Una vita in Africa – A life in Africa Rotating Header Image

Scontro o Solidarietà?

Conflict or Solidarity?
The “Lampedusa Door” opens towards a sea where at least 10,000 people are believed to have died in the last ten years while trying a difficult cross.
In a way, it is an unfinished piece of art: it could remain as a sign of piety, a place of recollection, or be seen as a cold funeral monument. Alternatively, it could enlarge and become a symbol of a Europe that is opening up towards Africa, towards acceptance and a new age of global solidarity.
It is up to us to build up its meaning in the years to come.
Looking at this door now, we understand that globalization is not an abstract idea. It is not just about the cheap goods flooding our markets. It will not be, even if we wish it to be, one of our new modalities to dominate the world. It is about people. People who are finally aware that they are part of a single world, and who seek to be responsible for their own life – a life they dream could become more human. And to achieve this, they seek to come to Europe and perform the most humble jobs – to take care of our sick, to cook our food, to clean our towns.
Then, we understand that we need to revolutionize our perception of things. Our European world is today a small world, small in many senses. Beyond this door lies a greater world that asks us to participate and to share. The “others” are no longer the “little black children” our grandmothers or great-grandmothers would offer a pound to be baptized with the name of one of their dear ones. They are people like us who want their dignity and their rights be respected.
We can no longer afford to think of our small world as the centre of the universe. Rather, we ought to realize that beyond our boundaries there exists a great world teaming with life. To close this door would mean to shut out both the historical past and the impending future.
Europe has started to understand that the international law it has built over the last few centuries, which advocates non-interference in the internal affairs of another country – even if there is persecution or genocide in that country – was only appropriate before the advent of globalization. Today, it is outdated.
But also outdated is the right of humanitarian intervention that Europe keeps elaborating, always thinking of itself as the subject of this right. Today, in the face of the growing dramas of hunger and ecological disaster, Europe is caught in panic as it seeks answers to the growing demands for solidarity, and grapples with promises it has failed to keep, as we regularly see during the G8 encounters, before retreating to narrow national interests and erecting even higher barriers.
Thus, for a moment – and we hope it will be a short moment – Europe believes to those who perceive and represent the foreigner as a threat, as the one who wants to steal “our things” and “our identity”, instead as of “the one without whom to live is not life any longer”.
Accepting the other we do not patronize him or her. We help ourselves, we avoid to turn into masks, we avoid to wear an imagined identity that should protect us from our internal insecurities, but which is in fact a static and sterile identity that impede our growth as human beings and as society. It is a temptation that involves all of us, even a Church that sometimes seems to prefer the secure port of the ancient traditions to the adventure of the open sea.
But the poor refuse to live in a misery not worthy of the human person, victims of internal and external exploitation, of wars that they do not understand and do not want, and come to us looking for the dream of the “European way of life” that we have fed them with our advertising, foolishly sure that our model of development is the only one possible. Thus, they continue to stimulate us to enlarge our horizons.
There are those in Europe who believe they can use the law to stop this wave of life that comes to embrace us. Luckily for all of us, they are deluding themselves. The law never changes history. Rather, law almost always follows history, especially when we witness epochal realities like the migrations happening today.
So, those in Europe who keep their eyes open begin to understand that solidarity either becomes global or loses all meaning. Class and national selfishness is a language of the past. When I was a child, the school and a certain milieu of adults tried to teach us that the Austrians were our historical enemies. Today this is nonsense. Two generations have been sufficient to erase the prejudices that looked eternal.
Today our youth feel more and more like citizens of a united world and instinctively understand – unless they are victims of a hammering propaganda – that our society can only be based on global solidarity, otherwise there is only disguised selfishness. Bush and his friends will be consigned by history as survivors of a shameful past.
I am proud of my native culture and tradition. But it is central to the great culture in which I was born to recognize, in every person, first of all our common humanity, source of dignity and rights. Only afterward can we see the differences and accept them as differences that complement, because without these differences I could not be myself.
If we enact this mental revolution, when we look again at this door we do not see it as a monument to the dead, but as a great sign of hope and openness for the living. We realize that we are not simply making memory off those poor bodies at the bottom of the sea, but rather recognize them as people who were coming to us willing to share in our common humanity. They, who have already crossed another door, a door that opens to an encounter with the Infinite – the one who is the true and ultimate other, had understood what we, today, find difficult to perceive. They have opened this door for us.
Today, as you contemplate this door over Africa, I am in the Nuba Mountains, in the middle of Sudan. Even from here, people who have never seen a pool of water deeper that a meter have departed to cross the great sea, following the dream of a job, of sending back a little help to their elderly parents or to their younger siblings. Today some of their bodies are at the bottom of the sea in front of you.
I am distributing primary school teachers diplomas to about a hundred young adults graduating from a two-year course done here and managed by local people. This has been wanted and supported by the same organizations that have promoted the opening of this door made by Mimmo Paladino. I believe this should be the road – to express solidarity by going out to meet the others where they are, to grow together, in proper respect with the others. This youth, given the opportunity of a meaningful life here, will not swell the number of those who are crossing the sea. We should travel this road not because this is good for the “poor’, but because it is good for us. We must come here barefooted, as a sign of respect for the ground sacred to others, in order to learn again to be people among people. The Lampedusa Door is for two-directional traffic.
The Lampedusa Door then becomes an invitation to look beyond, and to look with hope. We start understanding that we are not witnessing the end of our civilization. We are at the beginning of a new era, whose new dimension is to live in global solidarity.

La Porta di Lampedusa


  1. queste tue preziose considerazioni, caro Padre Kizito, sono importantissime per far capire dove dobbiamo indirizzarci per trovare un modus vivendi di tutti, soprattutto ora che qui in Italia stiamo vedendo un imbarbarimento della società.
    Un forte abbraccio, torna presto!

  2. Carlotta says:

    Molto di quello che hai scritto fa parte dei doni che ho ricevuto e portato a casa dallo Zambia.
    Spero che questi venti di speranza soffino ovunque, piano piano, restituendo il senso della Vita che in Africa si respira ogni giorno, che sia buono o sia cattivo, dal mattino al mattino successivo. Così. In un tempo che ha qualcosa di eterno che qui sembra aver perso l’orizzonte. Quello dell’Umanità.

  3. Come non condividere la speranza che l’europa non rimanga avviluppata dalle tenebre di scontri xnofobi.
    Il mondo è di tutti…..per tutti!

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