Monday, December 19, 2011

Italy: My invitation from Africa e Mediterraneo

I was on scholarly tour from 14 -29 Nov., 2011 in Italy being an invitation from the Italian organization, Africa e Mediterranneo Association based in Sasso Marconi, Bologna. Among other projects they undertake, is promotion of African comics.

The invitation was in response to my winning comic story, The Expectations! , that I won in 2009/10, in free subject category of the Africa comic International contest organized by Africa e Mediterraneo.

On my arrival, I received a warm welcome from my hosts; In fact I experienced and tested an Italian hospitality for the first time, accompanied by right treatment from the famous pizza and macaroni.

The second day, a special lunch was prepared on my honour where I got to meet the entire staff of my host organization.

On my third day, I was heading to Bolzano to start my tasks. I was accompanied by Africa e Mediterraneo’s Stefania Lorelli who led me from Sasso Marconi to Bologna central railway station and she briefed me on train procedures of Trenitalia. It was a three hours trip to Bolzano, the mountainous city to the northern part of the country. At the Bolzano railway station I met Mr. Tommaso Runcio of Africa e Mediterraneo who led me to the hotel I resided.

My host organization prepared my work plan and schedule including visiting and speaking to students of selected schools about my work and my experience in the cartoon/ comic field.

The selected schools were six (Einaudi, IPI Galilei, IPSTC De' Medici, Carducci, Ritz and Pascoli) and I had twelve classes, two classes in each school with two hours of presentation and display of my work to students (some pages of comics from my various comic stories and also some editorial cartoons, of course, accompanied with my explanations and their subject matter). In some other segments students were given simple assignment that gave me room to work with students more closely and directly thus I displayed my work techniques. 

Also, I gave room for views exchange and questions related to my presence there, my country, Africa or myself if any. Interestingly, in one class, one of the female student in the presence of her teachers, jokingly, asked me if I was married, when I replied I am still single and that in addition to this project, my visit in Bolzano was to look for a wife whom I take back home, and if she was ready, she replied without hesitating “Why not!”

On Monday, I was travelling to Merano accompanied with my coordinator who was driving. I had two classes to lecture there at Ritz school, where I received a warm reception:  Preliminary events.  A projector was on displaying Tanzania’s national flag, national emblem and a map of my country. On the back wall two placards, one with Swahili words  Karibu Popa (Welcome Popa) and another one  Mungu Ibariki Afrika (God bless Africa) were on display. All these were accompanied by music with Bob’s hit Africa Unite, Peter Tosh with Mama Africa and then Tanzanian songstress Saida Karoli was on air too. What a reception!

I was delighted by this experience meeting with students who were friendly, cooperative and the way they practically exercised their freedom of expression even in presence of their teachers.

During the project duration in Bolzano I worked closely with my host Mr. Tommaso Runcio, the coordinator assigned to this project namely ‘New Arrivals’ under supervision from Africa e Mediterraneo headquarters.

Prior to my trip to Italy, students from project piloted schools had been working with an Italian cartoonist Armin Barducci with coordination from Mr. Runcio on comic project about Immigrants.  

Armin attended some of my lectures and presentations as observer.

An interesting initiative is that some of students’ comics are in the pipeline to be published into a book by the Africa e Mediterraneo.

In another development, my hosts arranged a meeting where I met the Bolzano community for presentation and display of my work. The presentation was organized at Mardi Gras Library under supervision of Mr. Giacomo Morello. Sara Goldoni and Annalisa Viceconte who travelled from headquarters, also, were there to attend the presentation.

During my all stay in Bologna I lived with Mr. Andrea Marchesini Reggiani and his wife Sandra Federici (Top executives of Africa e Mediterraneo) and their family at their house around the headquarters.

A night before I left Italy for Amsterdam on my way to Dar, Marta Meloni, Annalisa Viceconte, Sara Goldoni, Paula, 'Boxer' Giovanni Zaki, Saxophonist Fillipo Mantione and, of course, Stefania Lorelli, all of Africa e Mediterraneo headquarters, invited me for a night farewell in one of the pubs in the heart of Bologna city. Apart from usual pub customs (beer!), we played a soccer table game. Actually, I did not want to play because I want to learn by watching but following the pressure from my colleagues I played! As a result, a side that I played for – two players aside- lost all games in bad margins! And I was the one behind the humiliation!

It was quite experience, meeting new people and got new acquaintances.

Thanks all my people at Africa e Mediterraneo!

1 comment:

Armin Barducci said...
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