A letter to Emmanuel, the refugee killed in Italy because he was black

Lettera a Emmanuel, scampato ad un attentato in Nigeria, alle violenze in Libia, alla traversata del Mediterraneo. Ucciso nelle Marche perché nero.

You were only 36, Emmanuel. You arrived from northern Nigeria with Chimiary, your wife. Well, she wasn’t your wife yet. A priest, father Vinicio Albanesi, celebrated your marriage in January in the city of Fermo, Italy. You were waiting for the civil ceremony, legally recognised by the state. It was just a matter of time. You were no longer afraid of waiting.

You were taking a walk on Tuesday afternoon. You walked down the same street, in the same summer heat, with the same hand holding your hand. The hand of the woman who accompanied you during the dramatic course of life. The mother of your daughter who was taken away from you when she was just 2, killed by a terror attack of Boko Haram. The woman who was your companion in the endless journey that took the both of you to Italy, through Libya, through smugglers’ violence. The hand of the woman who overcame a miscarriage due to violence on a dinghy.

Your beloved Chimiary called a “monkey”

A man called her “monkey”, without even knowing who you are, what your story is, and what your worries and hopes are. Who knows what you’ve thought. When he dragged her, again, who knows what you’ve thought. Your reaction has been fatal to you. The blow to your head made you fall into a coma. You’ve endured 24 hours.

Chimiary is fine. She only has some scratches on the outside. The idea of having lost you, though, gives her no peace. A 40-year-old “ultra” football fan has been denounced for your murder. His hate for those “like you” – black people, refugees – was widely known.

It’s unbelievable. After all the things you went through, all the things you’ve seen and survived. In the end, a foolish managed to stop you. In Italy. In the 21st century. Because you’re black.

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