum together on Thursday evening, in an event organized by the February 3 Association, an anti-racism group in the city that works for integration.
“Coming here means being encouraged to have hope and to get to know as well as love the country we’re in, Italy,” Kingsley, a 32-year-old migrant from Nigeria who arrived in Italy two years ago said
Kingsley was one of the migrants who visited the museum. He admired the Farnese collection, with its splendid Roman-era statues, and was particularly interested in the section dedicated to the ruins of Pompeii, having known about the eruption in 79 A.D. He looked with attention on the wide-ranging Egyptian sector, which tells a piece of the story of his home continent, Africa.
Gianluca Petruzzo, of the 3 February Association, told ANSAmed that the event was the first time that a museum of this stature hosted a group of migrants and “looked at (migrant) reception as more than a form of social struggle, but also from the human point of view”.
‘Integration comes through difficulties’
“A human being has the right to fully experience the place that receives him or her, despite being forced to live daily life huddled in a basement or in a reception centre,” Petruzzo said. “And in fact, the reaction from these young men in visiting the museum was to feel themselves free and aware of the beauty, history, and culture before them,” he said. He said the migrants also spoke about the history of their various countries of origin, with colonialism often coming up. Kingsley said, “We now know there needs to be a common effort, because integration comes through difficulties, through the mistakes that migrants may make when they arrive on a new continent, through the need to be helped in understanding and living here”.
This new life for the migrants has, however, been undergoing change for some time now. It can be seen by the young African men’s desire to talk about current events in Italy. Boubacar, a 26-year-old from Senegal, acknowledged that racism exists worldwide and also in Italy. “But (racism) is increasing, as a matter of fact here in Campania they shoot at us in the street,” he said.
Boubacar lives in a migrant reception centre (CAS) in Quarto, a town just northwest of Naples, and was referring to recent events in Campania, from the wounding of a young man from Mali in Caserta, to pellet gun shots fired at a young chef from Mali who has a restaurant in Naples. “This new government wants to put a wall between us and the Italian people,” Boubacar said. “I’m afraid, I fled Senegal and here I feel in danger again.Salvini is giving strength to racists, who now think they can do whatever they want. Racism exists throughout the world but in Italy it’s getting out of hand,” he said.
Migrant welcome contrary to Salvini’s policies
There are also those who go against the grain in terms of the migrant policies by the new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Kingsley, for one, said he isn’t afraid. “The interior minister is doing what he thinks is right for Italy, to whom other countries in recent years have turned their backs; I’m talking about Spain, France, other countries that kick migrants out,” Kingsley said “I have relatives and friends in France and Germany and I know that Italy is much more welcoming with migrants,” he said. The Naples Archaeological Museum was also welcoming to migrants, opening its doors to show the ethnic stratification of Italy. Paolo Gulierini, the museum’s director, cited that Ulysses, in his journey in the Mediterranean, was a migrant.
“And we here, recalling the history of this country, must be a place of accessibility, of meeting,” he said. “We want the cultural institutes here, as they did in the United States, to take a position, remembering how important meeting and commingling are for the growth of a people. It’s not by chance that we launched a project on the road of the Pharoahs who traveled the Mediterranean, recalling that this is where Mycenaeans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Etrsucans docked, and through commingling the first great city-states were born,” he said. Giulierini also highlighted a more recent simple fact regarding the unification of Italy. “I’m from Tuscany; two hundred years ago I would have been a foreigner in Naples,” he said.