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Speech of Ambassador Roberto Mengoni at Italian National Day

Date:

06/18/2019


Speech of Ambassador Roberto Mengoni at Italian National Day

Below you can find the speech delivered by Ambassador Roberto Mengoni on the occasion of the celebrations for Italian National Day  held in Dar es Salaam on 10th June 2019. 

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2nd June 1946 - 73rd Anniversary of the Institutional Referendum

SPEECH

BY THE AMBASSADOR OF ITALY

ROBERTO MENGONI

Dar es Salaam, 10th June 2019

Your Excellency, Prof. John Palamagamba Kabudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania

Dean of the Diplomatic Corp, Amb. Mohamed Fakih Ahamada El Badaoui

Excellencies and colleagues

Cap. Antonino Mazzocca, Italian Military Attaché

Dear Italians

Ladies and gentlemen

Mabibi na mabwana

Buonasera, good evening, habari za jioni

Thank you everybody for coming tonight. Thank you Professor Kabudi. I know how busy you are. I am honoured you could spare some time to stay with us. I think this is a great occasion to get together and to know each other a little more.

We are a bit delayed this year, as the Italian Republic Day is the 2nd of June. We decided to postpone our reception eight days later because of the major festivities of Eid-al-Fitr. An happy occasion to celebrate the end of Ramadan together.

So, welcome to the Italian residence. I am always happy to open the doors and the garden of the residence. This house is part of the Tanzanian history. It was built in the '50s by the Karimjee, a Tanzanian family who have been living here for more than 200 years. For more than fifty years it has been the home of Italian Ambassadors. I feel privileged to host you all in a place which combines Arab, African and Mediterranean influence.

I take this opportunity to remember a good friend who passed away too early and who was the last member of the family to live here. The former New Zealand Honorary Consul, Mr. Hatim Karimjee.

Excellencies, friends

Every year I’d like to give a lecture on Italian history and Constitution. Yet, the presence tonight of a professor of constitutional law makes me nervous. I hope that professor Kabudi will not be very severe with his marks.

2nd June 1946 marked a watershed in our history. Only one year has passed since the end of Second World War and the final defeat of fascism, that have left the country destroyed physically, economically and also morally.

On that day Italian men and for the first time women rejected the monarchy and chose the Republic. After 73 years we all feel the benefit of the wisdom of our forefathers and foremothers.

Strong principles have guided our economic, political and social development: equality between men and women; participation by all citizens, regardless of race, gender, language, religion and sexual preferences; human rights and democracy. Sometimes the country looks a bit chaotic and confusing to outsiders, but this is just the salt of democracy. Italy is a very complex and diverse country. Like Tanzania. We have 8,000 municipalities, 8,000 tribes, which strong local identities. But, like Tanzania, we were able to merge these differences under a common home.

This happened because economic and social development went hand in hand with political freedoms. A different relationship emerged between authority and citizens. In the past the State was distant, oppressive and insensitive to the needs of the masses. There were no citizens during the Monarchy, but subjects.

These started to change with the Republic and its new Constitution. Citizens do not fear the State anymore. They challenge authority all the time. Civil society, trade unions, businesspeople, media, social media, individuals scrutinise the behaviour of politicians and government officers. Including Embassy people. Strong and independent judges check the respect of the law and act as a brake against abuses from all sides. This constant vigilance by citizens is the best ally of authorities to fight crime and corruption.

Let me remember a black chapter of our recent history.

50 years ago, in December 1969, 17 innocent people were killed by a bomb in Milan. It was a start of an attack against democracy by fascist and communist terrorists. More than 400 Italians were killed between 1969 and 1984. To fight terrorism some asked special laws to give free hand to security forces and the reestablishment of the death penalty.

But terrorism was won with the force of democracy, under the principles of the Constitution that terrorists wanted to destroy. Citizens of all political affiliations supported the Republican institutions to protect democracy and the dignity of human being. The majority of perpetrators were finally caught and given a fair trail. Many of them have served their sentences and many have repented.

The same alliance between citizens and authorities is what drives the fight against mafia and organised crime.

Excellencies, friends

Few days ago the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella said that the Republic was built upon few principles: liberty, equality, unity, rule and law and solidarity.

Art. 2 of the Constitution says that “The Republic recognises and guarantees the inviolable rights of the person (…) The Republic requires that the fundamental duties of political, economic and social solidarity be fulfilled.”

Rights and duties. A good citizen knows them both. What we call the common good. Solidarity between North and South. Rich and poor. Elders and young. Men and women. Solidarity goes deep in our humanistic and religious tradition. Solidarity exists not in the cold words of rhetoric but in the actions of ordinary people. In helping others they contribute to the progress of the whole society.

Not saints, just normal persons. Let me tell you few stories.

Vito is a 39-year-old runner from Sicily. He was won several races, including a 64 kms long run around Etna volcano. Instead of more victories and prizes, he decided to be the lungs and legs of other people. Now he pushes the wheelchair of Giusi, a lady with a paralysing disease. They run a marathon together. In two years they run for more than 500 kms.

Aldo is a 76-year-old entrepreneur. Two workers of his company had to quit their job to cure their daughter affected by a terrible disease. Another businessman would have sacked them. Instead, Aldo put humanity before profit, paid the medical expenses of the couple and kept their workplace ready for their return. Unfortunately their daughter died after a long struggle.

Sometimes we hear stories of racism in Italy. I believe racists do not represent the majority of Italians. While being on a train in Naples, Maria Rosaria intervened to help a young Srilankan from the aggression of a Italian man. And the reverse happened. when Mustapha, a Moroccon resident in Italy since 1990, helped a woman wounded by a man for futile reasons, and had him arrested.

Solidarity can be expressed in many ways.

When he retired, Antonio, a school teacher, built a motolibrary to bring books to the young children of the smallest and most isolated villages in his region, where there are no libraries nor bookshops. He believes that reading is essential for children to grow. He drove for 170,000 kms for 18 years.

These persons were among the many who were awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by the President Mattarella as “civic examples” for 2018.

They represent the word solidarity in its true spirit. They represent the principles enshrined by our Constitution. This is not a cold text but a living document. The spirit than binds together a community,a nation, authorities and citizens.

Excellencies, friends

Solidarity is a principle that we want to bring in Tanzania. Solidarity is not charity. It what brings people together.

I am proud of the work that Italians are doing in this country.

Tanzanians and Italians have been working shoulder to shoulder for decades. Missionaries have come more than one hundred years ago. Many NGOs have been here for decades. Few weeks ago we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Itigi Hospital in Singida. I always found our aid workers living with people, sometimes in very remote areas. I found Italians working, investing, researching everywhere, including Zanzibar and Pemba.

We have several projects. Bilateral initiatives on technical training, on climate change. Projects by our NGOs on environment, nutrition, water, agriculture and people with disabilities. Three new projects were approved few days ago. We would like to work more on trade and investments. Tomorrow and Wednesday, a delegation from Tanzania will join other East African countries in a business forum in Rome.

But let me say this. A relationship is not a list of projects. It’s how we do things together.

There is no perfect country in the world. Italy is not perfect, apart from wine, food, cultural heritage and hopefully, women football. Our country is still a work in progress. We can drive some lessons from the past. How Italy changed from a rural, backward nation into a modern economy. We have many problems to overcome. But we can still find guidance from the Constitution and continue to work towards the fulfilment of the pact made 73 yeards ago.

People tend to learn from each other. Countries can learn from each other. I appreciate the tollerance, solidarity and closeness among Tanzanians. We learn from you how different religions can coexist in harmony. Maybe Tanzania can learn something from us how to reach its goals, combining economic development, industrialisation, political freedoms, protection of nature and of the cultural heritage.

The encounter between Italians and Tanzanians has been warm, passionate, fruitful.

Let's make it grow further.

To conclude, a warm “grazie” and “asante sana” to the staff of the Italian Embassy for all the excellent work they have been doing in the last year. With passion and dedication. They did follow orders. They believed that serving the State and our citizens is the best work possible.

Long live the Republic. Long live Tanzania!

Asanteni sana!


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