Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Giorgio Gaber, "Io non mi sento Italiano" translation: "I do not feel Italian"

Recently I have been listening to a few songs by Giorgio Gaber. Gaber was an Italian songwriter that I had always heard of, but I’ll admit that I knew almost nothing about him. Shame on me.

This song, “Io non mi sento Italiano”, was contained in an album of the same name released in 2003, shortly after Gaber’s death. Despite being written about a decade ago, I think that many people can still relate to it. I decided to translate it because, as an expat, it perfectly applies to me. Hope you will enjoy it. 

"I do not feel Italian" by Giorgio Gaber

I, G. G, was born and live in Milan.
I do not feel Italian
But fortunately or unfortunately I am.

I'm sorry, President
It is not my fault
But this country of ours
I do not know what it is.
Maybe I am wrong
Maybe it is a good idea
But I fear it might turn into
A bad poem.
I'm sorry, President
I do not really need
The national anthem
Of which I am a little ashamed
Since our football players
(I do not want to judge)
They either do not know it
Or they have more decency (than other football players)

I do not feel Italian
But fortunately or unfortunately I am.

I'm sorry, President
If I am so bold
To say that I do not feel
Any belonging here.
Except Garibaldi
And some other glorious heroes
I see no reason
To be proud.
I'm sorry, President
But I think of the fanaticism
Of the black shirts
In the time of Fascism
From which one day 
This democracy was born
And it takes imagination 
To congratulate her

I do not feel Italian
But fortunately or unfortunately I am.
This beautiful country
Full of poetry
Has many demands
But in our western world
Is just the periphery.

I'm sorry, President
But this State of ours
That you represent
It seems a little wrecked.
It's even too clear
In the eyes of the people
That everything is planned
And nothing works.
It might be that Italians
According to old traditions
Are too obsessed
About any discussion.
Even in parliament
The atmosphere is explosive
They fight about everything
And then nothing ever changes.

I do not feel Italian
But fortunately or unfortunately I am.

I'm sorry, President
You must agree
That the limits we have
Need to be told.
But beside the defeatism
We are what we are
And we also have a past
That we do not forget.
I'm sorry, President
But maybe we Italians
To other people are only
Spaghetti and mandolins.
So here I get pissed
I am proud and I brag
I tell right to their face
What the Renaissance is.

I do not feel Italian
But fortunately or unfortunately I am.

This beautiful country
Might not be too wise
(and) Has confused ideas
But if I were born elsewhere
It could have been worse.

I'm sorry, President
Now I have said many things
There is another consideration 
Which I think is important.
Compared to foreigners
We believe less
But maybe we have understood
That the world is a farce.
I'm sorry, President
I know you do not rejoice
If the cry "Italy, Italy"
Is heard only at football games.
But in part not to die
Or in part as a joke
We have made Europe
Now let’s also make Italy.

I do not feel Italian
But fortunately or unfortunately I am.

I do not feel Italian
But fortunately or unfortunately
Fortunately or unfortunately

Fortunately I am.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Northern League Senator Calderoli compares black Minister Kyenge to an orang-utan

About 6 weeks ago, I wrote how a petition presented to the European Parliament led to the expulsion of Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio. Borghezio sparked outrage for his racist remarks about Italy’s first black Minister, Cecile Kyenge.
On Saturday, Kyenge was insulted by another Northern League leader, vice-president of the Senate Roberto Calderoli (I have already mentioned Calderoli a few times, as he is the author of the “Porcellum”, Italy’s much criticised electoral system).

                                           Roberto Calderoli          Cecile Kyenge

Senator Calderoli, speaking at a political rally in Treviglio, claimed: “I love animals- bears and wolves as it is well-known- but when I see images of Kyenge I cannot help think, even though I’m not saying that she is one, of the resemblance to an orang-utan”.  
He added that she should be a Minister but in her own country (Kyenge is originally from Congo, but has been an Italian citizen for several years), and that she makes many clandestine immigrants coming to Italy dream about “America”.
Reactions from all political parties shortly followed, all condemning Calderoli’s statement. Even President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano said he was “indignant”.
Some members of the Democratic Party, including leader Epifani, called for Calderoli’s resignation.
Calderoli then tried to justify himself by claiming that his remarks were “just a bad joke”, and he apologised to Kyenge over the phone. She accepted his apology, but she also said that the matter remains unsolved on the institutional level.
Just like Borghezio, Calderoli has been known for his racist attitude for a while now. For instance, in 2006 he wore a t-shirt with the infamous Muhammad cartoons, causing some protesters in Lybia to attack the Italian Embassy. In 2007, to show his opposition to the building of a mosque in Bologna, he brought a pig to the designated site.  And many more. Just google his name for plenty of appalling anecdotes.

There is now an on-going petition addressed to the President of the Senate, Pietro Grasso, asking him to have a vote over Calderoli’s resignation. Here’s the link: http://www.change.org/it/petizioni/presidente-del-senato-pietro-grasso-dimissioni-di-calderoli-iostoconcecilekyenge

Friday, July 12, 2013

Berlusconi's party stops Parliament for 24 hours to discuss his court ruling over tax fraud sentence

Back to Berlusconi’s trials again (I know, it's hard to keep track of them all).
We are now referring to the tax fraud sentence of his company Mediaset. Berlusconi was sentenced to 4 years for inflating the prices of movies the company bought in order to avoid taxes. He turned to the appeal court, and now Italy's highest court (the Court of Cassation) has set 30 July as the date for the hearing, a much earlier date than expected.
The Court explained that they had to choose such an early date because, according to the law, they had to prevent the statute of limitations from expiring on one of the charges.
Following that announce, Berlusconi’s lawyers claimed that this was an attack on the defence’s rights. His party’s The People of Freedom went beyond, claiming that this was a “coup d’état towards the government, Italy and democracy”. In other words, they are acting as if the court were doing this merely to convict Berlusconi.
Yesterday, The People of Freedom asked Parliament for an interruption of work, in order to discuss the case within the party.

It was a real political earthquake. The Democratic Party eventually had to accede, and both the Chambers of Deputies and the Senate stopped working for 24 hours, despite the protests of Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement.
It wasn’t an easy decision for the Democratic Party, which is really divided on the topic (as on any other topic, for what matters). Leader Epifani defined The People of Freedom’s request as “unacceptable and irresponsible”, but then tried to minimize the whole episode.
On the one hand, they had to give in because Berlusconi’s party is in government with them. On the other hand, they are looking worse each day. In any other country, someone like Berlusconi would have been voted out of Parliament a long time ago. In Italy, it is not even sure what will happen if a conviction actually is upheld.
Berlusconi’s party is threatening a government crisis if he is convicted. The Democratic Party is threatening to vote in favour of the conviction if it does take place. Long story short, everyone has something they can use to threaten their opponents. Parliament might not be blocked now, but that changed very little. It is still, only, discussing Berlusconi’s affairs. While the country sinks.