After the tragic news of the death of Luca Attanasio, the Italian Ambassador to Congo and a great friend and supporter of Inter Campus, Gabriele Salmi, a representative of ALBA Onlus, an official partner of Inter Campus since 2011, shares with us his reflections. Gabriele, who has been living in Lubumbashi for many years now, coordinates the educational and sporting activities of around 200 boys and girls. His understanding of the country’s dynamics is comprehensive, and it’s perhaps exactly this knowledge that helps us to better comprehend today’s dramatic events.
“The Italian community is deeply shocked by the brutal assassination, we are very upset. Luca was well known and loved by all, a person who dedicated himself to the community and who worked tirelessly to build strong bonds between the Italian and Congolese communities, always ready to listen to issues from the bottom-up, and also to organisations and people who didn’t necessarily enjoy international standing or fame.
He was proud of the work done by Italians in Congo and recognised the country’s potential to grow, even looking beyond its mineral wealth. At the same time, he was saddened by the poverty that can be found in the country. His dream was to put together a publication to remember the work done by Italians in Congo, with the creation of an Italian network in Congo being particularly important to him. He also contributed to the success of the Lubumbashi Biennale art exhibition and was ready to support an upcoming project of ours linked to Pasolini’s work in Congo.
Together, we visited many humanitarian projects in Lubumbashi. The one which had the most profound impact on him was the “Malaika” school, an independent project not linked to Italy but strongly tied to the local community. A grassroots endeavor, it’s now one of the most best schools in Congo. Today, Malaika is an official partner of Inter Campus and its student body consists mainly of girls from the village of Kalebuka, on the outskirts of Lubumbashi. For Luca and his wife Zakia, the afternoon spent at Malaika was intense and moving.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there have always been some points of tension that have never gone away, a kind of mini-war in almost every part of the nation. It’s a country that is completely decentralised and that can take on a thousand different forms, with a thousand individual interests and a thousand individual actors. There’s no real sense of complete security and random, violent explosions can take place. As we’ve seen, they spare no one, with two Italians and one Congolese person being killed in yesterday’s ambush. It’s like a tropical storm: we seek shelter during the bad weather and then go out again when it’s over, watching the warm sun take away the water and repair the damage, thus restoring everything to how it was before. However, as we all know, the problem is that sometimes there are unexpected storms. That being said, for now, we don’t expect our security situation, or that of our children, to worsen.
The Italian Embassy has always had an important role to play in Inter Campus’ activities: Italian diplomatic support has been fundamental to the success of all our important missions in Congo. The Embassy helps us carry out the projects with Congolese institutions and the rest of the Italian community, and, in this case, I can’t forget the ceaseless encouragement from Luca when it came to the Inter Campus project.