Italy: Migrants offer their eyes on Rome to tourists - The360 Travel

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  • Sunday, December 15, 2019

    Italy: Migrants offer their eyes on Rome to tourists

    Italy: Migrants offer their eyes on Rome to tourists

    They are called Abdul, Kaba or Sidia and do not really see Rome like everyone else. For an hour, they tell tourists through an audio guide the emblematic sites of the eternal city, crossing them with their unique journey.


    The sound walks (in English and Italian) of these "invisible guides" - as they are nicknamed these refugees without a face the rest of the year - take place twice a month by reservation, at the initiative of the aid association to migrants, Laboratorio 53.

    First step: the Spanish Steps and its monumental staircase where the sound of camera clicks mingles with the clamor of the crowd in the headphones.

    For Abdul Gafaru, this iconic site of the capital is a whirlwind of surprises, like the day he saw "a big car driven by a white with black passengers."

    She also reminds him of the Vienna City neighborhood in Accra, in his native Ghana, where "the rich are going to party". Except that "Spain's Place, the rich and the poor behave and dress the same".

    In Abdul's eyes, the real wealth of tourists is "they can leave their country, go on vacation and come back". Not him.

    Mamadou Cellou Diallo, a Guinean woman in charge of supervising the walk, explains to AFP that the aim is to mix the stories of migrants with historical sites "and to show things that people do not usually notice".

    Second step: a 17th century plaque on which a Roman prelate, "president of the streets", forbade the abandonment of rubbish. The halt makes it possible to evoke the anarchic waste management in the suburbs of Rome, where these migrants live, a situation comparable to the African metropolises.

    Later, tourists stop by the wide Trident Street, where the Malian Lamine Sanogo recounts his journey across five borders until crossing the Mediterranean to Italy, in which 25 of his companions perished .

    "They tell their stories, with great dignity, simply to say that they exist" and had a life before arriving in Italy, tells, moved, Eve, a French woman who lives in Rome for 28 years.

    Kaba Coulibaly, Guinean too, hopes that this project will help to combat "prejudices against blacks". "The Italians think we are thieves, bandits, we thought we needed to value our cultures and make people think".

    These asylum seekers, mostly from Africa, have often suffered violence that they only touch on in their stories.

    "Very different sounds"

    New stop at the mythical Fountain of Trevi where the walker is transported in Casamance (Sénagal) by the voice of Sidia Camara who, when he was only 10 years old, remembers seeing one of his comrades drowning in the "bolon" », The river where the children of the village went to play.

    "I'm afraid of water," he says in the earpiece, before adding that he "likes the Trevi Fountain" because it reminds him of his "bolon" even if "their sounds are very different.

    For three years, the migrants supported by the association participate from September to June in a radio laboratory where they write and record their stories by mixing them with ambient sounds.

    The walks provide a little financial support for the migrants, but above all, according to Marco Signorelli de Laboratorio 53, "to affirm the idea that migrants are citizens like others and that their eyes can enrich our vision of public space".

    The "invisible guides" also offer walks around the Termini station or in the picturesque districts of Trastevere, San Lorenzo or Monti.

    For the Roman Alfredo Gagliardi, this meeting is a discovery: "these migrants do not see the historical center with the same eyes as me, when I come to the center it is to distract me, they go to the prefecture for their license stay".

    Kaba, who claims to be a victim of racist remarks, is also satisfied: "This experience allows you to build relationships, to meet people who are interested in my story and to me personally".

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