Gabriella Ghermandi, writer and performer. She was born in Addis Abeba, in a family that came both from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Italy, and went to live in her father’s country in the late 1970’s. She is a witness and a player within cultural frontiers; some of the examples are her texts and theater performances, in which she re-shapes the Ethiopian typical metaphor and shares some less known stories (ex. “Regina di fiori e di perle”, 2007, Donzelli Editore), and the ethio-jazz Atse Tewodros Project, where she promotes the gathering of Ethiopian and Italian musicians.
Kidane Gaber, Eritrean in Italy since the 1980’s. He came with a scholarship agreement, having completed the degree in medicine. In 1990 he opened the first African restaurant in Bologna, Ristorante Africano Adal, with his elder sister, a testimony of the 1970’s migratory flows from Eritrea to the former colonial families’ service. Kidane used to participate in the cultural gatherings happening each summer in Bologna – the Eritrean Festival, up to 1991. He organizes some trips in Ethiopia and Eritrea, but his permanent residence is close to his family, in Italy.
Awet Measho, Eritrean in Italy since the 2000’s, crossed Sudan, Lybia and the Mediterranean sea, and was considered a political refugee. With an Eritrean partner, he opened bar EastAfro in the bolognese Habesha district (Via Niccolò dall’Arca, 65/2). The bar is quite special: it maintains the cuban déco from the previous project and aims to receive not only Eritreans, but also other (East) Africans and Italians living in the nearby. Awet is part of the Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change, an international organization fighting for the life and rights of the Eritreans worldwide.
Yoseph Girma (on the right), Ethiopian in Italy since the 1990’s, came to Europe as a dancer and later on opened the Abyssinia Gift Shop in Bologna. This shop was the place where most of the research work behind this documentary film has been developed, being one of the main habesha landmarks and gathering points in the city – on his words, “Besides selling [Ethiopian handcraft, food, clothes and other goods], it is a place to meet each other, like a community”. Unfortunately, on the spring of 2013 the shop had to close its doors, reflecting the effects of the Italian crisis, and Yoseph had to sell the goods on street.
Dereje Haile, mechanic, Ethiopian in Italy since the 1980’s, arrived when he was a kid. He is one of the spokesperson of Associazione Culturale Etiopica in Emilia Romagna (ACEER). Even though he lived in Italy most of his lifetime, the presence within the Ethiopian community remains strong. He’s active in diaspora projects that he considers the hope for the home country (education and international independence).
Izana Assefa, Ethiopian with Eritrean family, in Italy since the 2000’s. He was unemployed at the time of the research, having previously worked on transport and assembly with many other habeshas. He faced the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia and escaped from his homeland not to be forced to engage in the war, having been considered a political refugee. To arrive in Italy he crossed Sudan, Lybia and the Mediterranean sea. “My story is every people story”, he said. He is aiming to work on arts, especially in cinema.
Zeleke Goffe, Ethiopian in Italy since the 1980’s, came to this country with a scholarship. He presently works within the informatics service of a public institute in Bologna, besides being a lecturer on Ethiopian literature at the University of Bologna. He has been one of the founders of ACEER.