Rome’s city council voted earlier this month to name a future metro station in the Italian capital in honour of Giorgio Marincola, an Italian-Somali who was a member of the Italian resistance.
He was killed at the age of 21 by withdrawing Nazi troops who opened fire at a checkpoint on 4 May 1945.
This incident occurred two days after Germany had officially surrendered in Italy at the end of World War Two.
The name change came after a campaign was launched in June, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the world following the killing of African American George Floyd by US police.
The campaign for the name change was initiated by by journalist Massimiliano Coccia.
It snowballed and was bolstered further by BlackLivesMatter activists.
Others who joined the bandwagon were journalists and Italian-Somali writer Igiabo Scego and Marincola’s nephew, the author Antar Marincola.
The ‘black partisan’
Activists first placed a banner at the metro site stating that no station should be named after “oppression” and pushed for Marincola’s short, but remarkable life to be remembered.
The station, which is currently under construction, was going to be called Amba Aradam-Ipponio – a reference to an Italian campaign in Ethiopia in 1936 when fascist forces brutally unleashed chemical weapons and committed war crimes at the infamous Battle of Amba Aradam.
Giorgio Marincola: The Hero
He was famous as the “partigiano neroor” or “black partisan”.
and was an active member of the resistance.
The active member of the resistance was posthumously awarded Italy’s highest military honour in 1953.
The honour was “the Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare”, in recognition of his sacrificial efforts.
Marincola was born in 1923 in Mahaday at a time that few Italian colonists acknowledged children born of their unions with Somali women.
His town of birth was on the Shebelle River, north of Mogadishu, in what was then known as Italian Somaliland.
Somaliam Ashkiro Hassan was his mom and his dad was an Italian military officer called Giuseppe Marincola.
Giuseppe Marincola dared the odds and change the discriminating narrative as later brought his son and daughter, Isabella, to Italy to be raised by his family.
Isabella went on to become an actress, appearing in Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice), released in 1949.
Giorgio Marincola excel academically and went on to enrol as a medical student.
Anti-fascist ideology brewed in his heart during his studies and he decided to enlist in the resistance in 1943. At this time, his country of birth was still under Italian rule.
As a brave fighter, he was parachuted into enemy territory and was wounded.
At one time he was captured by the SS, who wanted him to speak against the partisans on their radio station. On air he reportedly defied them, saying: “Homeland means freedom and justice for the peoples of the world. This is why I fight the oppressors.”
The broadcast was interrupted – and sounds of a beating could be heard.
Anti-racism activists intend to retell Italy’s colonial past through a more humane and fair lens.
It was more than just the renaming of a metro stop after Marincola.